For about six hundred years the only bridge across the Thames in London was London Bridge, connecting the City with Southwark. London’s rapid growth and consequent congestion needed urgent measures that would facilitate traffic, so the shops and houses on London Bridge were pulled down, and large sections of the old city walls were destroyed. In 1750 a new stone bridge was built at Westminster.

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The British Museum was founded in 1753, at a time when London was being transformed from a capital of a booming European power to a global power-center of the largest empire the world had ever seen. In 1763 the end of the Seven Years’ War left Britain in control of a large part of North America, India and much of the Caribbean.

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While the early Georgian period, London was influenced by Lord Burlington, the end of that era was owned by Robert Adam and his neo-classical imitators. Adam was responsible for a spate of influential house designs around London, including Admiralty Screen , of Whitehall (1759–61), Syon House (1761), Kenwood House as well as Osterley House.

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Between 1760 and 1766 the last remaining gates & surrounding walls of the city were demolished. By then London was an ever-increasing area stretching in every direction, escaping for the first time in its history from the magnetic pull of the Thames & its meandering east- west course. With a new, young & in every aspect British King (George III, r.1760-1820, was the first of the Georgian era, was born & raised in England) on the throne, with improvements in manufacturing techniques and an exploding rate of growth in trade in the expanding British Empire, London entered a new golden age.

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The surplus of generated wealth was to a great extent accumulated in the British capital, although by no means evenly distributed to all of the people. The city was increasingly subdivided between rich & poor, the West End gentry & the East End working class. The new money of merchants & financiers moved out to more salubrious spots, beyond the ring of slums that was gradually encircling the growing metropolis, commuting daily to Cheapside & the Royal Exchange. Towards the end of the 18th century Britain had by far the strongest mercantile & military navy in the world. Profits & cheap new products from the new world, in many cases even slavery & its abhorring practices, all worked in London’s benefit which saw its grandiose mansions & buildings multiply. Some fine examples were the new Somerset House, or Dover House & Carlton House built by Henry Holland, Wyatt’s Pantheon on Oxford St., the new building of the Bank of England by Soane & Guildhall’s new facade or Shakespeare’s Gallery building by George Dance the Younger.

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New bridges across the Thames, new roads & transport infrastructure & most importantly the constant need for new housing from people that kept flocking in the world’s leading capital filled the new neighborhoods with new houses and residents. To the East & North crowded parts of the city, people suffered from poor infrastructure, insufficient street lighting, lack of paving & water supply. The hardships were only made tolerable by the almost unbounded demand for casual labor on the quays and wharves and in the service industries of the city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwall_Yard#/media/File:Perry's_Dock.jpghttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Blackwall_Yard#/media/File:A_View_of_Blackwall_looking_towards_Greenwich_RMG_D7333.jpg

In contrast, the West End was built to a higher standard. The new shops of the early eighteenth century were made ever grander, frequently taking the form of purpose built palaces of consumption, a precursor of  nineteenth-century department stores. New squares and commercial developments attempted to emulate the early success of St James’s and Hanover Square. The urban palaces of the aristocracy stood shoulder to shoulder around these formal squares, with chains, iron railings and padlocks increasingly serving to segregate the rich from their neighbors. At the same time the back streets and mews that filled the areas between the squares retained a diverse community of artisans, service workers and paupers.

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The defeat in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) would rock the boat of the mighty British Empire, funneling London with a group of repatriated colonists from North America, that were added to the already rich palette of Black African, Caribbean & Indian people one could encounter in the streets of the British capital. The addition to the pan-European pantheon already living in London, made the city a multinational melting pot that had not existed in a European city since the Roman times. The loss of the American colonies enabled Britain to deal with the French Revolution (1789), the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) & Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) with more unity & resolution. During those turbulent times London’s population increased to 1.4 million individuals. The final victory at Waterloo brought a revival of optimism in the country & a new drive for opulence in the city of London which celebrated the event with a victory parade of 15.000 troops at Hyde Park.

A large part of 18th century London is written with the help of  http://www.oldbaileyonline.org

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The Age of Improvement started with the construction of Waterloo Bridge in 1817 & Southwark bridge in 1819, the reconstruction of Theatre Royal  in Covent Garden, of the Opera House in Westminster (Her Majesty’s Theater today), part of John Nash’s creation of Regent St. The Age of Improvement also brought the remodeling of the Covent Garden Market in 1828, the creation of new shopping centers at Piccadilly, the establishment of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, of University College in 1826 & King’s College in 1828. In the same year London Zoo at Regent’s Park opened its doors.

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Prince Regent George IV, practically ruling from 1811 because of his father’s recurring mental illness, became king in 1820 at the death of George III. In that same year he commissioned Nash to enlarge Buckingham House, acquired by his father in 1761 and serving as the Queen’s private retreat since, into a major, 600-room-palace. The project remained incomplete until King George IV’s death in 1830.

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The new monarch, George’s younger brother William IV lived at the newly-built Clarence House throughout his short reign. Queen Victoria ascended on the throne in June of 1837, at the age of 18, after the death of her father’s (Prince Edward Duke of Kent and Strathearn) three elder brothers and the death of Prince Edward himself in 1820.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria#/media/File:Victoriatothrone.jpgMaturity

Queen Victoria’s 64 year-old reign also known as the Victorian era or Pax Britannica was the age of economic & colonial consolidation, of industrial revolution & great technological improvements but it was also an era of an extremely strict social code of conduct known as Victorian morality. London’s phenomenal rate of growth & global political, financial & trading dynamic was largely unrivaled until the latter part of the century. The largest city in the world was the capital of the biggest empire in the world, its port the king of all ports.

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The first railway stations such as King’s Cross & Waterloo station were already established before 1850, gradually connecting London to the rest of the cities of Britain while London Underground followed 15 years later with a line that connected South Kensington to Westminster.

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Buckingham Palace became Queen Victoria’s official residence in 1837 with works & additions of new wings continuing until 1850. In the same time the works for the new Gothic-style Palace of Westminster that would replace the destroyed by a fire in 1834 old Palace were mostly completed by the end of 1860’s. The fame of its 96 meters (316ft) high Elizabeth tower, also known as the Big Ben (a name referring to the heaviest of the bells it carries) would surpass that of the Palace itself. Both structures formed an impressive landmark that would be identified with the city’s image in the years to come.

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Despite its international fame and glorious new city-scape London’s problems were far from over. The division between rich and poor reached its zenith during the Victorian era with the works of Charles Dickens portraying these inequalities in a detail that would shake both his contemporaries & future readers.

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London’s sanitary problems would also become worse. The invention of the modern water closet resulted in the piping of raw sewage right into the Thames, London’s main source of water supply. Three cholera epidemics after 1833 and the Great Stink of 1858 prompted action from the local & national administrators who had been looking at possible solutions for the problem. In what was the largest civil engineering project of the 19th century, 2100 km of tunnels & pipes were constructed under the city until 1875, providing London with clean drinking water & a new drainage system.

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The dawn of the 20th century found London sitting on the top of one of the greatest empires in history with a population of 6.5 million people, greater than Paris, Berlin, Moscow & St. Petersburg combined. Electric lighting started luminating many of its corners, while the tram network & first motorbuses started operating during the first years of the 1900’s.

More pictures http://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/01/28/the-gentle-author-in-piccadilly/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trams_in_Londonhttp://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/01/28/the-gentle-author-in-piccadilly/

Despite its extraordinary progress, London remained a place of extreme inequalities & hardships for the majority of the people alleviated only by the social-housing for working-class families or almshouses created by wealthy philanthropists in central districts of the city and by the institution of workhouses well established during the 19th century. The Workhouse was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor from coming in and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. Still in some areas things such as the provision of free medical care and the education of children, were inconceivable to the poor living outside workhouses. Their inmates were in reality at a better place over the rest population of poor people.

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The declaration of war against Germany in 1914 placed Britain in the whirlwind of a World War that would last for four years. It would be the first time in centuries that the fighting would reach the city. In May 1915, a Zeppelin airship dropped about 90 bombs & incendiaries in East London which experienced its first aerial bombing in history. Although the first 2 years of war brought a general slump in business, the massive enlisting of young men caused a huge need for working hands. That brought women fully into the workforce for the first time. As demand for workforce increased so did the wages. It was actually one of the few times in London’s history that unemployment was in essence annihilated.

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After the war, manufacturing industry fell into a recession but it still continued to account for over half of London’s jobs. Until the second half of the 20th century, London continued to be Britain’s prime economic powerhouse although many firms started moving out of the old industrial areas to new sites on London’s outskirts. In the 1920’s London changed its mood. The lifting of war curfew in the early 1920’s created a novel night-life in West End. Entrepreneurs opened clubs, restaurants and dance halls to cater for the new crazes: jazz and dancing. The capital began to feel and act less traditional and more modern. Wireless radio was the technological marvel of the decade.

http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/murrays-night-club/#ixzz3TzsDqU96http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/MarconiHouse/MarconiHouseImages.htm

London in the 1930’s tried to be cleaner, more modern and efficient. It was increasingly a city of electric lighting and motor vehicles, rather than gas lighting and horse-drawn vehicles. In the same time the Capital’s old problems were being tackled by new public bodies. In general the decade was dominated by the growing threat of fascism in Europe. Violent clashes between English supporters of fascism and their opponents took place in central London and the East End. German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution began to arrive, many settling in Hampstead. War with Germany looked inevitable and the decade ended with preparations to evacuate London’s children.

*Most of the 20th century context is taken from http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk

https://www.pinterest.com/adaml51/george-davison-photographer/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Davison_(photographer)http://blog.museumoflondon.org.uk/how-the-east-was-won/https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:1926_United_Kingdom_general_strike#/media/File:Rally_in_Hyde_Park_during_the_General_Strike_of_1926.jpg

Although already familiar with the destruction caused by aerial bombings no one could prepare Londoners for the events that followed during WWII. More than 20.000 people lost their lives & over a million buildings were destroyed in the 57 consecutive days & nights of German bombings, between September of 1940 and May of 1941, also known as the Blitz (shortened from German Blitzkrieg, meaning “lightning war”).

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At the end of the war in 1945, London was a broken city. Numerous historic buildings were destroyed while some areas were completely flattened. The city planners and politicians eagerly seized the opportunity to reconstruct London as a New Jerusalem, a city which provided decent standards of living for all. Britain was now a Welfare State. As part of the reconstruction effort, skilled labor began to arrive from overseas.  In 1946 Heathrow Airport opened as London’s new airport, the docks resumed their role as the hub of the British Commonwealth trade, while jobs in the public sector increased substantially. In the same time heavy immigration from countries of the old British Empire changed the character of the city once again. Noting Hill acquired a large Caribbean population, Honk Kong immigrants settled in Soho, Sikhs in Southall, and Cypriots in Finsbury. The Olympic Games held in London in 1948 would symbolize the nation’s recovery from the WWII & the starts of a new more optimistic era.

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The 1950’s started with the Festival of Britain transforming the South Bank & attracting millions of visitors in what was characterized as a tonic for the nation. In 1956 one of the city’s future trademarks, the double-decker red bus also known as the Routemaster makes its appearance in London streets for the first time.

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The 1960’s was a time of new fashions, of fresh music & cinema, of new electric devices, cars, buildings & motorways. The rejuvenating & youth-orientated culture that took over the western hemisphere found its Mecca in the countless fashion boutiques & music bars of Carnaby Street & King’s Road that became the symbols of Swinging London.

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If the 1960’s was a swinging party for London, the 1970’s can only be compared with a nasty hangover. Economic decline & explosive rise of unemployment, closing factories & social tensions gave birth to another movement, typical of the widespread anger of the time. Punk London of mohawks & foul language, general strikes & IRA bombings, made the innocence of the past decade seem a distant memory.

http://scurgeofthenorthprideofthesouth.tumblr.com/post/30748397342 & https://www.pinterest.com/source/scurgeofthenorthprideofthesouth.tumblr.com/http://earmeat.org/tag/punk/

A new era started with the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The 80’s would be identified with the conservative governance of the Iron Lady. Her government’s policies enhanced the role of financial & banking industries in the British economy passing on to them the role played by the London docks for hundreds of years. In the same time many aspects of her policy towards the outdated manufacturing industries increased unemployment & created social tensions in a decade that was also dominated by excessive consumerism & a widespread Americanization of modern day culture & habits.

With unemployment and the value of houses on the rise, Thatcher introduced a flat-rate poll tax (a head tax with a fixed rate amount set by the local authorities).  Protests around the country culminated in a 1990 march on Trafalgar Sq that ended in a fully-fledged riot. Thatcher’s subsequent forced resignation brought to an end a divisive era in modern British history.

Maturityhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poll_Tax_Riotshttps://www.departures.com/fashion/1980s-street-style-london

John Major became Thatcher’s successor and attempted to make peace between both party and country in the wake of a divisive decade. The 1990’s saw a new mood of optimism in London. The capital began to think of itself as truly global. It grew relaxed with its multicultural population and proud of its creative buzz. London in the 1990s became, statistically, different to the rest of the country. The capital had a younger population and a far more multicultural one. By the end of the century 29% of Londoners were from a minority ethnic group, as compared to 9% in Britain as a whole. London’s cosmopolitan outlook was reinforced by new developments in transport. The Channel tunnel opened in 1994, linking London directly to the European rail network. Cheap airline flights brought new tourists to London and transformed travel and holiday possibilities for ordinary Londoners. Despite all the changes the 20th century had brought to the capital, London ended the century in the way it had began, as a city conscious that its fortunes were inextricably entwined with the rest of the world.

Section taken from http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk/timeline/1990-1999

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The Millennium Dome at Greenwich & the London Eye or Millennium Wheel on the South Bank heralded the entrance of the city in the 3rd millennium. With a population of more than 8.5 million people, a multinational diversity that spans from European to Asian & African in about half of the overall number, a dynamic economy & a huge array of tourist attractions that attract more than 14 million visitors every year, London stares at the future with more confidence than ever as one of the world’s richest, most iconic metropoles in the world.

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Despite the constant warfare & the devastating effects of the Great Plague London’s economy continued to grow. The guilds (from the Saxon word gegildan=to pay) took over a very central role in everyday life. The members of each trade began wearing common uniforms or livery at major ceremonies & processions thus giving the name Livery Companies to the trade guilds.  Each one had its own codes and rules, a distinct coat of arms and an assembly hall. By the start of the 14th century, no-one could practice a trade or set up a shop, take apprenticeships or vote to elect a Mayor, unless they were admitted to a Livery Company.

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The adaptation of the English economy to the high death rate of plague & war brought a significant increase of wages for laborers who became a more valuable & hence more expensive means of production. The legislation enforced by the wealthy elites in order to readjust wages to pre-plague levels but most of all the growing amount of taxes used to cover the expenses of war led to the outbreak of a revolution known as the Peasants Revolt in 1381. A whole spectrum of rural society, from artisans to village officials, clerics etc, rose up in protest & entered London where they were joined by many local townsfolk. The crowd took over the city killing many of the people associated with the royal government before Richard II (r. 1377 – 1399) finally managed to repress the revolution & kill a great number of the rebels.

