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York History, United Kingdom

In 71 A.D., the Romans invaded northern England.  This part of England, which now houses York, UK, was much uncivilized before that time.  After they conquered northern England, the Romans built a fort near the Ouse and Floss rivers.  They named the fort Eboracum, which came from a Celtic phrase meaning “the place with yew trees.”  Over the next one hundred years, a thriving little village sprang up near the fort. 

By the early 200’s A.D., the village had turned into a walled town.  Large houses with mosaic floors graced the area and buildings, such as baths, were open to the public.  This grandeur only lasted until the Roman soldiers left Britian in 407 A.D. however.  At that time, York and most of the other Roman towns in England began to fade into ruins.  It is possible that a few of the townspeople stayed behind after the Romans left and farmed the land outside the walls, but York was most likely completely abandoned. 

The history of York during the 5th and 6th centuries is a little obscure but what is known is that by the early to mid 7th century the town may have begun to grow again under Saxon rule.  In 627 A.D. York became a Bishop’s seat and a cathedral was built.  It is also possible that a palace was built there for the local king.

By the middle of the 9th century, York had completely revived because its position on the river made it an ideal location for trade.  Even though it was probably smaller than it had been under Roman rule, the town was thriving.  It is said that the Saxons named the town Eofer’s Wic which meant “Eofer’s trading place.”

Later in the 9th century, life in Eofer’s Wic took a large turn.  Northern England was invaded and conquered by Vikings in 866.  They made the town the capital city of their new kingdom and altered the name slightly to Jorvik.  Under Viking rule, York grew and progressed rapidly. 

Danish York had been around for less than 200 years when England was conquered by the Normans and King William took control of York.  The history of the next 200 years is quite bloody.  In 1069, the citizens of northern England revolted against the Normans.  They massacred all of the soldiers stationed in York.  William regained control of the city and had it sacked.  In 1191, the Jewish citizens in York were massacred.  Over the years, York recovered and became an important port and manufacturing town. 

In 1349, half of the population of the large city was killed by the Black Plague.  Other outbreaks occurred in 1550, 1604, 1631, and 1645 and killed hundreds of people.  During the English Civil War, the city of York sided with the King.  Parliamentarian armies held the city under siege for three months in the springs of 1644 and on July 16, 1644, after the king was defeated, York surrendered.

The outbreaks of plague stunted the city’s population growth and other circumstances led to a decline in the economy in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.  For instance, York’s out-of-the-way location caused much competition from cities to the south and kept away traders from the Americas and West Indies.  They also failed to industrialize during the Industrial Revolution.  The city managed to survive and remained an important market town and a center for coastal trade.

The following century saw York get on its feet, again.  After the railway came through in 1839, the city began to industrialize and the population grew once again despite two outbreaks of cholera and one of typhus in the middle of the century.  The city began to be modernized in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Despite its location, York still saw some minor bombing during World War II but it was nothing in comparison to the damage done to other English cities at the time. 

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  • adamYork, United Kingdom
    review by adam posted more then 30 days ago
    York, which is a halfway point between London and Edinburgh, is one of Englands most famous historical town. It is a beautiful place with appealing architecture and rich heritage which makes the destination an ideal tourist attraction. The York Minster is the most prominent attraction of the town...
  • bicskaYork is a wonderful place
    review by bicska posted more then 30 days ago
    York is a beatuful, lovely place in the middle of Yorkshire. Most people are going there only to see the famous Yorkminster Abbey, which is really fantastic and you must see if you'll visit York, but that city could give much more satisfaction. For example there is the a nice rivertrip on the...
  • bicskaDiscovering York
    review by bicska posted more then 30 days ago
    The UK's favourite city, where a weekend is never enough, when I was there a few times, I think is the most beautiful city in North Yorkshire. If you are looking for a cultural getaway or romantic weekend break then visit York and be inspired. Renowned for its exquisite architecture, tangle of...
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  • Rating81%
    City Rank138
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  • Must visit this place: rated for 95%
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