After recovering from the Danish invasions it suffered in the latter part of the Saxon period, Oxford continued it’s growth and importance right into what is now known as the Medieval age. Not all ran smoothly however, as in 1138 the city suffered a huge fire which effectively burnt it to the ground.
From the Medieval age, and still very visible is Oxford Castle, originally built by Norman lord, Robert D’Oily in 1071.
In the winter of 1142, Oxford Castle became the scene of a seige when it was home to Queen Maud (Matilda), during her struggle with King Stephen. The queen only escaped the castle after her guards lowered her over the walls and, in a white dress which effectively camoflauged her against the backdrop of winter snow, she crept through enemy lines and across the Castle Mill stream to freedom.
The Black Death
Oxford was hit hard by the plague (1348–1350) and during this time the local colleges kept country houses outside of the city where scholars could flee, no such opportunities for the ordinary resident, however. As a result, Oxford’s population dropped dramatically during this period, and the colleges took full and grisly advantage of the fact by buying up vacant property and greatly expanding their holdings within Oxford.