History of Cardiff

History of Cardiff

The history of Cardiff, the capital of Wales, began with a Roman fort on the site, built in 54 AD.cite web |url= http://www.angelfire.com/ga/BobSanders/CDFF1.html |publisher=Bob Sanders |title=A Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan Chronology up to 1699 |accessdate=2008-02-29]

The pre-Roman period

There is no evidence of any archaeology in the city to show that any settlement was established in Cardiff before the Roman period, although about convert|7|mi|km from Cardiff Castle lies Tinkinswood in the Vale of Glamorgan, just outside the city borders. This was a once a village but now all that remains is a megalithic burial chamber built in 4000 BC.cite web |url=http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/enjoying/visit_the_vale/attractions/historic/tinkinswood.aspx |publisher= Vale of Glamorgan Council |title= Tinkinswood and St Lythans Burial Chambers |accessdate=2008-03-30]

The Roman settlement

Excavations from inside Cardiff Castle walls suggest Roman legions arrived in the area as early as the 54-68 AD during the reign of the Emperor Nero. The Romans defeated the Silures and exiled Caratacus to Rome. They then established their first fort, built on this strategically important site where the River Taff and River Ely enter the Bristol Channel, on a convert|10|acre|m2 site on which were built timber barracks, stores and workshops.

By about 75 AD the Romans controlled the whole of Wales and rebuilt their Cardiff fort, but smaller than before. Yet another fort was built on the site around the year 250, with stone walls convert|10|ft|m thick along with an earth bank, to help defend against attacks from Hibernia. This was used until the Roman army withdrew from the fort, and from the whole of the province of Britannia, near the start of the 5th century.

The Dark Ages and the Viking settlement

During this period little is known. It is speculated that perhaps for long periods, raiders attacked the area, making Cardiff untenable,cite web |url= http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Cardiff |publisher= www.1911encyclopedia.org|title= Cardiff |accessdate=2008-03-30] cite web |url= http://www.cardiffcastle.com/castle.htm |publisher= Cardiff Castle|title= Romans 55-400AD |accessdate=2008-03-30] The first written mention of Cardiff is made in the Annales Cambriae (The Welsh Annals) in 445.cite web |url= http://www.theosophycardiff.care4free.net/One%20Minute%20History%20of%20Cardiff.htm |publisher= Theosophical Society |title= Chronology of Cardiff History |accessdate=2007-12-31] By 850 the Vikings attacked the Welsh coast and used Cardiff as a base and later as a port. Street names such as Dumballs Road and Womanby Street come from the Vikings.

The Middle Ages

In 1091 Robert Fitzhamon began work on the castle keep within the walls of the old Roman fort. Cardiff Castle has been at the heart of the city ever since. cite web |url= http://www.visitcardiff.com/About-Cardiff/Cardiff-History.html |publisher=Visit Cardiff |title= Cardiff history|accessdate=2008-02-29] Soon a little town grew up in the shadow of the castle, made up primarily of settlers from England.cite web |url= http://www.cardiffians.co.uk/timeline.html |publisher= Cardiffians |title=Cardiff Timeline |accessdate=2008-02-29] Cardiff had a population of between 1,500 and 2,000 in the Middle Ages, a relatively normal size for a Welsh town in this period.cite web |url= http://www.localhistories.org/Cardiff.html |publisher=Tim Lambert |title=A SHORT HISTORY OF CARDIFF |accessdate=2008-02-29] Robert Fitzhamon died in 1107, later his daughter Mabel, married Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, the illegitimate son of King Henry I of England. He built the first stone keep in Cardiff Castle, and he used it to imprison Robert II, Duke of Normandy from 1126 until his death in 1134, by order of King Henry I, who was the Duke's younger brother. During the same period Ralph "Prepositus de Kardi" ("Provost of Cardiff") took up office as the first Mayor of Cardiff.cite web |url= http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/content.asp?nav=2872%2C4951%2C5030&parent_directory_id=2865&positioning_article_id=&language=&sortkey= |publisher=Cardiff Council |title= The Early Mayors of Cardiff|accessdate=2007-12-31] During this period after the Noman conquest they usually referred the leading figure by the Latin name of prepositus ( _en. provost) meaning "leading man".cite web |url=http://www.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/glossary.html#bailiff |publisher= Medieval English Towns |title= Medieval English Towns - Glossary|accessdate=2008-04-02] Robert (Earl of Gloucester) died in 1147 and was succeeded by his son William, 2nd Earl of Gloucester who died without male heir in 1183. The lordship of Cardiff then passed to Prince John, later King John through his marriage to Isabel of Gloucester, William's daughter. John divorced Isabel but retained the lordship until her second marriage; to Geoffrey FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville, 2nd Earl of Essex in 1214 until 1216 when the lordship passed to Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford.

