In the modern context, the City of London is a global hub city. It is a city within a city with it’s own government having negotiated a truce of sorts with the monarchy and the rest of England. It has it’s own customs, traditions and rules – separate and apart from all the rest of the United Kingdom. In world history, it would seem that the City of London would have to be considered the first – or close to the first global hub city because it was founded by conquering Romans in roughly 43 AD.
There are two videos on youtube that discuss the history of the City of London, the importance of which will become apparent as this story continues.
The City of London is an organizational miscreant. It isn’t just a city, it’s a corporation of companies but the word company is more in the sense of a military company than in the business sense. The City is one square mile. “Freeman”, Guilds and businesses vote in elections in the city. (note: no doubt the source of the concept of corporate personhood in the U.S.).
From the history of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers:
The early Guilds were in fact a combination of employer’s federation, trade union and friendly society as they were also devoted to assisting any of their members and their widows who may have fallen on hard times.
The definition of Guild from the Oxford Dictionary:
A medieval association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power
a. An association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal
Synonyms – association, society, union, league, alliance, coalition, federation, consortium, syndicate, combine, trust, organization, company, cooperative, partnership, fellowship, club, order, lodge, sisterhood, sorority, brotherhood, fraternity
The following is an excerpt from the history (recovered) posted on their website:
“Trade and craft associations known as guilds or livery companies flourished all over Europe for centuries, but the City of London companies, now collectively known as the Livery, are unique in their survival, number and diversity. Today’s livery companies are not picturesque leftovers of history but living institutions, whose activities have been commended by successive Royal Commissions and hose liverymen assemble in Common Hall to carry out important functions in the elections of the City’s government and certain of its officers. The word “guild” derives from the Saxon word for payment, since membership of these fraternities was (and is) paid for. The word ‘livery’ refers to uniform clothing as means of identification. Today, new companies in their formative years are usually referred to as guilds.”
… MEDIEVAL TRADING STANDARDS
The early companies protected customers, employers and employees alike by checking standards of work, quality of goods, weights and measures, and imposed severe penalties on those who broke the rules. They controlled imports and immigrant labour, set wages and working conditions. They trained the young and looked after members in sickness and old age. At a burial of a member (attended by every member of the company) the coffin would be covered with the company’s own coffin cloth; vigils were kept and prayers offered for the soul of the deceased.
Essentially, a Guild is given a patent by royal decree on a trade which means they have exclusive rights to control that particular trade within a certain distance from London. Of course in our “global village”, there are no limits on distance for the London Guild system. In 2001, the Worshipful Company of International Bankers was granted full livery status.
The Guilds have the right to define the terms and conditions under which the trade could be performed – and by whom. In some cases the Guild has regulatory authority as well. (Refer back to governing organization by function discussed in Part 4).
To practice the trade in the City of London, a person has to be a Freeman. To be a Freeman, one has belong to a Guild. To belong to a Guild one either has to serve an apprenticeship to a master, be invited or pay a tribute.
The management structure of the Guilds are that of a “court”. The following is from the history of Livery Companies website:
Each livery company is governed by an annually elected court, typically composed as follows :
The Master (elected from the Wardens)
Upper Warden, Middle Warden, Lower Warden, (elected from the Court assistants)
Between 10 and 20 Court Assistants (elected from the Livery)
In attendance: a Clerk to keep the records and a Beadle to keep order
There are slight variations of title but they are not significant. The number of members of the court vary depending on the size of the Livery company and may be more or less than the number shown above.
The Guilds operate as charities in the UK. The Guilds establish funds to assist their own members and families but eventually branched out to give the appearance of being benevolent all the while collecting tributes from businesses and Freeman engaged in the trade. The Guilds also pay tributes and provide resources to the reigning monarch creating a very cozy, exclusive club system. The Mercers’ Company produced a brochure that explains in general, the system.
The Livery Companies all seem to have certain common attributes. This list may not include all of them, but these are the ones that stood out to me:
1. In order to receive a status, they must reach a certain financial level – and to get a royal charter, they must pay a “tribute” to the monarch of the day. Rings a bell…. pay-to-play Delay.
2. They all seem to have an affiliation with the military.
3. They are a hybrid – involved in education of their trade and social welfare of their members – like a union; but they serve the interests of the business owners.
4. Set standards and in many cases they are self-regulatory of their trade. (recall – FDR tried to establish an industry based system of Guilds – self-regulatory associations.
For the Information Technologists, the military affiliation is none other than The Royal Corps of Signals (Signals Intelligence to us).
In view of all the falderal, the word “common” in connection with the Livery Companies is almost laughable but actually, it’s an example of an irony of time and language. In the history of the Mercers’ Company, its usage dates back to at least 1304 because in 1304, there was a lawsuit against them. In a document concerning their defense against foreign interests, the Mercers are described as a “commonality”. In 1394, King Richard granted the Mercers a charter allowing itself to conduct business as a “commonality”.
That was intriguing so I looked up commonality in the dictionary – choosing the Oxford dictionary.
2nd definition – plural of commonality is commonalty.
