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The city held a weekly market for the benefit of its citizens from at least 1213, and by 1281 Exeter was the only town in the south west to have three market days per week.
There are also records of seven annual fairs, the earliest of which dates from 1130, and all of which continued until at least the early 16th century.
During the high medieval period, both the cathedral clergy and the citizens enjoyed access to sophisticated aqueduct systems which brought pure drinking water into the city from springs in the neighbouring parish of St Sidwell's.
For part of their length, these aqueducts were conveyed through a remarkable network of subterranean tunnels, or underground passages, which survive largely intact and which may still be visited today. In 1549, the city successfully withstood a month-long siege by the so-called Prayer Book rebels: Devon and Cornish folk who had been infuriated by the radical religious policies of King Edward VI.
Nothing is certainly known of Exeter from the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain around the year 410 until around 680 when a document about St Boniface reports that he was educated at an abbey in Exeter.) According to William of Malmesbury, they were sent beyond the River Tamar, which was fixed as the boundary of Devon.
(This may, however, have served as a territorial boundary within the former kingdom of Dumnonia as well.
Exeter began as settlements on a dry ridge ending in a spur overlooking a navigable river teeming with fish, with fertile land nearby.
A number of rebels were executed in the immediate aftermath of the siege.
In 1136, early in the Anarchy, Rougemont Castle was held against King Stephen by Baldwin de Redvers.
Redvers submitted only after a three-month siege, not when the three wells in the castle ran dry, but only after the exhaustion of the large supplies of wine that the garrison was using for drinking, baking, cooking, and putting out fires set by the besiegers.
Thereafter, the city remained firmly under the king’s control until near the end of the war, being one of the final Royalist cities to fall into Parliamentarian hands.
During this period, Exeter was an economically powerful city, with a strong trade of wool.