The History of London
The hsitory of London is full of ups and downs, but finally, the city developed to be the centre of the world empire that, after the victory of the Spaniards, acquired branches and colonies all around the globe; Also today, where this empire does not exist any more and Great Britain lost its former supremacy, London remained to be a cosmopolitan city.
The beginning of London
During their conquest around the year 43 AD, the Romans also came to the British island and came across to the Celtics, a kind of people that appeared to them wild and barbaric. Also Britain itself and its weather was not according to the Romans taste. Anyhow, they subordinated the Celtics and established the colony London, forerunner of the London of today. Today, the City of London is situated at this spot.
In the year 61 AD, the Celtic clans raised and burned Londinium down, but with no lasting success, as the Romans oppressed the rebellion and rebuilt the colony. During the aftermath, Londinium developed to be a wealthy place, but under the Roman predominance. The city was continuously fortified by a city wall. Through a command of the Roman King Diokletian, Londinium became the Roman provincial capital.
By the year 400, the Romans had increasing problems with the Germans and took off their legions from Britain and by 449 they definitely gave up Britain. Therewith, the decay of London began. The Saxons, Angles and the Jutes were the new monarchs of Britain, who occupied the island after the leaving of the Romans. But at first, they voided the area of Londinium, it was Alfred the Great who repopulted the city area around 900. In the year 1016, London became the capital of England.
The Normans in England
1066 was a very significant year in Britains' history and therewith also for London. William the Conqueror, the King of the Normans, won the battle in Hastings against the Anglo-Saxons and took possession of England.
Thereby, the following centuries gave England a strong French influence. A big part of the English language has some French words, even if today nobody wants to believe it. And concerning food and drinks, the Normans had also some influence.
The climax of this conquest was the coronation of William the Conqueror in the Westminster Abbey. But wisely, he guaranteed the traditional rights of London. The dominance brought an economical boom to England, for example in the city building and in the trade. During the time of William the Conqueror, also the cornerstone for the London Tower was set, the White Tower as the centre and oldest part of this monumental building was originated.
The time of the dominance by the Normans is also the time of the folk heroes Robin Hood, who fought against them and for Richard Löwenherz. But Robin Hood is rather a ficticious figure, while the one of Richard Löwenherz is historically warranted. It was also him who contracted a charter with the people of London that deepened their rights on the Thames. Then, in the year 1215 under King Ohneland, the Magna Charta was added that gave the guilds the right to the vote of the Lord Mayor.
But the lower social class of the population, the peasants and day laborers, had no rights and were exploited. The resulting rage and hate finally led to a rebellion against the poll tax around 1381 and around 1450 to another rebellion.
Then, in the year 1485, the dominance of the Tudors and the Stuarts began with Henry VII. Therewith, the medevial era ended in England and the corner stone for the rise of the world empire was established.
Rise to World Empire
With the Tudors and Stuarts, also the great political and economical boom came to England and its capital London. One of the most known from these dinasty Henry VIII., of course also due to his women and the rigorous way he got rid of them. But during the government of Henry VIII, also a vivid building activity began, a strong boost of the arts and the establishment of the Anglican church.
In the 16th century, London already had 200.000 inhabiants, a massive amount for these times, and it also was the most significant trading place.
In the 17th century, London became the centre of the disputes between the catholic stuarts and the puritan Parliament, a thing that in the end led to the decapitation of Charles I. and converted England to a Republic for a short time period. But only after 11 years, with Charles II., a further stuart got the power and the King's crown.
The century provided even more catastrophies. The pest, the fear of these times, resulted only in the year 1665 in approximately 100.000 fatalities only in London. But the poeple of London did not get much time to recover from that. In the year 1666, a devastating fire raged four days and nights in the city and rezed four fifths of London.
But the London people did not give up and had Christopher Wren as general arquitect for the rebuilding. Beside numerous other buildings, St. Paul's Cathedral also belongs to his works. Despite of these drawbacks, London continued developing and in the end of the 17th century it already grew to 500.000 inhabitants.
