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The port developed in the 11th century around the confluence of the Rivers Frome and Avon, adjacent to Bristol Bridge just outside the town walls. By the 12th century Bristol was an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland, including slaves. There was also an important Jewish community in Bristol from the late 12th century through to the late 13th century when all Jews were expelled from England. The stone bridge built in 1247 was replaced by the current bridge during the 1760s. The town incorporated neighbouring suburbs and became a county in 1373, the first town in England to be given this status. During this period, Bristol became a shipbuilding and manufacturing centre. By the 14th century Bristol, York and Norwich were England's largest medieval towns after London. One-third to one-half of the population died in the Black Death of 1348–49, which checked population growth, and its population remained between 10,000 and 12,000 for most of the 15th and 16th centuries.

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