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University of York

Discover the Hidden History of York

University of York via FutureLearn


Uncover fascinating facts about the city of York, from medieval times to today

York is a city bursting with engaging and unusual episodes from its rich and diverse history.

On this three-week course, you’ll delve into the city’s past and learn about some of the most interesting events and people to have contributed to York’s story.

Discover York’s secret history and its part in shaping modern Britain

From medieval mystery plays, religious crimes, and brutal punishments in the early modern period, to the emergence of a world-leading chocolate industry in the nineteenth century, you’ll learn how key events that played out in York helped define movements in a wider British context.

You’ll be introduced to key figures including Joan of Leeds and Margaret Clitherow, and discover their fascinating stories.

With this localised understanding of history, you’ll be able to draw parallels with religious reformation, industrialisation, and colonial movements across the British Empire, and frame York as a microcosm of British history.

Explore the rise of York’s chocolate empire and its role in the history of chocolate

Rowntree’s are synonymous with sweet treats and recognised as one of the titans of chocolate production.

Discover how a local family established an edible empire and cemented the city’s reputation within the chocolate industry.

Examine historical sources direct from the archives at the University of York

With access to artefacts from the Borthwick Institute for Archives, you’ll be able to investigate primary sources that bring the past to life.

You’ll develop your academic research skills while gaining insights into historical York from the people who were there.

By the end of this course, you’ll have gained an understanding of York’s history and how its people and its past have contributed to a national identity and narrative.

This course is designed for prospective students considering an undergraduate history degree at the University of York, or those with an interest in the local history of the city.


  • Everyday Life in Late Medieval York
    • Welcome and introduction
    • An introduction to the first week
    • Joan of Leeds
    • Immigration in Late Medieval York
    • The Corpus Christi Play
    • End of week quiz and wrap-up
  • Crime in Early Modern York
    • An introduction to the second week of the course
    • Pilgrimage of Grace
    • Margaret Clitherow
    • The York Cause Papers
    • Week 2 quiz
  • York's Chocolate Empire
    • Rowntree and the chocolate industry in York
    • Chocolate and colonialism
    • Race and gender in Rowntree advertising
    • Rowntree in the 21st century
    • Drawing things to a close

Taught by

Tim Wingard


3.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 149 ratings

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