|City of Exeter|
|Motto: Semper fidelis|
The District of Exeter shown within Devon
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South West England|
|Ceremonial and shire county||Devon|
|City status||Time immemorial|
|- Type||Exeter City Council|
|- Lord Mayor||Paul Smith|
|- Member of Parliament||Ben Bradshaw|
|- HQ||Civic Centre, Paris Street|
|- UK Parliament||Exeter|
|- Total||47.03 km2 (18.2 sq mi)|
|Population (2007 est.)|
|- Density||3,142/km2 (2,602.59/sq mi)|
|- Ethnicity (2001)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC0)|
|- Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
Exeter (pronounced /ˈɛksɨtər/ ( listen)) is an historic city in Devon, England. It is the county town of Devon and as such is home to Devon County Council. Its current formal status is as a non-metropolitan district, and it is therefore under the jurisdiction of the County Council as well as lying within the ceremonial county of Devon. It is located on the River Exe and is approximately 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Plymouth, and 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Bristol. The city had a population of 111,076 in the 2001 Census.
Exeter has been identified as one of the top ten most profitable locations for a business to be based. The city has good transport links, with Exeter St David's railway station, Exeter Central railway station, the M5 motorway and Exeter International Airport connecting the city both nationally and internationally. Although a popular tourist destination, the city is not dominated by tourism.
The favourable location of Exeter, on a dry ridge of land ending in a spur that overlooks a navigable river that was teeming with fish, and with fertile land nearby, suggests that it would have been a site that was occupied early. The discovery of coins dating from the Hellenistic period in the city indicates the existence of a settlement that was trading with the Mediterranean region as early as 250 BC.
The Latin name for Exeter, Isca Dumnoniorum ("Isca of the Dumnones"), suggests that the city was of Celtic origin. This oppidum, (a Latin term meaning an important town), on the banks of the River Exe certainly existed prior to the foundation of the Roman city in about AD 50, however the name may have been suggested by a Celtic adviser to the Romans, rather than by the original inhabitants of the place.
Such early towns, or proto-cities, had been a feature of pre-Roman Gaul as described by Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico ("Commentaries on the Gallic Wars") and it is possible that they existed in neighbouring Great Britain as well. Isca is derived from a Brythonic Celtic word for flowing water, which was given to the Exe and, elsewhere, to the River Usk on which Caerleon in Monmouthshire stands. This element is clearly present in the Modern Welsh names for Exeter (Caer-wysg) and the River Usk (Afon Wysg). The Romans gave the city the name Isca Dumnoniorum in order to distinguish it from Isca Augusta, modern Caerleon.
Significant parts of the Roman wall remain, though most of the visible structure is later. Most of its route can be traced on foot. A substantial Roman baths complex was excavated in the 1970s, but because of its proximity to the cathedral, it was not practicable to retain the excavation for public view. Exeter was also the southern starting point for the Fosse Way Roman road.
More than 1,000 Roman coins have been found in the city indicating its importance as a trading centre. The dates of these coins suggest that the city was at its most prosperous in the first half of the fourth century. However, virtually no coins dated after 380AD have been found, suggesting a rapid decline.
After the Romans left Britain in the early 5th century nothing is known of Exeter for almost 300 years, until around 680 when a document about St Boniface reports that he was educated at the Abbey in Exeter.
The Saxons arrived in Exeter after defeating the Britons at the Battle of Peonnum in Somerset in 658. It is likely that amongst the ruins of the Roman city there was plenty of room for both peoples, and the Saxons allowed the Britons to continue to live in their own quarter of the city under their own laws. This was almost certainly in the same area as the ancient British settlement—in the locality of the present-day Bartholomew Street. Until 1637 this street was known as Britayne in memory of the fact that it was once the British quarter.
In 876 Exeter (then known as Escanceaster) was attacked and briefly captured by the Danes. Alfred the Great drove them out the next summer, and in the following years made Exeter one of the four burhs in Devon, repairing the Roman city walls in the process. In 893 the city held off another siege by the Danes.
