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London in the 16th and 17th Century

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Britain’s growing imperial power and international trade affected the economic life of London during the 17th and 18th century. Imperial power led to an increase in the income of the residents of London as London became a financial and economic hub of not only Europe but the whole world. The improved trade led to an improvement in the standards of life of the life of Londoners since there was an influx of goods into Britain to which Britain was the capital. Growing political power also led to an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor as the capitalist and industrial economy concentrated wealth in a few hands.

The great London fire of 1666 offered a chance to rebuild London which before the fire had been condemned as an unsanitary city. After the great fire the city of London was redesigned in order to make it more sanitary and safe for its residents. The streets of the city were widened and old houses were pulled down in order to construct safer buildings. In the new rebuilding act all houses were to be made of red brick and the number of storeys a house had depended on its position relative to the street it fronted. All houses were to be of red brick though a few were allowed to have stone doorways and windows.

The period after the great fire of London was a period of great prosperity which resulted in a bludgeoning middle class. This bludgeoning middle class was an important part in shaping the culture of London. The new middle class which was educated in the universities was more cultured and had a taste for the arts such as painting, the theatre, and the opera. These were previously the preserve of the royal classes and landowners. The coming into money of the middle class meant that they could now afford these pleasures. The middle class thus made the arts part of London culture.

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