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London - Roman to Norman London - History




London

Skyline of London

History

Roman to Norman London



Roman London

London was found by the Trojan prince Brutus and run by heroic giants from the Celtic King Lud. In AD43 was the Roman invasion under Emperor Claudius. The first people who built a square mile, which is now known as the City of London, were the Romans. During the first of the centuries AD, they also built important bridges, roads and forts. The Roman historian Tacitus said that London was filled with traders and a celebrated center of commerce.

In 61 Boudicca, a widow of an East Anglian chieftain, rebelled against the Imperal forces who had seized her land and raped her daughter. She destroyed a Roman colony and led a march to London. In London they massacred inhabitants and burnt the settlement to the ground. The reconstruction of the city went until 200; also a two-mile(3km), six-metre high defensive wall was built around London.

Londinium AD200

In the fourth century, racked by barbarian invasions, the Roman Empire was in cecline. In 410 the last troops withdrew and London became a ghost town. The only things which were in conditon were the roads.

Saxon and Viking London

During the fifth and the sixth centuries the Saxons crossed the North Sea and settled in Eastern and Southern England. They built farmsteads and trading posts outside the city walls. In 596 Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory to convert the English people to Christianity. Augustine was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In 604 a wooden cathedral was built inside the walls. This cathedral was dedicated to St. Paul.

In the ninth century the city faced a new danger from the North Sea: the Vikings. The city was plundered in 841. In 851 the Danish raiders returned with 350 ships and destroyed the city. King Alfred of Wessex rebuilt the city in 886. He reestablished the city as a major trading centre with a merchant navy. During the tenth century the Saxon city expanded. New churches were built, parishes established and markets set up. In the eleventh century the vikings started a harassment. The English citizens were forced to accept a Danish King called Cnut. During his reign(1016-1040), Winchester replaced Landonas the capitel.

Edward the Confessor

In 1042 an English king came back to the throne, he was called Edward the Confessor. He devoted himself to build the grandest church of London. He replaced the church of St. Peter by a huge abbey: Westminster Abbey, and moved his court to this new palace of Westminster. Edward died in 1065 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

The Norman Conquest

After the death of Edward there was a fight over the throne between William, the Duke of Normandy, and Edward´s brother, Harold. William invaded England and defeated Harold on 14th October 1066 at the battle of Hastings. William the Conquerer was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. He granted the Bishop and burgesses of London a charter that acknowledged their rights and independence. He also ordered to build strongholds alongside the city walls, including the White Tower.

The Middle Ages

In the growing city of London, much of the politics of the Middle Ages(1200-1500) revolved around a three-way struggle for power between the king, the aristocracy, the Church and the Lord Mayor and city guilds.

The Birth of the Parliament

In the early Middle Ages the king and his court were travelling through the whole country. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Palace of Westminster became the seat of law and government. The Model Parliament was held in Westminster Hall in 1295, presided over by EdwardI and attended by barons, the clergy and representatives of knights and burgesses. The first steps to peronal rights and political liberty had already been taken in 1215 with the Magna Charta, which was signed by King John. In the fourteenth century subsequent assemblies gave rise to the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The relations between the monarch and the city were never good. Londoners guarded their privileges with selfrighteous intransigence. They also resisted all attemps by successive kings to squeeze money. Successive kings were forced to get money from Jewish and Lombard moneylenders. But the city merchants were as intolerant of foreigners as of royal authority.

City Status & Commercial Clout

Independence and self-regulation were the privileges which were granted by the Norman kings and were extended by the monarchs which are followed them. In 1119 the city was formally recognised as a commune and, in 1197, won control of the Thames, including lucrative fishing rights. In 1215 the city right "to elect every year a major" was confirmed by King John. The major had a position of great authority over the Sheriff and the Bishop of London.

In the next two centuries the influence of th trad and craft guilds increased as trade with Europe grew. There were many imports over the London bridges: fine cloth, furs, wine, spices and precious metals. Also port dues and taxes were paid to custums officials. The city´s markets drew produce from miles around. There were also street markets around Westcheap(Cheapside) and Eastcheap. They were crammed with a variety of goods. Also foreign traders and craftsman settled around the port. The population of the city grew from about 18,000 in 1100 to over 50,000 in the 1340s.