In about 928 King Athelstan caused the walls to be thoroughly repaired and at the same time drove out the Britons from the city. It is not known whether or not these Britons had lived in the city continuously since Roman times—they may have been immigrants from the countryside when Alfred made the city a burh. According to William of Malmesbury, they were sent beyond the River Tamar, thereby fixing that river as the boundary of Devonshire, though Athelstan may have been restoring an old Dumnonian boundary. The quarter vacated by the Britons was then apparently adapted as "the earl's burh", and was still named Irlesberi in the 12th century.
In 1001 the Danes again failed to get into the city, but they were able to plunder it in 1003 because they were let in, for unknown reasons, by the French reeve of Emma of Normandy, who had been given the city as part of her dowry on her marriage to Æthelred the Unready the previous year.
In 1067, possibly because Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, mother of King Harold, was living in the city, Exeter rebelled against William the Conqueror who promptly marched west and laid siege. After 18 days William accepted the city's honourable surrender in which he swore an oath not to harm the city or increase its ancient tribute. However, William quickly arranged for the building of Rougemont Castle to ensure the city's compliance in future. Properties owned by Saxon landlords were transferred into Norman hands, and on the death of Bishop Leofric in 1072, the Norman Osbern FitzOsbern was appointed his successor.
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 once the large supplies of wine in the garrison that they were using for drinking, baking, cooking and for putting out the fires started by the besiegers, were exhausted.
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.
In 1537, the city was made a county corporate. In 1549 the city successfully withstood a month-long siege by the Prayer Book rebels. The Livery Dole Almshouses and Chapel at Heavitree were founded in March 1591 and finished in 1594. They can still be seen today in the street which bears the name Livery Dole.
The city's motto, Semper fidelis, is traditionally held to have been suggested by Elizabeth I, in acknowledgement of the city's contribution of ships to help defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588; however its first documented use is in 1660.
Exeter was at first a Parliamentary town in the English Civil War in the largely Royalist South West, but it was captured by the Royalists on 4 September 1643 and it remained in their control until near the end of the war, being one of the final Royalist cities to fall into Parliamentary hands. During this period, Exeter was an economically powerful city, with a strong trade of wool. This was partly due to the surrounding area which was "more fertile and better inhabited than that passed over the preceding day" according to Count Lorenzo Magalotti who visited the city when he was 26 years old. Magalotti writes of over thirty thousand people being employed in the county of Devon as part of the wool and cloth industries, merchandise that was sold to "the West Indies, Spain, France and Italy". Celia Fiennes also visited Exeter during this period, in the early 1700s. She remarked on the "vast trade" and "incredible quantity" in Exeter, recording that "it turns the most money in a week of anything in England", between £10,000—£15,000.
Early in the Industrial Revolution, Exeter's industry developed on the basis of locally available agricultural products and, since the city's location on a fast-flowing river gave it ready access to water power, an early industrial site developed on drained marshland to the west of the city, at Exe Island. However when steam power replaced water in the 19th century, Exeter was too far from sources of coal (or iron) to develop further. As a result the city declined in relative importance, and was spared the rapid 19th century development that changed many historic European cities. Extensive canal redevelopments during this period further expanded Exeter's economy, with "vessels of 15 to 16 tons burthen [bringing] up goods and merchandise from Topsham to the City Quay".
The first railway to arrive in Exeter was the Bristol and Exeter Railway that opened a station at St Davids on the western edge in 1844. The South Devon Railway Company extended the line westwards to Plymouth, opening their own smaller station at St Thomas, near the lower end of Fore Street. A more central railway station, that at Queen Street, was opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1860 when it opened its alternative route to London.
In 1832, the pestilence cholera, which had been erupting all across Europe had reached Exeter. The only known documentation of this event was written by Dr Thomas Shapter, one of the medical doctors present during the epidemic.
Exeter was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War, when a total of 18 raids between 1940 and 1942 flattened much of the city centre. In 1942, as part of the Baedeker Blitz and specifically in response to the RAF bombing of Lübeck, forty acres (160,000 m2) of the city, particularly adjacent to its central High Street and Sidwell Street, were levelled by incendiary bombing. Many historic buildings were destroyed, and others, including the grand Cathedral of St Peter in the heart of the city, were damaged.
