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Gloucester was founded by the Romans in 97 AD and granted its first charter in 1155 by King Henry II, who was buried in Gloucester Cathedral. In 1216, the coronation of King Henry III, who was only 10 years old when he became King of England, was held in Gloucester. The Saxons conquered Gloucester in 577 AD. In the late 7th century, they established a monastery, and the town began to flourish. In the late 9th century, amid persistent attacks by the Danish, or Vikings, all over England, the men of Gloucester and the surrounding burghs repelled a Danish invasion.

In 1085, William the Conqueror arrived at Gloucester, and it was there that he ordered the writing of the Domesday Book. During this time, the main industry was wool making. Raw wool from the Cotswolds was imported, and the workers in Gloucester wove as well as cleaned and thickened the wool by buffeting the wool in water and clay. This thickening action was known as fulling. They would dry the wool and dye it. Additional industries there included a large leather industry, including tanners, glovers, and shoemakers. A burgeoning iron working industry took hold, with workers manufacturing weapons, tools, and nails. Both cloth and grain were shipped out of Gloucester and French wine was imported. Additionally, the fishing industry thrived due to the town’s proximity to the River Severn.

The thatched roofs of Gloucester caught fire regularly, and in 1223, a large section of the town caught fire, and thatched roofs were banned. In the 12th century, a large Jewish community had assembled, but in 1268, the Jews were falsely accused of ritual murders. They were forced to leave the town, and they migrated to Bristol.

Franciscan friars, called Grey Friars due to the color of their robes, arrived in 1271, and Dominican friars, known as Black Friars arrived in 1239. In 1327, King Edward II was buried at the local St. Peter’s Abbey, and the site of his burial proved to be quite a tourist draw.

Outbreaks and epidemics of the Plague swept through Gloucester as well as the rest of the country in 1565, 1573, 1577, 1580, 1593, and 1637. The wool trade decreased in Gloucester during this time.

Henry VIII and his son Edward created the Church of England after Henry was denied an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1532. Henry had wanted to marry Anne Boleyn Henry established a set of legal and administrative process known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which took place from 1536 and 1541. He disbanded convents, priories, friaries, and monasteries in England, Ireland, and Wales. He took their money and sold their assets in order to fund his military campaigns.

In 1555, during the reign of Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary, had more than 300 Protestants burned at the stake, and one of them was Gloucester’s Protestant bishop, who was martyred in front of the Cathedral there.


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