Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in Great Britain. Because of its great size, over time functions were increasingly undertaken by its subdivisions, which have been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well-understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media, the military and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as Yorkshire and the Humber and West Yorkshire.
The Brigantes, the largest Celtic Briton tribe, held Yorkshire as their heartland. The Romans made Eboracum, later to be named York, from which the county derives its name, the capital of Britannia Inferior, one of the two provinces of third century Roman Britain; in the fourth century it was the capital of Britannia Secunda, one of four provinces. The area was an independent Viking kingdom known as Jórvík for around a century, before being taken by England. Most of the modern day large cities were founded during the Norman period. The county covered just under 6,000 square miles (15,000 km²) in 1831 and the modern day Yorkshire and the Humber region has a population of around five million.
Within the borders of the historic county of Yorkshire are areas which are widely considered to be among the greenest in England, due to both the vast stretches of unspoiled countryside in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors and the open aspect of some of the major cities. Yorkshire has sometimes been nicknamed God's Own County. The emblem of Yorkshire is the white rose of the English royal House of York, the most commonly used flag representative of Yorkshire is the White Rose on a dark blue background, which after years of use, was finally recognised by the Flag Institute on 29 July 2008. Yorkshire Day, held on 1 August, is a celebration of the general culture of Yorkshire, ranging from its history to its own language.
Queen Cartimandua left her husband for Vellocatus, setting off a chain of events which would change the ownership of the Yorkshire area. Cartimandua, due to her good relationship with the Romans was able to keep control of the kingdom, however her former husband staged rebellions against her and her Roman allies. At the second attempt Venutius took back the kingdom, but the Romans under general Petillius Cerialis conquered the Brigantes in 71 AD. Under Roman rule, the high profile of the area continued; the fortified city of Eboracum (now known as York) was named as capital of Britannia Inferior and joint-capital of all Roman Britain. For the two years before the death of Emperor Septimus Severus, the entire Roman Empire was run from Eboracum by him.
A second Emperor Constantius Chlorus died in Yorkshire during a visit in 306 AD, this saw his son Constantine the Great proclaimed Emperor in the city; he would become renowned due to his contributions to Christianity. In the early 400s the Roman rule ceased with the withdrawal of the last active Roman troops, by this stage the Empire was in heavy decline. However, during the three and a half centuries of Roman rule in Yorkshire they had introduced much to help forward civilisation there, such as; sanitation, irrigation, education, roads, public libraries, cement, bricks, heated baths, coins, art, literature, law, wine, the calendar, glass, shops, public order, cats, various fruits and vegetables (carrots, turnips, apples, peas, cabbage, pears, grapes) and more.
An army of Danish Vikings invaded Northumbrian territory in 886 AD, with what was named by their enemies as the "Great Heathen Army". The Danes took what is modern day York and renamed it as Jórvík, making it their new capital city of a kingdom under the same name; the area which they took as their kingdom was Southern Northumbria (Yorkshire). The Danes went on to conquer a large area of England which afterwards became known as the Danelaw, but whereas most of the Danelaw was still English land, albeit in submission to Viking overlords, it was in the Kingdom of Jórvík founded by Halfdan Ragnarsson, that the only truly Viking territory on mainland Britain was established. Although it was founded by Danes, the kingdom was passed onto Norwegian kings.
Through the Vikings evolving trade, Jórvík was able to trade with the British Isles, North-West Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Eric Bloodaxe, who was the last independent Viking king of Jórvík is a particularly noted figure in history. After around 100 years of a Norse-Yorkshire kingdom, the Kingdom of Wessex gained control of Yorkshire and the North in general, placing Yorkshire within Northumbria again—which was now an almost-independent earldom, rather than a separate kingdom. The Wessex Kings of England were reputed to have respected the Norse customs in Yorkshire and left law-making in the hands of the local aristocracy.
The people of the North rebelled again in September 1069 AD, this time against the Normans, enlisting Sweyn II of Denmark; they tried to take back York but the Normans burnt it before they could. What followed was the Harrying of the North ordered by William, from York to Durham all crops, domestic animals and farming tools were scorched. Many villages between the towns were burnt and many local Northerners were indiscriminately murdered. During the winter that followed, whole families starved to death, thousands of peasants died of cold and hunger; Orderic Vitalis put the estimation at "more than 100,000" people from the North dead from hunger.