Large areas of the city were rebuilt in the 1950s, when little attempt was made to preserve Exeter's ancient heritage. Damaged buildings were generally demolished rather than restored, and even the street plan was altered in an attempt to improve traffic circulation. The post-war buildings are generally perceived as being of little architectural merit, unlike many of those that they replaced, such as Bedford Circus and a section of the ancient city wall.
Despite some local opposition, the Princesshay shopping centre has been redeveloped between the Cathedral Close and the High Street. The development was completed and opened on time on 20 September 2007. There are 123 varied residential units incorporated into the new Princesshay.
In order to enable people with limited mobility to enjoy the city, Exeter Community Transport Association provides shopmobility for use by anyone suffering from short or long-term mobility impairment to access to the city centre and shopping facilities, events and meetings with friends and company.
Previously regarded as second only to Bath as an architectural site in southern England, since the 1942 bombing and subsequent reconstruction Exeter has been a city with some beautiful buildings rather than a beautiful city. As a result, although there is a significant tourist trade, Exeter is not dominated by tourism. In May 2008 there was an attempted terrorist attack on the Giraffe cafe in Princesshay.
Exeter forms a single parliamentary constituency. It is relatively marginal, and since World War II its Member of Parliament has usually been drawn from the governing party. At the United Kingdom general election, 1997, Ben Bradshaw was elected as MP for Exeter, and he retained the seat at the elections of 2001 and 2005. Exeter is part of the South West England European constituency, which elects 7 MEPs.
Exeter's city council is a district authority, and shares responsibility for local government with the Devon County Council. Since 2003, no party has had a majority on the council. Exeter City Council's bid for the city to become a Unitary Authority was approved by ministers in February 2010. If Parliament vote in approval and it becomes law, the new authority could start transitions in 2011.
Exeter has had a mayor since at least 1207 and until 2002, the city was the oldest 'Right Worshipful' Mayoralty in England. As part of the Queen's 2002 Golden Jubilee celebrations Exeter was chosen to receive the title of Lord Mayor. Councillor Granville Baldwin became the first Lord Mayor of Exeter on 1 May 2002 when Letters Patent were awarded to the city during a visit by the Queen. The Lord Mayor is elected each year from amongst the 40 Exeter city councillors and is non-political for the term of office.
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary have their headquarters based at Middlemoor in the east of the city.
The city of Exeter was established on the eastern bank of the River Exe on a ridge of land backed by a steep hill. It is at this point that the Exe, having just been joined by the River Creedy, opens onto a wide flood plain and estuary which results in quite common flooding. Historically this was the lowest bridging point of the River Exe which was tidal and navigable up to the city until the construction of weirs later in its history. This combined with the easily defensible higher ground of the ridge made the current location of the city a natural choice for settlement and trade. In George Oliver's The History of the City of Exeter, it is noted that the most likely reasons for the original settling of what would become modern Exeter was the "fertility of the surrounding countryside" and the area's "beautiful and commanding elevation [and] its rapid and navigable river". Its woodland would also have been ideal for natural resources and hunting.
Exeter sits predominantly on sandstone and conglomerate geology, although the structure of the surrounding areas is varied. The topography of the ridge which forms the backbone of the city includes a volcanic plug, on which the Rougemont Castle is situated. The Cathedral is located on the edge of this ridge and is therefore visible for a considerable distance.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The city has been expanding in size quite considerably in recent years, with a population estimate of 119,600 in 2006, up over 8,000 from the census in 2001. The racial makeup of the city is as follows (2005 Estimates):
The city provides strong industries and services to a sizable area. The Met Office, the main weather forecasting organisation for the United Kingdom and one of the most significant in the world, relocated from Bracknell in Berkshire to Exeter in early 2004. It is one of the three largest employers in the area (together with the University of Exeter and Devon County Council).