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In 1399, Henry of Bolingbroke, Richard II’s first cousin, exiled & disinherited after his role in the Coup d’état that formed the so-called Merciless Parliament in 1387 (during the coup many of the king’s officials had been killed, including the Lord Mayor of London), returns to England & manages to gain enough support to have himself declared king as Henry IV. The former King, Richard II, is imprisoned for the rest of his life. Henry IV’s coronation on October 1399 at Westminster was probably the first time following the Norman Conquest that the monarch made an address to his subjects in the English language.

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Richard II’s deposition did not have any affect on London’s most famous Mayor Richard Whittington who was at the time serving his first out of four terms in total in the Mayoral chair. Whittington would be immortalized by the English folk tale “Dick Whittington and his cat”.  Whittington was the one who commenced the re-building of the Guildhall in 1411. He also bequeathed his fortune to form the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington which nearly 600 years later continues to assist people in need.

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Designed to reflect the importance of London’s ruling elite, the Guildhall provided a central venue for the guilds’ commercial transactions, the civic and administrative duties of their members. As the most esteemed member of the guilds, the Mayor, held the post of the Chief Magistrate. One of the most famous trials in English history that of Lady Jane Grey was held in 1553 in the Guildhall’s Great Hall, the third largest civic hall in England.

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Henry V‘s (r. 1413 to 1422) winning streak on both land (Battle of Agincourt in 1415) and in sea against the French and their Genoese allies who controlled the English Channel, were celebrated with much excitement in London which saw its naval routes open again after a long time.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:King_Henry_V_at_the_Battle_of_Agincourt.jpghttps://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/10925335.law-unto-powerful-king-henry-v---noel-coward-theatre-london/ Grown Up

Henry V’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in 1422 was preceded by a grand procession through the streets of London. He was buried in a large tomb erected within the abbey. The 36 year old king (at the time of his death) was held at such high esteem that his tomb became a place of pilgrimage in the fashion of a contemporary saint. He is one of the kings immortalized by Shakespeare’s writings (Henry V).

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By the 15th century cloth production was England’s biggest industry. Large amounts were being exported from London which was getting richer & busier by the day. The wealthy craftsmen and merchants were building their new large houses, some of them five stories high, in certain areas of the city mostly close to the Guildhall or westwards along the Strand, the road that had connected the city to the east with Westminster. By then the prestigious road was in essence joined with London.

Grown Uphttps://www.tripadvisor.com.gr/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d11805245-Reviews-The_George_Public_House_Restaurant-London_England.html

Henry VI‘s (r. 1422 -9 month’s old- to 1461) halfhearted continuation of the war with the French brought a collapse on the battlefields of France, with the English losing all their conquered territories by 1453. The military collapse affected the internal affairs of the state & the popularity of the king who was openly disputed by the House of York (male line descendants of the royal House of Plantagenet) & their supporters. In the Wars of Roses that followed, the Yorkist faction (with the white rose as its symbol) initially prevailed over the House of Lancaster (with the red rose as its symbol) with Edward IV capturing & imprisoning King Henry VI. Henry would be held captive in the Tower of London until his death. Edward IV became the first king from the House of York in 1461 when he was crowned in London.

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London would change hands several times until in 1485, Henry Tudor, the senior male Lancaster claimant remaining, managed to defeat the army of the last Yorkist King Richard III (r. 1483 to 1485), seal the end of the Wars and unite the two houses by marrying Elizabeth of York in a grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey in 1486.

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The first of the Tudors did not take much interest in further empowering London but left his mark nonetheless in the city’s architecture with the construction of Henry VII Chapel, a unique specimen of Renaissance architecture, with one of the most exquisite examples of pendant fan vaults in the world. It would eventually serve as his mausoleum in 1509.

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The introduction of printing by William Caxton in the 1470’s and the close relations between Londoners and the German trading network of the Hanseatic League (Reformation ideals developed in Germany in 1517-1521) would pave the way for King Henry VIII’s ( r.1491 -1547) famous rejection of Papal authority. What triggered the rejection was however the Pope Clement VII‘s  refusal to approve the king’s divorce in 1529 that would result into a definite schism between the English & the Roman Catholic Church.

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King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries that took place after 1535, in a city where more than a half of its covered area was occupied by religious institutions (about 1/3 of its inhabitants were monks, nuns & friars) provided a great number of religious buildings to the Crown & its entourage. Some of them were turned into private residencies, while others were given to the Livery Companies & the city. Urban property became the mainspring of London’s market while the former lands of Westminster Abbey were acquired by King Henry VIII who enclosed them and stocked them with deer to form a private hunting ground (present Hyde Park & St. James Park).

Grown Uphttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_James%27s_Palace Grown Up

A constantly increasing amount of England’s overseas trade (by 1500 it had reached about 1/3 of the overall activity) passed from the so-called Pool of London, which was the part of River Thames that stretched from London Bridge to the Limehouse to the east. That coastal area of about 4 km long was the beating heart of England’s naval trade and had everything, from Customs office, open wharves and warehouses, to smugglers and thieves trying to have their share.

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London’s population skyrocketed during the 16th century, due to its growing economy and the relative stability of the Tudor Kingdom. As the city was getting bigger & busier River Thames would prove to be the most practical & cleanest way one could use to get from one place to another. The old upper classes of nobles and the new wealthy merchants started building their new palaces right on the river’s banks in order to have immediate access to the boats that would carry them across the city.

Grown Up

The introduction of the printing press in the late 15th century evolved in a publishing frenzy in the 16th century. In the same time the discovery of the new world & the expansion of trade to Russia & the Americas created a new type of adventurous and open-minded citizen who found its Mecca in Elizabethan London which dawned in 1558. Elizabeth was Henry VIII’s daughter by his second wife Anne Boleyn who was executed two and a half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Her reign would herald the beginning of a golden era that would make London the most influential metropolis of the western world.

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The long period (1558 to 1603) of general peace, Elizabeth’s sound fiscal management and low taxes policy, her encouragement of naval expeditions and her tolerance towards both Protestants & Catholics created a very wide frame in which London prospered & the English Renaissance reached its apogee. Poetry, music, literature and especially theater with its most important representative in the history of the art, Sir William Shakespeare, who lived wrote and played in London in that same period, all flourished during Elizabeth’s reign. The Queen herself was a fervent lover of theatrical plays which were performed for her privately at court, most commonly at Whitehall Palace (confiscated by her father after the deposition of his trusted Cardinal Wolsey to whom it belonged).

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Not everyone was happy by the enlightened rule of Elizabeth I. Devout Catholics  identified their Queen with secularism and Protestantism. Their desire for a “re-conversion of England” led them in the declaration of Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, senior descendant of Henry VIII and Elizabeth’s elder sister, as their rightful queen. The situation escalated into an armed rebellion in Northern England in 1569 which was openly backed by Pope Pius V (issued a bull declaring Elizabeth illegitimate & heretic Queen) as well as the French & Spanish Catholic crowns.

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A wave of patriotic anti-Catholicism in Parliament shifted Elizabeth’s religious moderation into a pro-Protestant governance making London a refuge of prosecuted French Huguenots & oppressed by the Spanish Crown Dutch Reformers in the 1570’s. The violent downgrading of Antwerp’s leading role in world trade by the Spanish Crown (Antwerp’s trade accounted for a 40% of the world transactions in the beginning of the 16th century) but most of all the failed Spanish invasion & destruction of the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588, gave London a new thrust in its naval mercantile affairs. It also facilitated its ship-owners and their newly established companies in their risky endeavors to explore new routes into uncharted waters.

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By the end of the 16th century-beginnings of 17th the area east of London had the largest concentration of ship building & repairing docks in the country. It would play a central role in the elevation of the Elizabethan navy into the most powerful battle-fleet afloat in only few years. London took over Antwerp’s first place among the North Sea ports while a large amount of well-educated & economically vibrant immigrants raised the city’s population to about 225.000 from an estimated 50.000 in 1530. The clothing industry had evolved into the leading export business of London while trading companies such as Muscovy Company & British East India Company (ultimately came to rule India) had already placed their foundations & established their headquarters in London(1601) with a goal to bypass the Dutch monopoly in long-distance trade to the Far East.

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After the death of the idolized “Virgin Queen Elizabeth” in 1603 a funeral cortege,  from Whitehall Palace to Westminster Abbey, that according to the words of the chronicler John Stow caused “such a general sighing, groaning & weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man” the Tudor line of monarchs had come to its end.

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In the absence of an anointed heir, Elizabeth’s senior adviser & head of the government Sir Robert Cecil turned to the Protestant James VI of Scotland (son of Mary Stuart) who was proclaimed King on July of 1603, uniting the crowns of England & Scotland in a shift that shaped both nations to the present day. James I’s accession to the throne brought a new influx of population this time from Scotland, in a city that was already suffering the repercussions of congestion & poor sanitation.

Frequent outbreaks of severe plague epidemics recurred repeatedly in the first half of the 17th century. The first one in 1603 coincided with James I’s succession restricting the programmed festivities of his coronation. London’s surplus in people, income & naval expertise would be channeled in the newly established joint stock companies which were being set up to trade in various parts of the world with the right of monopoly to explore, trade or settle certain regions, granted to them by the Crown. In 1606 the Virginia Company of London & its Plymouth branch are given their royal charters by King James I, with the right to establish the first English colonies in North America. A year later 3 ships of 144 men set sail from Blackwall dock, downriver from the Tower of London to reach the coasts of Virginia after a long journey of 144 days.

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London increased the pace of its own expansion in order to cope with the rising population initially with ribbon developments along the major roads & later across the fields. Nobles & wealthy merchants purchased large plots of open country on the outskirts of the city where they built their mansions, creating new neighborhoods that would bear their names in the future like Piccadilly from a mansion built in 1612 by a wealthy merchant of picadils (stiff collars with scalloped edges and a broad lace in fashion at the time), or Leicester Square (from the small palace built in 1635 by the Earl of Leicester on fields north of Whitehall Palace).

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Emigration to the new world was also intensified in the 1610’s especially after 1617 when a new law approved by King James I replaced the penalty of execution over certain crimes with that of the so-called penal transportation. In 1620 the famous in American history as a symbol of early colonization pilgrim ship Mayflower begins its journey from London to finally establish the first sizable permanent English settlement in the New England region.

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King James I’s son Charles I ascended on the throne in 1625 and soon afterwards inaugurated an intense relationship with his parliament by marrying to the Roman Catholic Henrietta Maria of France. Charles’ slide towards absolutism with decisions such as the dissolution of Parliament, the imprisonment of Parliamentary leaders & the levying of new taxes along with his perceived distancing from Protestantism in the matters of religion ultimately led to the English Civil War between Parliamentarians & Royalists in mid-1642, with London becoming an anti-royalist stronghold.

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Although the Royalists managed to conduct some victories during the first year of the war, the tide changed after 1643, ending up with the King tried in Westminster Hall in January 1649 with the accusation of treason against England & his final decapitation on a scaffold in front of the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall.

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Τhe country adopted the republican form of government known as the Commonwealth & Free State of England and a number of people from both political & religious life of the city who served in prominent positions under the King were stripped of their privileges. Those were for example the people serving in the House of the Lords & the Privy Council (The Privy Council of England was a body of advisers to the sovereign of the Kingdom. Its members were often senior members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, together with leading churchmen, judges, diplomats and military leaders) who were forced to flee London, since the two bodies were both abolished and the whole situation was too dire for them to take. They left behind them a multitude of fine mansions which were either taken over by the new republican officials or immigrants who converted them into tenements filled with different families in every room. Some were vandalized & eventually became rat-infested slums. The city tried to cope with the tectonic shifts of the main political scene (Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1659 & Restoration of monarchy with Charles II & execution of the leading Parliamentarians at Charing Cross in 1660) while its size continued to increase with a large part of the newcomers living outside the city core, in wooden shacks inside shanty towns that sprung up outside the walls.

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With a population which exceeded half a million people and its streets oozing with animal dung, rubbish and sewage from open drains, the City Corporation employed rakers to remove the worst of the filth which was transported outside the walls. Most of the people walked around with handkerchiefs or nosegays pressed against their nostrils, because of the overwhelming stench. Although Bubonic plague was a much feared disease in a city that had suffered repeated outbreaks in the past, its cause was not yet understood. The Great Plague that broke out in the winter of 1664, surpassed in horror & human casualties all previous incidents. More than 100.000 Londoners or about 1/5 of the city’s population fell ill & died within seven months, with the King moving his court to Oxford & thousands fleeing the capital to escape the disease. Drivers of dead carts traveled the streets calling “Bring out your dead” & carted away piles of bodies, while theaters & other public entertainments were banned to stop the disease spreading.

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The calamity had just started to subside when a second disaster struck in September of 1666. The city’s Medieval street plan of narrow, winding alleys constituted of wooden in their majority six or seven-story timbered houses of projecting upper floors that nearly met each other created a constant fire hazard especially when many fire-related businesses  (glaziers, smithies etc.) operated within the city walls. The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2, 1666, as a small fire on Padding Lane in the bakery of Thomas Farynor , baker to the King. Within 3 days, five sixths of the City, fifteen of the City’s twenty six wards were completely gone, between them the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 44 Livery  halls & 87 parish churches.

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Although London had been almost completely flattened out & thousands were left homeless by the fire,  what followed can only be described as the silver lining. Charles II immediately requested for new city plans, that would place London within the lines of a safer & more organized pattern. The new buildings would be exclusively made of brick or stone, the width of the streets would be longer, the wharves along the Thames would be open and accessible with no houses obstructing access to the river while River Fleet (today subterranean), once navigable but little more than deep-sided ditch used to dump rubbish by the time of the fire, would be restored back to a tidal waterway with wide quays in the Parisian style. Christopher Wren was appointed Surveyor-General of the King’s works & was the one who constructed the 61 meters tall Monument erected near Pudding Lane & 50 new parish churches. St.Paul’s was reconstructed as a domed Baroque Cathedral which would serve as London’s primary symbol of pride for over a century.

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For a period of time after the fire London had been turned into a giant construction site but by the late 1670’s more than 9000 public buildings & houses had been rebuilt in the new sustainable fashion. Despite the plans many of them would follow much of the old street plan mainly because of the unsurpassed complexities of ownership that made the implementation of the ambitious new arrangement impossible. Nonetheless the changes were not limited to the raw materials used for rebuilding. Most of the aristocratic families chose to distance themselves from the core of the city, building their new houses to the west, in Covent Garden, close to Whitehall Palace & along the rural lane of Piccadilly, forming new upper-class neighborhoods that were clearly separated from the middle & working class parts of the mercantile City to the east.

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On the opposite side, the East End, the area immediately to the east of the city walls, pooled together the largest amount of noxious & foul smelling industries such as soap processing, clothe-dying or gunpowder manufacturing, workshops and businesses which attracted the majority of low classes. The east part also attracted many of the thousands of migrants arriving every year such as the French Huguenots which were increasingly repressed by Louis XIV after 1685. The East End became the safe harbor where many of them established their new weaving industries. Charles II’s death in 1685 & the ascension of his Catholic brother James II to the throne would cause the so-called Glorious Revolution in 1688 that would depose the Catholic King & enthrone his Protestant elder daughter Mary II & her Protestant husband, Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, William III of Orange.

