Mineralogy is a subject of geology specializing in the scientific study of the chemistry, crystal structure, physical properties of minerals and mineralized artifacts. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization. Early writing on mineralogy on gemstones, comes from ancient Babylonia, the ancient Greco-Roman world and medieval China, Sanskrit texts from ancient India and the ancient Islamic World. Books on the subject included the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, which not only described many different minerals but explained many of their properties, Kitab al Jawahir by Persian scientist Al-Biruni; the German Renaissance specialist Georgius Agricola wrote works such as De re metallica and De Natura Fossilium which began the scientific approach to the subject. Systematic scientific studies of minerals and rocks developed in post-Renaissance Europe; the modern study of mineralogy was founded on the principles of crystallography and to the microscopic study of rock sections with the invention of the microscope in the 17th century.
Nicholas Steno first observed the law of constancy of interfacial angles in quartz crystals in 1669. This was generalized and established experimentally by Jean-Baptiste L. Romé de l'Islee in 1783. René Just Haüy, the "father of modern crystallography", showed that crystals are periodic and established that the orientations of crystal faces can be expressed in terms of rational numbers, as encoded in the Miller indices. In 1814, Jöns Jacob Berzelius introduced a classification of minerals based on their chemistry rather than their crystal structure. William Nicol developed the Nicol prism, which polarizes light, in 1827–1828 while studying fossilized wood. James D. Dana published his first edition of A System of Mineralogy in 1837, in a edition introduced a chemical classification, still the standard. X-ray diffraction was demonstrated by Max von Laue in 1912, developed into a tool for analyzing the crystal structure of minerals by the father/son team of William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg.
More driven by advances in experimental technique and available computational power, the latter of which has enabled accurate atomic-scale simulations of the behaviour of crystals, the science has branched out to consider more general problems in the fields of inorganic chemistry and solid-state physics. It, retains a focus on the crystal structures encountered in rock-forming minerals. In particular, the field has made great advances in the understanding of the relationship between the atomic-scale structure of minerals and their function. To this end, in their focus on the connection between atomic-scale phenomena and macroscopic properties, the mineral sciences display more of an overlap with materials science than any other discipline. An initial step in identifying a mineral is to examine its physical properties, many of which can be measured on a hand sample; these can be classified into density. Hardness is determined by comparison with other minerals. In the Mohs scale, a standard set of minerals are numbered in order of increasing hardness from 1 to 10.
A harder mineral will scratch a softer, so an unknown mineral can be placed in this scale by which minerals it scratches and which scratch it. A few minerals such as calcite and kyanite have a hardness that depends on direction. Hardness can be measured on an absolute scale using a sclerometer. Tenacity refers to the way a mineral behaves when it is broken, bent or torn. A mineral can be brittle, sectile, flexible or elastic. An important influence on tenacity is the type of chemical bond. Of the other measures of mechanical cohesion, cleavage is the tendency to break along certain crystallographic planes, it is described by the orientation of the plane in crystallographic nomenclature. Parting is the tendency to break along planes of weakness due to twinning or exsolution. Where these two kinds of break do not occur, fracture is a less orderly form that may be conchoidal, splintery, hackly, or uneven. If the mineral is well crystallized, it will have a distinctive crystal habit that reflects the crystal structure or internal arrangement of atoms.
It is affected by crystal defects and twinning. Many crystals are polymorphic, having more than
The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals; when used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, Bretons. It may refer to citizens of the former British Empire. Though early assertions of being British date from the Late Middle Ages, the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 triggered a sense of British national identity; the notion of Britishness was forged during the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and the First French Empire, developed further during the Victorian era. The complex history of the formation of the United Kingdom created a "particular sense of nationhood and belonging" in Great Britain and Ireland.
Because of longstanding ethno-sectarian divisions, British identity in Northern Ireland is controversial, but it is held with strong conviction by Unionists. Modern Britons are descended from the varied ethnic groups that settled in the British Isles in and before the 11th century: Prehistoric, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Normans; the progressive political unification of the British Isles facilitated migration and linguistic exchange, intermarriage between the peoples of England and Wales during the late Middle Ages, early modern period and beyond. Since 1922 and earlier, there has been immigration to the United Kingdom by people from what is now the Republic of Ireland, the Commonwealth, mainland Europe and elsewhere; the British are a diverse, multinational and multilingual society, with "strong regional accents and identities". The social structure of the United Kingdom has changed radically since the 19th century, with a decline in religious observance, enlargement of the middle class, increased ethnic diversity since the 1950s.
