The History Of York


The History Of York - Constantine The Great

The Early History of York

The amazing history of York could fill many books! Look around York itself and you will see lots of ancient streets and buildings with many reminders of a rich and colourful past. As the history of York is a very considerable and rich subject, the following information should be considered a very concise guide.

York was originally founded by the Romans in 71 AD. They called it Eboracum, and several modern companies and events (such as the famous Ebor race festival), reflect this heritage. A Roman the fortress enclosed 50 acres of York and housed a garrison of 6000 soldiers and became one of the leading cities of the Roman empire. The great Roman leader Constantine the Great was declared Emperor in York in AD 306, and any look into the ancient history of York will have a very strong Roman influence.

Around 300 years of Roman occupation of York ended around AD400, and (after a quiet period in York ancient history) the Anglo Saxons invaded. In 601, Pope Gregory wanted to convert the British to Christianity.  York became the church’s centre in the north and a small wooden church was built on the site of the current York Minster in AD627 .

The Vikings captured the city in 866 AD, and York is sometimes still referred to by its Scandinavianised form, Jórvík (again this is reflected in the popular museum the Jorvik Viking Centre) . Jórvík gradually became “York” which was first recorded in the 13th century.

The last Vikings were finally driven from the city on 954, but they had left an enormous cultural impact on York, and their place within the history of York.

Between 1056-66 York changed hands following local rebellion, invasion by the Norwegians and finally the famous defeat of the Norwegian army at the battle of Stamford Bridge (a small village around 8 miles from the centre of York). The victor at Stamford Bridge (King Harold II of England) was himself defeated three weeks later by the Norman king William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

The Domesday Book (1086) showed that half of York was owned by the King, and the other half by Normans. York continues to prosper and the building of a Norman Minster was completed around 1100 AD. This building was destroyed, but was eventually replaced by the architectural masterpiece York Minster (commenced in 1220 AD). The Norman influence on York would be substantial and at the time York was considered second only to the capital city London in terms of size and prosperity.

The History Of York: Medieval Period (1199 to 1485)

York took great steps towards independence in 1212, when King John (also well known in the “Robin Hood” stories!) whilst under severe financial pressure, allowed York’s citizens themselves to collect and pay the annual tax to the Crown. They were also allowed to hold their own courts and to have their own mayor.  From this date until 1974, York was a self-governing city under the influence of its own mayors.

 In 1349 York was very badly affected by  a plague of the Black Death which is reputed to have killed half the population of the town.

A procession of kings including Edward I (1239-1307) and Richard III (1452-85) had an influence in York’s development.

The History Of York:  Tudor/Stuart Period (1485 to 1714)

In 1533, Henry VIII (having been refused a divorce by the Catholic Church) made himself the head of the Church of England. In 1536 the Dissolution of the Monasteries became, and York, as an important religious centre, suffered badly as a result. The history of York is considerably shaped by this period.

King Charles 1 left York in 1642, but the Parliamentary opposition had grown strong. Civil war was declared and in April 1644 a large Parliamentary army began the siege of York. In June 1644 Charles’ nephew Prince Rupert arrived supported by over 150,000 troops and the Parliamentarians fled to nearby Marston Moor. However, although greatly outnumbered, the Parliamentarians counter-attacked, defeating the Royalist forces and renewing their siege of the city.

The city surrendered on 15th June 1644 and many buildings were destroyed by the invading force. The heads of many of the defeated soldiers were placed on spikes around the city – some for years on end! Fortunately many of the great buildings and churches in York were spared, and survive to this day. As well as being varied, the history of York is also quite bloody…

Over time York began to prosper again, and many of the elegant town houses (many still occupied today) were erected for important local merchants.

York benefitted from a superb central main modern train station (established 1839 by George Hudson), and York Railway Station is now less than two hours to get to London by train. It is also quick and easy to get to Edinburgh and many other large cities. York is also easily reached by Manchester Airport & Leeds Bradford Airport and is one of the most popular and historic places to visit in the United Kingdom.

History Of York Random York Facts:

York is regularly considered to be one the most haunted city in World with over 500 recorded sightings. Check out the regular Ghost Walk tours for tales of terror & intrigue..!

York Minster, has a connection with the Vatican City – both have their own individual police forces – these are the only two Catherdrals in the world to have this honour.

York is reputed to have a pub for every day of the year! Many of these are within the City Centre walls and serve some of the best beers you will find anywhere.

York Minster  took over 240 years to build, and a church has been on its site since around 627 AD

The York City Walls have existed since the Roman Era, and a large amount of the walls remain to this day.York is proud to have more miles of intact wall than any other city in England – and you can still walk on them for free!

Failed gunpowder plot ringleader Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570. The legendary highwayman Dick Turpin was executed and (reputedly still) buried in York in 1606.

We hope that you have enjoyed this guide to the brief History of York.