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William III’s participation in the Grand Alliance against the French would help the English navy gain control of the seas & help in the growth of new colonies & trading posts in the Caribbean, North America, Africa & the East, which in their turn increased maritime trade & London’s role as England’s largest port. In the same time London was making its first crucial steps towards its transformation into the world’s leading financial center since the need for financial instruments & marine insurance led individual merchant bankers & insurers in forming their own joint stock businesses. In 1688 Lloyd’s coffee shop, frequented by the shipping community to discuss insurance deals, opens for business while a few years later in 1694 the joint stock company of the Bank of England is created after the idea of a London-based Scottish merchant with an aim to lend money to the English government.

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Lloyd’s was only one of the hundreds of coffee houses that had started operating after coffee’s initial debut as an imported eastern product in the late 1650’s. The first English plantation possibly around the -captured after 1664 by the English- colony of New Amsterdam (later renamed into New York) contributed in the wide availability of the product after the 1670’s . By 1675 about 3.000 coffee houses were operating in England many of them located in London. Each one was frequented by its own specified clientele and had its own distinct character, for example Will’s Coffee House (1660) on Russell Street, Covent Garden, that was frequented by poets & writers or Jonathan’s Coffee House in Exchange Alley (1680) famous as a nest-house of revolutionaries (in 1696 several patrons were implicated in a plot to assassinate William III) or White’s on St. James’s street that attracted gentlemen etc.

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Tea was another product the Dutch of New Amsterdam were familiar with and it also didn’t take long to be London’s favorite along with tobacco & chocolate which were all widely imported & consumed by the end of the 17th century. William III had left Whitehall Palace for the more remote & newly refurbished by Christopher Wren Kensington Palace while new buildings designed to accommodate the workshops & tradesmen serving the nearby gentry sprouted up all over the new aristocratic suburbs like Soho, St. James’s & Leicester Square.

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The influx of new waves of immigrants continued this time with the displaced by the Ottomans Greeks. The Greeks created their small community in the new suburb of Soho while the Jews who arrived from Spain, Portugal & Eastern Europe & set up their synagogues on the east side of the city. The Irish came to dominate the area around St Giles in the Fields, which became known as Little Dublin.

After William III’s death in 1702 his wife’s elder sister Anne became Queen with her 12 year-long reign standing out for the unification of England & Scotland into one kingdom, with one parliament, also known as Great Britain. She is also remembered for the successful British maneuvers in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) that paved the path of Britain as a dominant world power & the further development of the two parliament parties, the Tories who favored the landed interests of the country gentry & the Whigs aligned with commercial interests & financiers.

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The early days of the 18th century brought the birth of the first newspapers such as the Daily Courant the first daily newspaper published in 1702 from Fleet Bridge in London or the Spectator published in 1711 which catered to the demands of an increasingly literate population. Most of the newspapers of that period put up their shop along Fleet Street.  Despite of the Queen’s astounding record of 17 births no child survived long-enough to succeed her in 1714. The need for a non-Catholic ruler led parliament to the choice of her distant Germanic Protestant, Elector of Hanover George I, thus commencing the so-called Georgian Era for the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Georgian period in London coincided very neatly with the Palladian Revival in architecture and art. Lord Burlington, in his 1715 design of Burlington House in Piccadilly, played a major role in popularizing this classical style which became the norm for much of the century. A few years later, in 1725, Lord Burlington was at it again, with his remodeling of Chiswick House, then a country retreat but now part of the greater London sprawl.

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At the same time Grosvenor Square was laid out in the aristocratic district of Mayfair, as part of the Grosvenor family’s development. More London squares followed, notably Berkeley Square (design by William Kent). Kent was also responsible for building the Treasury Buildings at Whitehall (1733), and the Horse Guards building(1745).

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John was formally crowned a king in Westminster later that year (1199). After the loss of his lands in France in 1204 and his almost decade long campaign to regain them, the economic burden fell hard on his subjects. The general discontent led to a revolt of the English barons in 1215. The barons managed to seize London and force John into signing the famous Magna Karta which among others gave Londoners the right to elect their governing Mayor. It would be a milestone victory for democracy that would change the fate of England and London for ever. The foundations of a true democracy had been laid and the course of events would always lead to the signing of that significant document as the route of it.

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The concessions by the King John would not eliminate the tensions with the English barons who didn’t trust he would keep the treaty. The rebels entered the First Barons’ War with London as their stronghold. An invitation was sent to Prince Louis, son and heir apparent of the French King to come to their aid.

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Prince Louis (later Louis VIII of France) entered London with little resistance and was openly received by the rebel barons and citizens of London. He was proclaimed King at St. Paul’s cathedral. (Not crowned at Westminster as usual). After the death of King John in 1216, Louis seemed much more of a threat for the baronial interests than the late king’s 9 year old son Prince Henry III, who was declared King on October of 1216 at the Abbey of Gloucester since London was still under Prince Louis’ control. In 1220, aged 12, Henry III was crowned in Westminster Abbey, this time with all due ceremony, after a series of victorious battles against the French Prince and his allies.

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During the 13th century London’s population boomed with many of its streets nominations reflecting the various guilds that flourished in the medieval city such as Bread St., Milk St. & Wood St. (most of them still used today). Trade prospered & new wharves were constructed along the river to serve the increasing amount of over-sized ships that could no longer pass under the London Bridge. Wine from the Rhine & France was  unloaded on a daily basis while wool heading to the weaving towns of Flanders was usually shipped out. King Henry III’s devotion to the Christian faith favored the development of several religious orders that were supported in order to establish their presence in the city. The Knights Templar, the Dominican friars or black friars, the Franciscans or grey friars, the Carmelites or white friars & the Teutonic Knights all roamed and preached around the narrow streets of the medieval city which was shaped according to the typical city-scape of the era with the numerous convents, churches and abbeys that were erected dotting its map. Most important of all the Benedictine Abbey of St. Albans more than 10 km to the north of the city, famous as a place of learning. The monks who lived in the Abbey produced high-quality manuscripts in a workshop called the scriptorium. These included bibles and books on science, music and classics. Matthew Paris, one of Europe’s outstanding medieval chroniclers, had been a monk at St Albans from 1217 to 1259 leaving a huge collection of history and the deeds of prominent people in the chronicles of the monastery.

 

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The royal court along with the civil courts that were established after the Magna Carta were almost permanently held in the Great Hall of Westminster which was officially recognized as the clear political and legal powerhouse of the country. The canonization of Edward the Confessor who was buried in Westminster Abbey increased the abbey’s importance with King Henry III commencing its transformation from Romanesque to Gothic in 1243. Α turbulent period followed, marked by the first assembly of the Parliament in English history at the Great Hall of Westminster (1262 to 1264) but also by the Second Barons’ War  (1264–1267) which resulted in a victory of the Royal forces. Henry devoted his last years in the transformation of the Westminster Abbey into a prestigious pilgrimage site. He was buried in front of the church’s high altar in 1272. In 1290 King Edward moved his father’s body to a grander tomb in its current location in Westminster Abbey.

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By the year 1300 London was the biggest in England with a population of 100.000 about 4 times the number of its rival cities like York or Winchester. The hiking population and the poor sanitation conditions created a hygienic bomb  that would explode during a huge wave of one of the worst transmissible diseases in human history. The disease of plague or black death broke out at the end of 1348 wiping out about half of the city’s population in only two years. Many of the houses within the city walls were left uninhabited while the hospitals created by the monasteries such as St. Thomas’s & St. Bartholomew’s treated the sick.

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The end of the 13th & beginning of 14th century was marked by King Edward I‘s also known as Longshanks (famous from the movie Braveheart) extensive wars against the Welsh & the Scots. They would be followed by a full scale war against the French, mainly over the French possessions of the English Crown (from the time of the Norman Conquest), also known as the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453).

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England experienced a period of tranquility under King Edgar the Peaceful who was especially beneficial for London which became the official headquarters of his son King Æthelred II with many of the latter’s coins & laws issued from London.

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Æthelred II’s reign was marked by his unsuccessful attempt to defend the kingdom against a new set of Danish raids that eventually led to a pogrom against all Danish settlers in 1002. The siege and conquest of London by the avenger Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013 would make him the first of the Danes to rule the united kingdom of England. Following King Sweyn’s death only a year after his coronation the exiled English King returned & attempted to re-establish his rule only to lose his crown again, this time by King Sweyn’s son, Cnut the Great who became the undisputed ruler of the English Kingdom after Æthelred’s death in 1016.

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Knut managed to unite the Danes with the Anglo-Saxons on a basis of a cultural and economic partnership and not brutal enforcement. He invited Danish merchants to settle in London, in a move that would help the city build a reputation of tolerance. After Knut’s death, London reverted to Anglo-Saxon control in 1042 under Edward the Confessor, last of the Wessex line of Kings, who had spent a quarter of a century in exile, mainly in Normandy. Edward was a devout Christian and was in fact the first Anglo-Saxon and the only king of England to be canonized, venerated in the Catholic, Anglican and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He’s also the one responsible for the reconstruction of an old Benedictine Abbey that would later become famous as the West-minster, to distinguish it from St.Paul’s Cathedral (the East minster). At what was then a remote patch of land west of the city, known as Thorney Island, the old abbey was rebuilt in Norman Romanesque style and was dedicated to St. Peter in order for it to operate as the royal crypt. Edward’s new royal palace was built right next to it. The Abbey was consecrated on 28 of December 1065, only a week before Edward’s death. He was the first to be buried in the new abbey.

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After Edward’s death at the beginning of 1066 and the lack of a clear heir, a number of contestants laid claim to the throne, between them the powerful Earl of Wessex, the Norwegian King and the King’s relative Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror, descendant of the Viking Rollo who claimed he had been promised the throne by the late King. Being the most influential figure after the King, Harold II, Earl of Wessex, managed to gain the support of the noblemen’s council known as Witenagemot (meeting of wise men) which elected him as a successor one day after the king’s death. His coronation was held in that same day in the newly established Westminster Abbey.

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Soon as he heard the news of the coronation, William the Conqueror started to assemble an army & a fleet in Normandy, in order to invade England. King Harold and his English Earls managed to successfully defend his crown in September of 1066 against the invading armies of the Norman King but they didn’t manage to repeat their success a month later, in the Battle of Hastings which resulted in a Norman victory and the death of King Harold.

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Although William the Conqueror expected submission by the surviving English leaders he would have to subdue them by force in a series of battles around London. On Christmas Day 1066 he was officially crowned king in Westminster Abbey. William started his reign in 1067 by trying to reconcile with Londoners. He granted them a charter written in Anglo-Saxon, which provided them with all the freedoms of the citizens they had enjoyed in the previous years when in the same time he oversaw the construction of several royal forts along the riverfront of the city, with the White Tower of London being the grandest of all.

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Under the new king’s protection London prospered and its trade with continental Europe boomed. Its population grew significantly & became even more diversified with the coming of the new Norman settlers. After a great fire that destroyed many of its buildings including the original Tower of London in 1077, William would issue an unpopular decree that all home fires must be extinguished at night, known as cuevrefeu origin of today’s English word curfew.  Despite the new law, ten years later a large part of the city including St.Paul’s Cathedral is destroyed by a new round of fire. After his father’s death in 1087 William II also known as William Rufus took ascended on the throne of England. He is mainly remembered about the notable construction works during his reign such as the restoration of the Thames Bridge, the commencement of the works in St.Paul’s Cathedral, the rebuilding of the Tower of London in stone but foremost about the construction of a great new hall in Westminster Palace, the largest hall in England and possibly in Europe at the time. It instantly became the headquarters of the administrative institutions of the city.

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In 1100, Henry I the fourth & landless until then, son of William the Conqueror, manages to win the support of the English barons after the death of his brother William II and be crowned King in Westminster, despite the objections of his brother Robert Cutrhose, who failed to enforce his own accession. Probably as a gift of gratitude for their support in succession, the Londoners were now given a new charter of extended freedoms which included the right to appoint their own sheriffs, the freedom from all tolls throughout England and its main ports, hunting rights that expanded to the counties of Middlesex and Surrey and a reduction of the annual tax paid to the King. A massive token of gratitude. Henry I’s death in 1135 without a male heir, ignited a new series of civil wars, between the supporters of his daughter Matilda (also known as Empress Matilda, a title she had inherited after her first marriage with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V) & Henry’s nephew Stephen of Blois (his mother was the daughter of William the Conqueror), a well established figure in Anglo-Norman society at the time.

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The freedoms already given to them, the tradition of Westminster coronations & the increasing esteem of their city had led Londoners in a firm belief that they could claim the right to elect their King, a right that they exercised in the case of Stephen of Blois by proclaiming him as their new monarch with the hope he would grant the city a new set of rights & privileges. The period of civil unrest that began after King Stephen’s coronation in 1135 became known as the Anarchy due to the general collapse of order & constant warfare in the country.  It would only cease a year before his death, in 1153, when the king finally acknowledged Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet as his heir.

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Henry Plantagenet or Henry II brought with him the reinforcement of close commercial relations with France. That helped London regain much of its trade activity, lost during the years of the anarchy. The trade routes opened even further as Henry’s kingdom expanded in the lands of Scotland, Wales, Ireland & the greatest part of Western France. To a great extent his reign would be sullied because of his decision to suppress his highly respected Archbishop of Canterbury who was ultimately assassinated by one of his men. Becket was  was canonised by Pope Alexander III little more than two years after his martyrdom. Becket’s cult grew significantly during the middle ages, vilifying the king’s image even further.

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The English cleric William Fitzstephen in the late 12th century describes London in his work “Descriptio Nobilissimi Civitatis Londoniae” as a city defined by the Tower to the east, two heavily fortified castles to the west, by its high and wide wall punctuated at intervals with turrets and seven doubled-gated entrance ways, suburban houses of beautiful and spacious gardens on every side, tilled fields, pastures, and pleasant level meadows with streams flowing through them to the north. He also underlines the standout of the vast St.Paul’s Cathedral still under construction at that time, its bridge, built in stone after 1176, the only crossing of the river for miles, its thriving port with ships from all corners of the known world and its 13 large monasteries and 126 parish churches.

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In 1189 Richard I (the Lion heart), King Henry II’s  third of five sons, is crowned King in Westminster Abbey. Like his predecessors before him he would reassert the strength of the city’s Mayoralty embodied this time by the Lord Mayor of London, appointed for the first time in history after Richard’s coronation. Richard’s leading role in the Third crusade & the campaign to recapture Jerusalem from Saladin led to his long-term absence from the throne & the governance of his kingdom by a team of anointed councilors based at the Tower of London.

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The inability of corporation between the anointed ruling body became the excuse Richard’s youngest brother John Lackland was expecting in order to break his promise to his brother. With the support given to him by Londoners who always sought an opportunity to gain the most out of any political unrest for their city, John Lackland takes control of London. However in 1194 Richard returned unharmed from his campaign to reign for 5 more years, he forgave his brother’s ambitions and recognized him as his legitimate heir before his death in 1199.

Mercian dominance over London lasted almost until the first Viking invasions in Britain in the beginning of the 9th century, which after 835 AD started to take an alarming regularity. In 842 the Vikings stormed London in an attack recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the great slaughter only to return 9 years later with a terrifying convoy of 350 longboats that pillaged and burnt the city to the ground.

