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The History of Carlisle

Tullie House Museum



The modern history of Carlisle begins in 1092 when William II of England (called Rufus because of his red hair) built the first castle. His brother and successor King Henry I built a Priory where the Cathedral now stands.

The English King John (1199 on) became so unpopular because of oppressive taxation that the populace did not resist the Scots King Alexander II's invasion in 1216. John's son Henry III paid Alexander to return to Scotland and in 1251 granted another Charter to replace the first , which had been lost by fire, as indeed was Henry's Charter in 1292, along with most of the town itself.

In 1293 Henry's successor King Edward I of England began to develop the town as a major military base in preparation for his invasion of Scotland.

Throughout these centuries Carlisle was physically in a terrible state: ravaged by wars, it became little more than a collection of hovels. The ravages of the Black Death were followed by savage Scots sieges in 1380, 1385 and 1387, and then by a devastating fire in 1391.

In 1509 Henry VIII of England reopened hostilities with Scotland, and these persisted in the shape of vicious Border raid and counter-raid for the next 50 years. Carlisle Castle and its defences were strengthened by a handsome gun battery in 1541.






Copyright EDGE 1997