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BRIEF ACCOUNT OF LONDON.
LONDON, the metropolis of Britain, in the county of Middlesex, now one of the largest and most opulent cities in the world, and mentioned by Tacitus as a considerable commercial place in the reign of Nero. This distinguished city has experienced many calamities. About the year 477, it was taken from the Britons by the Saxons, under Hengist, but on his death, in 498, it was retaken by Ambrosius. In 664 it was ravaged by the plague. Destructive fires happened in 764, 798, 801, 1077, and 1135. In 1090, a hurricane overthrew 600 houses, with several churches, and damaged the Tower of London. On the coronation of Richard I., a dreadful massacre of the Jews was made by the ignorant and ferocious populace. In 1196, William Fitz Osbert, called Longbeard, Lord of London, excited a sedition, and was joined by 50,000 men; but he being taken and executed, his adherents dispersed. A tromendous fire occurred in 1212, wherein, according to Stowe, 3000 persons perished; and the famine in 1258
swept off 20,000. Another massacre of the Jews hape pened in 1264. In 1348, the terrible pestilence, which spread from India nearly over the whole earth, commenced its destructive ravages in London, and did not entirely subside till 1357. Four years afterwards, a similar calamity again occurred. A most destructive rebellion was raised in 1381, by Wat Tyler, who was killed in Smithfield, by Sir William Walworth, Lord Mayor, at a parley to which he was invited by the king. The rebellion of Jack Cade, in 1450, was more formidable, when he defeated the king's forces, and was in possession of London for some time. In 1485, the city was visited by an extraordinary epidemic disease, called “the sweating sickness,” which proved extremely fatal. The plague carried off 30,000 persons in the year 1500; and in the beginning of the reign of Charles I. another visitation swept off 35,000 more. In 1665, the Great Plague, as it is called, from its extent and fatality, nearly depopulated the metropolis, carrying off 68,596 persons. This was followed by the Fire of London, which broke out on Sunday, the 2d of September, 1666, at the house of a baker, in Pudding-lane, near Thamesstreet, and was not extinguished till the following Thursday. Most of the churches and corporation halls, and 13, 200 houses, were consumed. The value of property destroyed was computed to be little short of ten millions. In 1780, the Pétition of the Protestant Association to Parliament, occasioned an insurrection among the populace, known as the Gordon Riots, who burnt the prisons of Newgate, the King's Bench, and the Fleet; the Roman Catholic chapels, and many private houses of persons of that persuasion.
London was first walled round with hewn stones and British bricks, by Constantine the Great; and the walls formed an oblong square, about three miles in circumference, with seven principal gates; but these have long since disappeared, except a few scattered fragments of