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But the reach of English maritime enterprise hardly extended beyond the seas of north-west Europe.The commercial route to Italy and the Mediterranean Sea normally lay through Antwerp and over the Alps; any ships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to or from England were likely to be Italian or Ragusan.Winchester had previously been the capital of Anglo-Saxon England, but from this time on, London became the main forum for foreign traders and the base for defence in time of war.In the view of Frank Stenton: "It had the resources, and it was rapidly developing the dignity and the political self-consciousness appropriate to a national capital." In the 12th century, the institutions of central government, which had hitherto accompanied the royal English court as it moved around the country, grew in size and sophistication and became increasingly fixed in one place.By the 11th century, London was beyond all comparison the largest town in England.Westminster Abbey, rebuilt in the Romanesque style by King Edward the Confessor, was one of the grandest churches in Europe.
During the Tudor period the Reformation produced a gradual shift to Protestantism, and much of London property passed from church to private ownership, which accelerated trade and business in the city.
Peter Schrijver has specifically suggested, on these grounds, that the name originally meant 'place that floods (periodically, tidally)'.
The next, heavily planned, incarnation of Londinium prospered, and it superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100.
In 1475, the Hanseatic League set up its main trading base (kontor) of Britain in London, since called Stalhof or Steelyard.
It existed until 1853, when the Hanseatic cities of Lübeck, Bremen and Hamburg sold the property to South Eastern Railway.London became the principal North Sea port, with migrants arriving from England and abroad.