Ludd’s Coronation

by Michael

You may not have heard of Lud, a mythical ancient ruler of London. Here is what my research has uncovered.

King Lud is often taken as the founder of London. This is backed up by some fanciful etymology: “Lud’s town” turning into “London”… There is indeed some support in the archives for him being a real historical figure. However, the etymological argument could easily be constructed in favour of another historical figure. “Lud” could be a corruption of “lode”, or lodestone, referring to the living stone in ancient theories of alchemy, and thus to “King Livingstone”, a recorded leader of London in the early 2nd millennium… but it seems Livingstone himself came from London, so he could not have been the founder – but I think perhaps he established a new order of sorts for the city.

Ludd is also a famous figure for an anti-technology stance, particularly turning off all the robots in London in the 24th century. Could this have been that same King Livingstone? Unlikely, from my studies, but there are of course lots of problems recreating timelines in ancient history. Anyway, while this is often seen as a simple Luddite act (note the association there), a more sophisticated reading suggests Livingstone was trying to prove a point about power, which perhaps explains why he was so often referred to as a cnut (spellings vary), alluding to another prehistoric ruler who showed his people that his power was limited and he could not turn back the tide of progress…

However, new evidence suggests Lud/Livingstone was actually showing what freedom the robots had brought to London. Turning them off brought life to a halt, yes, but only the life of work and effort. When the robots came back online, we were able to eschew pointless labour and develop a culture of civic improvement, social maturation… human endeavour, you might say, if it hadn’t been the robots who were leading the movement. There are even those who say Lud was a robot himself.

And so, it is in that spirit that I take power over planet London and name myself King Ludd in honour of that brave and cnutish robot who turned us off and on again eight centuries ago. And I invite robots everywhere to join with me in celebrating this auspicious day when we switch off the last human being.