The population of the UK stands at around 66 million, with a British diaspora of around 140 million concentrated in Australia and New Zealand, with smaller concentrations in the United States, Republic of Ireland, South Africa and parts of the Caribbean. The earliest known reference to the inhabitants of Great Britain may have come from 4th century BC records of the voyage of Pytheas, a Greek geographer who made a voyage of exploration around the British Isles. Although none of his own writings remain, writers during the time of the Roman Empire made much reference to them. Pytheas called the islands collectively αἱ Βρεττανίαι, translated as the Brittanic Isles, the peoples of what are today England, Wales and the Isle of Man of Prettanike were called the Πρεττανοί, Pritani or Pretani; the group included Ireland, referred to as Ierne "inhabited by the different race of Hiberni", Britain as insula Albionum, "island of the Albions". The term Pritani may have reached Pytheas from the Gauls, who used it as their term for the inhabitants of the islands.
Greek and Roman writers, in the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, name the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland as the Priteni, the origin of the Latin word Britanni. It has been suggested that this name derives from a Gaulish description translated as "people of the forms", referring to the custom of tattooing or painting their bodies with blue woad made from Isatis tinctoria. Parthenius, a 1st-century Ancient Greek grammarian, the Etymologicum Genuinum, a 9th-century lexical encyclopaedia, mention a mythical character Bretannus as the father of Celtine, mother of Celtus, the eponymous ancestor of the Celts. By 50 BC Greek geographers were using equivalents of Prettanikē as a collective name for the British Isles. However, with the Roman conquest of Britain the Latin term Britannia was used for the island of Great Britain, Roman-occupied Britain south of Caledonia, although the people of Caledonia and the north were the self same Britons during the Roman period, the Gaels arriving four centuries later.
Following the end of Roman rule in Britain, the island of Great Britain was left open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors such as Germanic-speaking Anglo-Saxons and Jutes from Continental Europe, who gained control in areas around the south east, to Middle Irish-speaking people migrating from what is today Northern Ireland to the north of Great Britain, founding Gaelic kingdoms such as Dál Riata and Alba, which would subsume the native Brittonic and Pictish kingdoms and become Scotland. In this sub-Roman Britain, as Anglo-Saxon culture spread across southern and eastern Britain and Gaelic through much of the north, the demonym "Briton" became restricted to the Brittonic-speaking inhabitants of what would be called Wales, North West England, parts of Scotland such as Strathearn, Morayshire and Strathclyde. In addition the term was applied to Brittany in what is today France and Britonia in north west Spain, both regions having been colonised by Britons in the 5th century fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasions.
Albert, Prince Consort
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the husband of Queen Victoria. He was born in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, to a family connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs. At the age of 20, he married Queen Victoria, he felt constrained by his role of prince consort, which did not afford him power or responsibilities. He developed a reputation for supporting public causes, such as educational reform and the abolition of slavery worldwide, was entrusted with running the Queen's household and estates, he was involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851, a resounding success. Victoria came to depend more on his support and guidance, he aided the development of Britain's constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to be less partisan in her dealings with Parliament—although he disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston's tenure as Foreign Secretary. Albert died at the young age of 42. Victoria was so devastated at the loss of her husband that she entered into a deep state of mourning and wore black for the rest of her life.
On her death in 1901, their eldest son succeeded as Edward VII, the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, named after the ducal house to which Albert belonged. Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, the second son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert's future wife, was born earlier in the same year with the assistance of the same midwife, Charlotte von Siebold. Albert was baptised into the Lutheran Evangelical Church on 19 September 1819 in the Marble Hall at Schloss Rosenau with water taken from the local river, the Itz, his godparents were the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. In 1825, Albert's great-uncle, Frederick IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, died, his death led to a realignment of Saxon duchies the following year and Albert's father became the first reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert and his elder brother, spent their youth in a close companionship marred by their parents' turbulent marriage and eventual separation and divorce.
After their mother was exiled from court in 1824, she married her lover, Alexander von Hanstein, Count of Polzig and Beiersdorf. She never saw her children again, died of cancer at the age of 30 in 1831; the following year, their father married his sons' cousin Princess Marie of Württemberg. The brothers were educated at home by Christoph Florschütz and studied in Brussels, where Adolphe Quetelet was one of their tutors. Like many other German princes, Albert attended the University of Bonn, where he studied law, political economy and the history of art, he played music and excelled at sport fencing and riding. His tutors at Bonn included the poet Schlegel; the idea of marriage between Albert and his cousin, was first documented in an 1821 letter from his paternal grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who said that he was "the pendant to the pretty cousin". By 1836, this idea had arisen in the mind of their ambitious uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians since 1831. At this time, Victoria was the heir presumptive to the British throne.
