The history of London
It were those Italian conquistadors, the Romans, who established Londinium in 43AD. Building a wall around their settlement and a bridge over the river Thames, they set the city up as an important trade centre. But the locals weren't very happy about for one, the tribal queen of the Iceni Celts and a fearsome chariot-driver, struck a blow for the Britons in AD 60, burning much of the city to the ground. But the Romans were undeterred, and stayed around for another 350 years, and by the end of the first century AD, London was the capital of Roman Britain.
The Middle Ages saw London grow, despite fires sweeping through the city and a massive bout of Black Death in 1348, which wiped out nearly half of the city's 60,000 inhabitants.
The Tudors took over in 1485, and the infamous Henry VIII was a major player
in the radical transformation of the country. He wanted a son, which meant
getting a younger wife, which meant a divorce - which the Pope wouldn't allow.
So he killed off Thomas More, his Chancellor, established the Church of England
and outlawed Catholicism. In London this meant that all the land previously
owned by the Church was now his. He set about carving it up and giving large
chunks to his friends (and more importantly to his potential enemies). Convent
Garden became Covent Garden, and the land previously owned by Westminster Abbey,
covering much of what is now the West End, was released for private development.
A new London was born.
The Great Plague in 1665 and the Fire of London in 1666 were something of a blow, wiping out much of the population along with most of medieval and Tudor London, but it meant that there was an opportunity to start a fresh architecturally. Christopher Wren took full advantage of this - designing and building 51 London churches including St Paul's Cathedral.
During World War II much of London was destroyed. Rebuilding began in 1945 and one result was the South Bank Centre. Designed as a centrepiece for the arts, its functional rather than beautiful buildings draw crowds in from all over.
Meanwhile, back in the 'Swinging Sixties' London gained a reputation for being at fashion's forefront. It was an era epitomised by Twiggy, the very first supermodel, and Carnaby Street, with its Mary Quant boutique and Quadrophenia vibe. London has gone from strength to strength since then and is now recognised as one of the top international centres for fashion. London has also become world-renowned for its cutting-edge art.
London's double-decker buses have long remained a symbol of the city. Jump
on board and find out why London will be driving, thriving and positively bursting
into countless millennia to come.