London: A Brief History - Part 1: Roman London

London: A Brief History - Part 1: Roman London

The City Builds and Burns: Roman London (43 to 410 AD)

Image Source: Wikipedia

Today’s London started off as a civilian town called Londinium, established by the Romans a few years after the invasion of AD43. Londinium is believed to have been equivalent to the size of Hyde Park today, and the Roman army built a sturdy wooden bridge over the Thames, east of where today’s London Bridge is situated. As a result of the bridge and construction of roads from the Londinium port, there was an influx of merchants, traders and other urban dwellers in search of better living conditions and opportunities.

Over the next few years, Londinium prospered and became an important town but this came to a halt when in 60AD, Queen Boudicca, of the Icene tribe of Norfolk, targeted Londinium as a show of her antagonism of Roman rule. Boudicca and her army razed Londinium to the ground, killing thousands in the process, and as a result orchestrated one of the first recorded burnings of London in history. The buildings at the time were made of wood and clay and therefore burnt very easily.

After the invasion of Boudicca, it did not take long for the Romans to re-establish control. The strategic location of Londinium made it too valuable to forfeit, therefore it was hastily rebuilt. It became a walled and planned Roman city. The rebirth was the beginning of a golden era of trade and by 100AD, large amounts of goods were being traded in Londinium – emanating from, and going to, extensive corners of the empire.

Luxury goods such as pottery, wine, olive oil, marble and slaves became rampant in Londinium through import from Spain, Italy, Gaul and Greece, while a viable export market for tin, silver, copper, oysters, corn and woolen cloak was established.

Read Part 2 - The End of Roman London


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