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In 865 the greatest army of Vikings ever seen in Britain, also known as the Great Heathen Army lands in East Anglia, leaving behind a trail of death and fire for 6 years, until it reaches London in 871, where it camps for the winter, presumably within the walls of the old Roman city. The Vikings established their power after a series of battles into a great part of the island known as the Danelaw (where the laws of the Danes held sway) and after plundering much of its wealth they occupied the land and shared it out. In the same time while the kingdom of Mercia was suffering from the Norsemen the Kingdom of Wessex was expanding its sphere of control to the south side of the Thames.

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The amputated Kingdom of Mercia passed under the control of Wessex, the only kingdom strong enough to put up a fight against the fierce Viking invaders who held London. In 886, King Alfred the Great (of Wessex), managed to reoccupy the city that was back in Saxon hands after 15 years of Danish occupation.

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King Alfred chose to restore the old fortified settlement that could be protected by the still standing Roman walls. The ancient walls were repaired and strengthened, while the protective ditch was dug again. Lundenwic was abandoned and remained known as the ealdwic or the old settlement, a name which survives until today as Aldwych. Lundenburgh became one in a series of many (33 in total) city-forts (burghs) in a more or less unified English kingdom under Alfred who entrusted the city to the care of his son-in-law Æhelred of Mercia. The new burgh of Southwark (Southern defensive work in Old English) is built on the south coast of the river, probably to protect a newly erected bridge and hence the re-emerging city of London to the north.

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Alfred’s firm military presence & ingenious defense system would manage to repel Danish threat from London. The city passed under the direct control of Wessex in 911, following Æthelred’s death (Alfred’s son-in-law had been assigned with the care of the city). London’s annexation by the Kingdom of Wessex took place 7 years before the official incorporation of the rest of the Kingdom of Mercia, pointing out the importance of London for Alfred’s successor to the throne of Wessex, Edward the Elder.

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By the 920’s, London had managed to resurface as the most important commercial center in England. Eight different moneymakers, English traders and sailors, German & French craftsmen such as wool-weavers & metalworkers were making their living within the re-carved streets of the city. Even after the official unification of all English Kingdoms under Edward’s son and successor Æthelstan (925) and although Winchester was the traditional West Saxon epicenter & thus the capital of the united kingdom, London continued to play an increasingly influential role from a political point of view, with the King holding many Royal councils and issuing many of his laws from London.

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Many historians suggest that a type of Romano-British continuity survived in London until River Thames became an active frontier between the Germanic Saxons, who had swarmed the southeast coast after 450 AD and the Britons, sometime in the 6th century.

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By 600 AD, about two generations after the first signs of abandonment, a new, this time Saxon settlement, emerged about 1.5 km outside of the walled Roman city to the west, between what is now Aldwych to the east and Trafalgar Square to the west. The new settlement was named Lundenwic, from the words Londinium and the Latin word vicus meaning trading town, as opposed to the name Lundenburh meaning London Fort that was attributed to the abandoned walled Roman city.

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The Middle-Saxon settlement (Term used to define the Saxon tribe that inhabited the area before 600 AD, as opposed to the neighboring East, and West Saxons) of Lundenwic evolved quickly , from a small village to a booming trading town of about 10.000 inhabitants, laid out on a grid pattern of about 600.000 m² on the site of today’s Covent Garden.

Seven distinct kingdoms known as the Heptarchy were formed by the Saxons in Britain at that time, with the Middle Saxons & London initially being under the control of the East Saxons or the Kingdom of Essex  and sometime before 601 AD being under the rule of Æthelberht, King of Kent.  It was Æthelberht, under the influence of his Christian wife Bertha, who accepted the missionary sent by Pope Gregory the Great , known as Augustine (St. Augustine of Canterbury today) in 597, thus contributing to a great extent in the re-establishment of Christianity in Britain. Æthelberht himself was baptised by 601. This is proven by a letter sent by the Pope, urging the King of Kent to exercise his power over the rest of the kingdoms in order for Christianity to spread faster in Britannia.

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Æthelberht did exert his influence especially in the case of his nephew Sæbert, King of Essex who was also baptised in 604. Right after Saebert’s baptism St. Augustine of Canterbury ordained Mellitus as the first bishop of the kingdom of the East Saxons. Æthelberht, built a grand new church dedicated to St Paul in London, in order to serve as the seat of the new bishopric. It is assumed, although yet unproven, that this first Anglo-Saxon cathedral stood on the same site as the present cathedral of St Paul.

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After the death of Sæbert in AD 616, Bishop Mellitus was driven out of London by the King’s sons and the kingdom reverted to paganism possibly as a result of opposition to Kentish influence in Essex affairs.  The majority of the city’s population remained pagan until a new effort of systematic re-conversion started again by King Sigeberht of Essex after 653 AD possibly an outcome of Northumbria’s political hegemony over the East Saxons at the time. The interconnecting shifts of political and religious influence of the competing realms would continue throughout the 7th century until in the early 8th century, when London passed under the direct control of the Kingdom of Mercia.

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The city’s  position on the map and the Mercian need for a port had once more rejuvenated its role as a commercial port by 750 AD with the English monk Venerable Bede (known as the father of English history) describing it in the beginning of 8th century as a trading center for many nations who visit by land and sea. His statement is proven by archaeological finds such as pottery, glass & millstones from France & Germany and by the series of coins from that period found in excavations, many of them minted in London.

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Londinium’s promising headway was disrupted in 60 AD by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe, who was chosen by her tribe & the tribe of the Trinovantes to lead the revolt against the Romans after her husband’s death and the attempt of the Romans to annex his territories in their new Roman Province.

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With the Roman army and Governor Suetonius Paulinus busy campaigning against the Druids in North Wales, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for the rebels who razed the whole city to the ground, killing anyone who had not abandoned it. Boudicca’s fire left a thick burnt layer of red ash in the soil still discernible today in archaeological excavations around London. However it didn’t take long for the mighty Roman war-machine to re-gain control of the island and for the destroyed town to be rebuilt, this time as a well planned and walled Roman city. The Imperial Procurator (a financial equivalent of a governor) of the Roman Province of Britain named Gaius Julius Classicianus was the one who rebuilt the city after the fire. He lived and died in Londinium. Parts of his monumental tombstone have been dug-up and are on display in the British Museum today.

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Its vantage point made Londinium’s re-building a more or less obligatory task for the Romans. By the late 1st, early 2nd century AD a booming Roman city, with a  forum (market-place) – much bigger than today’s Trafalgar Square– and a basilica complex (law courts, assembly hall, treasury & residencies of the city administrators) occupied nearly 2 hectares of land and stood three stories high. The forum was considered to be the largest north of the Alps. Along with the temples to Diana (St. Paul’s Cathedral today) & the god of Mithras found at Walbrook River, the public baths and the wooden amphitheater on the north-western outskirts of the city, all stood as witnesses of the significance the Romans gave to the re-established Roman city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium#/media/File:%D0%9C%D1%83%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%B9_%D0%9B%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B4%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B0,_2014_05.JPGhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium#/media/File:Reconstruction_drawing_of_Londinium_in_120_AD,_Museum_of_London_(34881481351).jpg

Ships with wine and pottery from Gaul and Italy. Olive oil from Spain and marble from Greece. Boats packed with export goods such as copper, tin, silver, oysters and wool, roamed the deep waters of the city’s port. The increasing volume in Londinium’s naval trade increased the importance of the Roman town which replaced Camulodunum (Capital city of the Trinovantes and the Catuvellauni after them) as the capital city of Roman Britannia by the year 150 AD. By the year 200 AD Londinium had a hiking population of over 45.000 people, an elaborate governor’s palace (beneath Cannon St. Station today) and a military fort, home of the Roman garrison. The fort was located near the city’s large amphitheater which had been rebuilt in stone after the fire. A defensive wall of 6 meters high & 2.5 meters thick defined the city’s shape & size for the centuries to come (today the Roman walls would encircle the famous financial district known as the City).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Britainhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Serapis_head_london.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphitheatre_(London)#/media/File:Guildhall_Roman_Amphitheatre,_London.JPG

In the context of the civil wars that had erupted within the Empire after Commodus’s death in 192 AD, Emperor Septimius Severus tried to solve the problem of powerful governors in Britannia that could prove to be a threat by dividing the province into Britannia Inferior to the north, with its capital at Eboracum (modern York) & Britannia Superior with its capital at Londinium.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septimius_Severus#/media/File:Severus210AD.pnghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia_Superior#/media/File:Britannia_Superior_and_Britannia_Inferior_(Map_of_the_Gallic_Empire,_260_AD)_Cropped.jpg

Britannia & its capitals had managed to stay unaffected by the gradual demise of the empire’s cohesion aside from the economic distress, until in 260 AD the island was swirled into the internal tensions caused by Imperial pretenders. First the island became a part of the Gallic Empire of the revolted Roman general Marcus Postumus  until  Emperor Aurelian reunited the Empire in 274 AD. Then in the late 270’s Londinium became the stronghold of two revolted Briton usurpers, who were defeated by Vandal & Burgundian mercenaries sent by Emperor Marcus Probus.  In 286 AD a naval commander of the Roman fleet in the English Channel named Carausius, set himself up as an emperor in Britain and Northern Gaul and minted his own coins from Londinium which held on to its role as the commercial and naval center of the island. Carausius managed to stay in power until 293 AD when he was murdered by his treasurer Allectus. Allectus succeeded him for a short period of time in which he even issued his own coins until he was finally defeated by the armies of Emperor Constantius Chlorus who arrived in London to celebrate his army’s victory in 296 AD. Constantius stayed in Britannia and Londinium for a few more months saving the city from an attack of Frankish mercenaries, former allies of Allectus who were now roaming the province without a paymaster. After eliminating the threat, Constantius replaced most of Allectus’ officers and subdivided the island into four new provinces. Londinium became the capital city of Maxima Caesariensis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallic_Empire#/media/File:Map_of_Ancient_Rome_271_AD.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxima_Caesariensis#/media/File:Roman_Britain_-_AD_400.png

Christianity had arrived in the British Isles already from the 1st and 2nd century AD. Londinium acquired a christian bishop from the very early days of Christianity the oldest recorded name being that of Restitutus who attended the Council of Arles in 314.  Another Roman civil war in the beginning of 350 AD had left the imperial military force on the island weakened and depleted leading in the devastation of 367 AD, known as barbarica conspiratio. Picts from Caledonia (Scotland today), Scotti from Hibernia (Ireland today) and Saxons from Germania managed to overwhelm nearly all the Roman outposts, sacked Londinium and the rest of the Roman cities and killed many of their civilians.

http://odel.wikispaces.com/Old+EnglishBaby

A year later (368 AD), Count Theodosius, sent by Emperor Valentinian I (364 to 375 AD), managed to re-conquer Londinium which became the headquarters of his successful campaigns against the invaders. Although the Romans ended much of the chaos, the raids and the revolts were far from over. In 383 AD Magnus Maximus, distinguished general in Count Theodosius’ army and military commander in Britain for 3 years, is proclaimed emperor by his troops. He begins his campaigns on the continent taking much of the Roman army stationed in Britain with him. During that rebellion London produces its last Roman coins in history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Maximus#/media/File:Magnusmaximus10100662cng_(obverse).jpghttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Theodosius_I#/media/File:Praetorian_Prefectures_of_the_Roman_Empire_395_AD.png

With the Empire struggling to stay on its feet the last of the Roman troops of Britannia continued to withdraw in order to protect the European mainland. In 410 AD (the year Alaric sacked Rome) a letter from the young Emperor Honorius instructed the cities of Britain to look to their own defenses from that time on, marking the end of a 400 year old Roman era for Britannia and Londinium. The Romano-British cities & London in particular, fell into a rapid decline, with many of its public buildings falling into disrepair while others were abandoned completely. Very few historical evidence can help us investigate the period of the 5th century also known as the Dark Age of London. It seems a small number of wealthy families managed to maintain a Roman lifestyle until the middle of the 5th century,(Roman villas from that period on the southeastern corner of the city e.g) but by the end of the century the city was mainly an uninhabited ruin.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Flavius_Augustus_Honorius#/media/File:32-manasses-chronicle.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorius_(emperor)#/media/File:Jean-Paul_Laurens_-_The_Byzantine_Emperor_Honorius_-_1880.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_of_Roman_rule_in_Britain#/media/File:End.of.Roman.rule.in.Britain.383.410.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames#/media/File:Thames_map.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celts#/media/File:Hallstatt_LaTene.png

Although evidence of a major settlement before the Roman times have not yet been discovered, scattered archaeological findings from the Bronze (13th- 8th BC) & Iron Age (600 BC to 100 AD), near the banks of River Thames in the London Area, indicate that the River may have served as the natural boundary between the Celtic tribes that had emigrated to the British Isles in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. The Trinovantes was the Celtic tribe that dominated the territory north of the Thames estuary & the wider area of what is Greater London today. They were bordered by the Iceni to the north & the Catuvellauni to the west.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catuvellauni#/media/File:England_Celtic_tribes_-_South.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinovantes#/media/File:Trinovantes_2.jpg

The Romans invaded Britain with Julius Caesar in 55 BC for the first time & later in 54 BC in the course of his Gallic Wars in two reconnaissance expeditions that did not generate any immediate territory gains for the Romans who favored the allied Trinovantes as their proxy tribe on the island instead. The Romans would return in 43 AD with Emperor Claudius and his legions landing on the east coast of Kent, this time aiming on a permanent presence on the island. The resistance of the Catuvellauni tribe wasn’t enough to stop their advancement to the river Thames. They would cross the river at a narrow point that made it easier for them to bridge, in order to proceed north. That site would later evolve into the nucleus of one of greatest cities in the history of the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_conquest_of_Britainhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius

The first crossing was probably a temporary arrangement of ferries or a pontoon style floating bridge but findings of wooden structures suggest there was a permanent wooden bridge built a few years after the invasion, about 60 meters east of where London Bridge stands today. By 50 AD a Roman settlement had sprung up on the north side of the bridge, at a strategic location for the new Roman province, ideal for ships travelling from the North Sea into Britannia and River Thames.  The town’s name, probably based on a preexisting local toponym would be Londinium.  Although Londinium was not included in the distinguished category of the Roman colonia, it became almost immediately a center of commerce between the continental lands of the Empire and the island of Britain, attracting all sorts of traders & people who saw a chance of profit in the newly established Roman outpost.

Although evidence of a major settlement before the Roman times have not yet been discovered, scattered archaeological findings from the Bronze (13th- 8th BC) & Iron Age (600 BC to 100 AD), near the banks of River Thames in the London Area, indicate that the River may have served as the natural boundary between the Celtic tribes that had emigrated to the British Isles in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames#/media/File:Thames_map.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celts#/media/File:Hallstatt_LaTene.png

The Trinovantes was the Celtic tribe that dominated the territory north of the Thames estuary & the wider area of what is Greater London today. They were bordered by the Iceni to the north & the Catuvellauni to the west.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catuvellauni#/media/File:England_Celtic_tribes_-_South.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinovantes#/media/File:Trinovantes_2.jpg

The Romans invaded Britain with Julius Caesar in 55 BC for the first time & later in 54 BC in the course of his Gallic Wars in two reconnaissance expeditions that did not generate any immediate territory gains for the Romans who favored the allied Trinovantes as their proxy tribe on the island instead.