The Black Death & The Peasants´ Revolt

The bad hygiene became a big problem in the city. Water was provided in cisterns at Cheapside and elsewhere, but the supply was limited. There was no proper sewage system, and in the streets around Smithsfield butchers dumped the entrails of slaughtered animals.

These conditions provided the ground for the greatest catastrophe of the Middle Ages: the Black Death of 1348-49. Rats on ships from Europe carried the plague to England. 30 per cent of the English population died because of it. Though the epidemic abated, it was to recure in London on several occasions during the next three centuries. These outbreaks left the labour market shorthanded, causing unrest among the overworked peasants. The imposition of a poll tax caused the Peasants´ revolt. Led by Jack Strew from Wessex and Wat Tyler from Kent, thousands marched on London in 1381. The Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered, the Savoy Palace on the Strand was destroyed and hundreds of prisoners were set free. Wat Tyler was fatally stabbed by Lord Mayor William Walworth as the 14-year-old Richard II rode out to visit the rioters. The other ringleaders were subsequently rounded up and hanged. But no more poll taxes were imposed.

The death of Wat Tyler(left) and Richard II adressing the peasants(right).

Churches and monasteries

London had a large number of parish and monastic churches. There was also the great Gothic cathedral of St. Paul. The majority of Londoners were allowed access to the major churches, but the lives of most of them revolved around their own local parish places of worship. Many churches were linked to particular craft and trade guilds.

The crusading Knights Templars and Knights Hospitallers were  two of the earliest religious orders to settle. But the increasingly unruly Templars were disbanded in 1312 by the Pope. The surviving church of St. Barthalomew-the-Great and the names of St. Helen´s Bishopsgate, Spitalsfields and St. Martin´s-le-Grand are all reminders of these early monasteries and convents. The friars were social workers who lived outside the city walls. Their names are still in evidence around Fleet Strreet and the west of the city.

Tudors & Stuarts

Henry VII & The Englisch Reformation

Henry VII was succeeded in 1509 by Henry VIII. Henry´s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon failed to produce an heir so the king, in 1527, determined that this union should be annulled. As the Pope refused to   co-operate, Henry VIII defied the Catholic Church. He founded the Church of England, in which he himself was the Supreme head. If anyone refused to go along with his plan, he ordered this person to be executed(including his chancellor Sir Thomas Moore). The dissolution of the monasteries transformed the face of the medieval city.

A more positive happening of Henry´s reign was that he developed a professional navy and founded the Royal Dockyards at Woolwhich. He also established palaces at Hampton Court and Whitehall, and built a residence at St. James´s Palace. Much of the land annexed for hunting became the royal parks , including Hyde, Regent´s and Greenwich park.



There was a brief Catholic revival under Queen Mary(1553-58), and her marriage to Philip II of Spain. She had 300 Protestants burned, earning her the nickname "Bloody Mary".

Elizabethan London

Elizabeth I´s reign(1558-1603) saw a flowering of English commerce and arts. In 1566 Sir Thomas Gresham founded the first trading centre in London, the Royal exchange. The merchant ventures and the first joint-stock companies established new trading enterprises. In 1580, Elizabeth knighted Sir Francis Drake on his return from a three-year circumnavigation. Eight years later, Drake and Howard defeated the Spanish Armada.

Because of the trade increased, London had a population of 200000 in 1600. But many people lived in dirt, with plague and fire as constant hazards. The glory of the Elizabethan Era was the development of English drama, popular with all social classes. Two famous rival theatres, the Rose(1587) and the Globe(1599), were erected on the south of the Thames at bankside. It was here that the plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare were performed.