In the centuries following, many abbeys and priories were built in Yorkshire. The Norman landowners were keen to increase their revenues and established new towns such as Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield and others. Of the towns founded before the conquest only Bridlington, Pocklington and York carried on at a prominent level. The population of Yorkshire was booming, until it like the rest of Britain was hit by the Great Famine in the years between 1315 and 1322. In the early 1300s the people of Yorkshire also had to contest with the Battle of the Standard at Northallerton with the Scots, representing the Kingdom of England led by Archbishop Thurstan of York soldiers from Yorkshire defeated the more numerous Scots. The Black Death reached Yorkshire by 1349, killing around a third of the entire population.
When King Richard II was overthrown in 1399, antagonism between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, both branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, began to emerge. Eventually the two houses fought for the throne of England in a series of civil wars , commonly known as the Wars of the Roses. Some of the battles took place in Yorkshire, such as those at Wakefield and Towton, the latter of which is known as the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. After a long violent struggle, King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster was deposed and imprisoned on 4 March 1461 by his Yorkist cousin and new King of England, Edward IV. Eight years later hostilities resumed, Edward was forced into exile in Burgundy by Richard Neville and John Neville and Henry VI was reinstated.
Edward returned though, landing at Ravenspurn he eventually went on to defeat the House of Lancaster. As Henry VI had no heirs, he was killed to strengthen Yorkist grip on the throne when Edward IV was restored as King of England. This is generally considered an end to the most significant hostilities. The rest of Edward's reign was peaceful. After Edward IV suddenly died and his 12 year old son Edward V was proclaimed as heir, a political storm erupted; a family named Woodville found themselves high up the political hierarchy and were in a position to influence the young Yorkist king.
Frictions had developed between Edward IV and the family of his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, before his death so Edward IV's brother Richard III, put the young king in the Tower of London along with his younger brother. They became known as the Princes in the Tower. Richard III argued that Elizabeth Woodville's marriage to Edward IV was illegal and thus the two boys were illegitimate. Parliament agreed and Richard was crowned King of England; he would prove to be the last Yorkist king. Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster, then defeated and killed Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He then became King Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York daughter of Yorkist Edward IV, ending the wars. The two roses of white and red, emblems of the Houses of York and Lancaster respectively, were combined to form the Tudor Rose of England.
When Henry VIII started the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 a popular uprising known as Pilgrimage of Grace started in Yorkshire as a protest. Due to the Protestant Reformation of this period England became a Protestant country, however some of the Catholic contingent in Yorkshire continued to practice their religion and those caught were executed during the reign of Elizabeth I.One such person was a York woman named Margaret Clitherow who was later canonised.
During the English Civil War, which started in 1642 between king and parliament,Yorkshire had divided loyalties; Hull famously shut the gates of the city on the king when he came to enter the city a few months before fighting began, while the North Riding of Yorkshire in particular was strongly royalist. York was the base for Royalists, and from there they captured Leeds and Wakefield only to have them recaptured a few months later. The royalists won the Battle of Adwalton Moor meaning they controlled Yorkshire (with the exception of Hull). From their base in Hull the Roundheads (parliamentarians) fought back, re-taking Yorkshire town by town, until they won the Battle of Marston Moor and with it control of all of the North of England.
In the 16th and 17th centuries Leeds and other wool industry centred towns continued to grow, along with Huddersfield, Hull and Sheffield, while coal mining first came into prominence in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Canals and turnpike roads were introduced in the late 1700s. In the following century the spa towns of Harrogate and Scarborough also flourished, due to people believing mineral water had curing properties.
During the Second World War, Yorkshire became an important base for RAF Bomber Command and brought the county into the cutting edge of the war. In the 1970s there were major reforms of local government throughout the United Kingdom. Some of the changes were unpopular, and controversially Yorkshire and its ridings lost status in 1974 as part of the Local Government Act 1972. The East Riding was resurrected with reduced boundaries in 1996 with the abolition of Humberside. With slightly different borders, the government office entity which currently contains most of the area of Yorkshire is the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England. This region includes a northern slice of Lincolnshire, but omits Saddleworth (now in Greater Manchester); the Forest of Bowland (Lancashire); Sedbergh and Dent (Cumbria); Upper Teesdale (County Durham) as well as Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland.
Historically, the northern boundary of Yorkshire was the River Tees, the eastern boundary was the North Sea coast and the southern boundary was the Humber Estuary and River Don and River Sheaf. The western boundary meandered along the western slopes of the Pennine Hills to again meet the River Tees. It is bordered by several other historic counties in the form of County Durham, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire and Westmorland. In Yorkshire there is a very close relationship between the major topographical areas and the geological period in which they were formed. The Pennine chain of Hills in the west is of Carboniferous origin. The central vale is Permo-Triassic. The North York Moors in the north-east of the county are Jurassic in age while the Yorkshire Wolds to the south east are Cretaceous chalk uplands.
