Regional England : Yorkshire

The early inhabitants of Yorkshire were Celts, a tribe known as the Brigantes. They controlled most of Northern England and more territory than any other Celtic tribe in England at that period.
Famed as the most militant tribe in Britain, even the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD failed to rattle them! They retained control of their kingdom to become a ‘client’ state of Rome.

Initially, this situation suited both the Romans and the Brigantes, but it was not to last. A number of troublesome rebellions later the Romans, under general Petillius Cerialis, conquered them in 71 AD.

Following some four centuries of decline the Romans finally departed and the Celts once more came to the fore. Once settled the tribes thrived and prospered relatively peacefully until, some time in the early 7th Century, when King Edwin of Northumbria expelled their last king, Certic, and annexed the region. Northumbria grew in strength and power, stretching from the Irish Sea to the North Sea and from Edinburgh down to Hallamshire in South Yorkshire and once more life settled into relative peace.
And then, in 866, an army of Danish Vikings invaded Northumbria and conquered it.

Eboracum, that is now modern day York, was renamed Jórvík and it became the capital of a new Danish kingdom. The area of this kingdom was roughly equivalent to the borders of modern day Yorkshire.

The Danes went on to conquer an even larger area of England which was afterwards known as the Danelaw.

The Kingdom prospered, taking advantage of the vast trading network of the Viking nations, and established commercial ties with North-West Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Nonetheless, the Danelaw passed into Norwegian hands during its bloody and brutal twilight years when Eric Bloodaxe, a particularly bloodthirsty type became what was to prove to be the last independent Viking King of Jórvik.
Following his welcome ‘departure’ the reins were once more taken up by the Kingdom of Northumbria, closely followed by a further takeover by the Kingdom of Wessex which was now in the ascendant.

Despite being once more a part of the English Kingdoms, Yorkshire retained a certain amount of autonomy as an almost-independent earldom rather than a separate kingdom. Indeed, the Wessex Kings were reputed to have respected the Norse customs in Yorkshire and left law-making in the hands of the local aristocracy.

And then of course, in 1066 AD, Harold II was killed at the Battle of Hastings which led to the Norman conquest of England. The people of the North rebelled against the Normans and in 1069 AD they enlisted Sweyn II of Denmark in an attempt to take back York, but the Normans burnt it before they could. William also ordered the Harrying of the North and from York to Durham, crops, domestic animals, and farming tools were scorched. Many villages between the towns were burnt and local Northerners were indiscriminately murdered.

During the winter that followed many families starved or froze to death.
In the 12th century, people of Yorkshire had to contend with marauding Scots at Northallerton while the newly created Norman landowners, keen to increase their revenues, established new towns such as Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough and Sheffield. Only a few of the older towns, such as Bridlington, Pocklington, and York continued at a prominent level. With much productivity came stability and wealth, though the population levels of Yorkshire boomed and bust, what with the Great Famine in the years between 1315-22 and the Black Death of 1349 that killed around a third of the population.

The 15th century saw the split in the Plantagenet family into the York (white rose) and Lancaster (red rose) houses that led to the series of civil wars that became known as the Wars of The Roses.
Eventually Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster, defeated and killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, became King Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York daughter of Edward IV and thus ended the wars.

The white and red roses of York and Lancaster were combined to form the Tudor Rose of England.

Yorkshire continued to growing as did the population until, with the onset of the Industrial revolution it exploded.

Coal, textiles and steel (especially in Sheffield) became the boom industries.

This naturally led to overcrowding around the industrial centres that saw bouts of cholera in both 1832 and 1848. Fortunately for the county, advances were made by the end of the century with the introduction of modern sewers and water supplies while several Yorkshire railway networks were introduced as railways spread across the country to access more remote areas.

During the Second World War, Yorkshire became an important base for RAF Bomber Command and brought the county into the cutting edge of the war.

This entry was posted in Counties Of England and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Regional England : Yorkshire

  1. Karen says:

    Fabulous post, and as a Yorkshire lass, very interesting too. I have always had a fascination witrh the Brigantes, and have numerous books about the tribe. Karen

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