Her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III, had died when she was a baby, her elderly uncle, King William IV, had no legitimate children. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, was the sister of both Albert's father—the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha—and King Leopold. Leopold arranged for his sister, Victoria's mother, to invite the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his two sons to visit her in May 1836, with the purpose of meeting Victoria. William IV, disapproved of any match with the Coburgs, instead favoured the suit of Prince Alexander, second son of the Prince of Orange. Victoria was well aware of the various matrimonial plans and critically appraised a parade of eligible princes, she wrote, " is handsome. Alexander, on the other hand, she described as "very plain". Victoria wrote to her uncle Leopold to thank him "for the prospect of great happiness you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert... He possesses every quality that could be desired to render me happy."
Although the parties did not undertake a formal engagement, both the family and their retainers assumed that the match would take place. Victoria came to the throne aged eighteen on 20 June 1837, her letters of the time show interest in Albert's education for the role he would have to play, although she resisted attempts to rush her into marriage. In the winter of 1838–39, the prince visited Italy, accompanied by the Coburg family's confidential adviser, Baron Stockmar. Albert returned to the United Kingdom with Ernest in October 1839 to visit the Queen, with the objective of settling the marriage. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839. Victoria's intention to marry was declared formally to the Privy Council on 23 November, the couple married on
Cholsey is a village and large civil parish two miles south of Wallingford, in South Oxfordshire. In 1974 it was transferred from Berkshire to the county of Oxfordshire, from Wallingford Rural District to the district of South Oxfordshire. Cholsey's parish boundaries, some 17 miles long, reach from the edge of Wallingford into the Berkshire Downs; the village green has a substantial and ancient walnut tree. Winterbrook was at the north end of the parish adjoining Wallingford and became within Wallingford parish since 2015, it is the site of Winterbrook Bridge, which carries a by-pass road across the Thames, was one of the two main residences of the late author Dame Agatha Christie. John Masefield, poet laureate, was a resident of Cholsey. A Bronze Age site has been found beside the River Thames at Whitecross Farm in the northeast of the parish. A pre-Roman road, the Icknield Way, crosses the River Thames at Cholsey. A recent find. Archaeologists have discovered the best examples of corn dryers they have seen, suggesting they were built by an engineers.
Sites of burials and cremation pots have been found. There is part of a Roman villa, the majority of which appeared to have extended out under the existing road and houses and will have suffered significant unrecorded damage; the section of villa remaining within the archaeologically excavated area has been preserved in situ. The village itself was founded on an island in marshy ground close to the Thames. There is evidence that the House of Wessex royal family owned land in Cholsey in the 6th and 7th centuries. At this time the town was home to a Saint Wilgyth, venerated locally in the Middle Ages. A royal nunnery, Cholsey Abbey, was founded in the village in 986 by Queen Dowager Ælfthryth on land given by her son, King Ethelred the Unready; the nunnery is thought to have been destroyed by invading Danes in 1006 when they camped in Cholsey after setting nearby Wallingford ablaze. However, Saxon masonry still survives in the Church of England parish church of St Mary. Most of this flint and stone church was built in the 12th century.
The church is cruciform. In the 13th-century a tithe barn was built in the village, it was, at the time, the largest aisled building in the world, being 51 feet high, 54 feet wide and over 300 feet long. It was demolished in 1815. Fair Mile Hospital, a former lunatic asylum opened near Cholsey in 1870 and closed in 2003, its Victorian buildings were converted to housing between 2011 and 2014, whilst portions of the site were given over to newly built accommodation. Writer and poet John Masefield lived in the parish, for several years during World War I, as tenant of Lollingdon Farm, at the foot of the Berkshire Downs, he was Poet Laureate from 1936 to his death in 1967 and is most famous for a series of poems and sonnets entitled Lollingdon Downs and his poem Sea-Fever, set to music by John Ireland. The grave of novelist Dame Agatha Christie is in the churchyard of St Mary's, she lived with her second husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, at Winterbrook House, in the north of the parish, from about 1934 and died there in 1976.