Yorkshire is drained by several rivers. In western and central Yorkshire the many rivers empty their waters into the River Ouse which reaches the North Sea via the Humber Estuary. The most northerly of the rivers in the Ouse system is the River Swale, which drains Swaledale before passing through Richmond and meandering across the Vale of Mowbray. Next, draining Wensleydale, is the River Ure, which joins the Swale east of Boroughbridge. The River Nidd rises on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and flows along Nidderdale before reaching the Vale of York.
The Ouse is the name given to the river after its confluence with the Ure at Ouse Gill Beck. The River Wharfe, which drains Wharfedale, joins the Ouse upstream of Cawood. The Rivers Aire and Calder are more southerly contributors to the River Ouse and the most southerly Yorkshire tributary is the River Don, which flows northwards to join the main river at Goole. In the far north of the county the River Tees flows eastwards through Teesdale and empties its waters into the North Sea downstream of Middlesbrough. The smaller River Esk flows from west to east at the northern foot of the North York Moors to reach the sea at Whitby. The River Derwent rises on the North York Moors, flows south then westwards through the Vale of Pickering then turns south again to drain the eastern part of the Vale of York. It empties into the River Ouse at Barmby on the Marsh. To the east of the Yorkshire Wolds the River Hull flows southwards to join the Humber Estuary at Kingston upon Hull. The western Pennines are served by the River Ribble which drains westwards into the Irish Sea close to Lytham St Annes.
The countryside of Yorkshire has acquired the common nickname of God's Own County. In recent times, North Yorkshire has displaced Kent to take the title Garden of England according to The Guardian. Yorkshire has three national parks, in the form of the Peak District, North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, and two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Nidderdale and the Howardian Hills. The three designated Heritage Coast areas in Yorkshire are Spurn Point, Flamborough Head and coastal North York Moors. These areas of Yorkshire are noted for their scenic views with rugged cliffs such as the jet cliffs at Whitby, the limestone cliffs at Filey and the chalk cliffs at Flamborough Head.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds runs nature reserves such as the one at Bempton Cliffs with coastal wildlife such as the Northern Gannet, Atlantic Puffin and Razorbill. Spurn Point is a narrow, long sand spit. It is a National Nature Reserve owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and is noted for its cyclical nature whereby the spit is destroyed and re-created approximately once every 250 years. There are seaside resorts in Yorkshire with sand beaches; Scarborough is Britain's oldest seaside resort dating back to the spa town-era in the 17th century, while Whitby has been voted as the United Kingdom's best beach, with a "postcard-perfect harbour".
The most prominent road in Yorkshire, historically called the Great North Road, is known as the A1. This trunk road passes through the centre of the county and is the prime route from London to Edinburgh. Another important road is the more easterly A19 road which is also prominent for travelling up and down England. The M62 motorway crosses the county from east to west from Hull towards Greater Manchester and Merseyside. The M1 carries traffic from London and the south of England to Yorkshire. In 1999 about was added to make it swing east of Leeds and connect to the A1. The East Coast Main Line rail link between Scotland and London runs roughly parallel with the A1 through Yorkshire and the Trans Pennine rail link runs east to west from Hull to Liverpool via Leeds.
Before the advent of rail transport, seaports of Hull and Whitby played an important role in transporting goods. Historically canals were used, including the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which is the longest canal in England. Nowadays mainland Europe (the Netherlands and Belgium) can be reached from Hull via regular ferry services from P&O Ferries. Yorkshire also has air transport services from Leeds Bradford International Airport. This airport has experienced significant and rapid growth in both terminal size and passenger facilities since 1996, when improvements began, until the present day. South Yorkshire is served by the Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, based in Finningley.
Throughout Yorkshire many castles were built during the Norman-Breton period, particularly after the Harrying of the North. These included Bowes Castle, Pickering Castle, Richmond Castle, York Castle and others. Later medieval castles at Helmsley, Middleham and Scarborough were built as a means of defence against the invading Scots. Middleham is notable because Richard III of England spent his childhood there.The remains of these castles, some being English Heritage sites, are popular tourist destinations. There are several stately homes in Yorkshire which carry the name "castle" in their title, even though they are more akin to a palace. The most notable examples are Allerton Castle and Castle Howard, both linked to the Howard family. Castle Howard and the Earl of Harewood's residence, Harewood House, are included amongst the Treasure Houses of England, a group of nine English stately homes.
