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Wakefield, a cathedral city in West Yorkshire, is situated on the River Calder. It is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wachefeld and as Wachefelt.

The Roman occupation of Wakefield began in 43 AD. It is believed that they were occupied by the Angles in the 5th or 6th century, until 876 when the Vikings took over. The Vikings established twelve hamlets around Wakefield.

After the Norman Conquest, Wakefield was a target of the “Harrying of the North,” which was the systematic military attacks waged by King William I, more often called William the Conqueror. These attacks, during the winter of 1069-1070, were meant to vanquish northern England.

The reason for the campaign was that King Edgar II, the last male member of the royal house of Cerdic Wessex, was still the King of England, although he was never officially crowned. Edgar had encouraged the Danish, Anglo-Scandinavian, and Anglo-Saxon rebels who lived in the north to continue their rebellion against William. Employing a scorched earth strategy, William destroyed the northern shires and destroyed crops, food stores, and livestock. He removed English aristocrats from their positions and replaced them with Norman aristocrats in the northern region.

He then led his military in looting and burning buildings and slaughtering residents of the shires. According to the Domesday Book of 1086 records, up to 75% of the population was lost, either by death or fleeing from the starvation and devastation.

In 1203, William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey, was awarded a grant for a town market. The next year, King John gave a grant to the town for a fair at the Feast of All Saints (November 1). In 1258, the town was granted the right for a fair on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist (June 24) by Henry III. Throughout the Middle Ages, Wakefield was known as the “Merrie City. During medieval times, Wakefield was an inland port on the River Calder and an important centre for tanning and woollen trades.

During the English Civil War, Wakefield was strongly Royalistj, until Sir Thomas Fairfax led the charge to capture the town for the Parliamentarians on May 20, 1843. They took more than 1,500 troops prisoner along with Lieutenant-General Goring, the Royalist commander.

In 1699, Parliament passed an act that gave Wakefield access to the North Sea. In 1765, the town’s cattle market was born. It grew into one of the largest cattle markets in northern England. The cloth market was also growing around this time.

In the beginning of the 19th century, Wakefield was a thriving market town, and the inland trading port was busy exporting grain and wool. In 1840, a railway station was erected by the Manchester and Leeds Railway. Steam-powered wool spinning mills were built at the river, and a glass works and numerous breweries popped up. Coal was successfully mined in 46 small mines, and the National Coal Board became Wakefield’s largest employer. England’s first national union for miners, the Miners’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland was established in Wakefield in 1842.



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