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The area has been inhabited for a long time, such as the Roman harbor at Portus Adurni Port Chester, somewhat north of Portsmouth. The city was probably founded in 1180 by the Norman Count Jean de Gisors, former dating is uncertain because of limited documentation from this period. The town received its first Royal Charter in 1194 by Richard the Lionheart with rights to hold markets and thus became one borough.

Already around 1200, King Johan docks for building ships to a planned invasion of Normandy. A hospital was established, and the city was the starting point for England's troops in the war against France. This meant that the town was attacked and destroyed repeatedly by the French through the 1300s.

Under King Henry V in the early 1400s began to build fortifications and the city was now seriously established as the home port for England sjøfosvar. In 1600, the country's marine form. The city's importance is closely linked to the British Navy's emergence during the many wars, especially the Napoleonic Wars, but also in connection with the establishment of the British colonies. The dock construction, shipbuilding and manufacturing parts for ships lifted the city's trade and production. It was one of the first places where the shift from manufakur to industrial production in the early 1800s just to equip the Royal Navy.

At the beginning of World War II, the city was subjected to a number of German bomb attack that damaged the harbor, industrial and historical center. Later in the war invasion fleet sailed to the D-day for a large part of Portsmouth.

Genoppbyggingen of Portsmouth was done in part without taking into account the historical city. Typical apartment buildings outside the city was built. More recently, attempts have been made to reverse some of the mistakes of that time. A landmark for Portsmouth was the 170 meter high Spinnaker Tower at the entrance to the harbor.

Lord Nelson's line HMS "Victory" is in Portsmouth as a museum ship.

Soccer team Portsmouth FC play in the Football League Championship and has its home at Fratton Park.
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