The star of England also began to rise in the oceans. The war against Spain and the discreation of the Spanish Armada through the English unions set the course for the naval supremacy of England. There were continuously increasing amounts of ships leaving for trading, to discover new countries and regions and to dominate and colonize continuously new areas. By this way, England developed to be the world power of that times. London, as the capital of this empire, had a strong benefit from that with a strongly increasing prosperity, also concernig the arquitecture and arts.
But due to the incipient industrial revolution, people who belonged to the lower social class increasingly flocked to the city. In the year 1801, London had approximately 860.000 inhabitants and therewith, it was the biggest city on earth of these times.
The Victorian Age
The legendary Queen Victoria governed Great Britain from 1837 up to 1901 and therewith influenced a whole epoch. Her reign fell in the age of the industrialization that was related to an erratic development of Great Britain and primarily of London, either concerning the prosperity of the industry and technique as also the population. Also the colonization was further forced by it.
The initialization of the first railroad line in the year 1836 from London Bridge to Greenwich and the commencement of the subway line in the year 1863 also took place during the time of The metropolitan line was the first line of the subway of London that went from Paddington to Farringdon.
From the hinterland, the whole country and even from foreign countries, people continuously came to the British metropolis, thing that provided London a very significant step to the significance of big cities.
Still today, many monuments and significant buildings of London remind on this Victorian age. In this concern, the Houses of Parliament are to be mentioned, the Trafalgar Square, the Regent Street and Victoria Embankment. Of course, Victoria also perpetuated her name and the one of her husband, who early passed away, in numerous monuments statues. Thus, there is the Albert Monument at the Royal Albert Hall and the statue of Victoria at the Buckingham Palace.
Politically, Victoria did not have much influence, but her strict, religios and uptight influence in the daily life was strong. After her death in the year 1901, Queen Victoria left an economicaly strong Great Britain with a capital that, with 4,5 million inhabitants, was considered as huge at this time. But she also left a heritage that was unrealistic in many concerns and that grant a great significance to the oppression of other nations.
London in the 20th Century
The 20th century was for Great Britain and therewith also for London a century of technical revolution, but also of political and social changes. Two world wars and the virtual end of the colonial power shaked the fortresses of the royal house, even though the Brits still stick by their monarchy.
During the first world war, London was lucky to be mainly untroubled by the war damages due to its island position. During the second world war, things were different, even if London was not exposed to hostile occupations and combats. But contrary to the first world war, the air battles and specially the bombings played a much bigger role and London was the favourite objective of the german airforce. The city specially suffered during the bombings in the years 1940/41, with which Great Britain was supposed to be forced on its knees, and in the years 1944/45 during the missile attacks with the doodlebugs that caused 30.000 deaths. Specially in the city centre, the damages in the buildings were considerble.
After the year 1945, a hard time began. One colony after the other got independent and therewith, Great Britain continuously lost its status as a world power. The harbour workers specially noticed the effects, as the former economical centre of London crumbled as a result of this development; Not until the mid of the 80ies, a new orientation could be achieved, in which London became one of the leading financial centres. The exterior signs of this development were, among others, the former docks and accumulators that were rebuilt to modern office and residential complexes; With this new identity, Londodn started into the 21st century.
Also if the old times in which London was the centre of attention are over, the city has secured its character of one of the most important metropolis. In the 21st century, London is an important financial centre, one of the leading touristical cities and in the year 2012, lso the Olympic City.
The face of the city is marked by some new worthwhile seeing buildings, as the Millennium Bridge and the Millennium Dome, that until now lived a shadow existence, but are supposed to be requickened for the Olympic Games. If London can then manage to brush up its a little deadbeat subway network, the Olympic Games of 2012 will make the city even more bright.
In London, there are surely increasing problems with the immigrants, loosers of the globalization and increasing financial and economical problems. However, London is, as usual, a cosmopolitan city, that is surely worthwhile a visit.
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Author: Michael Nitzschke, Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz