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London's history is filled with growth and innovative architecture, as well as conflict and destruction. From Westminster Abbey to sites memorializing the Plague, when you visit London, you will get to see sights that are right out of a history book.
So much of the London we see today can be tied back to the Medieval times. What was a dark period for much of the world saw a time of building and growth for London. One of the most iconic sights in London, The Tower of London, saw great changes during this period. At this period in time the tower was still a palace, not yet a prison. Westminster Abbey also saw vast improvements during this period. Henry III devoted much of his time to restoration of Westminster Abbey. Another great addition to the city made during the medieval period is the first stone bridge over the Thames. While there were great improvements in the city during this period, everyday life was hard. The Peasants Revolt was an important event in medieval London. The revolt was a result of high taxation by Richard II. Life for peasants was difficult, and the threat of plague was a constant worry. Medieval London was a good time for religious houses with monasteries dotting the streets.
The Tudor and Stuart Era in London
The Tudor and Stuart Eras in London saw both great expansion and great destruction. The earlier Tudor Period is a time in which the population of London grew exponentially. Under the leadership of Henry VII a new era was ushered in. The protestant reformation took place during the Tudor era. While many of the city’s religious houses were closed, it was a relatively painless reformation. The Tudor era also marks the time of Shakespeare. While his worked is loved around the world today, during his time his Globe Theatre was set on the less popular south side of the Thames. Theatre at the time was highly controversial. The later Stuart Era is marked by two great tragedies. The Great Plague arrived in London in 1665. The illness claimed countless lives in the streets of London. The poor were more affected than the rich who had the means to flee the city at this time. The next tragedy arrived just one year later with the Great Fire in 1666. The fire did not claim many lives; however it nearly wiped out the cities buildings.
20th Century London
The 20th Century in London was another time marked by great growth and great tragedy. Improvements were seen in public transportation such a buses and the Tube. The economy in London was booming in the early 20th Century and the port was thriving. This took a sudden turn as the First World War broke out. While there was great employment due to the manufacturing needs of the war, London saw bombings and danger all around. After WWI London, and much of the world, saw a population boom. The era of jazz and good times dominated the cultural scene. London continued to grow, even while the rest of the world entered a depression. Foreigners moved into London to escape persecution. When the Second World War began London saw death and destruction. Bombings killed hundreds of thousands of people. Post WWII London began to change with Great Britain putting and emphasis on welfare. London prospered after the war. Culture became increasingly important. The mod era, as well as the Beatles became cultural phenomenon. London did see more bombing, this time from the IRA before the end of the century. As the end of the century grew close, London continued to become increasingly modern.
London continues to grow and change in modern times. Modern London is a popular worldwide attraction. The landscape of the city changed with the building of the large London Eye, a Ferris wheel like structure that attracts tourists from around the world. The London Eye gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the modern city. The 2011 will be remembered as the year of the royal wedding, when Prince William married Katherine. As the 21st century rolls on London is preparing itself for the Olympic Games.