The city centre provides substantial shopping facilities. The High Street is mainly devoted to branches of national chains: A NEF survey in 2005 rated Exeter as the worst example of a clone town in the UK, with only a single independent store in the city's High Street, and less diversity (in terms of different categories of shop) than any other town surveyed. Three significant shopping areas that connect to the High Street provide a somewhat more varied menu. Princesshay, a post-war retail area connecting to the south side of the High Street was home to a number of independent stores prior to redevelopment in 2007, but is now also largely occupied by national chains. It is an innovative varied development and it is still intended that a number of the new units will be let to local independent stores. On the other side of the High Street, the partly undercover Guildhall shopping centre (a 1970s reconstruction following the second world war bombing) houses a mixture of national and more regional shops, and connects to the wholly enclosed Harlequins centre where smaller businesses predominate. Smaller streets off the High Street such as Gandy Street also offer a range of independent shops.
On 26 June 2004, Exeter was granted Fairtrade City status.
Among the notable buildings in Exeter are:
Many of these are built in the local dark red sandstone, which gives its name to the castle and the park that now surrounds it (Rougemont means red hill). The pavements on Queen Street are composed of the rock Diorite and exhbit some fine feldspar crystals, while those around Princesshay are composed of Granodiorite
Northernhay Gardens located just outside the castle, is the oldest public open space in the whole of England, being originally laid out in 1612 as a pleasure walk for Exeter residents. Much of Northernhay Gardens now represent Victorian design, with a beautiful display of trees, mature shrubs and bushes and plenty of flower beds. There are also many statues here, most importantly the war memorial by John Angel and the Deerstalker by E.B. Stephens. The Volunteer Memorial from 1895, also in the gardens, commemorates the formation of the 1st Rifle Volunteers in 1852. Other statues include John Dinham, Thomas Dyke Acland and Stafford Northcote (a local landowner who was a Victorian Chancellor of the Exchequer).
The M5 motorway to Bristol and Birmingham starts at Exeter, and connects at Bristol with the M4 to London and South Wales. The older A30 road provides a more direct route to London via the A303 and M3. The M5 is the modern lowest bridging point of the River Exe. Going westwards, the A38 connects Exeter to Plymouth and south east Cornwall, whilst the A30 continues via Okehampton to north and west Cornwall. Travel by car in the city is often difficult with regular jams centred on the Exe Bridges area. To address the problem, Devon County Council is considering the introduction of congestion charges.
Exeter's main operator of local buses is Stagecoach South West, which operates most of the services in the city. Dartline is a minor operator in the City. Former Cooks Coaches were taken over by Stagecoach forming Stagecoach South West. Western Greyhound is also a main operator connecting Exeter to Cornwall, Somerset and many different places in South West England. The High Street, pedestrianised except for bus and bicycle traffic, serves as the main hub for local buses. Country and express services operate from the city's bus station, in Paris Street, which intersects the High Street at its eastern end; some also call at Exeter St Davids railway station for direct connection to train services. Country bus services, mostly operated by Stagecoach, run from Exeter to most places in East and North Devon, but some are very infrequent. Regional express services run to Plymouth, Torbay, Bude, and along the Jurassic Coast to Lyme Regis and Weymouth, some operated by Stagecoach and others by First Bus. National Express operates long distance routes, for example to Heathrow and London.
There are two main line railway routes from Exeter to London, the faster route via Taunton to London Paddington and the slower West of England Main Line via Salisbury to London Waterloo. Another main line, the Cross-Country Route, links Exeter with Bristol, Birmingham, the Midlands, Leeds, Northern England, and Scotland. Many trains on all three lines continue westwards from Exeter, variously serving Torbay, Plymouth and Cornwall. Local branch lines run to Paignton (see Riviera Line), Exmouth (see Avocet Line) and Barnstaple (see Tarka Line). There is also a summer weekend service to Okehampton for access to Dartmoor. Exeter is served by two main railway stations. Exeter St Davids is served by all services, whilst Exeter Central is more convenient for the city centre but served only by local services and the main line route to London Waterloo. There are also six suburban stations, Topsham, St James Park, Exeter St Thomas, Polsloe Bridge, Pinhoe and Digby & Sowton, served only by local services.