The origin of the word commonalty is Latin – communis
Middle English: from Old French comunalte, from medieval Latin communalitas, from Latin communis ‘common, general’ (see common).
The following is an excerpt of the history of the City of London emphasis added:
London, like other cities, was subject to the authority of the Crown through its Sheriff – the Shirereeve or Portreeve. But in the 12th century, as a move towards civic independence, an association of citizens under oath – the commune – was established. At the same time the office of Mayor was created with Henry FitzAilwyn taking office in 1189 (whether by appointment or election is unclear).
In 1191, the commune was officially recognised by Prince John, while his brother Richard the Lionheart was away at the Crusades, and in 1199 John, now King, granted the citizens of London the right to elect their own Sheriffs – a particularly significant right as the Sheriff was the King’s representative through whom the City was governed. The citizens’ right to elect a Mayor annually was granted by King John in a charter of 1215.
The commune may have been the origins of the development of another element of local governance. Gradually, Aldermen began to summon “wise and discreet” citizens from their wards to their meetings for consultation on particular matters. In 1285, a group of 40 citizens, between one and four from each Ward, was to consult with the Aldermen on the common affairs of the City. From 1376, this assembly had regular meetings and was known as the Common Council. It gradually assumed greater responsibilities and the business of the Court of Aldermen declined.
Organization of the City of London
The following is the London Corporation organization clipped from the Part 2 of the Secret History of London. The important thing to note is that to become the Lord Mayor, the candidate must have been a Sheriff. The Sheriff is elected by the Liverymen of the Livery Companies:
The Lord Mayor of the City of London
The Lord Mayor presides over the Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council but is also responsible for the tradition functions of oversight of the local police and other city services. The Lord Mayor is also a trade ambassador for the City of London. The following is a quote from the Lord Mayor’s web page in the section: About the City:
A dedicated ambassador, supporting and promoting the City as the world leader in international finance and business services, the Lord Mayor travels extensively, in liaison with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, fostering goodwill and boosting British trade, particularly the markets and services of the City.
As part of the programme for the year, the Lord Mayor takes part in a series of international visits leading delegations of senior business representatives to meet those at the highest levels of government and industry in overseas countries. This is with the aim of selling the City as a place in which to do business and promoting its expertise. This can range from advice on raising capital for major infrastructure projects to private finance initiatives and government-industry co-funding arrangements.
A domestic programme of visits keeps the Lord Mayor in touch with regional economic activity and promotes the contribution the City can make in these areas.
The role is enhanced by the entirely non-party political nature of this office and of the City of London. The Lord Mayor’s activities reflect not only a ceremonial and diplomatic importance, but also those of a trusted spokesperson for the business and financial community.
The position of Lord Mayor is not just city administrator or foreign, economic ambassador, it is also a position of royalty – at least from the point of view of an American.
Foreign Economic Ambassador
The international role of economic ambassador for the City of London, up until the year 2000, would have been a foreign concept in the U.S. but the U.S. Conference of Mayors in cooperation with the Aspen Institutes of France and Germany, along with Ambassador Felix Rohatyn, organized an international conference in Lyon, France to introduce it to American mayors.
Aspen Transatlantic Mayors Summit, April 6-8, 2000 – Excerpts:
In cooperation with the U.S. Embassies in Berlin and Paris, the Aspen Institute France, the Aspen Institute Berlin and the U.S. Conference of Mayors held a conference on “Smart Growth – Problems of Urban Development in the 21st Century.” Mayors from the U.S., Germany and France met for three days in Lyon France to discuss how globalization affects urban development. The summit also included experts on urban planning and development from international organizations, research institutions, and think tanks.
The mayors agreed that their own role is changing as a result of globalization. They are no longer the traditional city planners of the past 100 years, but rather ombudsmen and innovative leaders of important communities and regions. Mayors can no longer afford to deal only with local stakeholders. They conduct their own foreign policy in an environment that sets local issues on the agenda of local politics. Ambassador John Kornblum strongly encouraged mayors to ignore the admonishments of foreign ministries not to engage in foreign affairs. For the good of their citizens, mayors will increasingly enter the international arena and become global players. The network resulting from the Aspen Transatlantic Summit series provides a forum for a sustainable international dialogue among mayors to discuss common challenges, exchange best practices, and promote international understanding.
New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial observed, “You can’t be a mayor today without having your own foreign policy. Mayors have to be more in tune with international political events than ever before.”
Mayor Morial quoted the late Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, who said, “All politics is local.” “We need to revise that for the twenty-first century,” Mayor Morial said, to say that “All politics will be global.”
The significance is obvious in view of the proposal of a “new concept” of cities as global hubs discussed in the previous section titled, Order of the New World. When you combine that idea which we know is being implemented in the United States under the deceptive term ‘intermodal commerce zones’ associated with a foreign trade zone plus the evidence of the ‘Guild’ of U.S. Mayors (U.S. Conference of Mayors), and it becomes clear that the objective was to change our form of government to match the medieval and communal system of entrenched privilege corresponding to the City of London.
With that as background, let us now turn our attention to the current Lord Mayor of the City of London, Fiona Wolf.