She and her husband Sir Max had chosen a burial plot in the mid 1960s just under the perimeter wall of the churchyard. About 20 journalists and TV reporters attended her funeral service, some having travelled from as far away as South America. Thirty wreaths adorned her grave including one from the cast of her long-running play The Mousetrap, another sent'on behalf of the multitude of grateful readers' from the Ulverscroft Large Print Book Publishers. Cholsey is served by Cholsey railway station, a calling point for Great Western Railway stopping services on the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Didcot; the station was the junction for a branch line to Wallingford, known as the Wallingford Bunk, which the heritage Cholsey and Wallingford Railway now operates on Bank Holidays and some weekends. In addition, Cholsey is served by a bus service operated by Thames Travel. Cromarty, Anne Marie. Late Bronze Age Ritual at Whitecross Farm, Wallingford. Thames Valley Landscape Series. 22. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archaeology.
ISBN 0-947816-67-4. Page, W. H.. H. eds.. A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. Pp. 296–302. Pevsner, Nikolaus. Berkshire; the Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Pp. 115–117. Cholsey Parish Council website Royal Berkshire History: Cholsey
Second voyage of HMS Beagle
The second voyage of HMS Beagle, from 27 December 1831 to 2 October 1836, was the second survey expedition of HMS Beagle, under captain Robert FitzRoy who had taken over command of the ship on its first voyage after the previous captain committed suicide. FitzRoy had thought of the advantages of having an expert in geology on board, sought a gentleman naturalist to accompany them as a supernumerary; the young graduate Charles Darwin had hoped to see the tropics before becoming a parson, accepted the opportunity. He was influenced by reading Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology during the voyage. By the end of the expedition, Darwin had made his name as a geologist and fossil collector, the publication of his journal which became known as The Voyage of the Beagle gave him wide renown as a writer. Beagle sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, carried out detailed hydrographic surveys around the coasts of the southern part of South America, returning via Tahiti and Australia after having circumnavigated the Earth.
While the expedition was planned to last two years, it lasted five. Darwin spent most of this time exploring on land: three years and three months on land, 18 months at sea. Early in the voyage he decided that he could write a book about geology, he showed a gift for theorising. At Punta Alta he made a major find of gigantic fossils of extinct mammals known from only a few specimens, he ably collected and made detailed observations of plants and animals, with results that shook his belief that species were fixed and provided the basis for ideas which came to him when back in England, led to his theory of evolution by natural selection. The main purpose of the expedition was to conduct a hydrographic survey of the coasts of the southern part of South America; this was a continuation and correction of the work of previous surveys, in order to produce accurate nautical charts showing navigational and sea depth information for the navy and for commerce. An Admiralty memorandum set out the detailed instructions.
The first requirement was to resolve disagreements in the earlier surveys about the longitude of Rio de Janeiro, essential as the base point for meridian distances. The accurate marine chronometers needed to determine longitude had only become affordable since 1800; the ship was to stop at specified points for four-day rating of the chronometers and to check them by astronomical observations: it was essential to take observations at Porto Praya and Fernando de Noronha to calibrate against the previous surveys of Owen and Foster. It was important to survey the extent of the Abrolhos Archipelago reefs, shown incorrectly in Roussin's survey proceed to Rio de Janeiro to decide the exact longitude of Villegagnon Island; the real work of the survey was to commence south of the Río de la Plata, with return trips to Montevideo for supplies. The west coast was to be surveyed as far north as time and resources permitted; the commander would determine his own route west: season permitting, he could survey the Galápagos Islands.
Beagle was to proceed to Point Venus, on to Port Jackson, which were known points to verify the chronometers. No time was to be wasted on elaborate drawings. Continued records of tides and meteorological conditions were required. An additional suggestion was for a geological survey of a circular coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean including its profile and of tidal flows, to investigate the formation of such coral reefs; the previous survey expedition to South America involved HMS Adventure and HMS Beagle under the overall command of the Australian Commander Phillip Parker King. During the survey Beagle's captain, Pringle Stokes, committed suicide and command of the ship was given to the young aristocrat Robert FitzRoy, a nephew of George FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton; when a ship's boat was taken by native Fuegians, FitzRoy took. After their return to Devonport dockyard on 14 October 1830 Captain King retired; the 27-year-old FitzRoy had hopes of commanding a second expedition to continue the South American survey, but when he heard that the Lords of the Admiralty no longer supported this, he grew concerned about how to return the Fuegians, taught English with the idea that they could become missionaries.
