Origin of the name
The word York (Old Norse:
Jórvík) derives from the
Latinised name for the city, variously rendered as
Eboracum, Eburacum or Eburaci. The first mention of York by this name is dated to circa 95–104 AD as an address on a wooden stylus tablet from the Roman fortress of
toponymy of Eboracum is uncertain because the language of the pre-Roman
indigenous population was never recorded. They are thought to have spoken a Celtic language related to modern Welsh.
 It is thought that Eboracum is derived from the
Brythonic word Eborakon, a combination of eburos "yew-tree" (cf. Old Irish ibar "yew-tree", Welsh efwr "alder buckthorn", Breton evor "alder buckthorn") and suffix *-āko(n) "place" (cf. Welsh -og)
 meaning either "place of the
yew trees" (cf. efrog in
Welsh, eabhrac in
Irish Gaelic and eabhraig in
Scottish Gaelic, by which names the city is known in those languages); or less probably, Eburos, 'property', which is a personal Celtic name mentioned in different documents as Eβουρος, Eburus and Eburius, and which, combined with the same suffix *-āko(n), could denote a property.
 In his
Historia Regum Britanniae the 12th century chronicler,
Geoffrey of Monmouth, suggests the name derives from that of a pre-Roman city founded by the legendary king
The name Eboracum became the
Anglian Eoforwic in the 7th century: a compound of Eofor-, from the old name, and -wic a village probably by conflation of the element Ebor- with a
Germanic root *eburaz (boar); by the 7th century the
Old English for 'boar' had become eofor. Alternatively, the word eofor already existed as an
Old English word for wild swine, which is a cognate of the current
Low Saxon word eaver and
 The Anglo-Saxon newcomers probably interpreted the ebor part as eofor, and -rac as ric (meaning rich), while -um was (and is) a common abbreviation of the Saxon -heem, meaning home. To them, it sounded as a 'home rich in boar'. As is common in Saxon place names, the -um part gradually faded; eoforic. When the
Danish army conquered the city in 866, its name became Jórvík.
Old French and
Norman name of the city following the
Norman Conquest was recorded as "Everwic" (modern Norman "Évèroui") in works such as Wace's
Roman de Rou.
 Jórvík, meanwhile, gradually reduced to York in the centuries after the Conquest, moving from the
Middle English Yerk in the 14th century through Yourke in the 16th century to Yarke in the 17th century. The form York was first recorded in the 13th century.
 Many company and place names, such as the Ebor race meeting, refer to the Roman name.
 The Archbishop of
York uses Ebor as his surname in his signature.
Roman wall and the west corner tower of
. The top half is medieval.
Archaeological evidence suggests that
Mesolithic people settled in the region of York between 8000 and 7000 BC, although it is not known whether their settlements were permanent or temporary. By the time of the
Roman conquest of Britain, the area was occupied by a
tribe known to the Romans as the
Brigantes. The Brigantian tribal area initially became a Roman client state, but, later its leaders became more hostile and the Roman
Ninth Legion was sent north of the
Humber into Brigantian territory.
The city was founded in 71 AD, when the Ninth Legion conquered the Brigantes and constructed a wooden military
fortress on flat ground above the
River Ouse close to its
confluence with the
River Foss. The fortress, whose walls were rebuilt in stone by the VI legion based there subsequent to the IX legion, covered an area of 50 acres (20 ha) and was inhabited by 6,000
legionary soldiers. The site of the principia (HQ) of the fortress lies under the foundations of
York Minster, and excavations in the undercroft have revealed part of the Roman structure and columns.
Roman Emperor Constantine the Great proclaimed Emperor at York in 306 AD.
Septimius Severus and
Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay 207–211 AD, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a
colonia or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York, and his son
Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress.
 In 311 AD a bishop from York attended the
Council at Arles to represent
Christians from the
While the Roman colonia and
fortress were located on high ground, by 400 AD the town was victim to occasional flooding from the Rivers Ouse and Foss and the population reduced.
 York declined in the
post-Roman era, and was taken and settled by the
Angles in the 5th century.
Reclamation of parts of the town was initiated in the 7th century under
King Edwin of
Northumbria, and York became his chief city.
 The first wooden
minster church was built in York for the baptism of Edwin in 627, according to the Venerable Bede.
 Edwin ordered the small wooden church be rebuilt in stone but was killed in 633 and the task of completing the stone minster fell to his successor
 In the following century
Alcuin of York came to the cathedral school of York. He had a long career as a teacher and scholar, first at the school at York now known as
St Peter's School, founded in 627 AD, and later as
Charlemagne's leading advisor on ecclesiastical and educational affairs.
In 866, Northumbria was in the midst of internecine struggles when the
Vikings raided and captured York. Under Viking rule the city became a major river port, part of the extensive Viking trading routes throughout northern Europe. The last ruler of an independent Jórvík,
Eric Bloodaxe, was driven from the city in 954 AD by King
Eadred in his successful attempt to complete the unification of England.
Micklegate – York is famous for its medieval city walls.
