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One of the oldest cities in England, Exeter is situated at a crossing point on the River Exe, a strategic location due to the fact that it is a gateway to all of the southwest of England. During the Roman occupation, the Second Augustan Legion established a stronghold there. The Legion built a wall in the 2nd century AD. The Romans left Exeter in 407 AD, just prior to the fall of the Empire. At that time, the culture of the Romans dissipated. Other residents of Exeter left. There were, however still people living with the walls, but Exeter no longer functioned as a town.

Later in the 5th century, the Saxons invaded Eastern England, and in 680, they built a monastery inside the walls. In 1003, an important official whose function was essentially that of a city magistrate let the Vikings into the town through the gate. They destroyed the town. The Danes left Exeter soon after, and Exeter soon recovered. The Normans tried to invade the town, but after an 18-day battle, the people of the town fought them off.

In 1500, there was a population of almost 8,000 in Exeter. This was a huge population when compared to a typical village which had between 100 and 150 residents. In 1538, King Henry VIII was dismantling the friaries and churches as he rebelled against the Church. This trend finally led to a rebellion in 1549. The rebels attempted to capture Exeter, but once again, the enemy was unable to capture the town, though it was finally invaded in 1646.

Exeter had traditionally had industries surrounding wool manufacturing and tanning, but those industries declined during the 1800s, leaving Exeter with no importance in the manufacturing sector.

Today, Exeter is once again a burgeoning city with most of the workforce being employed in service industries including tourism, public administration, and education.


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