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London

March 7, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

The capital of the United Kingdom has a long, rich history that stretches back to the ancient Romans.

London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom and one of the largest and most important cities in the world. The area was originally settled by early hunter gatherers around 6,000 B.C., and researchers have found evidence of Bronze Age bridges and Iron Age forts near the River Thames.

Ancient Romans founded a port and trading settlement called Londinium in 43 A.D., and a few years later a bridge was constructed across the Thames to facilitate commerce and troop movements. But in 60 A.D., Celtic queen Boudicca led an army to sack the city, which was burned to the ground in the first of many fires to destroy London.

The city was soon rebuilt, but burned again about 125 A.D. More rebuilding occurred, and within a few generations the population exceeded 40,000 people. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D., however, the city was attacked numerous times by Vikings and other raiders, and soon London was largely abandoned.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons Why Rome Fell

The city’s fortunes began to change in 1065, when Westminster Abbey was established. One year later, after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror was crowned King of England. During his reign, the Tower of London was built, and in 1176 a wooden London Bridge that had repeatedly burned was replaced by a bridge of stone.

Bet You Didn’t Know: London (TV-PG; 2:21)

As the power of the Tudor and the Stuart dynasties grew, London expanded in size and importance. By the time Henry VIII was king, the population of London was at least 100,000.

READ MORE: The Wildly Different Childhoods of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots

Tensions between Protestants and Catholics, however, darkened the otherwise prosperous reign of Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I. In 1605, Catholic sympathizer Guy Fawkes tried—and failed—to blow up the entire British House of Parliament in the infamous Gunpowder Plot.

Real disaster struck in 1665, when London was hit by the Great Plague, which killed about 100,000 people. One year later, the city, which had swollen to about a half-million in population, mostly housed in wooden structures, was again reduced to ashes in the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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