In 1068, two years after the
Norman conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially the rebellion was successful but upon the arrival of
William the Conqueror the rebellion was put down. William at once built a wooden fortress on a motte. In 1069, after another rebellion, William built another timbered castle across the River Ouse. These were destroyed in 1069 and rebuilt by William about the time of his ravaging Northumbria in what is called the "
Harrying of the North" where he destroyed everything from York to Durham. The remains of the rebuilt castles, now in stone, are visible on either side of the River Ouse. See Peter Rex's The English Resistance, The Underground War Against the Normans, 2006.
The first stone minster church was badly damaged by fire in the uprising, and the Normans built a minster on a new site. Around the year 1080
Archbishop Thomas started building the cathedral that in time became the current Minster.
 In the 12th century York started to prosper. In 1190,
York Castle was the site of an infamous
massacre of its
Jewish inhabitants, in which at least 150 Jews died (although some authorities put the figure as high as 500).
The city, through its location on the River Ouse and its proximity to the
Great North Road became a major trading centre.
King John granted the city's first
charter in 1212,
 confirming trading rights in England and Europe.
 During the later Middle Ages York merchants imported wine from France, cloth, wax, canvas, and oats from the
Low Countries, timber and furs from the
Baltic and exported grain to
Gascony and grain and wool to the Low Countries.
 York became a major cloth manufacturing and trading centre.
Edward I further stimulated the city's economy by using the city as a base for his war in Scotland. The city was the location of significant unrest during the so-called
Peasants' Revolt in 1381. The city acquired an increasing degree of autonomy from central government including the privileges granted by a charter of
Richard II in 1396.
16th to 18th centuries
The city underwent a period of economic decline during
Tudor times. Under
Henry VIII, the
Dissolution of the Monasteries saw the end of York's many
monastic houses, including several orders of
friars, the hospitals of St Nicholas and of St Leonard, the largest such institution in the north of England. This led to the
Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising of northern Catholics in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire opposed to religious reform. Henry VIII restored his authority by establishing the
Council of the North in York in the dissolved St Mary's Abbey. The city became a trading and service centre during this period.
Guy Fawkes, who was born and educated in York, was a member of a group of
Roman Catholic restorationists that planned the
 Its aim was to displace
Protestant rule by blowing up the
Houses of Parliament while King
James I, the entire Protestant, and even most of the Catholic
nobility were inside.
In 1644, during the
Civil War, the
besieged York, and many medieval houses outside the city walls were lost. The
barbican at Walmgate Bar was undermined and explosives laid, but, the plot was discovered. On the arrival of
Prince Rupert, with an army of 15,000 men, the siege was lifted. The Parliamentarians retreated some 6 miles (10 km) from York with Rupert in pursuit, before turning on his army and soundly defeating it at the
Battle of Marston Moor. Of Rupert's 15,000 troops, no fewer than 4,000 were killed and 1,500 captured. The siege was renewed and the city could not hold out for much longer, surrendering to
Sir Thomas Fairfax
 on 15 July.
restoration of the monarchy in 1660, and the removal of the garrison from York in 1688, the city was dominated by the gentry and merchants, although the clergy were still important. Competition from
Hull, together with silting of the River Ouse, resulted in York losing its pre-eminent position as a trading centre but the city's role as the social and cultural centre for wealthy northerners was on the rise. York's many elegant
townhouses, such as the
Lord Mayor's Mansion House and
Fairfax House date from this period, as do the
Assembly Rooms, the
Theatre Royal, and the
During this general time period, the American city of
New York and the
colony that contained it were renamed after the
Duke of York (later King James II).
mak all t'railways cum to York
The railway promoter
George Hudson was responsible for bringing the railway to York in 1839. Although Hudson's career as a railway entrepreneur ended in disgrace and bankruptcy, his promotion of his own railway company, the
York and North Midland Railway and of York over Leeds, helped establish York as a major railway centre by the late 19th century.
The introduction of the railways established engineering in the city.
 At the turn of the 20th century, the railway accommodated the headquarters and works of the
North Eastern Railway, which employed more than 5,500 people. The railway was instrumental in the expansion of
Rowntree's Cocoa Works. It was founded in 1862 by Henry Isaac Rowntree, who was joined in 1869 by his brother the philanthropist
 Another chocolate manufacturer,
Terry's of York was a major employer.
 By 1900 the railways and confectionery had become the city's two major industries.
With the emergence of tourism, the historic core of York became one of the city's major assets, and in 1968 it was designated a
 The existing tourist attractions were supplemented by the establishment of the
National Railway Museum in York in 1975
 and the
Jorvik Viking Centre in 1984. The opening of the
University of York in 1963 added to the prosperity of the city.
In 2010, the former headquarters on the North Eastern Railway were refurbished in class and opened as York's first, and still only, 5-star hotel – currently known as The Grand Hotel & Spa.
York was voted European Tourism City of the Year by European Cities Marketing in June 2007 beating 130 other European cities to gain first place, surpassing
Gothenburg in Sweden (second) and
Valencia in Spain (third).
 York was also voted safest place to visit in the 2010 Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards.
York was a centre of
early photography as described by Hugh Murray in his 1986 book: Photographs and Photographers of York: The Early Years, 1844–79. Photographers who had studios in York included
William Pumphrey, and
Augustus Mahalski who operated on Davygate and Low Petergate in the 19th century having come to England as a refugee after serving as a
Polish lancer in the Austro-Hungarian war.