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The City of York and it's early history.

Updated on March 15, 2013

The City of York is the administrative capital of the county of Yorkshire, York has had a rich, colourful and full history. York is currently one of the top tourist destinations in the North of England, The City of York has been the backdrop to major social, political and economical upheavals throughout much of its Two millennium of existence. The City was founded by the Roman Empire in 71 AD. They called it Eboracum , a name probably made more Roman than from the one used by the British tribes who had inhabited the area.

There is still a region of East Yorkshire called Ebor and its history is as ancient as the City of York. The Romans made it the capital of their Province of Britannia Inferior as it was ideal for supplying the garrisons of the North ( particularly the hostile area around Hadrian's Wall ) and was able to transport freight along the river system's of England, York is situated were a number of rivers such as the Foss and Ouse meet. For much of the City of York's early years it was a strategically important City for every force that sought dominion over the Kingdom of the English.

Roman legionnaire
Roman legionnaire

There is strong regional archaeological evidence to suggests that Mesolithic people settled in the region of York around 8000 and 7000 BC. And they lived a far more nomadic lifestyle than their present day successors. At the time of the Roman invasion and settlement of the British Isles, the area around York was occupied by the Celtic tribe known to the Romans as the Brigantes . The Brigantine tribal area initially became a Roman vassal state offering the invading force information, intelligence and auxiliary troops. But within a decade of the occupation its tribal leaders had became openly hostile to Roman rule. As a result of the Brigantine resistance the Romans sent a legion north of the River Humber into the heart of Brigantine territory

This lead to the original founding of the city in 71 AD, the Ninth Legion who had conquered the Brigantes , had opted to construct a wooden military fortress on flat ground above the River Ouse close to its joining and merging with the River Foss . The fortress, which was later rebuilt in stone, was inhabited by over five thousand soldiers. The actual site of the Roman fortress lies under the foundations of the York Minster. Archaeological excavations in the Minster's under-croft have revealed that some of the original walls are still well preserved.

Roman Occupation.
Roman Occupation. | Source

The Roman City of York was a vital resupply point for the North of England and Roman York grew as a trading post off the back of the military trade. York had strong links with the Roman Empire and was soon named capital of the province of Britannia Inferior. Many campaigning Emperors visited the city when they were preparing to subdue the Pict's who were North of Hadrian's wall. One Roman emperor was even crowned in York when his father died suddenly while visiting the province.

With the withdrawal of the Roman Legions as they were needed back in continental Europe, to defend against the Germanic tribes. York fell into the hands of the Angles, they eventually made "Eoforwic" (the Angle variation of Eboracum) the chief city of Northumbria. The Angle's set about Christianizing York in the seventh century, and they built the First Christian Churches in the City. The First Church became the York Minister which still stands to the present day. The Angles only had possession of York for a short time as the Kingdom of Northumbria was full of divisions by the mid ninth century.

The Vikings took over most of Northumbria and the City of Jorvik and claimed it as a Kingdom of Denmark. The Viking rule in York was short but they did turn York into an even greater trading centre, York began to trade with much of Europe. A lot of the Viking influence is still evident to this day and there is a Jorvik Centre visitors attraction which brings life what York was like after Roman occupation and how the Viking's influenced the City.

The Vikings were kicked out of York by King Edred in 954 AD, King Edred had united the English Kingdoms for the first time in a Thousand years. The Norman conquest of 1066 was not well received by the North of England and the people of York rebelled, William the Conqueror put down the uprising and there were severe punishments for the people of York. The people of York wished to have Danish kings rule them rather than the Norman regime. In the chaos of the rebellion, the Minister was severely destroyed but was rebuilt by the Normans in 1080 AD.


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