Exeter International Airport lies east of the city and the local airline, previously called Jersey European and British European but now known as Flybe, is a significant local employer. The airport offers a range of scheduled flights to UK and Irish regional airports and charter flights including a seasonal service to Toronto, Canada. Connections to international hubs began with Paris Charles de Gaulle in 2005 and later a daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
The Exeter Canal was built in 1558, making it one of the oldest artificial waterways in Britain. It was cut to bypass weirs that had been built across the River Exe to prevent trade in the city and to force boats to unload at Topsham from where the Earls of Devon were able to exact large tolls to transport goods to Exeter. Originally 3 feet deep and 16 feet wide (0.9 m by 5 m), it ran 1.75 miles (2.8 km) from just below the Countess Weir to the centre of Exeter. It was later extended to Topsham, deepened and widened, and was successful until the middle of the 19th century since when its use gradually declined – the last commercial use was in 1972. However it is now widely used for leisure purposes, and the city basin is being included as part of a £24 million redevelopment scheme.
West Exe Technology College is the largest school in Exeter, and is achieving the second highest exam results in the county of Devon.
There are many churches in Exeter belonging to different Christian denominations and an Anglican cathedral. It is the seat of the Bishop of Exeter. The present building was complete by about 1400, and has the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England, and other notable features. The Anglican churches form the Exeter Deanery
There is also a synagogue on Mary Arches Street – the third oldest in England, built in 1761. Exeter's mosque & Islamic Centre is on York Road, and serves the Southwest region as well as the city. There are plans to construct a purpose-built mosque on the same site.
According to the last census, in 2001 69.12% of the population stated their religion as Christian, which is lower than the regional average of 73.99% and the national average of 71.74%. All other religions were under 1%, which was slighter higher than regional averages, although much lower than national averages, except for Buddhism, which was slightly higher than the average. 20.45% stated as having no religion, which was higher than the regional average of 16.75% and the national average of 14.59 and the percentage of people not stating their religion was also slightly higher.
The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust has a large hospital located to the south east of the city centre. Ambulance services in Exeter are provided by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. The West Trust Divisional HQ and 999 control is in Exeter which provides cover for Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and the Isles of Scilly.
The Exeter Book, an original manuscript and one of the most important documents in Anglo-Saxon literature, is kept in the vaults of the cathedral. The Exeter Book dates back to the 10th century and is one of four manuscripts that between them contain virtually all the surviving poetry in Old English. It includes most of the more highly regarded shorter poems, some religious pieces, and a series of riddles, a handful of which are famously lewd. Some of the riddles are inscribed on a highly polished steel obelisk in the High Street, placed on 30 March 2005.
The Inquisitio Eliensis, the "Exon Domesday" (so called from the preservation of the volume at Exeter), is a volume of Domesday Book that contains the full details which the original returns supplied.
The Northcott Theatre is located on the campus of the university and is one of relatively few provincial English theatres to maintain its own repertory company. Its annual open air Shakespeare performance in the grounds of Rougemont Castle is well regarded nationally. This theatre is the successor to the former Theatre Royal, Exeter.
There are also two other theatre buildings. The Barnfield Theatre was converted in 1972 from the Barnfield Hall which was built towards the end of the 19th century by Exeter Literary Society. The theatre is a charity and is used as a venue for both amateur and professional theatrical companies. In January 2007 it received £200,000, about the same as the original cost to build it, to refurbish its interior. The New Theatre is the home of the Cygnet Training Theatre, a member of the Conference of Drama Schools. In addition, more innovative and contemporary performances, theatrical productions and dance pieces are programmed by Exeter Phoenix off Gandy Street in the City centre.
Exeter has a diverse and thriving music scene for a city of its size.
Exeter is the county town of Devon and historically the administrative capital of the south-west peninsula. Once among the 5 largest and most important cities in England but now relatively small and sleepy. A historic mid-sized cathedral city with a good blend of arts, education and economy.
