Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration, such as Yorkshire and the Humber and West Yorkshire.
Within the borders of the historic county of Yorkshire are areas which are widely considered to be among the greenest in England, due to the vast stretches of unspoiled countryside in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors and to the open aspect of some of the major cities. Yorkshire has sometimes been nicknamed God's Own County. The emblem of Yorkshire is the white rose of the English royal House of York, and the most commonly used flag representative of Yorkshire is the White Rose on a dark blue background, which after years of use, was recognised by the Flag Institute on 29 July 2008. Yorkshire Day, held on 1 August, is a celebration of the general culture of Yorkshire, ranging from its history to its own language.
The county of Yorkshire was so named as it is the Shire (administrative area or county) of the City of York ( pronounced locally /ˈjɔːk/ ( listen)) or York's Shire. "York" comes from the Viking name for the city, Jórvík. "Shire" is from Old English, scir, and appears to be allied to shear as it is a division of the land. The "shire" suffix is locally pronounced /-ʃər/ "shur", or occasionally /-ʃɪər/, a homophone of "sheer".
Early inhabitants of Yorkshire were Celts, who formed two separate tribes, the Brigantes and the Parisii. The Brigantes controlled territory which would later become all of the North Riding of Yorkshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The tribe controlled most of Northern Englandand more territory than any other Celtic tribe in England. That they had the Yorkshire area as their heartland is evident in that Isurium Brigantum (now known as Aldborough) was the capital town of their civitas under Roman rule. Six of the nine Brigantian poleis described byClaudius Ptolemaeus in the Geographia fall within the historic county. The Parisii who controlled the area that would become the East Riding of Yorkshire, may have been related to the Parisii of Lutetia Parisiorum, Gaul (known today as Paris, France). Their capital was atPetuaria close to the Humber estuary. The Roman conquest of Britain began in 43 AD, however the Brigantes remained in control of their kingdom as a client state of Rome for an extended period, reigned over by the Brigantian monarchs Cartimandua and her husband Venutius. Initially, this situation suited both the Romans and the Brigantes who were known as the most militant tribe in Britain.
Queen Cartimandua left her husband Venutius for his armour bearer, Vellocatus, setting off a chain of events which changed control of the Yorkshire area. Cartimandua, due to her good relationship with the Romans, was able to keep control of the kingdom; however her former husband stagedrebellions against her and her Roman allies. At the second attempt, Venutius seized the kingdom, but the Romans, under general Petillius Cerialis, conquered the Brigantes in 71 AD.
Under Roman rule, the high profile of the area continued. The fortified city of Eboracum (now known as York) was named as capital of Britannia Inferior and joint-capital of all Roman Britain.During the two years before the death of Emperor Septimus Severus, the Roman Empire was run from Eboracum by him.
Another Emperor, Constantius Chlorus, died in Yorkshire during a visit in 306 AD. This saw his son Constantine the Great proclaimed Emperor in the city, who would become renowned due to his contributions to Christianity. In the early 5th century, the Roman rule ceased with the withdrawal of the last active Roman troops. By this stage, the Empire was in heavy decline
Second Celtic period and Angles
After the Romans left, small Celtic kingdoms arose in Yorkshire; the Kingdom of Ebrauc around York and more notably the Kingdom of Elmetin West Yorkshire. Elmet remained independent from the Northumbrian Angles until some time in the early 7th Century, when KingEdwin of Northumbria expelled its last king, Certic, and annexed the region. At its greatest extent, Northumbria stretched from the Irish Seato the North Sea and from Edinburgh down to Hallamshire in South Yorkshire
Kingdom of Jórvík
An army of Danish Vikings, the Great Heathen Army as its enemies often referred to it, invaded Northumbrian territory in 866 AD. The Danes conquered and assumed what is now modern day York and renamed it Jórvík, making it the capital city of a new Danish kingdom under the same name. The area which this kingdom covered included most of Southern Northumbria, roughly equivalent to the borders of Yorkshire extending further West.
The Danes went on to conquer an even larger area of England which afterwards became known as the Danelaw; but whereas most of the Danelaw was still English land, albeit in submission to Viking overlords, it was in the Kingdom of Jórvík that the only truly Viking territory on mainland Britain was ever established. The Kingdom prospered, taking a
Founded by the Dane Halfdan Ragnarsson in 875, ruled for the great part by Danish kings, and populated by the families and subsequent ancestors of Danish Vikings, the kingdom nonetheless passed into Norwegian hands during its twilight years. Eric Bloodaxe, a Norwegian who was the last independent Viking king of Jórvík, is a particularly noted figure in history, and his bloodthirsty approach towards leadership may have been at least partly responsible for convincing the Danish inhabitants of the region to accept English sovereignty so readily in the years that followed.
After around 100 years of its volatile existence, the Kingdom of Jorvik finally came to an end. The Kingdom of Wessex was now in its ascendant and established its dominance over the North in general, placing Yorkshire again within Northumbria, which retained a certain amount of autonomy as an almost-independent earldom rather than a separate kingdom. The Wessex Kings of England were reputed to have respected the Norse customs in Yorkshire and left law-making in the hands of the local aristocracy.
In the weeks immediately leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, Harold II of Englandwas distracted by events in Yorkshire. His brother Tostig and Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, attempted a takeover in the north, having won the Battle of Fulford. The King of England marched North where the two armies met at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Tostig and Hardrada were both killed and their army was defeated decisively. However, Harold Godwinson was forced immediately to march his army back down to the South where William the Conqueror was landing. The King was defeated at Hastings, which led to the Norman conquest of England.
The people of the North rebelled against the Normans in September 1069 AD, enlisting Sweyn II of Denmark. They tried to take back York, but the Normans burnt it before they could. What followed was the Harrying of the North ordered by William. From York to Durham, crops, domestic animals, and farming tools werescorched. Many villages between the towns were burnt and local Northerners were indiscriminately murdered. During the winter that followed, families starved to death and thousands of peasants died of cold and hunger. Orderic Vitalis put the estimation at "more than 100,000" people from the North died from hunger.
In the centuries following, many abbeys and priories were built in Yorkshire. Norman landowners were keen to increase their revenues and established new towns such as Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield, and others. Of towns founded before the conquest, only Bridlington, Pocklington, and York continued at a prominent level. The population of Yorkshire boomed until hit by the Great Faminein the years between 1315 and 1322.
In the early 12th century, people of Yorkshire had to contend with the Battle of the Standard at Northallerton with the Scots. Representing theKingdom of England led by Archbishop Thurstan of York, soldiers from Yorkshire defeated the more numerous Scots.
The Black Death reached Yorkshire by 1349, killing around a third of the population