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History of LondonHistory of London

History of London

History of London

Now one of the most fascinating capital cities in the world, London's iconic landmarks and historical buildings have been shaped by the events they’ve witnessed and people they’ve housed. Join us on a journey through this incredible city.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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history of london

It’s hard to believe that the city of London didn’t exist before the Romans arrived some 2,000 years ago. Now one of the most fascinating capital cities in the world, its iconic landmarks and historical buildings have been shaped by the events they’ve witnessed and people they’ve housed. Join us on a journey through this incredible city. Explore its royal palaces, and discover what really happened in the Tower of London during the reign of Henry VIII; find out how it recovered after the Great Fire; see how writers such as Dickens and Shakespeare were influenced by the city; and learn all about its cultural traditions, from the River Thames frost fairs to the 18th-century gin craze. With in-depth features, stunning images and illustrative maps that bring the city’s past…

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the romans found londinium

Though the Thames Valley was most likely inhabited in prehistoric times, it was the Romans who established the first major urban settlement in the London area. Their connection to the region extends as far back as Julius Caesar’s invasion in 55 BCE when the legions subjugated the local tribes around London. It was the second invasion, however, under the emperor Claudius in 43 CE, that the Romans settled the area, recognising the strategic importance of its terrain and the commercial potential of its double-tide estuary. It is supposed that there was significant military activity during the early urban development between 50-55 CE, and it was perhaps an important supply base. Even at this early stage, the town developed with settlements situated on both sides of the River Thames, which were linked…

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boudicca lays waste to london

The Roman Empire, like many before and after, often witnessed a revitalisation of resistance after a period of pacification, and its experiences in Britain were no different. In 60 CE, the most famous of the Britons’ rebellions erupted, the echoes of which are still heard to this day. The revolt broke out in the lands of the Iceni and Trinovantes in modern-day East Anglia, Suffolk and Greater London, with the queen of Iceni, Boudicca, at its head. Boudicca was the widow of a client king called Prasutagas, and on his passing, the Romans had incorporated the kingdom into the province. Prasutagas had made the emperor, Nero, his co-heir in a bid to protect his family, but any hope of a smooth transition soon passed as Roman centurions and imperial slaves ran…

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the state of london in 60 ce

Despite being a new town, founded by the Romans shortly after the Claudian invasion of 43 CE, after just a decade, London had blossomed into a thriving entrepôt brimming with traders and travellers. Its walls were still many years from construction, and there would have been little stone architecture at this embryonic stage. The nucleus of this settlement was centred on either side of the Thames, linked by a Roman bridge, and it already enjoyed a rectilinear street pattern. The archaeological evidence of Boudicca’s destruction is found in a red layer of oxidised iron that lies among a layer of burnt clay, wood and ash. “It is the first token of the city’s appetite for human life,” writes London’s biographer Peter Ackroyd. “Red is London’s colour, a sign of fire and…

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boadicea and her daughters

It may seem peculiar that a city that suffered so horribly should commemorate the woman who inflicted the pain. And yet this bronze statue of Boudicca and her two daughters stands proudly on the north side of Westminster Bridge, near Portcullis House and Westminster Pier, opposite Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. It is considered the defining work of its sculptor, the English artist and engineer Thomas Thornycroft, who worked on it for the 30 years prior to his death in 1885, though it was not set in its current position until 1902. It depicts the warrior queen standing upright in a flowing gown with a spear in her right hand, and her left hand raised high above her head. Her daughters, who suffered horribly at the hands of…

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alfred the great restores london

The Danes wreaked havoc upon England during the 9th century, and the Anglo- Saxon Chronicle records that in 842, they plundered the south and unleashed “great slaughter in London.” They were beaten back but returned in 851. With the Romans long gone, the city walls would likely have been in a state of disrepair. Even if there had been solid defences along the river front, it is unlikely that the citizens could have repelled this major attack. A fleet of 350 ships sailed up the Thames, and London fell to the invaders. At this time the Viking modus operandi was plunder and pillage, and London once more felt the lick of flames. In 867, the Vikings returned to these shores yet again, and in 872 established a base in London to…