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Poole's growing importance was recognised in 1433 when it was awarded staple port status by King Henry VI, enabling the port to begin exporting wool and in turn granting a licence for the construction of a town wall.
Poole escaped any large-scale attack and with the Royalists on the brink of defeat in 1646, the Parliamentary garrison from Poole laid siege to and captured the nearby Royalist stronghold at Corfe Castle.
The town has a commercial port with cross-Channel freight and passenger ferry services.
The headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) are in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town's harbour.
Poole experienced two large-scale Viking invasions during this era: in 876, Guthrum sailed his fleet through the harbour to attack Wareham, and in 1015, Canute began his conquest of England in Poole Harbour, using it as a base to raid and pillage Wessex.
Consequently, Poole gained a small measure of freedom from feudal rule and acquired the right to appoint a mayor and hold a court within town.
Although Poole did not become a resort like many of its neighbours, it continued to prosper as the rapid expansion of Bournemouth created a large demand for goods manufactured in Poole.
Much of the town suffered from German bombing during the war and years of neglect in the post-war economic decline.
Human settlement in the area dates back to before the Iron Age.
Despite their names, Poole is the home of The Arts University Bournemouth, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a significant part of Bournemouth University.