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According to legend, the English city of Bath was founded around 860 BC after Prince Bladud, heir to the throne of the Britons, contracted leprosy. Because of the resultant disfigurement, he was banned from the court and imprisoned. He escaped and fled to Swainswick, just two miles from what would become the city of Bath where he found work as a swineherd to pigs which themselves had some sort of skin disease. It was in this capacity he realized that the pigs that wallowed in the warm, steamy mud of a spring near that site had skin that had no blemishes, while those that did not go near the spring were covered with nodules and blotches.

Bladud followed the example set by the first set of pigs and rolled around in the muddy spring. He was soon cured of his leprosy. He was returned to the court and later became king and founded the city of Bath.

Around 50 AD, the Romans chose Bath in which to build a temple dedicated to Minerva, the Roman goddess of healing. They built public baths with water supplied by the hot springs where both the pigs and King Bladud were said to have wallowed and healed. Hundreds of thousands tourists came to Bath every year to avail themselves of the Great Bath, where the water rose to 46°C (114.8°F).

In the 5th century, as Rome began its slow decline, the Roman soldiers began to leave and the population of Bath, along with other Roman towns and cities, decreased in population. The last of the soldiers left in 407 AD. Bath was ravaged during a power struggle between the sons of William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England, who was crowned William I, when he died in 1087. During the Rebellion of 1088, rebels sacked Bath, burning the monastery there to the ground.

The city changed hands repeatedly over the next few centuries, and in 1801, there were 40,020 people living in Bath. In 1936, the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, spent his years in exile in Bath, where he bought a house and remained until 1941. In April of 1942, the Bath Blitz, a series German Luftwaffe air raids besieged Bath for three days, killed 417 residents and injured more than 1,000 more. More than 19,000 buildings were hit or otherwise affected, 1,100 of them seriously damaged or razed entirely. A 500-pound bomb was found by workmen beneath a playground in 2016. A bomb disposal team moved the bomb to a quarry and blew it up.

Today, the baths are more than 6 metres (20 feet) beneath the city street level. The city is home to two universities, Bath Spa University and the University of Bath. Two colleges, Norland College and Bath College are also located in Bath.

Once an important manufacturing city known for the manufacture of furniture and cranes as well as its numerous mils and quarries, Bath's manufacturing sector is now in decline and software, publishing, health, education, and service industries have taken their place.


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