In AD 50 a Roman military base was built at a strategic crossing point on the banks of the river Exe, seven years after the main Roman invasion of Britain. The settlement quickly gained in importance as the administrative centre for the Dunmommi tribe once the legionnaires left. Indeed, it's Roman name, Isca Dumnomiorum, means "town of the Dunmommi tribe". Parts of the original Roman walls can still be seen today. The city continued to hold regional significance through the turbulent Dark Ages, being twice captured by the invading Vikings. Following the Norman Conquest, the inhabitants rebelled against William the Conqueror, who laid siege and subsequently built Rougemount Castle to ensure future compliance. During the renaissance period it developed into an economically powerful city through the wool industry, and a period of rapid growth commenced. Later, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, industry was driven by water power from the River Exe. It remained a significant seaport (courtesy of its Ship Canal) until the age of steam, but there was no major industrialisation in the later 19th century. The city was badly damaged in an incendiary bombing raid on the High Street and surrounding areas in 1942, and although post-war reconstruction has been limited, a number of interesting buildings remain.
Now Exeter is the commercial and service centre for a largely agricultural hinterland, with a population of around 110,000. Adequate facilities for tourists exist, but tourism does not dominate; regularly voted among the top 3 cities in the UK for quality of life.
UK Domestic flights operated by flybe to Exeter International Airport are available from the following destinations;
Skybus also operates services to and from St. Mary's - Scilly Isles (ISC) during the summer.
International flights to Exeter operated by flybe. are available from the following destinations;
Air Transat also operates a scheduled service to Toronto, Canada. There are charter flights to many holiday destinations.
Transport to and from the airport is by public bus or taxi. Buses run fairly frequently, with a twenty minute trip to the city centre bus station, and costs about £3.00 single. A taxi costs between £10.00 and £20.00.
Exeter is on the London Paddington to Cornwall line, with a train roughly every hour from Paddington to Exeter through most of the day. Exeter St. Davids is the main train station, a 15 minute walk or bus journey to the city centre. Several smaller stations for local and regional trains exist, including Central, St Thomas and St James's Park. Central station is just a 5 minute walk into the city centre along Queen Street. The journey time from London Paddington to Exeter St. Davids is anywhere between 2 and 3 hours, with the average being around 2 hours 30 minutes. There is also a slower service from London Waterloo via Salisbury, about every 2 hours, which can take up to 4 hours. This service calls at Central station as well as St David's. National services are also run to Bristol, South Wales, Birmingham, the north of England and Scotland; service to Bristol is approximately hourly. Local trains run to Barnstaple and Exmouth as well as along the main lines.
National Express operates a number of bus services from points around the United Kingdom that arrive at the city's bus and coach station,in Paris Street, only a few minutes walk to the main shopping area in High Street and the cathedral green.
Two companies run coaches between Exeter coach station and London's Victoria Coach Station. National Express offers a nine times a day service (Service Numbers 501, 404 & 406) with some advance fares as low as £2.00 return, and Megabus runs once a day starting at £1.50.
The central area of the city is fairly small, so it is easy to get around on foot. Buses within the city are operated by Stagecoach Devon, who also operate buses to most regional destinations. A day pass costs £3.50, 1 week passes are £12.00. Some regional routes are operated by FirstBus, and by small independent operators. Cycle paths of varying quality run through the city. The most scenic route runs along the canal towpath.
What follows is a small selection of the city's restaurants; the national chains of Pizza houses etc are also well represented, some of them in attractive settings e.g. ASK and Pizza Express on Cathedral Green, and Zizzi's in Gandy Street. The suburb of Topsham also has a good range of resturaunts.
Exeter is very safe compared to other cities in the UK. There is a slight likelihood that you will be asked for money by homeless people at some point, but most of them are not aggressive and will simply move onto the next person if you give them a 'No, sorry.'
The local newspaper is the Express and Echo, published Monday to Saturday. It is a good source for local events listings. The Exeter Flying Post offers alternative editorial views.
One of the main pulling points for the city is the ease in which one can get out of the urban environment and into the countryside. Exeter is a convenient gateway to Dartmoor, Plymouth and the rest of Devon and Cornwall.
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Exeter was built by the Romans, who called it Isca Dumnoniorum. After the Romans left and the Anglo-Saxons moved in in the seventh century, the name changed to Exeter.
Later Exeter was a centre of resistance to the Norman conquest.