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Gloucester History, United Kingdom

Gloucester, UK was founded by Roman soldiers around 49 A.D. as a fort to protect those who were crossing the River Severn. Around 75 A.D., the Roman armies left the area, but the town that had sprung up there was maintained for retired soldiers. Gloucester was mostly abandoned in 407 A.D. due to the decline of the Roman Empire; however, a few farmers most likely stayed behind with their lands.

Gloucester History – The Saxons

Gloucester history begins again in 577 A.D., when the Saxons invaded the area and took it from the Celts. They resettled the Roman ruins and within one-hundred years the town was growing into a great city. By the end of the 800’s A.D., the Saxons needed to protect their towns from Viking invasions so they formed a series of fortified towns known as “burghs.” Gloucester had the honor of being one of these protective cities. The men of the city fought a battle against the Vikings in 915 A.D.

In 909 A.D., the body of St. Oswald was brought to Gloucester and interred in a church there. His tomb became a shrine for religious pilgrims of the day.

Gloucester History – The Middle Ages

By this time in Gloucester history, the city was well-known and much-visited. It was the tenth wealthiest city in all of England. During the 12th and 13th centuries A.D., the city was of strategic importance to England, who was at battle with the Welsh much of the time. Due to the wars and other prospering industries, Gloucester grew well until the 15th century. At this time, the city declined and experienced a crippling economic depression.

Gloucester History – The Tudor & Stuart Eras

Gloucester history during the 16th and 17th centuries was a time of further decline and even tragedy. The economic situation of the city did not get better and Gloucester lost much of her past importance in England. On top of that, the city’s citizens suffered through six outbreaks of the bubonic plague.

It is also during this period of time that King Henry VIII introduced Protestantism as the main religion in England. Many Catholics were killed and cathedrals and priories destroyed. Henry’s daughter Mary, a devout Catholic, struck back by having Protestants killed. This led to the death of the Protestant Bishop of Gloucester, John Hopper, in 1555.

Less than one-hundred years later, the English civil war began. Gloucester was the only city in Southwest England to support Parliament against the King. Royalist armies besieged the city despite the fortifications which had been built around it. The siege did not last long, however, since rumors of an approaching parliamentary army caused the King’s army to leave the city.

Gloucester History – The Modern Eras

Beginning in the early 1700’s, Gloucester history takes a turn for the better. Over the next three centuries, the city underwent many improvements and modernizations including schools, a modern sewer system, electricity, and several new industries. These changes afforded the city much growth.

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