The Romans would return in 43 AD with Emperor Claudius and his legions landing on the east coast of Kent, this time aiming on a permanent presence on the island. The resistance of the Catuvellauni tribe wasn’t enough to stop their advancement to the river Thames. They would cross the river at a narrow point that made it easier for them to bridge, in order to proceed north. That site would later evolve into the nucleus of one of greatest cities in the history of the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_conquest_of_Britainhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius

The first crossing was probably a temporary arrangement of ferries or a pontoon style floating bridge but findings of wooden structures suggest there was a permanent wooden bridge built a few years after the invasion, about 60 meters east of where London Bridge stands today. By 50 AD a Roman settlement had sprung up on the north side of the bridge, at a strategic location for the new Roman province, ideal for ships travelling from the North Sea into Britannia and River Thames.  The town’s name, probably based on a preexisting local toponym would be Londinium.  Although Londinium was not included in the distinguished category of the Roman colonia, it became almost immediately a center of commerce between the continental lands of the Empire and the island of Britain, attracting all sorts of traders & people who saw a chance of profit in the newly established Roman outpost. Londinium’s promising headway was disrupted in 60 AD by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe, who was chosen by her tribe & the tribe of the Trinovantes to lead the revolt against the Romans after her husband’s death and the attempt of the Romans to annex his territories in their new Roman Province.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium#/media/File:London-Roman-model.jpghttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Boadicea_and_Her_Daughters#/media/File:Boadicea_and_her_daughters,_Westminster_Bridge_SW1_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1317994.jpg

With the Roman army and Governor Suetonius Paulinus busy campaigning against the Druids in North Wales, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for the rebels who razed the whole city to the ground, killing anyone who had not abandoned it. Boudicca’s fire left a thick burnt layer of red ash in the soil still discernible today in archaeological excavations around London. However it didn’t take long for the mighty Roman war-machine to re-gain control of the island and for the destroyed town to be rebuilt, this time as a well planned and walled Roman city.

The Imperial Procurator (a financial equivalent of a governor) of the Roman Province of Britain named Gaius Julius Classicianus was the one who rebuilt the city after the fire. He lived and died in Londinium. Parts of his monumental tombstone have been dug-up and are on display in the British Museum today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#/media/File:Druids_Inciting_the_Britons_to_Oppose_the_Landing_of_the_Romans.jpghttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Boudica_in_art#/media/File:Boadicea_haranguing2.png

Its vantage point made Londinium’s re-building a more or less obligatory task for the Romans. By the late 1st, early 2nd century AD a booming Roman city, with a  forum (market-place) – much bigger than today’s Trafalgar Square– and a basilica complex (law courts, assembly hall, treasury & residencies of the city administrators) occupied nearly 2 hectares of land and stood three stories high. The forum was considered to be the largest north of the Alps. Along with the temples to Diana (St. Paul’s Cathedral today) & the god of Mithras found at Walbrook River, the public baths and the wooden amphitheater on the north-western outskirts of the city, all stood as witnesses of the significance the Romans gave to the re-established Roman city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium#/media/File:%D0%9C%D1%83%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%B9_%D0%9B%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B4%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B0,_2014_05.JPGhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium#/media/File:Reconstruction_drawing_of_Londinium_in_120_AD,_Museum_of_London_(34881481351).jpg

Ships with wine and pottery from Gaul and Italy. Olive oil from Spain and marble from Greece. Boats packed with export goods such as copper, tin, silver, oysters and wool, roamed the deep waters of the city’s port. The increasing volume in Londinium’s naval trade increased the importance of the Roman town which replaced Camulodunum (Capital city of the Trinovantes and the Catuvellauni after them) as the capital city of Roman Britannia by the year 150 AD.

By the year 200 AD Londinium had a hiking population of over 45.000 people, an elaborate governor’s palace (beneath Cannon St. Station today) and a military fort, home of the Roman garrison. The fort was located near the city’s large amphitheater which had been rebuilt in stone after the fire. A defensive wall of 6 meters high & 2.5 meters thick defined the city’s shape & size for the centuries to come (today the Roman walls would encircle the famous financial district known as the City).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Britainhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Serapis_head_london.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphitheatre_(London)#/media/File:Guildhall_Roman_Amphitheatre,_London.JPG

In the context of the civil wars that had erupted within the Empire after Commodus’s death in 192 AD, Emperor Septimius Severus tried to solve the problem of powerful governors in Britannia that could prove to be a threat by dividing the province into Britannia Inferior to the north, with its capital at Eboracum (modern York) & Britannia Superior with its capital at Londinium.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septimius_Severus#/media/File:Severus210AD.pnghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia_Superior#/media/File:Britannia_Superior_and_Britannia_Inferior_(Map_of_the_Gallic_Empire,_260_AD)_Cropped.jpg

Britannia & its capitals had managed to stay unaffected by the gradual demise of the empire’s cohesion aside from the economic distress, until in 260 AD the island was swirled into the internal tensions caused by Imperial pretenders. First the island became a part of the Gallic Empire of the revolted Roman general Marcus Postumus  until  Emperor Aurelian reunited the Empire in 274 AD. Then in the late 270’s Londinium became the stronghold of two revolted Briton usurpers, who were defeated by Vandal & Burgundian mercenaries sent by Emperor Marcus Probus.  In 286 AD a naval commander of the Roman fleet in the English Channel named Carausius, set himself up as an emperor in Britain and Northern Gaul and minted his own coins from Londinium which held on to its role as the commercial and naval center of the island. Carausius managed to stay in power until 293 AD when he was murdered by his treasurer Allectus. Allectus succeeded him for a short period of time in which he even issued his own coins until he was finally defeated by the armies of Emperor Constantius Chlorus who arrived in London to celebrate his army’s victory in 296 AD. Constantius stayed in Britannia and Londinium for a few more months saving the city from an attack of Frankish mercenaries, former allies of Allectus who were now roaming the province without a paymaster. After eliminating the threat, Constantius replaced most of Allectus’ officers and subdivided the island into four new provinces. Londinium became the capital city of Maxima Caesariensis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallic_Empire#/media/File:Map_of_Ancient_Rome_271_AD.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxima_Caesariensis#/media/File:Roman_Britain_-_AD_400.png

Christianity had arrived in the British Isles already from the 1st and 2nd century AD. Londinium acquired a christian bishop from the very early days of Christianity the oldest recorded name being that of Restitutus who attended the Council of Arles in 314.

Another Roman civil war in the beginning of 350 AD had left the imperial military force on the island weakened and depleted leading in the devastation of 367 AD, known as barbarica conspiratio. Picts from Caledonia (Scotland today), Scotti from Hibernia (Ireland today) and Saxons from Germania managed to overwhelm nearly all the Roman outposts, sacked Londinium and the rest of the Roman cities and killed many of their civilians.

http://odel.wikispaces.com/Old+EnglishLondon

A year later (368 AD), Count Theodosius, sent by Emperor Valentinian I (364 to 375 AD), managed to re-conquer Londinium which became the headquarters of his successful campaigns against the invaders. Although the Romans ended much of the chaos, the raids and the revolts were far from over. In 383 AD Magnus Maximus, distinguished general in Count Theodosius’ army and military commander in Britain for 3 years, is proclaimed emperor by his troops. He begins his campaigns on the continent taking much of the Roman army stationed in Britain with him. During that rebellion London produces its last Roman coins in history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Maximus#/media/File:Magnusmaximus10100662cng_(obverse).jpghttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Theodosius_I#/media/File:Praetorian_Prefectures_of_the_Roman_Empire_395_AD.png

As the Empire struggled to stay on its feet the last of the Roman troops of Britannia continued to withdraw in order to protect the empire’s mainland. In 410 AD (the year Alaric sacked Rome) a letter from the young Emperor Honorius instructed the cities of Britain to look to their own defenses from that time on, marking the end of a 400 year old Roman era for Britannia and Londinium.

The Romano-British cities & London in particular, fell into a rapid decline, with many of its public buildings falling into disrepair while others were abandoned completely. Very few historical evidence can help us investigate the period of the 5th century also known as the Dark Age of London. It seems a small number of wealthy families managed to maintain a Roman lifestyle until the middle of the 5th century,(Roman villas from that period on the southeastern corner of the city e.g) but by the end of the century the city was mainly an uninhabited ruin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_of_Roman_rule_in_Britain#/media/File:End.of.Roman.rule.in.Britain.383.410.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorius_(emperor)#/media/File:Jean-Paul_Laurens_-_The_Byzantine_Emperor_Honorius_-_1880.jpg

Many historians suggest that a type of Romano-British continuity survived in London until River Thames became an active frontier between the Germanic Saxons, who had swarmed the southeast coast after 450 AD and the Britons, sometime in the 6th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxons#/media/File:Anglo-Saxon_Homelands_and_Settlements.svgLondon

By 600 AD, about two generations after the first signs of abandonment, a new, this time Saxon settlement, emerged about 1.5 km outside of the walled Roman city to the west, between what is now Aldwych to the east and Trafalgar Square to the west. The new settlement was named Lundenwic, from the words Londinium and the Latin word vicus meaning trading town, as opposed to the name Lundenburh meaning London Fort that was attributed to the abandoned walled Roman city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium#/media/File:London_Wall_fragment.jpghttps://londonist.com/2014/01/anglo-saxon-london-map-updated

The Middle-Saxon settlement (Term used to define the Saxon tribe that inhabited the area before 600 AD, as opposed to the neighboring East, and West Saxons) of Lundenwic evolved quickly , from a small village to a booming trading town of about 10.000 inhabitants, laid out on a grid pattern of about 600.000 m² on the site of today’s Covent Garden.

Seven distinct kingdoms known as the Heptarchy were formed by the Saxons in Britain at that time, with the Middle Saxons & London initially being under the control of the East Saxons or the Kingdom of Essex  and sometime before 601 AD being under the rule of Æthelberht, King of Kent.  It was Æthelberht, under the influence of his Christian wife Bertha, who accepted the missionary sent by Pope Gregory the Great , known as Augustine (St. Augustine of Canterbury today) in 597, thus contributing to a great extent in the re-establishment of Christianity in Britain. Æthelberht himself was baptised by 601. This is proven by a letter sent by the Pope, urging the King of Kent to exercise his power over the rest of the kingdoms in order for Christianity to spread faster in Britannia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heptarchyhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:%C3%86thelberht_of_Kent#/media/File:A_Chronicle_of_England_-_Page_025_-_Augustine_Preaching_Before_King_Ethelbert.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Gregory_I#/media/File:Westminster_Cathedral_Non_Angli_sed_Angeli_si_Christiani.jpg

Æthelberht did exert his influence especially in the case of his nephew Sæbert, King of Essex who was also baptised in 604. Right after Saebert’s baptism St. Augustine of Canterbury ordained Mellitus as the first bishop of the kingdom of the East Saxons. Æthelberht, built a grand new church dedicated to St Paul in London, in order to serve as the seat of the new bishopric. It is assumed, although yet unproven, that this first Anglo-Saxon cathedral stood on the same site as the present cathedral of St Paul.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesiastical_History_of_the_English_People#/media/File:Beda_Petersburgiensis_f3v.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mellitus#/media/File:AugustineGospelsFolio125rPassionScenes.jpg

After the death of Sæbert in AD 616, Bishop Mellitus was driven out of London by the King’s sons and the kingdom reverted to paganism possibly as a result of opposition to Kentish influence in Essex affairs.  The majority of the city’s population remained pagan until a new effort of systematic re-conversion started again by King Sigeberht of Essex after 653 AD possibly an outcome of Northumbria’s political hegemony over the East Saxons at the time. The interconnecting shifts of political and religious influence of the competing realms would continue throughout the 7th century until in the early 8th century, when London passed under the direct control of the Kingdom of Mercia.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A6berht_of_Essex#/media/File:Sebert_-_John_Speed.JPGhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercian_Supremacy#/media/File:Mercian_Supremacy_x_4.svg

The city’s  position on the map and the Mercian need for a port had once more rejuvenated its role as a commercial port by 750 AD with the English monk Venerable Bede (known as the father of English history) describing it in the beginning of 8th century as a trading center for many nations who visit by land and sea. His statement is proven by archaeological finds such as pottery, glass & millstones from France & Germany and by the series of coins from that period found in excavations, many of them minted in London.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bede#/media/File:E-codices_bke-0047_001v_medium.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bede#/media/File:The_Venerable_Bede_translates_John_1902.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offa_of_Mercia

Mercian dominance over London lasted almost until the first Viking invasions in Britain in the beginning of the 9th century, which after 835 AD started to take an alarming regularity. In 842 the Vikings stormed London in an attack recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the great slaughter only to return 9 years later with a terrifying convoy of 350 longboats that pillaged and burnt the city to the ground.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugin_(longship)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQq_wA8qPSQ

In 865 the greatest army of Vikings ever seen in Britain, also known as the Great Heathen Army lands in East Anglia, leaving behind a trail of death and fire for 6 years, until it reaches London in 871, where it camps for the winter, presumably within the walls of the old Roman city. The Vikings established their power after a series of battles into a great part of the island known as the Danelaw (where the laws of the Danes held sway) and after plundering much of its wealth they occupied the land and shared it out. In the same time while the kingdom of Mercia was suffering from the Norsemen the Kingdom of Wessex was expanding its sphere of control to the south side of the Thames.

https://vikings.fandom.com/wiki/Great_Heathen_Army https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/878#/media/File:England_878.svg

The amputated Kingdom of Mercia passed under the control of Wessex, the only kingdom strong enough to put up a fight against the fierce Viking invaders who held London. In 886, King Alfred the Great (of Wessex), managed to reoccupy the city that was back in Saxon hands after 15 years of Danish occupation.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alfred_The_Great_statue.JPGhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_the_Great#/media/File:Britain_886.jpg

King Alfred chose to restore the old fortified settlement that could be protected by the still standing Roman walls. The ancient walls were repaired and strengthened, while the protective ditch was dug again. Lundenwic was abandoned and remained known as the ealdwic or the old settlement, a name which survives until today as Aldwych. Lundenburgh became one in a series of many (33 in total) city-forts (burghs) in a more or less unified English kingdom under Alfred who entrusted the city to the care of his son-in-law Æhelred of Mercia. The new burgh of Southwark (Southern defensive work in Old English) is built on the south coast of the river, probably to protect a newly erected bridge and hence the re-emerging city of London to the north.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_the_Great#/media/File:Anglo-Saxon_burhs.svghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visscher_panorama

Alfred’s firm military presence & ingenious defense system would manage to repel Danish threat from London. The city passed under the direct control of Wessex in 911, following Æthelred’s death (Alfred’s son-in-law had been assigned with the care of the city). London’s annexation by the Kingdom of Wessex took place 7 years before the official incorporation of the rest of the Kingdom of Mercia, pointing out the importance of London for Alfred’s successor to the throne of Wessex, Edward the Elder.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_the_Elder#/media/File:Will_of_Alfred_the_Great_(New_Minster_Liber_Vitae)_-_BL_Stowe_MS_944,_f_30v.jpghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_the_Elder#/media/File:Edward_the_Elder_-_MS_Royal_14_B_VI.jpgLondon

By the 920’s, London had managed to resurface as the most important commercial center in England. Eight different moneymakers, English traders and sailors, German & French craftsmen such as wool-weavers & metalworkers were making their living within the re-carved streets of the city.

