|Archaeological finds have provided
evidence that London dates back as far as 2500 BC. Many scholars
believe that the London got its name from the Celtic words,
Llyn Din, meaning lakeside fortress. The Romans conquered and
settled the region north of the Thames River, calling it Londinium,
around 43 AD. The Roman settlement was originally a military
base but quickly grew to become an important trading center.
The first London Bridge was built in 50 AD and soon after an
impressive London wall was added.
After the Romans left London in 410 AD, battles between tribal king
were rampant and lasted for centuries. The Vikings attacked London
in the 10th century, eventually conquering the London. The Viking
King Sweni followed by his son Canute ruled over the region. After
Canute's death, Edward the Confessor took to the thrown. When his
beloved wife Eleanor died, her funeral procession traveled back
to London. Edward had a cross erected at every overnight stop along
the way. One cross still remains and can be seen at Charing Cross.
Edward's tomb is at Westminster Abbey.
After Edward's death in 1066, a battle for the thrown broke out
between the Saxons and the Normans. Ultimately, William of Normany,
later known as William the Conqueror, took to the thrown. William
had construction started on the White Tower, the core of the Tower
of London, in 1078 to warn off would be invaders and as a representation
of his authority.
Powerful merchants and Barons continued to influence London's politics
and commerce. The first mayor of London, Henry Fitz Ailwin, was
elected to office in 1192. The Crusades, Hundred Years' War, and
the War of the Roses dominated the 12th century through the 14th
century. However, London continued to grow and thrive has a busy
trade center. The old wooden London Bridge was replaced with a new
impressive stone bridge in 1209. Heads of traders were hung from
the southern gate of the bridge. London's primary industry of the
time was wool trade. The great plague hit London in 1348 and whipped
out nearly 40% of the population before 1349. Westminster became
the center for government in the 14th century. From the 14th century
on, the King summoned his nobles to council there. During this time,
London's population grew to 50,000 though living conditions were
During the 16th century, the monarchy was stronger then ever. The
Tudors achieved peace throughout England and the Renaissance began
to unfold under Elizabeth I. London's population continued to grow
reaching 200,000 people. Civil war broke out in 1642 when the merchant
class demanded for a potion of the monarch's power be passed to
Parliament. The merchants were briefly granted their wish. However,
the monarchy was restored under Charles II in 1660. This period
was also marked by devastation in the form of the Plague of 1665
and the Great Fire of 1666.
The Bank of England was founded in 1694 acting as a springboard
for commerce. London's population reached 600,000 by 1700 and the
city became an important financial and commercial center.
During the 19th century, the industrial revolution took hold of
London. During Queen Victoria's 64-year reign the city grew like
never before. Modern day London began to take shape with the construction
of new buildings and expansion into the south and east. The population
soared from just under a million in 1801 to 6.5 million by the end
of the century.
The 20th century brought with it a wave of new inventions including
cars, the telephone, and films. However, the city was devastated
by the two World Wars and the global Depression of the 1930's. Much
of London was flattened by bombs during WWII. Low costs housing
and developments were built on bomb sites. London became a world
leader in fashion and music during the 1960's. The latter part of
the 20th century saw the construction of skyscrapers and modern
buildings. More recently, London endured a recession in the 1990's
but has since recovered and has bounced back yet again to become
a vibrant world-class city.