Between 1158 and 1315 Cardiff was attacked on several occasions. Amongst the various attackers of the castle were Ifor Bach, who captured the Earl of Gloucester who at the time held the castle. In 1315 Llywelyn Bren, Ifor Bach's great-grandson, also attacked Cardiff Castle as part of a rebellion. He was executed in the town in 1318.

By the end of the 13th century, Cardiff was the only town in Wales with a population exceeding 2,000, but it was relatively small compared to most other notable towns in the Kingdom of England.cite web |url= http://www.helsinki.fi/iehc2006/papers3/Campbell122.pdf |publisher= |title=Benchmarking medieval economic development: England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, circa 1290|accessdate=2008-04-02] Cardiff had an established port in the Middle Ages and by 1327, it was declared a Staple port.cite web |url= http://www.angelfire.com/ga/BobSanders/CDFF1.html |publisher=Bob Sanders |title=A Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan Chronology up to 1699 |accessdate=2007-12-31] The town had weekly markets and after 1340, Cardiff also had 2 annual fairs which drew traders from all around Glamorgan.cite web |url=http://www.localhistories.org/Cardiff.html|publisher= World History Encyclopedia by Tim Lambert |title= A Short History of Cardiff|accessdate=2008-04-02]

In 1404 Owain Glyndwr burned Cardiff and took Cardiff Castle. As the town was still very small, most of the buildings were made of wood and the town was reduced to ashes. However, the town was rebuilt not long after and began to flourish once again.

County town of Glamorganshire

In 1536, the Act of Union between England and Wales led to the creation of the shire of Glamorgan. Cardiff was made the county town. Around this same time the Herbert family became the most powerful family in the area. In 1538, Henry VIII closed the Dominican and Franciscan friaries in Cardiff, the remains of which were used as building materials. A writer around this period described Cardiff: "The River Taff runs under the walls of his honours castle and from the north part of the town to the south part where there is a fair quay and a safe harbour for shipping."

In 1542, Cardiff gained representation in the House of Commons for the first time. The next year, the English militia system was introduced. In 1551, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke was created first Baron Cardiff.

Cardiff had become a Free Borough in 1542. In 1573, it was made a head port for collection of customs duties. In 1581, Elizabeth I granted Cardiff its first royal charter. By 1602 Pembrokeshire historian George Owen described Cardiff as "the fayrest towne in Wales yett not the welthiest. The town gained a second Royal Charter in 1608.cite web |url= http://www.googobits.com/articles/2181-a-history-lovers-guide-to-cardiff.html|publisher=GoogoBits.com |title= A History Lovers Guide to Cardiff|accessdate=2007-12-31] During the Second English Civil War, St. Fagans just to the west of the town, played host to the Battle of St. Fagans. The battle, between a Royalist rebellion and a New Model Army detachment, was a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians and allowed Oliver Cromwell to conquer Wales. It is the last major battle to occur in Wales, with a total death toll of about 200 (mostly Royalist) soldiers killed.

In the ensuing century Cardiff was at peace. In 1766, John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute married into the Herbert family and was later created Baron Cardiff. In 1778, he began renovations on Cardiff Castle.cite web |url= http://www.angelfire.com/ga/BobSanders/CDFF2.html |publisher=Bob Sanders |title=A Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan Chronology 1700 - 1849 |accessdate=2008-03-04] In the 1790s a racecourse, printing press, bank and coffee room all opened, and Cardiff gained a stagecoach service to London. Despite these improvements, Cardiff's position in the Welsh urban hierarchy had declined over the 18th century. Iolo Morgannwg called it "an obscure and inconsiderable place", and the 1801 census found the population to be only 1,870, making Cardiff only the twenty-fifth largest town in Wales, well behind Merthyr and Swansea.The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2008.]

Building of the docks to modern Cardiff

In 1793, John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute was born. He would spend his life building the Cardiff docks and would later be called "the creator of modern Cardiff". In 1815, a boat service between Cardiff and Bristol was established, running twice weekly. In 1821, the Cardiff Gas Works was established.

The town grew rapidly from the 1830s onwards, when the Marquess of Bute built a dock which eventually linked to the Taff Vale Railway. Cardiff became the main port for exports of coal from the Cynon, Rhondda, and Rhymney valleys, and grew at a rate of nearly 80% per decade between 1840 and 1870. Much of the growth was due to migration from within and outside Wales: in 1851, a quarter of Cardiff's population were English-born and more than 10% had been born in Ireland. By the 1881 census, Cardiff had overtaken both Merthyr and Swansea to become the largest town in Wales. Cardiff's new status as the premier town in South Wales was confirmed when it was chosen as the site of the University College South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1893.