Elizabeth I

The Tudor dynasty ended with Elizabeth´s death in 1603. Her successor, the Stuart King James I, narrowly escaped assassination on November 5th 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot were discovered underneath the Palace of Westminster. The Gunpowder Plot was a protest at the failure to improve conditions for the persecuted Catholics

Civil War

Charles I succeeded his father in 1625 and gradually fell out with the city of London. The last straw came in 1642 when he intruded in the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to arrest five Members of Parliament. The country slid into a civil war(1642-49) between the supporters of the parliament(led by the Puritan Oliver Cromwell) and those of the king.

Both sides knew that the control of the country´s major city and port was vital for victory. The sympathies of the London citizens were with the Parliamenterians and in 1642 24,000 of them assembled at Turnham Green to fight against the army of Charles. He was never too seriously threatening the capital again and, eventually, the Royalists were defeated. Charles was declared guilty and , on January 30th 1649, was beheaded outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

For the next 11 years the country was ruled as a commonwealth country by Cromwell. In 1660 Charles II returned from his exil and was crowned to the new king.

Plague, Fire & The "Glorious Revolution"

There were two major catastrophes under Charles´s reign in the capital. In 1665, the most serious outbreak of the bubonic plague since the black death devastated the capital´s population. Nearly 100000 Londoners died. And in September 1666, another catastrophe struck. The fire that spread from a carelessly tended oven in a bakery in Pudding Lane was to rage for three days and consume four-fifths of the city, including 87 churches, 44 livery company halls and more than 13,000 houses.

Here was the chance to rebuild as a spacious, rationally planned modern city. Many blueprints were made, but the city was rebuilt in a medival construction. But a new St. Paul´s was built, this was the first Protestanic church of the world. Many residents moved up to the West End. In the city the Royal Exchange was rebuilt, but merchants increasingly used the new coffee houses to exchange news. The City was emerging as a financial centre.

Anti Catholic feelings still ran high, so the accession of the Catholic James in 1685 aroused fears of return to Catholicism. So William of Orange, a Dutch Protestant, was invited to take the throne with his wife Mary Stuart(James´s daughter). One of the most significant developments in William´s reign was the founding of the Bank of England in 1694.

Georgian London

After the death of Queen Anne the throne passed to King George(1714-27). He was a great-grandson of James I. George had been born and brought up in Hannover, Germany. He never learned English, and was the first of four-reigning Georges in the Hannoverian line. Under his reign was Britain´s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. He was also presented with 10 Downing Street as his residence.

During the 18th century, London grew very fast, both in population and built-up area. South London became more accessible with the opening of the first new bridges, Westminste Bridge(1750) and Blackfairs Bridge(1763). Until then, London bridge had been the only bridge over the River Thames.

Poverty & Crime

In the older districts, people lived in terrible squalor and poverty. Fleet Street and St. Giles were the most notorious slums, only a short distance from streets of fashionable residences. Becaus of this, many Londoners drank excessively. The well-off seemed totally complacent. They regularly amused themselves at the popular Renelagh or Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Public executions at Tyburn were among the most popular events in the social calendar.

The outrageous imbalance in distribution of wealth encouraged crime: robberies in the West End often took place in broad daylight. In 1751 the satirical writer Henry Fielding established a volunteer force of "thief-takers". This gruop of early cops were the forerunners of todays Metropolitan Police. Riots were also a regular reaction to middlemen charging extortionate prices. In 1780 there was the most violent riot, called anti-Catholic Gordon Riot, leaving 300 people dead.

It was not only the population of London that was on the rise in the 18th Century. Country people drifted to towns in large numbers. The East End was increasingly the focus for poor immigrant labourers. By 1801, London´d population had grown top almost a million, the largest in Europe.

The Victorian era

The British Empire spanned a fifth of the Globe and London was also a chief ports and the world´s largest manufacturing centre. On the one hand London was the city of fine shops, museums and theatres; on the other it was a city of poverty, disease and prostitution.

During the reign of Queen Victoria thousands of acres were covered with housing, roads and railway lines. Today nearly every house in a random of 8 km of central London, is from the Victorian Era. By the end of the 19th century the city population grew over six million. So the Metropolitan Board of Works installed an efficient sewerage system, street lights and better roads.

