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York was founded by the Romans as a legionary base in England, around which a city (Eboracum) developed.

Later, post Empire, the remains of the city were sacked by Vikings but occupation continued. The city became the assigned seat of the second Archepiscopal see of England, and, together with the palatinate of Durham, was the major centre of North-East England.

After the Conquest, William the Conqueror ravaged the North of England in revenge for revolts against the Norman regime, but after that York grew slowly but steadily (allowing for the occasional fire) and remained second city of the realm throughout period.