Birth of the Greatest City in the
- When the Romans
conquered Britain in AD 47, no-one lived where the City of London
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
left London and the buildings became ruinous.
There are lots of stories about what