Even after the official unification of all English Kingdoms under Edward’s son and successor Æthelstan (925) and although Winchester was the traditional West Saxon epicenter & thus the capital of the united kingdom, London continued to play an increasingly influential role from a political point of view, with the King holding many Royal councils and issuing many of his laws from London.

 

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England experienced a period of tranquility under King Edgar the Peaceful who was especially beneficial for London which became the official headquarters of his son King Æthelred II with many of the latter’s coins & laws issued from London.

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Æthelred II’s reign was marked by his unsuccessful attempt to defend the kingdom against a new set of Danish raids that eventually led to a pogrom against all Danish settlers in 1002. The siege and conquest of London by the avenger Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013 would make him the first of the Danes to rule the united kingdom of England. Following King Sweyn’s death only a year after his coronation the exiled English King returned & attempted to re-establish his rule only to lose his crown again, this time by King Sweyn’s son, Cnut the Great who became the undisputed ruler of the English Kingdom after Æthelred’s death in 1016.

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Knut managed to unite the Danes with the Anglo-Saxons on a basis of a cultural and economic partnership and not brutal enforcement. He invited Danish merchants to settle in London, in a move that would help the city build a reputation of tolerance. After Knut’s death, London reverted to Anglo-Saxon control in 1042 under Edward the Confessor, last of the Wessex line of Kings, who had spent a quarter of a century in exile, mainly in Normandy.

Edward was a devout Christian and was in fact the first Anglo-Saxon and the only king of England to be canonized, venerated in the Catholic, Anglican and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He’s also the one responsible for the reconstruction of an old Benedictine Abbey that would later become famous as the West-minster, to distinguish it from St.Paul’s Cathedral (the East minster). At what was then a remote patch of land west of the city, known as Thorney Island, the old abbey was rebuilt in Norman Romanesque style and was dedicated to St. Peter in order for it to operate as the royal crypt. Edward’s new royal palace was built right next to it. The Abbey was consecrated on 28 of December 1065, only a week before Edward’s death. He was the first to be buried in the new abbey.

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After Edward’s death at the beginning of 1066 and the lack of a clear heir, a number of contestants laid claim to the throne, between them the powerful Earl of Wessex, the Norwegian King and the King’s relative Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror, descendant of the Viking Rollo who claimed he had been promised the throne by the late King. Being the most influential figure after the King, Harold II, Earl of Wessex, managed to gain the support of the noblemen’s council known as Witenagemot (meeting of wise men) which elected him as a successor one day after the king’s death. His coronation was held in that same day in the newly established Westminster Abbey.

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Soon as he heard the news of the coronation, William the Conqueror started to assemble an army & a fleet in Normandy, in order to invade England. King Harold and his English Earls managed to successfully defend his crown in September of 1066 against the invading armies of the Norman King but they didn’t manage to repeat their success a month later, in the Battle of Hastings which resulted in a Norman victory and the death of King Harold.

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Although William the Conqueror expected submission by the surviving English leaders he would have to subdue them by force in a series of battles around London. On Christmas Day 1066 he was officially crowned king in Westminster Abbey. William started his reign in 1067 by trying to reconcile with Londoners. He granted them a charter written in Anglo-Saxon, which provided them with all the freedoms of the citizens they had enjoyed in the previous years when in the same time he oversaw the construction of several royal forts along the riverfront of the city, with the White Tower of London being the grandest of all.

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Under the new king’s protection London prospered and its trade with continental Europe boomed. Its population grew significantly & became even more diversified with the coming of the new Norman settlers. After a great fire that destroyed many of its buildings including the original Tower of London in 1077, William would issue an unpopular decree that all home fires must be extinguished at night, known as cuevrefeu origin of today’s English word curfew.  Despite the new law, ten years later a large part of the city including St.Paul’s Cathedral is destroyed by a new round of fire.

After his father’s death in 1087 William II also known as William Rufus took ascended on the throne of England. He is mainly remembered about the notable construction works during his reign such as the restoration of the Thames Bridge, the commencement of the works in St.Paul’s Cathedral, the rebuilding of the Tower of London in stone but foremost about the construction of a great new hall in Westminster Palace, the largest hall in England and possibly in Europe at the time. It instantly became the headquarters of the administrative institutions of the city.

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In 1100, Henry I the fourth & landless until then, son of William the Conqueror, manages to win the support of the English barons after the death of his brother William II and be crowned King in Westminster, despite the objections of his brother Robert Cutrhose, who failed to enforce his own accession.

Probably as a gift of gratitude for their support in succession, the Londoners were now given a new charter of extended freedoms which included the right to appoint their own sheriffs, the freedom from all tolls throughout England and its main ports, hunting rights that expanded to the counties of Middlesex and Surrey and a reduction of the annual tax paid to the King. A massive token of gratitude.

Henry I’s death in 1135 without a male heir, ignited a new series of civil wars, between the supporters of his daughter Matilda (also known as Empress Matilda, a title she had inherited after her first marriage with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V) & Henry’s nephew Stephen of Blois (his mother was the daughter of William the Conqueror), a well established figure in Anglo-Norman society at the time.

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The freedoms already given to them, the tradition of Westminster coronations & the increasing esteem of their city had led Londoners in a firm belief that they could claim the right to elect their King, a right that they exercised in the case of Stephen of Blois by proclaiming him as their new monarch with the hope he would grant the city a new set of rights & privileges.

The period of civil unrest that began after King Stephen’s coronation in 1135 became known as the Anarchy due to the general collapse of order & constant warfare in the country.  It would only cease a year before his death, in 1153, when the king finally acknowledged Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet as his heir.

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Henry Plantagenet or Henry II brought with him the reinforcement of close commercial relations with France. That helped London regain much of its trade activity, lost during the years of the anarchy. The trade routes opened even further as Henry’s kingdom expanded in the lands of Scotland, Wales, Ireland & the greatest part of Western France.

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The English cleric William Fitzstephen in the late 12th century describes London in his work “Descriptio Nobilissimi Civitatis Londoniae” as a city defined by the Tower to the east, two heavily fortified castles to the west, by its high and wide wall punctuated at intervals with turrets and seven doubled-gated entrance ways, suburban houses of beautiful and spacious gardens on every side, tilled fields, pastures, and pleasant level meadows with streams flowing through them to the north. He also underlines the standout of the vast St.Paul’s Cathedral still under construction at that time, its bridge, built in stone after 1176, the only crossing of the river for miles, its thriving port with ships from all corners of the known world and its 13 large monasteries and 126 parish churches.

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In 1189 Richard I (the Lion heart), King Henry II’s  third of five sons, is crowned King in Westminster Abbey. Like his predecessors before him he would reassert the strength of the city’s Mayoralty embodied this time by the Lord Mayor of London, appointed for the first time in history after Richard’s coronation.

 

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Richard’s leading role in the Third crusade & the campaign to recapture Jerusalem from Saladin led to his long-term absence from the throne & the governance of his kingdom by a team of anointed councilors based at the Tower of London.

The inability of corporation between the anointed ruling body became the excuse Richard’s youngest brother John Lackland was expecting in order to break his promise to his brother. With the support given to him by Londoners who always sought an opportunity to gain the most out of any political unrest for their city, John Lackland takes control of London. However in 1194 Richard returned unharmed from his campaign to reign for 5 more years, he forgave his brother’s ambitions and recognized him as his legitimate heir before his death in 1199.

John was formally crowned a king in Westminster later that year. After the loss of his lands in France in 1204 and his almost decade long campaign to regain them, the economic burden fell hard on his subjects. The general discontent led to a revolt of the English barons in 1215. The barons managed to seize London and force John into signing the famous Magna Karta which among others gave Londoners the right to elect their governing Mayor. It would be a milestone victory for democracy that would change the fate of England and London for ever. The foundations of a true democracy had been laid and the course of events would always lead to the signing of that significant document as the route of it.

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The concessions by the King John would not eliminate the tensions with the English barons who didn’t trust he would keep the treaty. The rebels entered the First Barons’ War with London as their stronghold. An invitation was sent to Prince Louis, son and heir apparent of the French King to come to their aid.

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Prince Louis (later Louis VIII of France) entered London with little resistance and was openly received by the rebel barons and citizens of London. He was proclaimed King at St. Paul’s cathedral. (Not crowned at Westminster as usual). After the death of King John in 1216, Louis seemed much more of a threat for the baronial interests than the late king’s 9 year old son Prince Henry III, who was declared King on October of 1216 at the Abbey of Gloucester since London was still under Prince Louis’ control. In 1220, aged 12, Henry III was crowned in Westminster Abbey, this time with all due ceremony, after a series of victorious battles against the French Prince and his allies.

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During the 13th century London’s population boomed with many of its streets nominations reflecting the various guilds that flourished in the medieval city such as Bread St., Milk St. & Wood St. (most of them still used today). Trade prospered & new wharves were constructed along the river to serve the increasing amount of over-sized ships that could no longer pass under the London Bridge. Wine from the Rhine & France was  unloaded on a daily basis while wool heading to the weaving towns of Flanders was usually shipped out.

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King Henry III’s devotion to the Christian faith favored the development of several religious orders that were supported in order to establish their presence in the city. The Knights Templar, the Dominican friars or black friars, the Franciscans or grey friars, the Carmelites or white friars & the Teutonic Knights all roamed and preached around the narrow streets of the medieval city which was shaped according to the typical city-scape of the era with the numerous convents, churches and abbeys that were erected dotting its map. Most important of all the Benedictine Abbey of St. Albans more than 10 km to the north of the city, famous as a place of learning. The monks who lived in the Abbey produced high-quality manuscripts in a workshop called the scriptorium. These included bibles and books on science, music and classics. Matthew Paris, one of Europe’s outstanding medieval chroniclers, had been a monk at St Albans from 1217 to 1259 leaving a huge collection of history and the deeds of prominent people in the chronicles of the monastery.

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The royal court along with the civil courts that were established after the Magna Carta were almost permanently held in the Great Hall of Westminster which was officially recognized as the clear political and legal powerhouse of the country. The canonization of Edward the Confessor who was buried in Westminster Abbey increased the abbey’s importance with King Henry III commencing its transformation from Romanesque to Gothic in 1243. Α turbulent period followed, marked by the first assembly of the Parliament in English history at the Great Hall of Westminster (1262 to 1264) but also by the Second Barons’ War  (1264–1267) which resulted in a victory of the Royal forces. Henry devoted his last years in the transformation of the Westminster Abbey into a prestigious pilgrimage site. He was buried in front of the church’s high altar in 1272. In 1290 King Edward moved his father’s body to a grander tomb in its current location in Westminster Abbey.

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By the year 1300 London was the biggest in England with a population of 100.000 about 4 times the number of its rival cities like York or Winchester. The hiking population and the poor sanitation conditions created a hygienic bomb  that would explode during a huge wave of one of the worst transmissible diseases in human history. The disease of plague or black death broke out at the end of 1348 wiping out about half of the city’s population in only two years. Many of the houses within the city walls were left uninhabited while the hospitals created by the monasteries such as St. Thomas’s & St. Bartholomew’s treated the sick.

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The end of the 13th & beginning of 14th century was marked by King Edward I‘s also known as Longshanks (famous from the movie Braveheart) extensive wars against the Welsh & the Scots. They would be followed by a full scale war against the French, mainly over the French possessions of the English Crown (from the time of the Norman Conquest), also known as the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453).

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Despite the constant warfare & the devastating effects of the Great Plague London’s economy continued to grow. The guilds (from the Saxon word gegildan=to pay) took over a very central role in everyday life. The members of each trade began wearing common uniforms or livery at major ceremonies & processions thus giving the name Livery Companies to the trade guilds.  Each one had its own codes and rules, a distinct coat of arms and an assembly hall. By the start of the 14th century, no-one could practice a trade or set up a shop, take apprenticeships or vote to elect a Mayor, unless they were admitted to a Livery Company.

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The adaptation of the English economy to the high death rate of plague & war brought a significant increase of wages for laborers who became a more valuable & hence more expensive means of production. The legislation enforced by the wealthy elites in order to readjust wages to pre-plague levels but most of all the growing amount of taxes used to cover the expenses of war led to the outbreak of a revolution known as the Peasants Revolt in 1381. A whole spectrum of rural society, from artisans to village officials, clerics etc, rose up in protest & entered London where they were joined by many local townsfolk. The crowd took over the city killing many of the people associated with the royal government before Richard II (r. 1377 – 1399) finally managed to repress the revolution & kill a great number of the rebels.

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In 1399, Henry of Bolingbroke, Richard II’s first cousin, exiled & disinherited after his role in the Coup d’état that formed the so-called Merciless Parliament in 1387 (during the coup many of the king’s officials had been killed, including the Lord Mayor of London), returns to England & manages to gain enough support to have himself declared king as Henry IV. The former King, Richard II, is imprisoned for the rest of his life. Henry IV’s coronation on October 1399 at Westminster was probably the first time following the Norman Conquest that the monarch made an address to his subjects in the English language.

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Richard II’s deposition did not have any affect on London’s most famous Mayor Richard Whittington who was at the time in the midst of his first out of four terms in total in the Mayoral chair. Whittington would be immortalized by the English folk tale “Dick Whittington and his cat”.  Whittington was the one who commenced the re-building of the Guildhall in 1411. He also bequeathed his fortune to form the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington which nearly 600 years later continues to assist people in need.

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Designed to reflect the importance of London’s ruling elite, the Guildhall provided a central venue for the guilds’ commercial transactions, the civic and administrative duties of their members. As the most esteemed member of the guilds, the Mayor, held the post of the Chief Magistrate. One of the most famous trials in English history that of Lady Jane Grey was held in 1553 in the Guildhall’s Great Hall, the third largest civic hall in England.

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Henry V‘s (r. 1413 to 1422) winning streak on both land (Battle of Agincourt in 1415) and in sea against the French and their Genoese allies who controlled the English Channel, were celebrated with much excitement in London which saw its naval routes open again after a long time.

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Henry V’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in 1422 was preceded by a grand procession through the streets of London. He was buried in a large tomb erected within the abbey. The 36 year old king (at the time of his death) was held at such high esteem that his tomb became a place of pilgrimage in the fashion of a contemporary saint. He is one of the kings immortalized by Shakespeare’s writings (Henry V).

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By the 15th century cloth production was England’s biggest industry. Large amounts were being exported from London which was getting richer & busier by the day. The wealthy craftsmen and merchants were building their new large houses, some of them five stories high, in certain areas of the city mostly close to the Guildhall or westwards along the Strand, the road that had connected the city to the east with Westminster. By then the prestigious road was in essence joined with London.

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Henry VI‘s (r. 1422 -9 month’s old- to 1461) halfhearted continuation of the war with the French brought a collapse on the battlefields of France, with the English losing all their conquered territories by 1453. The military collapse affected the internal affairs of the state & the popularity of the king who was openly disputed by the House of York (male line descendants of the royal House of Plantagenet) & their supporters. In the Wars of Roses that followed, the Yorkist faction (with the white rose as its symbol) initially prevailed over the House of Lancaster (with the red rose as its symbol) with Edward IV capturing & imprisoning King Henry VI. Henry would be held captive in the Tower of London until his death. Edward IV became the first king from the House of York in 1461 when he was crowned in London.