There are numerous other Grade I listed buildings within the historic county including public buildings such as Leeds Town Hall, Sheffield Town Hall, the Yorkshire Museum and Guildhall at York. Large estates with significant buildings were constructed at Brodsworth Hall, Temple Newsam and Wentworth Castle. In addition to this there are properties which are conserved and managed by the National Trust, such as Nunnington Hall, the Rievaulx Terrace & Temples and Studley Royal Park. Religious architecture includes extant cathedrals as well as the ruins of monasteries and abbeys. Many of these prominent buildings suffered from the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII; these includes Bolton Abbey, Fountains Abbey, Gisborough Priory, Rievaulx Abbey, St Mary's Abbey and Whitby Abbey among others. Notable religious buildings of historic origin still in use include York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, Beverley Minster, Bradford Cathedral and Ripon Cathedral.
When Yorkshire formed the southern part of the kingdom of Northumbria there were several notable poets, scholars and ecclesiastics, including Alcuin, Cædmon and Wilfrid. The most esteemed literary family from the county are the three Brontë sisters, with part of the county around Haworth being nicknamed Brontë Country in their honour. Their novels, written in the mid-1800s, caused a sensation when they were first published, yet were subsequently accepted into the canon of great English literature. Among the most celebrated novels written by the sisters are Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Bram Stoker authored Dracula while living in Whitby and it includes several elements of local folklore including the beaching of the Russian ship Dmitri, which became the basis of Demeter in the book.
The novelist tradition in Yorkshire continued into the 20th century, with authors such as J. B. Priestley, Alan Bennett and Barbara Taylor Bradford being prominent examples. Taylor Bradford is noted for A Woman of Substance which was one of the top-ten best selling novels in history. Another well known author was children's writer Arthur Ransome who penned the Swallows and Amazons series. James Herriot, the best selling author of over 60 million copies of books about his experiences of some 50 years as a veterinarian in Thirsk, North Yorkshire (although born in Sunderland), has been admired for his easy reading style and interesting characters. Poets include W. H. Auden, William Empson and Andrew Marvell. Two well known sculptors emerged in the 20th century; contemporaries Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Some of their works are available for public viewing at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There are several art galleries in Yorkshire featuring extensive collections, such as Ferens Art Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery, Millennium Galleries and York Art Gallery. Some of the better known local painters are William Etty and David Hockney; many works by the latter are housed at Salts Mill 1853 Gallery in Saltaire.
Yorkshire has a long tradition in the field of sports, with participation in football, rugby league, cricket and horse racing being the most established sporting ventures. Yorkshire County Cricket Club represents the historic county in the domestic first class cricket County Championship; with a total of 30 championship titles, 12 more than any other county, Yorkshire is the most decorated county cricket club. Some of the most highly regarded figures in the game were born in the county amongst them Geoff Boycott, Len Hutton and Herbert Sutcliffe. England's oldest horse race, which began in 1519, is run each year at Kiplingcotes near Market Weighton. Continuing this tradition in the field of horse racing, there are currently Horse racing venues in Yorkshire in the county. Yorkshire is officially recognised by FIFA as the birth-place of club football, as Sheffield FC founded in 1857 are certified as the oldest association football club in the world. The world's first inter-club match and local derby was competed in the county, at the world's oldest ground Sandygate Road. The Laws of the Game which are now used worldwide were drafted by Ebenezer Cobb Morley from Hull.
The most successful football clubs founded in Yorkshire are Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United. All four have been the league champions with Huddersfield being the first club to win three consecutive league titles. Noted players from Yorkshire who have had an impact on the game include World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks and two time European Footballer of the Year award winner Kevin Keegan, as well as prominent managers Brian Clough, Bill Nicholson, George Raynor and Don Revie. The Rugby Football League and with it the sport of rugby league was founded during 1895 in Huddersfield after a North-South schism within the Rugby Football Union. The top league is the Super League and the most decorated Yorkshire clubs are Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Bradford Bulls, Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos. In total six Yorkshiremen have been inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame amongst them is Roger Millward, Jonty Parkin and Harold Wagstaff. In the area of boxing "Prince" Naseem Hamed from Sheffield achieved title success and widespread fame, in what the BBC describes as "one of British boxing's most illustrious careers".
The traditional cuisine of Yorkshire, in common with the North of England in general, is known for using rich tasting ingredients, especially with regard to sweet dishes, which were affordable for the majority of people. There are several dishes which originated in Yorkshire or are heavily associated with it. Yorkshire pudding, a savoury batter dish, is by far the most well known of Yorkshire foods. It is commonly served with roast beef and vegetables to form part of the Sunday roast.
