London has for most of 2,000 years been the hub of the political, economic, and cultural life of Britain. No other world city has held such a dominant national position for so long. This new study, by the doyen of London historians, describes London's diverse past, from its origins as a Roman settlement at the first bridging of the Thames to the world-class metropolis it is today. It provides a vivid account of a city which was the `deere sweete' place which Chaucer loved more than any other city on earth, which was for Dickens his `magic lantern', and to Keats `a great sea', howling for more wrecks. It is also a story of much contrast and remarkable resilience; through great fires and pestilence, civil war, and the Blitz, London has rebuilt and reinvented itself for each generation.