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Henry II came to the throne in 1154 and with him came a new era of development and prosperity. With the wool came the cloth industry, and Shrewsbury wasn't alone in seeing a new merchant class emerge. For Shrewsbury, it was a time of imports, too, as leather imported from Cordova was used in a thriving leather industry in Frankwell.
Henry visited Shrewsbury in 1158, on his way to Wales, and he obviously saw the importance of this Marches town as he was responsible for rebuilding thecastle in stone.
It was an era of charters, through which Shrewsbury became 'independent' from the Crown. Such charters gave a town the right to collect dues, elect officials, set up guilds and hold markets. - The earliest still in existence was granted by Richard I in 1189.
By the end of Richard's reign Shrewsbury had a number of industries protected and guarded by a Merchant Guild. The trades included tanners skinners, shoe, glove and purse makers, parchment dealers, wood, metal, stone, and horn craftsmen, drapers, tailors, as well as the trades relating to defence, such as armourers, bowyers, fletchers and farriers, and trades relating to the all important river such as boat building and sail making, as well as the day to day crafts relating to the production of food.
In 1199, John came to the throne, and, as A.A.Milne wrote in one of his poems, 'King John was not a good man.' But it didn't need a 'good man' to realise that there would soon be trouble with the Welsh. Seven years earlier, Llewelyn the Great called a parliament of all the Welsh lords and they agreed to restore Wales to its original boundaries. They even got the Pope on their side and he granted their request to withdraw their oaths of fealty to the English King. King John tried to calm the situation by marrying his daughter, Joan, to Llewelyn, even giving him the lordship of Ellesmere as dowry. But in 1211, Llewelyn declared war against the English king.
In an effort to strengthen support in The Marches, John granted further charters to Shrewsbury which included the right to take tolls on 'imports' from Wales, including their all important wool trade. John attacked Llewelyn, and lost, then the following year he brought a bigger army to Wales and this time it was Llewelyn's turn to be on the loosing side and he used his wife to sue for peace. But Llewelyn didn't take defeat happily, and in 1213 he raised another army, and two years later he took Shrewsbury. For the next seventy years, Shrewsbury was a frontier town as the surrounding countryside and even the town were ever at the mercy of the marauding Welsh. In 1216, King John died and he was succeeded by Henry III. In 1237 Llewelyn was succeeded by first his son and then his grandsons, but still the unrest went on. During those years Shrewsbury's castle was continually being strengthened and the town must have been more 'garrison' than 'civilian'.
But in 1283, by which time Edward I was on the throne an event happened in Shrewsbury which was to see the end of one era and the beginning of another. In 1283, Edward I summoned the first Parliament to meet where commoners were represented, and it met in Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury was one of twenty important towns instructed to send two representatives, and each Sheriff sent two knights. One of the first tasks of this new style parliament, from which the present House of Commons is descended, was to decide the fate of Prince David, grandson of Llewelyn the Great, who languished in Shrewsbury Castle.
His crimes included being a traitor and committing murder on Palm Sunday. His punishment was absolute. He was dragged through the town behind a horse, then, at the top of Pride Hill, he was hung and quartered. With this public and bloody act the Border Wars came to an end, and Shrewsbury reached another mile stone it its chequered history.