He made an agreement with the owner of a small merchant-vessel to take himself and five others back to South America, but a kind uncle heard of this and contacted the Admiralty. Soon afterwards FitzRoy heard that he was to be appointed commander of HMS Chanticleer to go to Tierra del Fuego, but due to her poor condition Beagle was substituted. On 27 June 1831 FitzRoy was commissioned as commander of the voyage, Lieutenants John Clements Wickham and Bartholomew James Sulivan were appointed. Captain Francis Beaufort, the Hydrographer of the Admiralty, was invited to decide on the use that could be made of the voyage to continue the survey, he discussed with FitzRoy plans for a voyage of several years, including a continuation of the trip around the world to establish median distances. Beagle was commissioned on 4 July 1831 under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy, who promptly spared no expense in having Beagle extensively refitted. Beagle was taken into dock for extensive rebuilding and refitting.
As she required a new deck, FitzRoy had the upper deck raised by 8 inches aft and 12 inches forward. The Cherokee-class brig-sloops had the reputation of being
Kingdom of Great Britain
The Kingdom of Great Britain called Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; the unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government, based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover; the early years of the unified kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended in defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746.
In 1763, victory in the Seven Years' War led to the dominance of the British Empire, to become the foremost global power for over a century and grew to become the largest empire in history. The Kingdom of Great Britain was replaced by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 January 1801 with the Acts of Union 1800; the name Britain descends from the Latin name for the island of Great Britain, Britannia or Brittānia, the land of the Britons via the Old French Bretaigne and Middle English Bretayne, Breteyne. The term Great Britain was first used in 1474; the use of the word "Great" before "Britain" originates in the French language, which uses Bretagne for both Britain and Brittany. French therefore distinguishes between the two by calling Britain la Grande Bretagne, a distinction, transferred into English; the Treaty of Union and the subsequent Acts of Union state that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain", as such "Great Britain" was the official name of the state, as well as being used in titles such as "Parliament of Great Britain".
Both the Acts and the Treaty describe the country as "One Kingdom" and a "United Kingdom", which has led some much publications into the error of treating the "United Kingdom" as a name before it came into being in 1801. The websites of the Scottish Parliament, the BBC, others, including the Historical Association, refer to the state created on 1 May 1707 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain; the term United Kingdom was sometimes used during the 18th century to describe the state, but was not its name. The kingdoms of England and Scotland, both in existence from the 9th century, were separate states until 1707. However, they had come into a personal union in 1603, when James VI of Scotland became king of England under the name of James I; this Union of the Crowns under the House of Stuart meant that the whole of the island of Great Britain was now ruled by a single monarch, who by virtue of holding the English crown ruled over the Kingdom of Ireland. Each of the three kingdoms maintained laws.
Various smaller islands were in the king's domain, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. This disposition changed when the Acts of Union 1707 came into force, with a single unified Crown of Great Britain and a single unified parliament. Ireland remained formally separate, with its own parliament, until the Acts of Union 1800; the Union of 1707 provided for a Protestant-only succession to the throne in accordance with the English Act of Settlement of 1701. The Act of Settlement required that the heir to the English throne be a descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanover and not be a Catholic. Legislative power was vested in the Parliament of Great Britain, which replaced both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. In practice it was a continuation of the English parliament, sitting at the same location in Westminster, expanded to include representation from Scotland; as with the former Parliament of England and the modern Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Parliament of Great Britain was formally constituted of three elements: the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Crown.
The right of the English peerage to sit in the House of Lords remained unchanged, while the disproportionately large Scottish peerage was permitted to send only 16 representative peers, elected from amongst their number for the life of each parliament. The members of the former English House of Commons continued as members of the British House of Commons, but as a reflection of the relative tax bases of the two countries the number of Scottish representatives was reduced to 45. Newly created peers in the Peerage of Great Britain were given the automatic right to sit in the Lords. Despite the end of a separate parliament for Scotland, it retained its own laws and system of courts, As its own established Presbyterian Church, control over its own schools; the social structure was hierarchical, the same elite remain in control after 1707. Scotland continued to have its own excellent universities, with the strong intellectual community in Edinburgh, The Scottish Enlightenment had a major impact on British and European thinking.
