The History of London
To the twelve million people who reside in the Metropolitan area of London a huge majority never really know of it's real history thus to borrow the title of a certain Stephen Hawking book, here is a 'brief history of time'...
Established by the Romans in AD43 as Londinium, the city has had more than it's fair share of happenings that began almost immediately. IN AD60 the Icenian Queen Boudica sacked the settlements but the city was quickly rebuilt as a planned Roman town and grew rapidly. In the second century it had replaced Colchester as the capital of Roman Britain.
In the Third Century, Londinium was raided on many occasions by Saxon pirates and during that period the Roman's built the London wall that would survive for the next 1600 years and define it's borders for centuries to come. Six of the traditional seven city gates remain by name today – Ludgate, Newgate, Aldersgate, Cripplegate, Bishopsgate and Aldgate. The other, Moorgate is of medieval origin.
The Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons
By the time the Fifth Century had arrived, the Roman Empire was in decline and the occupation of Britain had come to an end. The city had been virtually abandoned but during the next couple of hundred years the Anglo Saxons began to settle at the old site due to its massive strategic importance on the River Thames.
The Viking Great Heathen Army attacked the city in the Ninth Century with large-scale attacks in the years 842 and 871. English forces led by King Alfred the Great defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Edington in the year 878 and English rule was restored. The city was rebuilt and re-established to improves defences within the old Roman walls. In time the city came under the control of English Kings and in the tenth century, although Winchester had been the capital of the Kingdom of England, it was King Aethelred the Unready who favoured London as the capital once again in the year 978.
But the Vikings still persisted and finally overran the city led by the Great Viking Forkbeard of Denmark. After years of war and bloodshed it was Edward the Confessor who took up the throne in 1042 to restore the Anglo-Saxon line.
The Peasant's Revolt
Then in 1066, aggrieved at not being next in line for the throne, William of Normandy sent his armies to invade England and defeated the then King of England, Harold.
Under William the Conqueror's control, forts and recognisable landmarks were built including the Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster and the London Bridge.
A Peasant's Revolt in 1381 led by Wat Tyler looted the city and invaded London. They stormed the Tower of London and executed the Lord Chancellor and many other Government officials.
London lost over half of it's population in the mid-fourteenth century due to the terrifying Black Death. The plague would return sixteen times before resulting in the Great Plague of 1665.
The Tudors of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries transformed England form a weakened country into a powerful state that in coming centuries would dominate much of the world. In 1572 the Spanish destroyed the Great City of Antwerp and put London top of the Hierarchy list for North Sea Ports. A vast expansion of population and wealth in the city of London followed dramatically.
Two Years of Horror
The unsanitary and overcrowded City of London became victim to the Great Plague in 1665 and 1666, it took with it over a fifth of the entire population with thousands dying each week and most of London became infected.
In 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out and in a timely paradox actually decimated the plague but the devastation was immense. Houses would explode at random from their stored gunpowder supplies and people fall onto the streets as the entire city burned around them.
The Fire destroyed over sixty percent of the city including eighty-seven churches but only a small number of people were killed. Within a few days, plans were put forward so that once again the City of London could be rebuilt.