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LONDON: A History by Francis Sheppard

LONDON: A History


Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

By freelancer Sheppard, a leading London historian, a fascinating narrative of that city'as growth from a Roman provincial encampment to a modern world metropolis, From its beginnings in 53 A.D., London was an important provincial center, and it became the focus of the revolt of Boudicaa, the Celtic queen who led a sanguinary uprising against the Romans in 60 A.D. and burned the fledgling city to the ground. After this traumatic event, London continued its growth, so that by the time of the visit of the Emperor Hadrian in 122 A.D., it had reached its zenith as a major industrial commercial center of the empire. Soon afterward, it was destroyed by fire again, and along with the Roman empire, began a long period of decay. It revived again around the year 600 with the Saxon incursions into Britain, and with the occupation of Alfred the Great in 886, it became the urban hub of a politically united England. A vast expansion of the city ensued, and by the 13th century London was truly one of Europe's primary cities and the capital of one of its principal kingdoms. Sheppard relies on archaeological evidence for the city's early periods, but increasingly on literary and secondary sources to tell the story of the city's growth into the center of Britain's world empire--interrupted periodically by traumas such as the civil wars and disorders of the Middle Ages such as the Black Death, the pestilence of the 1660s, the Industrial Revolution, and the blitz. At the apex of world influence in 1914, London's fortunes declined precipitously with those of the British Empire. By the 1990s London was a shadow of its imperial self, though still a center of world finance and a major urban center. Scholarly and meticulously researched, Sheppard's excursion through London history has the engaging quality of a walking tour given by a guide with an infectious love of his subject.