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London would change hands several times until in 1485, Henry Tudor, the senior male Lancaster claimant remaining, managed to defeat the army of the last Yorkist King Richard III (r. 1483 to 1485), seal the end of the Wars and unite the two houses by marrying Elizabeth of York in a grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey in 1486.

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The first of the Tudors did not take much interest in further empowering London but left his mark nonetheless in the city’s architecture with the construction of Henry VII Chapel, a unique specimen of Renaissance architecture, with one of the most exquisite examples of pendant fan vaults in the world. It would eventually serve as his mausoleum in 1509.

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The introduction of printing by William Caxton in the 1470’s and the close relations between Londoners and the German trading network of the Hanseatic League (Reformation ideals developed in Germany in 1517-1521) would pave the way for King Henry VIII’s ( r.1491 -1547) famous rejection of Papal authority. What triggered the rejection was however the Pope Clement VII‘s  refusal to approve the king’s divorce in 1529 that would result into a definite schism between the English & the Roman Catholic Church.

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King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries that took place after 1535, in a city where more than a half of its covered area was occupied by religious institutions (about 1/3 of its inhabitants were monks, nuns & friars) provided a great number of religious buildings to the Crown & its entourage. Some of them were turned into private residencies, while others were given to the Livery Companies & the city. Urban property became the mainspring of London’s market while the former lands of Westminster Abbey were acquired by King Henry VIII who enclosed them and stocked them with deer to form a private hunting ground (present Hyde Park & St. James Park).

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A constantly increasing amount of England’s overseas trade (by 1500 it had reached about 1/3 of the overall activity) passed from the so-called Pool of London, which was the part of River Thames that stretched from London Bridge to the Limehouse to the east. That coastal area of about 4 km long was the beating heart of England’s naval trade and had everything, from Customs office, open wharves and warehouses, to smugglers and thieves trying to have their share.

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London’s population skyrocketed during the 16th century, due to its growing economy and the relative stability of the Tudor Kingdom. As the city was getting bigger & busier River Thames would prove to be the most practical & cleanest way one could use to get from one place to another. The old upper classes of nobles and the new wealthy merchants started building their new palaces right on the river’s banks in order to have immediate access to the boats that would carry them across the city.

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The introduction of the printing press in the late 15th century evolved in a publishing frenzy in the 16th century. In the same time the discovery of the new world & the expansion of trade to Russia & the Americas created a new type of adventurous and open-minded citizen who found its Mecca in Elizabethan London which dawned in 1558. Elizabeth was Henry VIII’s daughter by his second wife Anne Boleyn who was executed two and a half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Her reign would herald the beginning of a golden era that would make London the most influential metropolis of the western world.

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The long period (1558 to 1603) of general peace, Elizabeth’s sound fiscal management and low taxes policy, her encouragement of naval expeditions and her tolerance towards both Protestants & Catholics created a very wide frame in which London prospered & the English Renaissance reached its apogee. Poetry, music, literature and especially theater with its most important representative in the history of the art, Sir William Shakespeare, who lived wrote and played in London in that same period, all flourished during Elizabeth’s reign.

The Queen herself was a fervent lover of theatrical plays which were performed for her privately at court, most commonly at Whitehall Palace (confiscated by her father after the deposition of his trusted Cardinal Wolsey to whom it belonged).

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Not everyone was happy by the enlightened rule of Elizabeth I. Devout Catholics  identified their Queen with secularism and Protestantism. Their desire for a “re-conversion of England” led them in the declaration of Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, senior descendant of Henry VIII and Elizabeth’s elder sister, as their rightful queen. The situation escalated into an armed rebellion in Northern England in 1569 which was openly backed by Pope Pius V (issued a bull declaring Elizabeth illegitimate & heretic Queen) as well as the French & Spanish Catholic crowns.

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A wave of patriotic anti-Catholicism in Parliament shifted Elizabeth’s religious moderation into a pro-Protestant governance making London a refuge of prosecuted French Huguenots & oppressed by the Spanish Crown Dutch Reformers in the 1570’s. The violent downgrading of Antwerp’s leading role in world trade by the Spanish Crown (Antwerp’s trade accounted for a 40% of the world transactions in the beginning of the 16th century) but most of all the failed Spanish invasion & destruction of the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588, gave London a new thrust in its naval mercantile affairs. It also facilitated its ship-owners and their newly established companies in their risky endeavors to explore new routes into uncharted waters.

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By the end of the 16th century-beginnings of 17th the area east of London had the largest concentration of ship building & repairing docks in the country. It would play a central role in the elevation of the Elizabethan navy into the most powerful battle-fleet afloat in only few years.

London took over Antwerp’s first place among the North Sea ports while a large amount of well-educated & economically vibrant immigrants raised the city’s population to about 225.000 from an estimated 50.000 in 1530.

Clothing industry had evolved into the leading export business of London while trading companies such as Muscovy Company & British East India Company (ultimately came to rule India) had already placed their foundations & established their headquarters in London(1601) with a goal to bypass the Dutch monopoly in long-distance trade to the Far East.

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After the death of the idolized “Virgin Queen Elizabeth” in 1603 a funeral cortege,  from Whitehall Palace to Westminster Abbey, that according to the words of the chronicler John Stow caused “such a general sighing, groaning & weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man” the Tudor line of monarchs had come to its end.

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In the absence of an anointed heir, Elizabeth’s senior adviser & head of the government Sir Robert Cecil turned to the Protestant James VI of Scotland (son of Mary Stuart) who was proclaimed King on July of 1603, uniting the crowns of England & Scotland in a shift that shaped both nations to the present day. James I’s accession to the throne brought a new influx of population this time from Scotland, in a city that was already suffering the repercussions of congestion & poor sanitation.

Frequent outbreaks of severe plague epidemics recurred repeatedly in the first half of the 17th century. The first one in 1603 coincided with James I’s succession restricting the programmed festivities of his coronation. London’s surplus in people, income & naval expertise would be channeled in the newly established joint stock companies which were being set up to trade in various parts of the world with the right of monopoly to explore, trade or settle certain regions, granted to them by the Crown.

In 1606 the Virginia Company of London & its Plymouth branch are given their royal charters by King James I, with the right to establish the first English colonies in North America. A year later 3 ships of 144 men set sail from Blackwall dock, downriver from the Tower of London to reach the coasts of Virginia after a long journey of 144 days.

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London increased the pace of its own expansion in order to cope with the rising population initially with ribbon developments along the major roads & later across the fields. Nobles & wealthy merchants purchased large plots of open country on the outskirts of the city where they built their mansions, creating new neighborhoods that would bear their names in the future like Piccadilly from a mansion built in 1612 by a wealthy merchant of picadils (stiff collars with scalloped edges and a broad lace in fashion at the time), or Leicester Square (from the small palace built in 1635 by the Earl of Leicester on fields north of Whitehall Palace).

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Emigration to the new world was also intensified in the 1610’s especially after 1617 when a new law approved by King James I replaced the penalty of execution over certain crimes with that of the so-called penal transportation. In 1620 the famous in American history as a symbol of early colonization pilgrim ship Mayflower begins its journey from London to finally establish the first sizable permanent English settlement in the New England region.

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King James I’s son Charles I ascended on the throne in 1625 and soon afterwards inaugurated an intense relationship with his parliament by marrying to the Roman Catholic Henrietta Maria of France. Charles’ slide towards absolutism with decisions such as the dissolution of Parliament, the imprisonment of Parliamentary leaders & the levying of new taxes along with his perceived distancing from Protestantism in the matters of religion ultimately led to the English Civil War between Parliamentarians & Royalists in mid-1642, with London becoming an anti-royalist stronghold.

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Although the Royalists managed to conduct some victories during the first year of the war, the tide changed after 1643, ending up with the King tried in Westminster Hall in January 1649 with the accusation of treason against England & his final decapitation on a scaffold in front of the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall.

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Τhe country adopted the republican form of government known as the Commonwealth & Free State of England and a number of people from both political & religious life of the city who served in prominent positions under the King were stripped of their privileges. Those were for example the people serving in the House of the Lords & the Privy Council (The Privy Council of England was a body of advisers to the sovereign of the Kingdom. Its members were often senior members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, together with leading churchmen, judges, diplomats and military leaders) who were forced to flee London, since the two bodies were both abolished and the whole situation was too dire for them to take.

They left behind them a multitude of fine mansions which were either taken over by the new republican officials or immigrants who converted them into tenements filled with different families in every room. Some were vandalized & eventually became rat-infested slums. The city tried to cope with the tectonic shifts of the main political scene (Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1659 & Restoration of monarchy with Charles II & execution of the leading Parliamentarians at Charing Cross in 1660) while its size continued to increase with a large part of the newcomers living outside the city core, in wooden shacks inside shanty towns that sprung up outside the walls.

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With a population which exceeded half a million people and its streets oozing with animal dung, rubbish and sewage from open drains, the City Corporation employed rakers to remove the worst of the filth which was transported outside the walls. Most of the people walked around with handkerchiefs or nosegays pressed against their nostrils, because of the overwhelming stench. Although Bubonic plague was a much feared disease in a city that had suffered repeated outbreaks in the past, its cause was not yet understood. The Great Plague that broke out in the winter of 1664, surpassed in horror & human casualties all previous incidents.

More than 100.000 Londoners or about 1/5 of the city’s population fell ill & died within seven months, with the King moving his court to Oxford & thousands fleeing the capital to escape the disease. Drivers of dead carts traveled the streets calling “Bring out your dead” & carted away piles of bodies, while theaters & other public entertainments were banned to stop the disease spreading.

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The calamity had just started to subside when a second disaster struck in September of 1666. The city’s Medieval street plan of narrow, winding alleys constituted of wooden in their majority six or seven-story timbered houses of projecting upper floors that nearly met each other created a constant fire hazard especially when many fire-related businesses  (glaziers, smithies etc.) operated within the city walls. The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2, 1666, as a small fire on Padding Lane in the bakery of Thomas Farynor , baker to the King. Within 3 days, five sixths of the City, fifteen of the City’s twenty six wards were completely gone, between them the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 44 Livery  halls & 87 parish churches.

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Although London had been almost completely flattened out & thousands were left homeless by the fire,  what followed can only be described as the silver lining. Charles II immediately requested for new city plans, that would place London within the lines of a safer & more organized pattern. The new buildings would be exclusively made of brick or stone, the width of the streets would be longer, the wharves along the Thames would be open and accessible with no houses obstructing access to the river while River Fleet (today subterranean), once navigable but little more than deep-sided ditch used to dump rubbish by the time of the fire, would be restored back to a tidal waterway with wide quays in the Parisian style. Christopher Wren was appointed Surveyor-General of the King’s works & was the one who constructed the 61 meters tall Monument erected near Pudding Lane & 50 new parish churches. St.Paul’s was reconstructed as a domed Baroque Cathedral which would serve as London’s primary symbol of pride for over a century.

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For a period of time after the fire London had been turned into a giant construction site but by the late 1670’s more than 9000 public buildings & houses had been rebuilt in the new sustainable fashion. Despite the plans many of them would follow much of the old street plan mainly because of the unsurpassed complexities of ownership that made the implementation of the ambitious new arrangement impossible.

Nonetheless the changes were not limited to the raw materials used for rebuilding. Most of the aristocratic families chose to distance themselves from the core of the city, building their new houses to the west, in Covent Garden, close to Whitehall Palace & along the rural lane of Piccadilly, forming new upper-class neighborhoods that were clearly separated from the middle & working class parts of the mercantile City to the east.

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On the opposite side, the East End, the area immediately to the east of the city walls, pooled together the largest amount of noxious & foul smelling industries such as soap processing, clothe-dying or gunpowder manufacturing, workshops and businesses which attracted the majority of low classes. The east part also attracted many of the thousands of migrants arriving every year such as the French Huguenots which were increasingly repressed by Louis XIV after 1685. The East End became the safe harbor where many of them established their new weaving industries. Charles II’s death in 1685 & the ascension of his Catholic brother James II to the throne would cause the so-called Glorious Revolution in 1688 that would depose the Catholic King & enthrone his Protestant elder daughter Mary II & her Protestant husband, Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, William III of Orange.

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William III’s participation in the Grand Alliance against the French would help the English navy gain control of the seas & help in the growth of new colonies & trading posts in the Caribbean, North America, Africa & the East, which in their turn increased maritime trade & London’s role as England’s largest port. In the same time London was making its first crucial steps towards its transformation into the world’s leading financial center since the need for financial instruments & marine insurance led individual merchant bankers & insurers in forming their own joint stock businesses. In 1688 Lloyd’s coffee shop, frequented by the shipping community to discuss insurance deals, opens for business while a few years later in 1694 the joint stock company of the Bank of England is created after the idea of a London-based Scottish merchant with an aim to lend money to the English government.

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Lloyd’s was only one of the hundreds of coffee houses that had started operating after coffee’s initial debut as an imported eastern product in the late 1650’s. The first English plantation possibly around the -captured after 1664 by the English- colony of New Amsterdam (later renamed into New York) contributed in the wide availability of the product after the 1670’s . By 1675 about 3.000 coffee houses were operating in England many of them located in London. Each one was frequented by its own specified clientele and had its own distinct character, for example Will’s Coffee House (1660) on Russell Street, Covent Garden, that was frequented by poets & writers or Jonathan’s Coffee House in Exchange Alley (1680) famous as a nest-house of revolutionaries (in 1696 several patrons were implicated in a plot to assassinate William III) or White’s on St. James’s street that attracted gentlemen etc.

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Tea was another product the Dutch of New Amsterdam were familiar with and it also didn’t take long to be London’s favorite along with tobacco & chocolate which were all widely imported & consumed by the end of the 17th century.

William III had left Whitehall Palace for the more remote & newly refurbished by Christopher Wren Kensington Palace while new buildings designed to accommodate the workshops & tradesmen serving the nearby gentry sprouted up all over the new aristocratic suburbs like Soho, St. James’s & Leicester Square.

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The influx of new waves of immigrants continued this time with the displaced by the Ottomans Greeks. The Greeks created their small community in the new suburb of Soho while the Jews who arrived from Spain, Portugal & Eastern Europe & set up their synagogues on the east side of the city. The Irish came to dominate the area around St Giles in the Fields, which became known as Little Dublin.

After William III’s death in 1702 his wife’s elder sister Anne became Queen with her 12 year-long reign standing out for the unification of England & Scotland into one kingdom, with one parliament, also known as Great Britain. She is also remembered for the successful British maneuvers in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) that paved the path of Britain as a dominant world power & the further development of the two parliament parties, the Tories who favored the landed interests of the country gentry & the Whigs aligned with commercial interests & financiers.

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The early days of the 18th century brought the birth of the first newspapers such as the Daily Courant the first daily newspaper published in 1702 from Fleet Bridge in London or the Spectator published in 1711 which catered to the demands of an increasingly literate population. Most of the newspapers of that period put up their shop along Fleet Street.

