Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Cardiff - A Short History
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a short history

The first Neolithic migrants cross southern Britain into Glamorgan.
Celtic invaders attack South Wales.
Emperor Claudius launches an assault on Britain, and, using Gloucester as his land base, pushes into Glamorgan. The Romans recognise the strategic value of Cardiff and establish a fort beside the river Taff, where the military road from Caerleon crosses the tidal estuary. Through the years, this castle continues to be used as defence against Irish pirates attacking the Welsh coast, and later, against Viking raids. With the withdrawal of the Roman garrison, Welsh kings, members of new dynasties, emerge as rulers of local kingdoms. The region in which Cardiff lies comes to be known as Morgannwg.
After the Norman conquest, the Roman fort is used for the basis of the Norman stronghold in Wales.
William the Conqueror journeys into Wales with an army, ostensibly to worship at the shrine of St David, but more probably to intervene in struggles between Welsh rulers in West Wales.
Robert Fitzhamon, a kingsman of the Conqueror, leads armed forces into Wales, defeating the last Welsh ruler of Morgannwg, Jestyn ap Gwrgan, and converts his kingdom into Glamorgan. On Fitzhamon's death in battle, the succession to the Lordship passes, through his daughter, Mabel, to her husband — Robert, Earl of Gloucester, bastard son to Henry I.
Robert of Normandy; uncle of Henry I, is imprisoned in Cardiff Castle until his death, eight years later.
The Lordship passes to King John and then (1217) to the Clare family: A medieval township has by now grown up around the castle.
A charter sets the pattern of government in Glamorgan that is to survive little changed until the 19th century. The Constable of Cardiff Castle becomes mayor.
The Lordship having passed eventually to Richard III, it is granted, after Richard's death at Bosworth; by Henry Tudor to his uncle, Jasper, on whose death it reverts to the King, to remain in the hands of successive sovereigns until 1550 when it is granted to William Herbert.
An Act of Union (supplemented in 1542) constitutes the new State of England and Wales.
Cardiff has begun to establish itself as a trading centre and port of importance, and receives its first royal charter, granted by Elizabeth I. Nonetheless the place is known as a town of rioters, cut-throats and pirates who infest the Bristol channel.
Additions to the charter, under James I, declare Cardiff a free town.
Civil War — the Lord of Cardiff, Philip, fifth Earl of Pembroke, sympathises with 1642 Parliament, but William Herbert of the Grey Friars is strongly Royalist, as are most of the gentry of Glamorgan. The Castle is taken and occupied by a Royalist garrison.
After his defeat at Naseby, the King seeks refuge at Cardiff Castle. The Welsh being no longer willing to support his cause, help is refused him and most of South Wales passes into the hands of Parliament. Charles observes: The hearts of the people of Wales are as hard and rocky as their country.
By now in decline, the town has a population of only 1500. The first Marquess of Bute 1780s rescues Cardiff Castle, in ruins since the Civil War, from oblivion.
A canal link is completed between Cardiff and the valley communities, enabling iron and 1794 later coal to be transported easily to the coast.
An Act converts the borough of Cardiff into a fully self-governing unit, bringing to a 1835 close the mayoral connection with the Castle.
The second Marquess of Bute, creator of modern Cardiff opens his first dock there. 1839 Railway links arrive by 1850, and by now nearly 750,000 tons of coal are being exported annually Workers flock to Cardiff in search of jobs from all over South Wales, from the west of England, and from Ireland, the latter bringing a growth of Catholicism in the borough.
The third Marquess of Bute employs the eccentric architect William Burges to transform 1868 the Castle lodgings into a neo-gothic fantasy.
Cardiff is officially made a city by Edward VII.
The city ships 10.5 million tons of coal, making it the world's premier coal-exporting port.
With the decline of the coal trade after the First World War, Cardiff assumes a white-collar role, as a centre of government, commerce and administration.
The National Museum of Wales opens in Cardiff.
Bombing raids made on Cardiff, in the worst of which, in January 1941, 115 tons of high explosive are dropped and 167 people killed. Llandaff Cathedral is badly damaged.
Cardiff is made capital of Wales.
Plans for a new opera house in Cardiff are dropped, then revised to form part of a Wales Millennium Centre. The city now has a population of nearly 300,000 and around 2 million people live within an hour's drive.

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