Today in the Middle Ages: May 19, 1214

The City of London received a charter allowing it to elect its own officials on May 19, 1214. The Lord Mayor ruled with the advice of a council of guild leaders. In effect, the guilds ran the City in a form of governance modeled on the great merchant cities of the Continent.

Londoners of the period valued their civic autonomy and sometimes acted as a force in English politics. In the twelfth century, they had successfully applied pressure for King Stephen's release by his cousin and rival the Empress Maud.

The office of the Lord Mayor and many guild traditions and buildings still exist in London.