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History of London

Medieval London

Saxon farm buildings amid the ruins of Roman LondonSaxon farm buildings amid the ruins of Roman LondonBy the end of the 6th century, the London area formed part of the kingdom of the East Saxons. While the old Roman city lying within the crumbling walls remained empty, a new settlement grew up just to the west, around a port on the Thames. It was called Lundenwic (the Old English ending -wic, found in names like Ipswich and Harwich, usually means a port or trading town). But the town became a target for Viking raiders, who sacked it several times: in 842, 851 and 871.

Saxon London

A map of London during Alfred's reign (886–899)A map of London during Alfred's reign (886–899)King Alfred drove the Vikings out in 886 and the old Saxon town of Lundenwic was soon abandoned. (It later became known as Ealdwic, meaning the "old settlement", a name which survives today as Aldwych.) Under Alfred's guidance, London was re-established within the Roman walls—newly repaired—and new streets were laid out. The ruins of Roman buildings became part of the townscape. The new town became known as Lundenburg. It marked the beginning of what would later come known as the City of London.

Alfred also established a burgh, a fortified town, on the south bank of the Thames to guard the river crossing. This was named Southwark.

When Aethelred attempted to recapture the city with the help of King Olaf of Norway, Danish warriors lined London Bridge and showered his men with spears. However, using roofs from nearby houses to protect their heads, Olaf's troops were able to attach ropes to the bridge's piers and pull it down. Legend has it that the nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down" comes from this incident.

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