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London United Kingdom History

London was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. It occupied relatively small area roughly equivalent to that of the Hyde Park, and was enclosed by defensive wall. Six of the London's seven historic gates were built in the Roman time. It enjoyed rapid economic growth, turning quickly into the capital of Britain and the major cultural centre north to the Alps.

Political instability of Roman Empire led to its slow decline and by the 5th century the area was practically abandoned by Romans and soon re-inhabited by Anglo-Saxons due to its strategic location on the Thames. They founded new settlement near the remnants of Roman city. In 9th the area suffered from massive Viking invasion, until King Alfred managed to defeat them and conclude peace. Old Roman fortifications were rebuilt and enhanced. The city was favoured as the capital by kings Aethelred and Edward the Confessor.

When the Anglo-Saxon dynasty lost the power and William the Conqueror seized the throne, commencing the Norman rule period, the city was granted a charter, recognizing its rights and privileges and in fact established as a capital. The chain of defensive castles arose on its perimeter. It faced many battles and revolts, including French occupation during the Hundred Years War, peasant rebellions and The War of the Roses. After the establishing of the Tudor dynasty in 1485, London was split into Westminster, the Royal residence area, and the City of London, a thriving commercial district. In 16th century, especially during the reign if Queen Elizabeth, it becomes one of the most prosperous cities of Europe, with magnificent palaces and churches, developed commercial infrastructure. Numerous theatres had sprung up, making it one of the most celebrated cultural centres.

London expanded rapidly during the Stuart reign, such districts as East End, West End, Moorfields with their crowded and chaotic layout emerged. Later they were turned into prosperous districts. In the English Civil War the financial resources of the City contributed significantly to the victory of the parliamentary forces.

The Restoration of Stuart dynasty was marked by construction of numerous aristocratic residences. In 18th century London become the world leading commercial centre, distinguished by swift development of industrial production and printing. By 19th century it was extremely overcrowded industrial centre, with the network of railway stations and extensive suburb districts.

During the World War I London suffered occasional air attacks from German zeppelins, but was saved from significant destruction. The period between two wars featured greater than ever suburb growth and transport development. In 1941-42 London suffered severe damages with heavy casualties. In the post-war period London changed completely, boasting the most amazing modern architecture. It hosted 1948 Summer Olympics and has won the bid for 2012 Olympics. Nowadays it is one of the most prominent cultural and commercial cities of the world.

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