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Londinium: Roman London
Birth of the Greatest City in the World

Londinium: Roman London -  Nash Ford Publishing

  • When the Romans conquered Britain in AD 47, no-one lived where the City of London now stands.
  • The River Thames was 4 times as wide as today and the Romans built a bridge to cross it. People from across the Empire came in ships to trade at the end of the bridge and a town quickly grew up there. They called it 'Londinium' which may mean 'Place at the Wide River'.
  • The timber-framed houses were all burnt down by Queen Boudica when she revolted against the Romans in AD 61. Some of the people were evacuated, but many stayed and were killed.
  • The town was soon rebuilt with houses around a small forum (market-place). There was a thriving quayside (for trading). The town became the home of the Governor (and later of the Vicarius) of Britannia.
  • The Emperor Hadrian visited Britannia in AD 122. He liked building things. He was famous for having Hadrian's Wall built to keep out the Picts. He also had lots of big public stone buildings put up in London: A vast forum & basilica, a Governor's palace, triumphal arches, a public baths extension, a fort for 1,000 soldiers and an amphitheatre. London was now a great city.
  • A fire destroyed many of the wooden buildings shortly afterwards. They were rebuilt, but London then went into decline. Many people left, possibly due to plague.
  • Things had improved by the end of the century. Governor Albinus declared himself Emperor and built a big wall round the city to keep everyone safe. But the Public Baths were demolished.
  • Emperor Septimus Severus brought an army to re-establish Roman rule. There was more building in the city, especially big stone town-houses for rich people.
  • In about AD 240 a temple to the mysterious god, Mithras, was built. It lasted about 100 years. There were many other temples too.
  • In the 290s, a Roman general in Britain called Carausius set up an independent Empire for Britannia & Gaul. London was its capital. He built an extra wall alongside the Thames because of all the raids from Saxon pirates.
  • His successor, Allectus, hired Frankish mercenaries to defend London. Instead they ransacked the City. Caesar Constantius Chlorus arrived with an army just in time to stop them. He re-established Roman rule.
  • Not long afterwards, the forum & basilica were demolished. The amphitheatre & Governor's palace were in ruins; but Christianity had arrived. London had a bishop and a cathedral somewhere.
  • About AD 345, towers with catapult platforms were added to the city wall. In AD 369, Count Theodosius used the city as his base when putting down the 'Barbarian Conspiracy'. London was still a thriving centre for trade.
  • In AD 382 and 407, two Roman generals from Britain declared themselves Emperor. They were called Magnus Maximus and Constantine III. They set up mints in London, but left with lots of soldiers to fight in Europe.
  • The people of Britannia had to look after themselves. Almost everyone left London and the buildings became ruinous.

There are lots of stories about what happened next.

 

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