Queen Victoria I

The Railways

The Victorian expansion of London would not have been possible without an efficient public transport network to bring workers to the new suburbs outside London. The horse-drawn bus appeared on London´s streets in 1829. The opening of the first railway between Greenwich and London in 1836 hailed to the future. In 1863 the first underground line proved an instant success, attracting more than 30,000 people on the first day. The world´s first electric track in a deep tunnel opened in 1890 between the city and Stockwell.

The Great Exhibition

The Great Exhibition in 1851 captured the spirit of the age: confidence and pride, discovery and invention. Prince Albert was involved in the organisation of this event, for which the Crystal Palace was erected in Hyde Park. About six million visitors came to the Exhibition. After it , the palace was moved to Sydenham and used as an exhibition centre until it was destroyed by fire in 1936.

The twentieth century

A touch Parisian chic came under the reign of Edward VII(1901-10). For example: the Ritz Hotel at Piccadillyan the Café Royal. Also the first American style store opened in Oxford Street in 1909. Entertainment for the little people was made at the music hall. Road transport was revolutionised. Motor cars were seen around the city, and the first motor bus was introduced in 1904, and five years later house-drawn buses had been abandoned.




London suffered its first air raids in World War I. The first bomb over the city was dropped in September 1915, to be followed by many nightly raids. All in all, about 650 people lost their lives because of Zeppelin raids.

Between the Wars

Political change happened quickly after WWI. After a government of the liberal party, the Labour Party had enough Members of Parliament to build a new government in 1924. It was the "roaring twenties", who flitted from parties in Mayfait to dance in Ritz. But the biggest class of the population was too poor for this and lived in the post-war slums.

Civil disturbances, caused by rising unemployment and an increased cost of living, resulted in an general strike in 1926. Prime Minister Baldwin encouraged volunteers to take over the public services and the streets teemed with army-escorted food convoys. After nine days the strike was called off by the Trade Union Congress.

The economic situation only worsened in the early 1930s following the New York Stock Exchange crash in 1929. During these years, the London County Council began to have a greater impact on the city´s life. London population increased dramatically between the wars, it was nearly 8,7 million in 1939.

World War II

On September, 3rd 1939 Britain declared War. Afraid of air raids, 600,000 children and pregnant women were evacuated from London. But London had to wait until September 7th 1940, when German bombers threw their bombs on London. On this day entire streets were destroyed, the dead and injured numbered over 2,000. From 1942 the German army had a new weapon, known as the V1 rocket or later the more explosive V2 rocket. Over the winter in 1944, 500 V2s dropped over London, mostly in East End. Victory in Europe(VE Day) was declared on May 8th 1945. Thousands of people went to the streets of London to celebrate. After the war a third of the city and the East End was in ruins.

Postwar London

The new Labour government established the National Health Service in 1948, and began a massive nationalisation programme. In London, the most immediate problem was a critical shortage of housing. The new big houses were often badly built and unpopular with residents. The Olympic Games happened 1948 in London.

In 1950s life and prosperty gradually returned to London. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 had been the biggest television broadcast in history. However, the population dropped by half a million in the late 1950s. Many West Indians came to London and the City welcomed these new emigrants very friendly. The most tolerant area was Soho. By the mid 1960s London had started to swing. The innovative fashions of Mary Quant and others broke the stranglehold of Paris, many boutiques opened along King´s Road. The year of student unrest throughout Europe, 1968, saw the first issue of Time Out. The decade ended with the last Beatles album and the free gig of the Rolling Stones in Hyde Patk on which around half a million people were.

Many Londoners remembered the 1970s as a decade of economic strife. The IRA began ist bombing campaign on mainland Britain. In 1979 a new political life began in Britain as the Conservatives won the general election. Margaret Thatcher was the first woman prime minister. A monetarist policy and cuts in public services divided the poor and the rich. In London riots errupted in Brixton and Tottenham in the early 1980s.

