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Leicestershire (lĕsˈtərshĭr) [key], county (1991 pop. 860,500), 832 sq mi (2,155 sq km), central England. The county seat is at Glenfield; it was formerly Leicester, which is now administratively separate from the county. The county is divided into seven districts: Melton, Charnwood, Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, Blaby, Hinckley and Bosworth, and North West Leicestershire. Fertile farming land exists in the uplands of the east, while the west is devoted mainly to industry and some mining. The hilly Charnwood Forest is in the north. The Soar and the Wreak are the principal rivers.

Leicestershire is primarily an agricultural county (sheep, dairy cattle, wheat, and barley). Stilton cheese is a well-known dairy product of the region. Leicester is an important industrial city and the center of the boot and shoe industry. Loughborough and Hinckley also have industrial concentrations, and Plungar has an oil field.

Leicestershire was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. At Bosworth Field, in 1485, Richard III was slain by the forces of Henry Tudor, who ascended the throne as Henry VII. In 1974, Leicestershire was reorganized as a nonmetropolitan county.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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