|History of York|
|After the Romans had left, the Anglo-Saxons founded the town of Eoforwic on the site of Eboracum. At the time England was divided into numerous separate kingdoms and so Eoforwic became the capital city of the kingdom of Northumbria.|
The king of Northumbria converted to Christianity in the 7th century, and soon after a wooden church was built in Eoforwic. The town soon became renowned as a centre for religion, an association that remains to this day.
In 867 Eoforwic was captured and burnt to the ground by the Danish Vikings. The Vikings then built the city of Jorvik on the site, which became the capital city of the Viking Empire in northern England.
The Danes were a sea-going race and so Jorvik quickly became established as an important trading port. The legacy of the Vikings can still be seen today in many of York's street names - many of York's streets are suffixed with the word "gate", which is derived from the Viking word for street.
And indeed it is the Viking name for the town that then became Anglicised to the present day name of York.
By the 10th century the Viking Empire had been united with the English kings of southern England, however relations remained tenuous and so York was the site of several uprisings and battles.
In 1070 William the Conqueror put an end to York's rebellion by burning the city, an event known as the "Harrying of the North". York was soon rebuilt by the Normans, this time with two castles and a new cathedral, the famous York Minster.
York again became an important port under Norman rule, and the city prospered from the wool trade in particular. Again, the city's position on the junction of two rivers played a vital role in York's establishment as an important trading post.
The city's famous stone Walls were built in the 13th century, indicating its growing importance as a centre of commerce. Today many parts of this wall still survive, and it is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in the whole of Europe.
By the 15th century York's power was on the wane as London established itself as the capital of the whole of England. But York was still to play a significant in Britain's development.
Most famously York played a central role in the War of the Roses. In the early 15th century the English throne belonged to a series of kings from the house of Lancaster but in 1455 the house of York took the throne from the Lancastrians. The next 25 years saw a series of bitter power struggles between the two houses of York and Lancaster.
This struggle has become known as the War of the Roses because the House of Lancaster was symbolised by a red rose whilst the House of York was symbolised by a white rose. The War of the Roses only ended when Henry VII (the first Tudor king) took the throne in 1485.
In addition, during the Civil War of the 17th century York was the site of one of the war's most significant battles. The city was a royalist stronghold and so was put under siege for several months by the Parliamentarians.
The royalists were defeated at the Battle of Marston Moor and so the city fell to the Parliamentarians in 1642, setting the stage for the Parliamentarians overall victory in the war.
It seemed inevitable that the victorious Parliamentarians would ransack the whole city of York for it had long been loyal to the throne.
But luckily the leader of the Parliamentarians was a local man, Sir Thomas Fairfax, and he managed to protect York from destruction. Most importantly this meant that the Minster has remained largely intact to this day with most of its treasures still in place.
With industrialisation the railways reached York in 1839 and it quickly became a thriving town once again. Its strategic position as a halfway point between London and Edinburgh naturally brought a great deal of trade to the town.
But interestingly enough, whilst many towns prospered from heavy industries such as iron, steel or shipbuilding, York prospered from the nation's craving for chocolate! For York is the home of both Terry and Rowntree-Nestle chocolate manufacturers, and to this day chocolate remains one of the main commercial interests of the city.
The other main industry is of course tourism, with over a million tourists flocking to York every year, making it one of the UK's most visited cities.
York's continued historical importance over the years has meant that it has earned itself the nickname "the capital of the north" - an apt title, for a trip to York is an absolute must for any visitor to northern England.
Copyright © 1999 - 2008, Smooth Hound Systems
Page design by Smooth Hound Systems
Smooth Hound Systems accepts no liability with regards to the accuracy of the information on this site.
Users are advised to double check information such as dates, times, prices etc.