Margaret Thatcher, 1983

The Greater London Council mounted spirited opposition to the Thatcher government. Since then London has been without an elected governing body, 2000 the first mayor was elected.

1990s

In 1990 there was a hope for London. John Major replaced Thatcher as leader of the Conservative Party. A riot in Trafalgar Square had helped to see off both Maggie and her inequitable Poll Tax. The main problem of the city was homelessness. After the re-election of the Conservatives a bomb of the IRA detonated in the city.

In May 1997 the Labour Party won the general election. Though the Labour Government has not yet delivered all its promises, its popularity hasn´t waned and the general mood in London today remains one of optimism.

The Millennium

The Millennium Celebration in London was a very spectacular one. There is the Millennium Dome in Greenwich. It was "the most spectacular millennium event anywhere in the world".

The Richard Rogers Partnership designed the Dome. And there is no denying that the structure is something for itself. The largest roof in the world(8 hectares) is stretched over 12 masts. The Millennium Dome housed 15 exhibitions with the following themes: work, learning, money, body(take a journey through the human body), play, journey, shared ground(communities), living island (a look at the UK's environment), home planet(global travel), talk(communication and the future), faith (and beliefe), rest, mind, self portrait(UK people and places) and skysrape (2 x 2,500 seat cinemas, live events and concerts). Up to 6 live shows were performed every day.

The Millenium Dome

The Millennium Experience´s has the sense to "exploring the possibilitiesof the own personal future in the next millennium". The question was how the producers could realise this. The main problem was the huge queues for the more popular exhibits like the body zone. At the beginning most visitors said that extra attractions may be added. The Dome cost 758 million pounds. But the most people thought that this money was well spent.

Climate

Modern London has the equable climate of South East England, with mild winters and temperate summers. The average daytime air temperature is 52° F (11° C), with 42° F (5.5° C) in January and 65° F (18° C) in July. Statistics show that the sun shines, however briefly, on five days out of six. Londoners shed their winter overcoats in April or May and begin to dress warmly again in late October. The prevailing wind is west-southwest. Because of the sheltering effect of the Chiltern Hills and North Downs, the city has slightly less rainfall than the Home Counties. In an average year one can expect 200 dry days out of 365 and a precipitation total of about 23 inches (585 mm) quite evenly distributed across the 12 months.

The average difference in minimum temperatures between London and the surrounding country is 3.4° F (1.9° C), but on individual nights the difference can be as much as 16.2° F (9° C). The chemical, mechanical, and thermal effects of the city also affect wind speed and precipitation. Downpours of heavy rain are liable to be more intense within London because pollution particles act as condensation nuclei for water vapour.

Sights

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, West End

London church that is the site of coronations and other ceremonies of national significance. It stands just west of the Houses of Parliament in the Greater London borough of Westminster. Situated on the grounds of a former Benedictine monastery, it was refounded as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. Legend relates that Saberht, the first Christian king of the East Saxons, founded a church on a small island in the River Thames, then known as Thorney but later called the west minster (or monastery), and that this church was miraculously consecrated by St. Peter. It is certain that about 785 there was a small community of monks on the island and that the monastery was enlarged and remodelked by St. Dunstan about 960.

Since William the Conqueror, every British sovereign has been crowned in the abbey except Edward V and Edward VIII, neither of whom was crowned. Many kings and queens are buried near the shrine of Edward the Confessor or in Henry VII's chapel. The last sovereign to be buried in the abbey was George II (1760); since then they have been buried at Windsor Castle.



The abbey is crowded with the tombs and memorials of famous British subjects, such as Sir Isaac Newton, David Livingstone, and Ernest Rutherford. Part of the south transept is well known as Poets' Corner and includes the tombs of Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson (who was buried upright), John Dryden, Robert Browning, and many others. The north transept has many memorials to British statesmen. The grave of the "Unknown Warrior," whose remains were brought from Flanders (Belgium) in 1920, is in the centre of the nave near the west door.

Houses of Parliament

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the seat of the bicameral Parliament included the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It is located on the left bank of the River Thames in the borough of Westminster, London.

