Introduction of Canterbury
City and ecclesiastic center of England in Kent, 53 mi ESE of London. Although a fortified settlement here dates to 200 b.c. and Julius Caesar came close to the site, the Roman town Durovernum was established here only after a.d. 43. In the sixth century it was capital of Aethelbert, king of Kent, whom St. Augustine converted. He founded a monastery here in 598 and later the cathedral that was to become the prime see in England . In 1011 Canterbury was damaged by Danish raids. Following the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket on December 29, 1170, in the cathedral, the town became a pilgrimage center as immortalized by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Under Mary I in the 1550s many Protestants were burned at the stake here. The city languished in the 16th century during the Reformation. Refugee Walloon weavers brought revival as did a new fort built in the 17th century. Canterbury was damaged by bombs in World War II, especially during June 1942. Traces of the largest Roman theater in England and a wall begun in the third century are here. Of interest too are St. Martin’s church, called the Mother Church of England , and the old King’s School.