History of London | From Romans to Modern days
Published at : 27 Nov 2021
History of London - from Romans to modern days.
Romans founded the city about 50 AD, and called it Londinium. They decided that it was a great place to build a port.
By the end of the 2nd century Roman London had a population of 45 000 and a 20-feet-high wall around it, and like most of the other Roman cities, had a forum, public baths and an amphitheater similar to Roman Coliseum, that could hold 8000 people and was hosting gladiator fights.
When the empire was declining, Rome refused to send new soldiers to London, and by 407 AD the city was completely abandoned. For the next 600 or so years, the area was torn between the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes and the Vikings. These were the centuries of constant invasions and clashes of cultures.
In 1040s King Edward the Confessor moved his court to Westminster Abbey, and so London became a royal city. Soon another group of invaders - Normans - conquered Westminster Abbey and crowned their King William there. William built a castle and a fortress for himself, from which he controlled his newly conquered territories. His home is now known as the Tower of London.
Medieval London was growing bigger, and was a lively place; it had a horse market, where horse races and public executions took place, attracting large crowds. Londoners enjoyed archery tournaments, wrestling and ice skating in winters. But it also could be a brutal place to live. For example, the city had suffered from numerous plague outbreaks, the biggest one known as the Black Death, which killed almost the third of the city population.
But the biggest disaster to hit London of that time was the great fire of 1666. Most of the buildings of the city were made of wood, and when a small fire started in a baker’s house, the wind spread the fire rapidly across the town. More than 13 000 houses were destroyed before sailors managed to stop the fire.
To prevent such a disaster from happening again, the king commanded that all new houses in London should be built of brick and stone.
Despite the disasters, London was growing bigger and wealthier, particularly when British Empire was becoming more powerful in the world. Colonisation and maritime-driven trade provided the empire with unprecedented wealth, turning London into the world’s busiest port city and a banking capital by the 18th century.
The pinnacle of London’s accelerated development was during Queen Victoria’s reign, when the population of the city grew from 1 million to 6 million in just one century. This was a result of dynamic industrialisation, railway construction, as well as the opening of the first ever underground metro in 1863.
In 20th century the city was much shaped by two world wars. Particularly during the World War II London was heavily damaged and tens of thousands were killed by the intensive bombing of the city.
Today London is a vibrant and multicultural city of almost 9 million, and remains one of the world capitals of finance, art and fashion.
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