The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

A Brief History of Oxford city

Category: Brief History of

Oxford was founded in the 9th century when Alfred the Great created a network of fortified towns called burhs across his kingdom. One of them was at Oxford. Oxford is first mentioned in 911 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

According to legend, Oxford University was founded in 872 when Alfred the Great happened to meet some monks there and had a scholarly debate that lasted several days. In reality, it grew up in the 12th century when famous teachers began to lecture there and groups of students came to live and study in the town.

But Oxford was a fortress as well as a town. In the event of war with the Danes all the men from the area were to gather inside the burgh. However this strategy was not entirely successful. In 1009 the Danes burned Oxford. However Oxford was soon rebuilt. In 1013 the Danish king claimed the throne of England. He invaded England and went to Oxford. In 1018 a conference was held in Oxford to decide who would be the king of England.

By the time of the Norman Conquest, there were said to be about 1,000 houses rn Oxford, which meant it probably had a population of around 5,000. By the standards of the time, it was a large and important town (even London only had about 18,000 inhabitants). Oxford was the 6th largest town in England. Oxford probably reached its zenith at that time. About 1072 the Normans built a castle at Oxford.

In the 12th and 13th centuries Oxford was a manufacturing town. It was noted for cloth and leather. But in the 14th and 15th centuries manufacturing declined. Oxford came to depend on the students. It became a town of brewers, butchers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers, coopers, carpenters and blacksmiths. In the later Middle Ages Oxford declined in importance.

In the 16th century Oxford declined further in terms of national importance, though it remained a fairly large town by the standards of the time. Oxford was economically dependent on the university. The students provided a large market for beer, food, clothes and other goods.

From 1819 Oxford had gas street lighting.

In the late 19th century a marmalade making industry began in Oxford. There was also a publishing industry and an iron foundry.

Oxford gained its first cinema in 1910.

The fate of Oxford was changed in 1913 when a man named Morris began making cars in the city. In 1919 a radiator making company was formed. By the 1930s Oxford was an important manufacturing centre. It was also a prosperous city., Furthermore it escaped serious damage during World War II.

Oxford airport opened in 1938.

Today the main industries are still car manufacturing and making vehicle parts and publishing. Today the population of Oxford is 121,000.

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