Despite of the Queen’s astounding record of 17 births no child survived long-enough to succeed her in 1714. The need for a non-Catholic ruler led parliament to the choice of her distant Germanic Protestant, Elector of Hanover George I, thus commencing the so-called Georgian Era for the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Georgian period in London coincided very neatly with the Palladian Revival in architecture and art. Lord Burlington, in his 1715 design of Burlington House in Piccadilly, played a major role in popularizing this classical style which became the norm for much of the century. A few years later, in 1725, Lord Burlington was at it again, with his remodeling of Chiswick House, then a country retreat but now part of the greater London sprawl.

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At the same time Grosvenor Square was laid out in the aristocratic district of Mayfair, as part of the Grosvenor family’s development. More London squares followed, notably Berkeley Square (design by William Kent). Kent was also responsible for building the Treasury Buildings at Whitehall (1733), and the Horse Guards building(1745).

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For about six hundred years the only bridge across the Thames in London was London Bridge, connecting the City with Southwark. London’s rapid growth and consequent congestion needed urgent measures that would facilitate traffic, so the shops and houses on London Bridge were pulled down, and large sections of the old city walls were destroyed. In 1750 a new stone bridge was built at Westminster.

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The British Museum was founded in 1753, at a time when London was being transformed from a capital of a booming European power to a global power-center of the largest empire the world had ever seen. In 1763 the end of the Seven Years’ War left Britain in control of a large part of North America, India and much of the Caribbean.

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While the early Georgian period, London was influenced by Lord Burlington, the end of that era was owned by Robert Adam and his neo-classical imitators. Adam was responsible for a spate of influential house designs around London, including Admiralty Screen , of Whitehall (1759–61), Syon House (1761), Kenwood House as well as Osterley House.

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Between 1760 and 1766 the last remaining gates & surrounding walls of the city were demolished. By then London was an ever-increasing area stretching in every direction, escaping for the first time in its history from the magnetic pull of the Thames & its meandering east- west course.

With a new, young & in every aspect British King (George III, r.1760-1820, was the first of the Georgian era, was born & raised in England) on the throne, with improvements in manufacturing techniques and an exploding rate of growth in trade in the expanding British Empire, London entered a new golden age.

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The surplus of generated wealth was to a great extent accumulated in the British capital, although by no means evenly distributed to all of the people. The city was increasingly subdivided between rich & poor, the West End gentry & the East End working class. The new money of merchants & financiers moved out to more salubrious spots, beyond the ring of slums that was gradually encircling the growing metropolis, commuting daily to Cheapside & the Royal Exchange.

Towards the end of the 18th century Britain had by far the strongest mercantile & military navy in the world. Profits & cheap new products from the new world, in many cases even slavery & its abhorring practices, all worked in London’s benefit which saw its grandiose mansions & buildings multiply. Some fine examples were the new Somerset House, or Dover House & Carlton House built by Henry Holland, Wyatt’s Pantheon on Oxford St., the new building of the Bank of England by Soane & Guildhall’s new facade or Shakespeare’s Gallery building by George Dance the Younger.

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New bridges across the Thames, new roads & transport infrastructure & most importantly the constant need for new housing from people that kept flocking in the world’s leading capital filled the new neighborhoods with new houses and residents.

To the East & North crowded parts of the city, people suffered from poor infrastructure, insufficient street lighting, lack of paving & water supply. The hardships were only made tolerable by the almost unbounded demand for casual labor on the quays and wharves and in the service industries of the city.

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In contrast, the West End was built to a higher standard. The new shops of the early eighteenth century were made ever grander, frequently taking the form of purpose built palaces of consumption, a precursor of  nineteenth-century department stores.

New squares and commercial developments attempted to emulate the early success of St James’s and Hanover Square. The urban palaces of the aristocracy stood shoulder to shoulder around these formal squares, with chains, iron railings and padlocks increasingly serving to segregate the rich from their neighbors. At the same time the back streets and mews that filled the areas between the squares retained a diverse community of artisans, service workers and paupers.

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The defeat in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) would rock the boat of the mighty British Empire, funneling London with a group of repatriated colonists from North America, that were added to the already rich palette of Black African, Caribbean & Indian people one could encounter in the streets of the British capital. The addition to the pan-European pantheon already living in London, made the city a multinational melting pot that had not existed in a European city since the Roman times.

The loss of the American colonies enabled Britain to deal with the French Revolution (1789), the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) & Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) with more unity & resolution. During those turbulent times London’s population increased to 1.4 million individuals. The final victory at Waterloo brought a revival of optimism in the country & a new drive for opulence in the city of London which celebrated the event with a victory parade of 15.000 troops at Hyde Park.

A large part of 18th century London is written with the help of  http://www.oldbaileyonline.org

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The Age of Improvement started with the construction of Waterloo Bridge in 1817 & Southwark bridge in 1819, the reconstruction of Theatre Royal  in Covent Garden, of the Opera House in Westminster (Her Majesty’s Theater today), part of John Nash’s creation of Regent St. The Age of Improvement also brought the remodeling of the Covent Garden Market in 1828, the creation of new shopping centers at Piccadilly, the establishment of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, of University College in 1826 & King’s College in 1828. In the same year London Zoo at Regent’s Park opened its doors.

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Prince Regent George IV, practically ruling from 1811 because of his father’s recurring mental illness, became king in 1820 at the death of George III. In that same year he commissioned Nash to enlarge Buckingham House, acquired by his father in 1761 and serving as the Queen’s private retreat since, into a major, 600-room-palace. The project remained incomplete until King George IV’s death in 1830.

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The new monarch, George’s younger brother William IV lived at the newly-built Clarence House throughout his short reign. Queen Victoria ascended on the throne in June of 1837, at the age of 18, after the death of her father’s (Prince Edward Duke of Kent and Strathearn) three elder brothers and the death of Prince Edward himself in 1820.

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Queen Victoria’s 64 year-old reign also known as the Victorian era or Pax Britannica was the age of economic & colonial consolidation, of industrial revolution & great technological improvements but it was also an era of an extremely strict social code of conduct known as Victorian morality. London’s phenomenal rate of growth & global political, financial & trading dynamic was largely unrivaled until the latter part of the century. The largest city in the world was the capital of the biggest empire in the world, its port the king of all ports.

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The first railway stations such as King’s Cross & Waterloo station were already established before 1850, gradually connecting London to the rest of the cities of Britain while London Underground followed 15 years later with a line that connected South Kensington to Westminster.

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Buckingham Palace became Queen Victoria’s official residence in 1837 with works & additions of new wings continuing until 1850. In the same time the works for the new Gothic-style Palace of Westminster that would replace the destroyed by a fire in 1834 old Palace were mostly completed by the end of 1860’s. The fame of its 96 meters (316ft) high Elizabeth tower, also known as the Big Ben (a name referring to the heaviest of the bells it carries) would surpass that of the Palace itself. Both structures formed an impressive landmark that would be identified with the city’s image in the years to come.

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Despite its international fame and glorious new city-scape London’s problems were far from over. The division between rich and poor reached its zenith during the Victorian era with the works of Charles Dickens portraying these inequalities in a detail that would shake both his contemporaries & future readers.

 

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London’s sanitary problems would also become worse. The invention of the modern water closet resulted in the piping of raw sewage right into the Thames, London’s main source of water supply. Three cholera epidemics after 1833 and the Great Stink of 1858 prompted action from the local & national administrators who had been looking at possible solutions for the problem. In what was the largest civil engineering project of the 19th century, 2100 km of tunnels & pipes were constructed under the city until 1875, providing London with clean drinking water & a new drainage system.

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The dawn of the 20th century found London sitting on the top of one of the greatest empires in history with a population of 6.5 million people, greater than Paris, Berlin, Moscow & St. Petersburg combined. Electric lighting started luminating many of its corners, while the tram network & first motorbuses started operating during the first years of the 1900’s.

More pictures http://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/01/28/the-gentle-author-in-piccadilly/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trams_in_Londonhttp://spitalfieldslife.com/2014/01/28/the-gentle-author-in-piccadilly/

Despite its extraordinary progress, London remained a place of extreme inequalities & hardships for the majority of the people alleviated only by the social-housing for working-class families or almshouses created by wealthy philanthropists in central districts of the city and by the institution of workhouses well established during the 19th century. The Workhouse was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor from coming in and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. Still in some areas things such as the provision of free medical care and the education of children, were inconceivable to the poor living outside workhouses. Their inmates were in reality at a better place over the rest population of poor people.

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The declaration of war against Germany in 1914 placed Britain in the whirlwind of a World War that would last for four years. It would be the first time in centuries that the fighting would reach the city. In May 1915, a Zeppelin airship dropped about 90 bombs & incendiaries in East London which experienced its first aerial bombing in history.

Although the first 2 years of war brought a general slump in business, the massive enlisting of young men caused a huge need for working hands. That brought women fully into the workforce for the first time. As demand for workforce increased so did the wages. It was actually one of the few times in London’s history that unemployment was in essence annihilated.

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After the war, manufacturing industry fell into a recession but it still continued to account for over half of London’s jobs. Until the second half of the 20th century, London continued to be Britain’s prime economic powerhouse although many firms started moving out of the old industrial areas to new sites on London’s outskirts.

In the 1920’s London changed its mood. The lifting of war curfew in the early 1920’s created a novel night-life in West End. Entrepreneurs opened clubs, restaurants and dance halls to cater for the new crazes: jazz and dancing. The capital began to feel and act less traditional and more modern. Wireless radio was the technological marvel of the decade.

http://www.jazzageclub.com/venues/murrays-night-club/#ixzz3TzsDqU96http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/MarconiHouse/MarconiHouseImages.htm

London in the 1930’s tried to be cleaner, more modern and efficient. It was increasingly a city of electric lighting and motor vehicles, rather than gas lighting and horse-drawn vehicles. In the same time the Capital’s old problems were being tackled by new public bodies. In general the decade was dominated by the growing threat of fascism in Europe. Violent clashes between English supporters of fascism and their opponents took place in central London and the East End. German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution began to arrive, many settling in Hampstead. War with Germany looked inevitable and the decade ended with preparations to evacuate London’s children.

*Most of the 20th century context is taken from http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk

https://www.pinterest.com/adaml51/george-davison-photographer/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Davison_(photographer)http://blog.museumoflondon.org.uk/how-the-east-was-won/https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:1926_United_Kingdom_general_strike#/media/File:Rally_in_Hyde_Park_during_the_General_Strike_of_1926.jpg

Although already familiar with the destruction caused by aerial bombings no one could prepare Londoners for the events that followed during WWII. More than 20.000 people lost their lives & over a million buildings were destroyed in the 57 consecutive days & nights of German bombings, between September of 1940 and May of 1941, also known as the Blitz (shortened from German Blitzkrieg, meaning “lightning war”).

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At the end of the war in 1945, London was a broken city. Numerous historic buildings were destroyed while some areas were completely flattened. The city planners and politicians eagerly seized the opportunity to reconstruct London as a New Jerusalem, a city which provided decent standards of living for all. Britain was now a Welfare State. As part of the reconstruction effort, skilled labor began to arrive from overseas.  In 1946 Heathrow Airport opened as London’s new airport, the docks resumed their role as the hub of the British Commonwealth trade, while jobs in the public sector increased substantially. In the same time heavy immigration from countries of the old British Empire changed the character of the city once again. Noting Hill acquired a large Caribbean population, Honk Kong immigrants settled in Soho, Sikhs in Southall, and Cypriots in Finsbury. The Olympic Games held in London in 1948 would symbolize the nation’s recovery from the WWII & the starts of a new more optimistic era.

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The 1950’s started with the Festival of Britain transforming the South Bank & attracting millions of visitors in what was characterized as a tonic for the nation. In 1956 one of the city’s future trademarks, the double-decker red bus also known as the Routemaster makes its appearance in London streets for the first time.

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The 1960’s was a time of new fashions, of fresh music & cinema, of new electric devices, cars, buildings & motorways. The rejuvenating & youth-orientated culture that took over the western hemisphere found its Mecca in the countless fashion boutiques & music bars of Carnaby Street & King’s Road that became the symbols of Swinging London.

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If the 1960’s was a swinging party for London, the 1970’s can only be compared with a nasty hangover. Economic decline & explosive rise of unemployment, closing factories & social tensions gave birth to another movement, typical of the widespread anger of the time. Punk London of mohawks & foul language, general strikes & IRA bombings, made the innocence of the past decade seem a distant memory.

http://scurgeofthenorthprideofthesouth.tumblr.com/post/30748397342 & https://www.pinterest.com/source/scurgeofthenorthprideofthesouth.tumblr.com/http://earmeat.org/tag/punk/

A new era started with the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The 80’s would be identified with the conservative governance of the Iron Lady. Her government’s policies enhanced the role of financial & banking industries in the British economy passing on to them the role played by the London docks for hundreds of years. In the same time many aspects of her policy towards the outdated manufacturing industries increased unemployment & created social tensions in a decade that was also dominated by excessive consumerism & a widespread Americanization of modern day culture & habits.

With unemployment and the value of houses on the rise, Thatcher introduced a flat-rate poll tax (a head tax with a fixed rate amount set by the local authorities).  Protests around the country culminated in a 1990 march on Trafalgar Sq that ended in a fully-fledged riot. Thatcher’s subsequent forced resignation brought to an end a divisive era in modern British history.

Londonhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poll_Tax_Riotshttps://www.departures.com/fashion/1980s-street-style-london

John Major became Thatcher’s successor and attempted to make peace between both party and country in the wake of a divisive decade. The 1990’s saw a new mood of optimism in London. The capital began to think of itself as truly global. It grew relaxed with its multicultural population and proud of its creative buzz. London in the 1990s became, statistically, different to the rest of the country. The capital had a younger population and a far more multicultural one. By the end of the century 29% of Londoners were from a minority ethnic group, as compared to 9% in Britain as a whole. London’s cosmopolitan outlook was reinforced by new developments in transport. The Channel tunnel opened in 1994, linking London directly to the European rail network. Cheap airline flights brought new tourists to London and transformed travel and holiday possibilities for ordinary Londoners. Despite all the changes the 20th century had brought to the capital, London ended the century in the way it had began, as a city conscious that its fortunes were inextricably entwined with the rest of the world.

Section taken from http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk/timeline/1990-1999

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The Millennium Dome at Greenwich & the London Eye or Millennium Wheel on the South Bank heralded the entrance of the city in the 3rd millennium. With a population of more than 8.5 million people, a multinational diversity that spans from European to Asian & African in about half of the overall number, a dynamic economy & a huge array of tourist attractions that attract more than 14 million visitors every year, London stares at the future with more confidence than ever as one of the world’s richest, most iconic metropoles in the world.

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https://www.facebook.com/theoldqueenshead/© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here and Now (fb.com/wearehereandnow)

A friendly and fun neighbourhood boozer in the heart of Islington. It hosts club nights every Friday and Saturday. Their upstairs is open seven nights a week for live music, comedy and our prolific pub quiz every Tuesday. They’re proud to be home to Lucky Chip- London’s best burgers and roasts. The Old Queens Head  is a Pub/club with worn sofas and carved stone fireplace for quizzes, comedy, big-name DJ sets and burgers. Need More?

https://theoldqueenshead.com/gallery/https://theoldqueenshead.com/gallery/