Posted by: frroberts | October 5, 2017

Destination: London!

From Wikipedia:

London /ˈlʌndən/ is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom.[6][7]

Standing on the River Thames in the south east of the island of Great Britain, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. It was founded by the Romans, who named it Londinium.[8] London’s ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its 1.12-square-mile (2.9 km2) medieval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, “London” has also referred to the metropolis around this core, historically split between Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent, and Hertfordshire,[9][10][11] which today largely makes up Greater London,[12][13][note 1] a region governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.[14][note 2][15

Prehistory

Two recent discoveries indicate probable very early settlements near the Thames in the London area. In 1999, the remains of a Bronze Age bridge were found on the foreshore north of Vauxhall Bridge.[59] This bridge either crossed the Thames, or gave access to a now lost island in the river. Dendrochronology dated the timbers to ca. 1500 BC.[59] In 2010 the foundations of a large timber structure, dated to ca. 4500 BC, were found on the Thames foreshore, south of Vauxhall Bridge.[60] The function of the mesolithic structure is not known. Both structures are on the south bank, at a natural crossing point where the River Effra flows into the River Thames.[60]

Roman London

In 1300, the City was still confined within the Roman walls

Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romansafter the invasion of 43 AD.[61] This lasted only until around 61, when the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed it, burning it to the ground.[62] The next, heavily planned, incarnation of Londinium prospered, and it superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height in the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000.[63]

Anglo-Saxon London (and Viking period)

With the collapse of Roman rule in the early 5th century, London ceased to be a capital, and the walled city of Londinium was effectively abandoned, although Roman civilisation continued in the St Martin-in-the-Fields area until around 450.[64] From around 500, an Anglo-Saxon settlement known as Lundenwic developed in the same area, slightly to the west of the old Roman city.[65] By about 680, it had revived sufficiently to become a major port, although there is little evidence of large-scale production of goods. From the 820s the town declined because of repeated Viking invasions. There are three recorded Viking assaults on London; two of these were successful, in 851 and 886, although the Vikings were defeated during another attack in 994.[66]

The Lancastrian siege of London in 1471 is attacked by a Yorkist sally

The Vikings established Danelaw over much of the eastern and northern part of England, with its boundary roughly stretching from London to Chester. It was an area of political and geographical control imposed by the Viking incursions which was formally agreed by the Danishwarlord, Guthrum and the West Saxon king Alfred the Great in 886. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that Alfred “refounded” London in 886. Archaeological research shows that this involved abandonment of Lundenwic and a revival of life and trade within the old Roman walls. London then grew slowly until about 950, after which activity increased dramatically.[67]

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. 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.”[68][69]

After winning the Battle of Hastings, William, Duke of Normandy was crowned King of England in the newly completed Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.[70] William constructed the Tower of London, the first of the many Norman castles in England to be rebuilt in stone, in the southeastern corner of the city, to intimidate the native inhabitants.[71] In 1097, William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall became the basis of a new Palace of Westminster.[72][73]

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. For most purposes this was Westminster, although the royal treasury, having been moved from Winchester, came to rest in the Tower. While the City of Westminster developed into a true capital in governmental terms, its distinct neighbour, the City of London, remained England’s largest city and principal commercial centre, and it flourished under its own unique administration, the Corporation of London. In 1100, its population was around 18,000; by 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000.[74] Disaster struck in the form of the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population.[75] London was the focus of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.[76]

Early modern

Map of London in 1593. There is only one bridge across the Thames, but parts of Southwark on the south bank of the river have been developed.

During the Tudor period the Reformation produced a gradual shift to Protestantism, and much of London passed from church to private ownership.[77] Woollen cloth was shipped undyed and undressed from London to the nearby shores of the Low Countries, where it was considered indispensable.[78] 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. Upon the re-opening of the Netherlands to English shipping in January 1565, there ensued a strong outburst of commercial activity.[79] The Royal Exchangewas founded.[80] Mercantilism grew, and monopoly trading companies such as the East India Company were established, with trade expanding to the New World. London became the principal North Sea port, with migrants arriving from England and abroad. The population rose from an estimated 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605.[77]

In the 16th century William Shakespeare and his contemporaries lived in London at a time of hostility to the development of the theatre. By the end of the Tudor period in 1603, London was still very compact. There was an assassination attempt on James I in Westminster, in the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605.[81]

Vertue’s 1738 plan of the Lines of Communication, built during the English Civil War

In the English Civil War the majority of Londoners supported the Parliamentary cause. After an initial advance by the Royalists in 1642, culminating in the battles of Brentford and Turnham Green, London was surrounded by a defensive perimeter wall known as the Lines of Communication. The lines were built by up to 20,000 people, and were completed in under two months.[82] The fortifications failed their only test when the New Model Army entered London in 1647,[83] and they were levelled by Parliament the same year.[84]

London was plagued by disease in the early 17th century,[85] culminating in the Great Plague of 1665–1666, which killed up to 100,000 people, or a fifth of the population.[86]

The Great Fire of London destroyed many parts of the city in 1666

The Great Fire of London broke out in 1666 in Pudding Lane in the city and quickly swept through the wooden buildings.[87] Rebuilding took over ten years and was supervised by Robert Hooke[88][89][90] as Surveyor of London.[91] In 1708 Christopher Wren‘s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral was completed. During the Georgian era, new districts such as Mayfair were formed in the west; new bridges over the Thames encouraged development in South London. In the east, the Port of London expanded downstream. London’s development as an international financial centre matured for much of the 1700s.

In 1762, George III acquired Buckingham House and it was enlarged over the next 75 years. During the 18th century, London was dogged by crime, and the Bow Street Runners were established in 1750 as a professional police force.[92] In total, more than 200 offences were punishable by death,[93] including petty theft.[94] Most children born in the city died before reaching their third birthday.[95]

View to the Royal Exchange in the City of London in 1886

The coffeehouse became a popular place to debate ideas, with growing literacy and the development of the printing press making news widely available; and Fleet Street became the centre of the British press. Following the invasion of Amsterdam by Napoleonic armies, many financiers relocated to London, especially a large Jewish community, and the first London international issue[clarification needed] was arranged in 1817. Around the same time, the Royal Navy became the world leading war fleet[citation needed], acting as a serious deterrent to potential economic adversaries of the United Kingdom. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 was specifically aimed at weakening Dutch economic power[citation needed]. London then overtook Amsterdam as the leading international financial centre[citation needed].[96]

According to Samuel Johnson:

You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

— Samuel Johnson, 1777[97]

 

 


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