History of London

History of London, its origins, the various foreign dominations suffered in the centuries before becoming the capital of the British Empire, up to the present day.

The origins of London date back to the Neolithic period (about 4000 BC) when they formed on the river Thames small settlements of populations.

Between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age (1000 BC)Celtic tribes settled on the territory of present-day London . The name London probably dates back to that period.

The city of London during its history has undergone several invasions of foreign people, such as:

Roman domination: Britain is conquered by the emperor Claudius and his troops in 43 AD. There a new province is established and a commercial port is founded, Londinium.

Londinium, destroyed by fire in 61 AD by the Iceni, was reconquered, rebuilt and enlarged by the Romans who built a first wooden bridge in order to connect the two banks of the Thames. The city becomes important geographically.

From 200 AD, was built a surrounding wall corresponding to the current perimeter of the City of London. Londinium becomes the capital of one of the four British provinces created by Diocletian. In 410 the Roman troops retreated to Germany and began the decline of the city and the definitive renunciation of Britannia by the Roman Empire itself.

Domination of the Jutes, Angles and Saxons: After the Roman withdrawal from the city, London is occupied by the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons. The Saxons set up a port outside the walls, Lundenwic, which becomes the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Essex and then also of all the unified Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The Danish Vikings in 851 devastate Lundenwic. 35 years later Alfredo the Great rebuilds the city, which knows a period of expansion to become the largest and richest center in all of England.

Danish occupation: After the Saxon hegemony, the Danish rule (1016-66) had great importance for the development of London that became capital of the kingdom. Edoardo the Confessor transfers the royal residence from today's City to Westminster, in the new monastery of San Pietro: here are the two nuclei around which the city continues to grow.

Norman domination: The Normans in 1066 subtract the Danes from England. William the Conqueror is crowned in the Abbey of Westminster. He orders to build the White Tower as a symbol and establishes the capital of London, which Henry I definitively concluded. The flourishing economy favors construction. In 1176 the first stone bridge on the Thames was built. Associations are formed between the merchants: the first Lord Mayor in 1189. The Crown can not help but recognize the power of the mercantile bourgeoisie. Riccardo Cuor di Leone signs the Charta, but above all it is Giovanni Senza Terra who signed definitely the Magna Carta in 1215 with which the guilds are entitled to elect the Lord Mayor every year. From 1376 the Common Council met, an informal meeting point, which would become an official institution, elected by citizenship, at the end of the century. It is only the bourgeoisie that accesses these rights.

Tudor Period: In 1485 the beginning of the Tudor domination takes place with Henry VII and the end of the Middle Ages in London. The sixteenth century sees a new development of the city economy. The first commercial companies are born. In 1565 the Stock Exchange was established. At the end of the century, London was the first commercial center with 200,000 inhabitants. At that time Henry VIII detached himself from the Roman Catholic Church and became the supreme head of the Anglican Church. It promotes intense urbanization and calls numerous artists from all over Europe to court.

The seventeenth century: It is a turbulent century, full of irreconcilable contrasts between the Puritans and the Catholic Stuart. In 1642 the civil war broke out that ended with the victory of the puritans and the beheading of Charles I. After eleven years of republic the royal house returns to power with Charles II returned from the exile of nine years in France. In 1665 the plague is looming , it causes the death of 100,000 people. In 1666, a fire in a bakery in Pudding Lane spreads everywhere, reducing 13,200 houses and 84 churches to ashes. The city will be rebuilt from scratch. It is at that time that the masterpiece of St.Paul’s Cathedral will be realized . London recovers and at the end of the century the population reaches half a million.

The eighteenth century: In the eighteenth century Britain becomes the world's first maritime power. London conquers its commercial monopoly, in relation to other English cities, thanks also to its port. Well-being is manifested in sumptuous buildings, wide streets, intense theatrical life. In 1760 the old walls were demolished and the city expanded towards Westminster. The industrial revolution makes London the most populous city in the world for the consequent arrival of masses of immigrants.

The nineteenth century: In 1801 the first census took place: 860.035 inhabitants. The port, strengthened in 1829, is the first in the country. However, problems and inconveniences increase. The Metropolitan Police was established again in 1829. The city founded its own police force. In 1837 ascended the throne Queen Victoria: it is a period of great expansion. The first railway between London Bridge and Greenwich is located. In 1863 the first subway was inaugurated, allowing the less well-to-do classes to reside even in the outermost suburbs. The writer Charles Dickens admirably describes the problems arising from rapid urbanization. In 1851, the year of the Great International Exhibition (Great Exhibition) is the Crystal Palace, which now no longer exists, the expression of progress. Of that period they remain: the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and other "symbols". At the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, London, which has 4.5 million inhabitants, is the most important metropolis in the world.

The twentieth century: London is also marked by the two world wars. If in the first one the dead are "only" 700, the number rises to 30,000 in the second conflict. The German bombing raids many buildings of the City to the ground. London, however, shows great ability to rise from its ashes. In fact, in 1948 it can host the Olympic games.

However, the imperial decline, begun in 1947, caused a serious blow, not only political but also economic, to the city, highlighted by the crisis of the port and consequent strikes by dockers and shipyards in the sixties. To address these issues in 1963, the Greater London Council was established, a body with broad administrative powers, dissolved in 1986 by the conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. On 27 October of the same year, the Big Bang day, a radical reform of the stock exchange was launched, making London one of the main financial centers in the world. In 1994 the great London touched the seven million inhabitants. Worldly, social and cultural events bring London to the forefront of the world. In 1952 it takes place QueenElsabetta II coronation shown in Westminster Abbey. Great musical concerts and stylistic transgressions in the sixties; the Live Aid concert against hunger in the world in the middle of the eighties; the funeral of Lady Diana Spencer in September 1997, which hit the world public and attended by many Londoners.