The building was built for Edward the Confessor in the 11th century and enlarged by William I, the Conqueror. In 1512 the palace suffered greatly from fire and thereafter ceased to be used as a royal residence. St. Stephen's Chapel was used in 1550 for the meetings of the House of Commons, held previously in the chapter house of Westminster Abbey; the Lords used another apartment of the palace. A fire in 1834 destroyed the whole palace except the historic Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower, the cloisters, and the crypt of St. Stephen's Chapel

Big Ben, tower clock famous for its accuracy and for its massive bell (weighing more than 13 tons). It is housed in St. Stephen's Tower, at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament.

The clock was designed by Edmund Beckett Denison and built by E.J. Dent. The name of the clock is said by some historians to stand for Sir Benjamin Hall, the commissioner of works. At the time of the clock and bell's installation in 1859, the name applied only to the bell, but it eventually came to indicate the clock itself.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

The Residence of the British sovereign. It is situated within the borough of Westminster. The palace takes its name from the house built (1705) for John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham. It was bought in 1762 by George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and became known as the queen's house. By order of George IV, John Nash initiated the conversion of the house into a palace in the 1820s. Nash also reshaped the Buckingham Palace Gardens and designed the Marble Arch entryway, which was later removed (1851) to the northeast corner of Hyde Park. The Mall front, or Fore Court (east side), was expanded in 1847 by Edward Blore and redesigned in 1913 by Sir Aston Webb as a background for the Queen Victoria Memorial statue. Nash's garden front (west side) remains virtually unchanged. Victoria was the first sovereign to live there (1837).

Since the mid-18th century the Royal Mews (stables and coach houses with living quarters above) have been located on the palace grounds; the current buildings date from 1824-25. Within the mews are the luxurious motorcars, dozens of carriages, and horses that figure prominently in royal processions and ceremonies. Notable among the carriages are the Gold State Coach (1762), the Irish State Coach (1852), and the Glass State Coach (1910).

Main Gate of Buckingham Palace

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is situated between the neighbourhoods of St. James (south) and Soho (north) in the borough of Westminster. As a traffic hub and neon-lit gathering place, Piccadilly Circus attracts visitors from throughout the world, many of whom sprawl on the steps of its stone island, which is crowned by the 1893 aluminum statue of Eros (formally entitled the Angel of Christian Charity, it was built as a memorial to the 7th earl of Shaftesbury). The intersection's first electric advertisements appeared in 1910, and from 1923 giant electric billboards were set up on the facade of the London Pavilion (then a theatre). Many of the surrounding buildings were redeveloped to house retail shops in the 1980s. The 19th-century Criterion building was restored in the early 1990s.

Hyde Park

A park in the borough of Westminster, London. It covers more than 138 hectares and is bordered on the east by Mayfair and on the west by Kensington Gardens.

The park shares a large curved lake with its western neighbour; the portion of the lake in Kensington Gardens is known as the Long Water, whereas the Hyde Park portion is called the Serpentine. The lake is used for boating in the summer and skating in the winter. In the park's northeastern corner, near Marble Arch, is Speakers' Corner, which has long been a centre of free speech for soapbox orators. Also in the park are the Hudson Bird Sanctuary, a bandstand, large fountains, a ranger's lodge, and, in the southeastern corner of the park, the statue of Achilles (1822), which recalls the duke of Wellington's victories. Not far from the statue, and nearly adjoining the park, is the Wellington Museum (1952), which is housed in a structure built in 1771-78. Nearby starts a celebrated riding track, Rotten Row, which traverses the park westward.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Suare

A plaza in the City of Westminster, named for Lord Nelson's naval victory (1805) in the Battle of Trafalgar. Possibly the most famous of all London squares, Trafalgar Square has always been public and has had no garden. Seven major arteries pump automobiles around the great paved space, which is dominated by Nelson's Column (1839-43), a 56-metre-high monument to Lord Nelson that includes a 15-metre-high statue of him by E.H. Baily. At the corners of the column's plinth are four bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer and cast by Baron Marochetti.










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