Cardiff faced a challenge in the 1880s when David Davies of Llandinam and the Barry Railway Company promoted the development of rival docks at Barry. Barry docks had the advantage of being accessible in all tides, and David Davies claimed that his venture would cause "grass to grow in the streets of Cardiff". From 1901 coal exports from Barry surpassed those from Cardiff, but the administration of the coal trade remained centred on Cardiff, in particular its Coal Exchange, where the price of coal on the British market was determined and the first million-pound deal was struck in 1907. The city also strengthened its industrial base with the decision of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds, owners of the Dowlais Ironworks in Merthyr, to build a new steelworks close to the docks at East Moors in 1890.

City and capital city status

King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status on 28 October 1905, [LondonGazette|issue=27849|startpage=7249|date=October 31 1905|accessdate=2008-04-22] and the city acquired a Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1916. [The ancient Llandaff Cathedral was outside the city boundaries until 1922] In subsequent years an increasing number of national institutions were located in the city, including the National Museum of Wales, Welsh national war memorial, and the University of Wales registry - although it was denied the National Library of Wales, partly because the library's founder, Sir John Williams, considered Cardiff to have "a non-Welsh population".Encyclopedia of Wales]

After a brief post-war boom, Cardiff docks entered a prolonged decline in the interwar period. By 1936, their trade was less than half its value in 1913, reflecting the slump in demand for Welsh coal. Bomb damage in during the Cardiff Blitz in World War II included the devastation of Llandaff Cathedral, and in the immediate postwar years the city's link with the Bute family came to an end.

The city was proclaimed capital city of Wales on 20 December 1955, by a written reply by the Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George. Caernarfon had also vied for this title. [Cardiff as Capital of Wales: Formal Recognition by Government. The Times. 21 December 1955.] Cardiff therefore celebrated two important anniversaries in 2005. The Encyclopedia of Wales notes that the decision to recognise the city as the capital of Wales "had more to do with the fact that it contained marginal Conservative constituencies than any reasoned view of what functions a Welsh capital should have". Although the city hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1958, Cardiff only became a centre of national administration with the establishment of the Welsh Office in 1964, which later prompted the creation of various other public bodies such as the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Development Agency, most of which were headquartered in Cardiff.

The East Moors Steelworks closed in 1978 and Cardiff lost population during the 1980s, [ [http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/data_cube_table_page.jsp?data_theme=T_POP&data_cube=N_TPop&u_id=10150530&c_id=10001043&add=N Cardiff Wales through time | Population Statistics | Total Population ] ] consistent with a wider pattern of counter urbanisation in Britain. However, it recovered and was one of the few cities (outside London) where population grew during the 1990s [http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cbcb/census1.pdf] . During this period the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was promoting the redevelopment of south Cardiff; an evaluation of the regeneration of Cardiff Bay published in 2004 concluded that the project had "reinforced the competitive position of Cardiff" and "contributed to a massive improvement in the quality of the built environment", although it had failed "to attract the major inward investors originally anticipated". [Esys Consulting Ltd, Evaluation of Regeneration in Cardiff Bay. A report for the Welsh Assembly Government, December 2004]

In the 1999 devolution referendum, Cardiff voters rejected the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales by 55.4% to 44.2% on a 47% turnout, which Denis Balsom partly ascribed to a general preference in Cardiff and some other parts of Wales for a 'British' rather than exclusively 'Welsh' identity. [Balsom, Denis. 'The referendum result'. In Jones, James Barry; Balsom, Denis (ed.), "The road to the National Assembly for Wales". Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000.] [http://www.swansea.ac.uk/history/research/Wales%20the%20Postnation.pdf] The relative lack of support for the Assembly locally, and difficulties between the Welsh Office and Cardiff Council in acquiring the original preferred venue, Cardiff City Hall, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/34653.stm BBC News | Politics | Where to now for the Welsh Assembly? ] ] encouraged other local authorities to bid to house the Assembly. [http://ossw.wales.gov.uk/2006/foi/foi_20060920_15.pdf] However, the Assembly eventually located at Crickhowell House in Cardiff Bay in 1999; in 2005, a new debating chamber on an adjacent site, designed by Richard Rogers, was opened.

The city was county town of Glamorgan until the council reorganisation in 1974 paired Cardiff and the now Vale of Glamorgan together as the new county of South Glamorgan. Further local government restructuring in 1996 resulted in Cardiff city's district council becoming a unitary authority, the City and County of Cardiff, with the addition of Creigiau and Pentyrch.

On 1 March 2004, Cardiff was granted Fairtrade City status.


External links

* [http://members.lycos.co.uk/NorwegianChurch2/Medievalcardiff.html Cardiff's Medieval Town Defences]

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