History of Cheshire in the Middle Ages

Cheshire’s history is rich, with primitive tools being found in the area and even Stone Age remains found. The Romans occupied Cheshire for nearly 400 years starting in 70 AD, and it’s the Romans who get credit for creating the town.

The history of Cheshire in the Middle Ages, the time period from 475 AD through the 15th century, is filled with interesting facts and developments. The fall of the Roman Empire kicked off the Middle Ages. Prior to this period, the Romans retreated from Britannia in 410 AD.

It’s expected that some Roman veterans stayed in the city at the time, with Cheshire continuing to act as a fortress.

Cheshire would then become Mercian, with turbulent times lasting until 616. Cheshire’s region is on the border of Mercia, north Wales and North Umbria and likely was under major conflict at the time.

It wasn’t until the Battle of Chester where the Anglo-Saxon presence was felt as the kingdoms of Powys and Gwynedd both fell.

Cheshire become part of Mercia in the 7th century. The area was heavily attacked from the Danes until 894 – 895, when King Alfred of Wessex pushed the Danes out once and for all.

The first cathedral in the city was built towards the end of the 7th century by Saint Werburgh and was at the site of St. John’s Church.

Cheshire, also referred to as Chester, would see the Iron Age hill fort built in 914, with the refortification of Chester complete between 915 and 920. The Vikings would raid Chester in 980, the same year that the first shire of Chester was announced.

Edmund Ironside would raid Cheshire in 1016. King Knut would execute Eadric Steona in 1017,with Edwin becoming earl in 1062. William I would march into the Norman Conquest, retaking Chester and killing Edwin.

The next few centuries remain calm, with Chester Castle being built along with Frodsham Castle. St. John the Baptist church would become a cathedral in 1075. The 12th century involved the founding of numerous Abbeys, with Combermere Abbey founded in 1133.

A serious fire ravaged Cheshire in 1140 followed by Henry II visiting Chester Castle in 1157 and 1165.

Chester, much larger than it is today, would have land in the north of Mersey merged into Lancashire.

Markets started to pop up in the early 1000s, but the Over market was created in 1280. The period from the 1300s through the end of the Middle Ages remained rather quiet until the English Civil War killed most of the Norman stock in Cheshire in 1642.

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