A short history of London
The first major settlement was founded by the Romans in 43 AD as Londinium, following the Roman conquest of Britain. Following a storming by the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica in 61AD, the city was rebuilt and prospered, superceding Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100 AD. At its height in the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000.
By the 600s, the Anglo-Saxons had created a new settlement called Lundenwic, approximately 900 metres upstream from the old Roman city, around what is now Covent Garden. It is likely that there was a harbour at the mouth of the River Fleet for fishing and trading, and this trading grew until the city was overcome by the Vikings and forced to relocate the city back to the location of the Roman Londinium to use its walls for protection. The original Saxon city of Lundenwic became Ealdwic ("old city"), a name surviving to the present day as Aldwych, which is in the modern City of Westminster.
Plague caused extensive problems for London in the early 17th century, culminating in the Great Plague in 1665–1666 that killed up to 100,000 people, up to a fifth of London's population. This was the last major outbreak in England, possibly thanks to the disastrous fire of 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out in the original City and quickly swept through London's wooden buildings, destroying large swathes of the city. Rebuilding took over ten years, largely under direction of a Commission appointed by King Charles II, chaired by Sir Christopher Wren.
Much of London was then destroyed during the bombing campaign of World War II, which saw 30,000 people lose their lives. Despite causing a great deal of damage, the city was generally well patched up, and where the worst 1940s and 1950s architecture was used, much has been replaced by more modern and tasteful buildings.
In the 18th century, Samuel Johnson, author of A Dictionary of the English Language, famously wrote about the city: “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
History of London's Universities
University College London
UCL was founded in 1826 and is the third oldest English university, and the first university institution to be founded in London. This was the first British university to admit students regardless of their religion and gender. At that time, the only universities in England were those at Oxford and Cambridge, which were restricted to members of the Church of England. It introduced new subjects which had not previously been taught in English universities, for instance modern foreign languages, English language and literature as well as engineering and architecture. UCL later introduced the first teaching laboratories for chemistry and physics.
The University of London
The University of London was first established by a Royal Charter in 1836, which brought together in federation London University (now University College London) and King's College (now King's College London). Today the University is a federal university made up of 31 affiliates: 19 separate university institutions, and 12 research institutes. As such, the University of London is the largest university in the UK by number of full-time students, with 135,090 campus-based students.
Queen Mary, University of London
Queen Mary has its roots in four historic colleges: Queen Mary College, Westfield College, St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College and the London Hospital Medical College.
The Mile End campus is historically the home of Queen Mary College, which began life in 1887 as the People's Palace, a philanthropic endeavour to provide east Londoners with education and social activities. It was admitted to the University of London in 1915.
Westfield College was founded in 1882 as a pioneering college for the higher education of women, and was granted its Royal Charter in 1932. In 1995, Queen Mary and Westfield merged with two distinguished medical colleges, St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, established in 1843, and the London Hospital Medical College, England's first medical school, founded in 1785.