Important Moments in Southampton’s History

The city of Southampton on the south coast of England has a long history. Though objects and earthworks from the Bronze Age and Iron Age have been found in the Southampton area, the origins of the city can be found with the Romans. It has been put forward that the Roman settlement of Clausentum was situated in the area now known as Bitterne Manor. Over the centuries Southampton has welcomed Kings, troops and ships and is particularly well known today for its port and docks. This article aims to provide a brief overview of several important events in Southampton’s long history and to speculate on recent events that have put Southampton on the map.
Going back ten centuries to just prior to the Norman Conquest of England, the son of the King of Denmark, Cnut (popularly known as Canute) won the English throne. King Canute was elected king by the English witan (or council) in 1016. The famous story associated with Canute, though likely to be apocryphal, has a supposed claim on Southampton. In the famous story it is told that Canute put his throne on the sea shore and commanded the tide to stop. Unsurprisingly the tide didn’t listen and Canute was left with wet feet. The story is often used nowadays as an example of arrogance. However, according to Henry of Huntingdon, a 12th century chronicler, Canute reportedly claimed that it showed how ’empty and worthless is the power of kings’ when compared to that of God. Canute then supposedly hung his gold crown on a crucifix and never wore it again. It has been put forward that the spot where Canute gave his orders to the tide is in Southampton. In the city centre there is a sign on ‘Canute Road’ that proclaims ‘near this spot AD 1028 Canute reproved his courtiers’.
Southampton as a port has obvious connections to distant lands such as the Americas. This history goes back a long way but some of the most important links can be found in the 17th century. The Southampton docks were the leaving point for the journey of the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World of America. The leading figures of the Pilgrim Fathers were Brownish English Dissenters who had left England and fled to Holland in order to escape volatile political environments and religious attending family court without a solicitor oppression. The Pilgrims chartered a ship called the Mayflower to take them on their journey to found a new colony. The ship sailed from London, in July of 1620, down to the rendezvous point of Southampton. At least one person from Southampton joined the trip at this point, if not more. The Mayflower set sail from Southampton on the 15th August 1620. The colony that the Pilgrim Fathers established, the Plymouth Colony, became the second successful English settlement in America.
Arguably the most famous event in Southampton’s history is that of the Titanic. The liner docked in Southampton at the White Star Dock and began her maiden voyage from there in April of 1912. The ship infamously sank after hitting an iceberg in the early hours of the 15th April. The majority of the crew were from Southampton with numbers reaching around 724. Of these members of the crew, only 175 returned back to Southampton after the disaster. Over five hundred households in Southampton lost at least one family member. Southampton in 1912 was extremely well known for its docks and the large number of steamship companies that were based there. As a result White Star Line’s transatlantic service was moved from Liverpool to Southampton in 1907 and a new deep water dock had to be built to accommodate the huge liners. White Star Dock was built in 1911 and it was from here that the Titanic sailed. There are several memorials around Southampton commemorating the lives lost.
In more recent months, eyes worldwide have been turned to Southampton as a result of legal action involving a local pub. The Hobbit pub in the Portswood area of Southampton has been accused of copyright infringement. The pub received a letter from the Saul Zaentz Company in California asking it to remove all imagery and references to the characters. The pub is decorated with memorabilia and artwork relating to both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring and even serves drinks named after members of the Fellowship, such as Gandalf, Gimli and Frodo. There has been wide criticism of the types of crime ppt lawsuit and worldwide attention was brought to the case when Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen disparaged the actions of the company. The former called it ‘self-defeating bullying’, while the latter called it ‘unnecessary pettiness’. As a result of the attention and support given to the Southampton pub, the company has offered to bring an end to the dispute by allowing the pub to pay for a licence allowing it to use the brand. Though this legal action is unlikely to be remembered to the same scale as earlier events in history, it shows that the history of Southampton is ever changing.

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