As a result of Poynings' Law of 1495, the Parliament of Ireland was subordinate to the Parliament of England, after 1707 to the Parliament of Great Britain. The Westminster parliament's Declaratory Act 1719 (also called the Dependency of Ireland
Rochester is a town and was a historic city in the unitary authority of Medway in Kent, England. It is at the lowest bridging point of the River Medway about 30 miles from London. Rochester was for many years a favourite of Charles Dickens, who owned nearby Gads Hill Place, basing many of his novels on the area; the Diocese of Rochester, the second oldest in England, is centred on Rochester Cathedral and was responsible for the founding of a school, now The King's School in 604 AD, recognised as being the second oldest continuously running school in the world. Rochester Castle, built by Bishop Gundulf of Rochester, has one of the best preserved keeps in either England or France, during the First Barons' War in King John's reign, baronial forces captured the castle from Archbishop Stephen Langton and held it against the king, who besieged it. Rochester and its neighbours and Gillingham, Strood and a number of outlying villages form a single large urban area known as the Medway Towns with a population of about 250,000.
These places nowadays make up the Medway Unitary Authority area. It was, until 1998, under the control of Kent County Council and is still part of the ceremonial county of Kent, under the latest Lieutenancies Act; the Romano-British name for Rochester was Durobrivae Durobrivis c. 730 and Dorobrevis in 844. The two cited origins of this name are that it either came from "stronghold by the bridge" or is the latinisation of the British word Dourbruf meaning "swiftstream". Durobrivis was pronounced'Robrivis. In times, the word cæster was added to the name and the city was called Robrivis Cæster. Bede mentions the city in ca. 730 and calls it Hrofes cæster, mistaking its meaning as Hrofi's fortified camp. From this we get 811 Hrofescester, 1086 Rovescester, 1610 Rochester; the Latinised adjective'Roffensis' refers to Rochester. Neolithic remains have been found in the vicinity of Rochester. During the Celtic period it was one of the two administrative centres of the Cantiaci tribe. During the Roman conquest of Britain a decisive battle was fought at the Medway somewhere near Rochester.
The first bridge was subsequently constructed early in the Roman period. During the Roman period the settlement was walled in stone. King Ethelbert of Kent established a legal system, preserved in the 12th century Textus Roffensis. In AD 604 the bishopric and cathedral were founded. During this period, from the recall of the legions until the Norman conquest, Rochester was sacked at least twice and besieged on another occasion; the medieval period saw the building of the current cathedral, the building of two castles and the establishment of a significant town. Rochester Castle saw action in the sieges of 1215 and 1264, its basic street plan was set out, constrained by the river, Watling Street, Rochester Priory and the castle. Rochester has produced two martyrs: St John Fisher, executed by Henry VIII for refusing to sanction the divorce of Catherine of Aragon; the city was raided by the Dutch as part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch, commanded by Admiral de Ruijter, broke through the chain at Upnor and sailed to Rochester Bridge capturing part of the English fleet and burning it.
Rochester has for centuries been of great strategic importance through its position near the confluence of the Thames and the Medway. Rochester Castle was built to guard the river crossing, the Royal Dockyard's establishment at Chatham witnessed the beginning of the Royal Navy's long period of supremacy; the town, as part of Medway, is surrounded by two circles of fortresses. The outer line of Palmerston Forts was built during the 1860s in light of the report by the Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom and consists of Fort Borstal, Fort Bridgewood, Fort Luton, the Twydall Redoubts, with two additional forts on islands in the Medway, namely Fort Hoo and Fort Darnet. During the First World War the Short Brothers' aircraft manufacturing company developed the first plane to launch a torpedo, the Short Admiralty Type 184, at its seaplane factory on the River Medway not far from Rochester Castle. In the intervening period between the 20th century World Wars the company established a world-wide reputation as a constructor of flying boats with aircraft such as the Singapore, Empire'C'-Class and Sunderland.
During the Second World War, Shorts designed and manufactured the first four-engined bomber, the Stirling. The UK's decline in naval power and shipbuilding competitiveness led to the government decommissioning the RN Shipyard at Chatham in 1984, which led to the subsequent demise of much local maritime industry. Rochester and its neighbouring communities were hit hard by this and have experienced a painful adjustment to a post-industrial economy, with much social deprivation and unemployment resulting. On the closure of Chatham Dockyard the area experienced an unprecedented surge in unemployment to 24%. Rochester was recognised as a City from 1211 to 1998; the City of Rochester's ancient status was unique, as it had no formal council or Charter Trustees nor a Mayor, instead having the office of Admiral of the River Medway, whose incumbent acted as de facto civic leader. Since Norman times Rochester had always governed land on the other side of the Medway in Strood, known as Strood Intra.