Other foods associated with the county include: Yorkshire curd tart, a curd tart recipe with rosewater; Parkin, a sweet ginger cake which is different from standard ginger cakes in that it includes oatmeal and treacle; and Wensleydale cheese, a cheese associated with Wensleydale and often eaten as an accompaniment to sweet foods. The beverage ginger beer, flavoured with ginger, came from Yorkshire and has existed since the mid 1700s. Liquorice sweet was first created by George Dunhill from Pontefract, who in the 1760s thought to mix the liquorice plant with sugar. Yorkshire and in particular the city of York played a prominent role in the confectionery industry, with chocolate factories owned by companies such as Rowntree's, Terry's and Thorntons inventing many of Britain's most popular sweets. Another traditional Yorkshire food is pikelets which are similar to crumpets but much thinner.
The three most prominent British television shows filmed in (and based around) Yorkshire are sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, drama series Heartbeat, and soap opera Emmerdale, the latter two of which are produced by Yorkshire Television. Last of the Summer Wine in particular is noted for holding the record of longest-running comedy series in the world, from 1973 until the present. Several noted films are set in Yorkshire, including Kes, This Sporting Life and Room at the Top. A comedy film set in Sheffield named The Full Monty, won an Academy Award and was voted the second best British movie of all-time by ANI. The county is also referenced in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life during a segment on birth where a title card read, "The Miracle of Birth, Part II—The Third World". The scene opens into a mill town street, subtitled "Yorkshire". Monty Python were also performed the Four Yorkshiremen sketch live, which first featured on At Last the 1948 Show.
From 1290, Yorkshire was represented by two Members of Parliament of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England. After the union with Scotland two members represented the county in the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. In 1832 the county benefited from the disfranchisement of Grampound by taking an additional two members. Yorkshire was represented at this time as one single, large, county constituency. Like other counties, there were also some county boroughs within Yorkshire, the oldest was the City of York which had existed since the ancient De Montfort's Parliament of 1265. After the Reform Act 1832, Yorkshire's political representation in parliament was drawn from its subdivisions, with Members of Parliament representing each of the three historic Ridings of Yorkshire; East Riding, North Riding and West Riding constituencies.
For the 1865 general elections and onwards, the West Riding was further divided into Northern, Eastern and Southern parliamentary constituencies, though these only lasted until the major Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. This act saw more localisation of government in the United Kingdom, with the introduction of 26 new parliamentary constituencies within Yorkshire, while the Local Government Act 1888 introduced some reforms for the county boroughs, of which there were 8 in Yorkshire by the end of the 19th century.
With the Representation of the People Act 1918 there was some reshuffling on a local level for the 1918 general election, revised again during the 1950s. The most controversial reorganisation of local government in Yorkshire was the Local Government Act 1972, put into practice in 1974. Under the act, the Ridings lost their lieutenancies, shrievalties, administrative counties. County boroughs and their councils were abolished, to be replaced by metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties with vastly changed borders. Although some government officials and Prince Charles have asserted such reform is not meant to alter the ancient boundaries or cultural loyalties, there are pressure groups such as the Yorkshire Ridings Society who want greater recognition for the historic boundaries. In 1996 the East Riding of Yorkshire was reformed as a unitary authority area and a ceremonial county. The Yorkshire and the Humber region of government office covers most, but not all of the historic county.Yorkshire and the Humber is a constituency for European elections, returning six MEPs to the European Parliament.
Though the monarchal title became defunct, it was succeeded by the creation of the Earl of York title of nobility by king of England Edgar the Peaceful in 960.(The earldom covered the general area of Yorkshire and is sometimes referred to as the Earl of Yorkshire) The title passed through the hands of various nobles, decided upon by the current king of England. The last man to hold the title was William le Gros, however the earldom was abolished by Henry II as a result of a troubled period known as The Anarchy.
The peerage was recreated by Edward III in 1385, this time in the form of the prestigious title of Duke of York which he gave to his son Edmund of Langley. Edmund founded the House of York; later the title would be merged with that of the King of England. Much of the modern day symbolism of Yorkshire , such as the White Rose of York, is derived from the Yorkists, giving the house a special affinity within the culture of Yorkshire. Especially celebrated is the Yorkist king Richard III who spent much of his life at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire. Since that time the title has passed through the hands of many, being merged with the crown and then recreated several times. The title of Duke of York remains prestigious and is given to the second son of the British monarch.