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After 410 AD, when the Roman army and administration abandoned Britain to defend beleaguered Rome, the city of Eboracum appears to have become largely abandoned. Excavations suggest depopulation due to increased flooding in the city and the Ouse bridge may has been swept away around 450 AD. There was, however, still occupation in some areas of old Roman York and it seems likely that Caer-Ebrauc, as it apparently became known by the Romano-British Celts, remained as a prestigious Royal centre - though the palace is, so far, unlocated. Ancient Welsh genealogies indicate that a local York family seized power at this time in the North - with their home city as capital. The founder, one Coel Hen (the Old) - the 'Old King Cole' of Nursery Rhyme fame - may have been the last Dux Britanniarum or military commander of late Roman Britain. Traditionally, Coel's authority in the region passed to his descendants who were almost certainly Christian. They ruled from York for another five generations, though the kingdom itself reduced in size as it was sub-divided amongst multiple sons in the traditional British fashion.
The mid-fifth century saw these Kings of Ebrauc fighting alongside Anglian mercenaries to keep Pictish invaders away from the city. Continuing the old Roman policy, these Germanic warriors were granted farmland in return for military service. The men of Angeln (in modern Denmark) settled mostly in Deywr - what is now East Yorkshire - but there were others who stayed in York itself. Anglo-Roman pottery has been discovered at the Mount in York, while Germanic cremations excavated at Heworth, only a mile from the Roman fortress, show a large Roman cemetery continuing in use through an unbroken sequence into later centuries. Life alongside these new settlers appears to have been quite peaceful. About a hundred years later, however, King Eliffer Gosgorddfawr (of the Great Army) felt obliged to muster a large armed troop around him - probably at York - in order to ensure that this state of affairs continued. There were more hostile Germanic forces emerging to the north of his territory, on the edge of the British Kingdom of Bryneich (Northumberland). When Eliffer's twin sons, Gwrgi and Peredyr Arueu Dur (Steel-Arms) clashed with these foreign Bernicians around AD 580, at the unlocated Caer-Greu, both were killed, along with much of the Ebraucan nobility. The Germanic settlers of Deywr - or Deira as they themselves knew the Kingdom moved into the subsequent power-vacuum in the area.
In AD 735, Bishop Egbert - a cousin of King Ceolwulf of Northumbria - finally persuaded Pope Gregory III to confirm York's status as an Archiepiscopal See. Unfortunately, the Minster appears to have suffered a serious fire soon afterward, on 23rd April AD 741, though associated monastic buildings were apparently spared. It may have had some connection with King Aethelbald of Mercia's attacks on the kingdom the previous year. The church was later rebuilt by Archbishop Albert. Archbishop Egbert also founded the cathedral school which became such a renowned International centre of learning that it earnt the city the name of Altera Roma, the Alternate Rome. Its former pupil and master, Alcuin (AD 737-804) was the dominant intellectual of 8th century Europe and the library he gathered at York was famous throughout the World. It consisted of many works of the fathers and later Latin poets as well as books on philosophy and grammar. A copy of Cassiodorus' 'Commentary on the Psalms' may survive in the Cathedral Library at Durham, but the majority were destroyed during the burning of the city in 1069. Alcuin taught in Hebrew and Greek, as well as Latin, and his history of York Minster has been called "the first historical epic in an extant Latin literature of the medieval West". In AD 781, he was head-hunted by the Emperor Charlemagne to head-up the school of his Frankish Royal Court at Aachen and, here, he became a central figure in the Carolingian Renaissance.