History of England

History of England

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The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, a country within the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, was inhabited by Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

s 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last glacial period. The region has numerous remains from the Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

, Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

, and Bronze Age
Bronze Age Britain
Bronze Age Britain refers to the period of British history that spanned from c. 2,500 until c. 800 BC. Lasting for approximately 1700 years, it was preceded by the era of Neolithic Britain and was in turn followed by the era of Iron Age Britain...

, such as Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 and Avebury
Avebury
Avebury is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles which is located around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, south west England. Unique amongst megalithic monuments, Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe, and is one of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain...

. In the Iron Age
British Iron Age
The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron-Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ireland, and which had an independent Iron Age culture of...

, England, like all of Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 south of the Firth of Forth
Firth of Forth
The Firth of Forth is the estuary or firth of Scotland's River Forth, where it flows into the North Sea, between Fife to the north, and West Lothian, the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian to the south...

, was inhabited by the Celtic people known as the Britons
Britons (historical)
The Britons were the Celtic people culturally dominating Great Britain from the Iron Age through the Early Middle Ages. They spoke the Insular Celtic language known as British or Brythonic...

, but also by some Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

 tribes (e.g. the Atrebates
Atrebates
The Atrebates were a Belgic tribe of Gaul and Britain before the Roman conquests.- Name of the tribe :Cognate with Old Irish aittrebaid meaning 'inhabitant', Atrebates comes from proto-Celtic *ad-treb-a-t-es, 'inhabitants'. The Celtic root is treb- 'building', 'home' The Atrebates (singular...

, the Catuvellauni
Catuvellauni
The Catuvellauni were a tribe or state of south-eastern Britain before the Roman conquest.The fortunes of the Catuvellauni and their kings before the conquest can be traced through numismatic evidence and scattered references in classical histories. They are mentioned by Dio Cassius, who implies...

, the Trinovantes
Trinovantes
The Trinovantes or Trinobantes were one of the tribes of pre-Roman Britain. Their territory was on the north side of the Thames estuary in current Essex and Suffolk, and included lands now located in Greater London. They were bordered to the north by the Iceni, and to the west by the Catuvellauni...

, etc.) in the south east. In AD 43 the Roman conquest of Britain
Roman conquest of Britain
The Roman conquest of Britain was a gradual process, beginning effectively in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Britannia. Great Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions, planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and...

 began; the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 maintained control of their province of Britannia
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 through to the 5th century.

The end of Roman rule in Britain enabled the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain
Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain
The Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain was the invasion and migration of Germanic peoples from continental Europe to Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages, specifically the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain after the demise of Roman rule in the 5th century.The stimulus, progression and...

, which is often regarded as the origin of England and the English people
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

. The Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

, a collection of various Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

, established several kingdoms that became the primary powers in what is now England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and parts of southern Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. They introduced the Old English language, which displaced the previous British language. The Anglo-Saxons warred with British successor states in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, and the Hen Ogledd
Hen Ogledd
Yr Hen Ogledd is a Welsh term used by scholars to refer to those parts of what is now northern England and southern Scotland in the years between 500 and the Viking invasions of c. 800, with particular interest in the Brythonic-speaking peoples who lived there.The term is derived from heroic...

(Old North; the Brythonic
Brythonic languages
The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

-speaking parts of northern England and southern Scotland), as well as with each other. Raids by the Vikings were frequent after about AD 800, and the Norsemen
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 took control of large parts of what is now England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. During this period several rulers attempted to unite the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, an effort that led to the emergence of the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 by the 10th century.

In 1066, the Normans invaded and conquered England
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

. There was much civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 and battles with other nations throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state until the reign of Richard I who made it a vassal of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 in 1194. In 1212 during the reign of his brother John Lackland the Kingdom instead became a tribute-paying vassal of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

  until the 16th century when Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

. During the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, England was ruled by the Tudors
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

. England had conquered Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 in the 12th century and was then united with Scotland in the early 18th century to form a new sovereign state called Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. Following the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, Great Britain ruled a worldwide Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, the largest in the world. Following a process of decolonization
Decolonization
Decolonization refers to the undoing of colonialism, the unequal relation of polities whereby one people or nation establishes and maintains dependent Territory over another...

 in the 20th century the vast majority of the empire became independent; however, its cultural impact is widespread and deep in many countries of the present day.

Prehistory




Archaeological evidence indicates that what was later southern Britannia
Britannia
Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a female personification of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the...

 was colonised by humans long before the rest of the British Isles because of its more hospitable climate between and during the various glacial period
Glacial period
A glacial period is an interval of time within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate within an ice age...

s of the distant past. The Sweet Track
Sweet Track
The Sweet Track is an ancient causeway in the Somerset Levels, England. It was built in 3807 or 3806 BC and has been claimed to be the oldest road in the world. It was the oldest timber trackway discovered in Northern Europe until the 2009 discovery of a 6,000 year-old trackway in Belmarsh Prison...

 in the Somerset Levels
Somerset Levels
The Somerset Levels, or the Somerset Levels and Moors as they are less commonly but more correctly known, is a sparsely populated coastal plain and wetland area of central Somerset, South West England, between the Quantock and Mendip Hills...

 is the oldest timber trackway
Timber trackway
A timber trackway was typically used as the shortest route between two places in a bog or peatland and have been built for thousands of years as a means of getting between two points. Timber trackways have been identified in archaeological finds in Neolithic England, dating to 500 years before...

 discovered in Northern Europe and among the oldest roads in the world, and was built in 3807 or 3806 BC.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, that were originally compiled on the orders of King Alfred the Great, approximately A.D. 890, and subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12th century starts with this sentence: “The island Britain is 800 miles long, and 200 miles broad, and there are in the island five nations; English, Welsh (or British), Scottish, Pictish, and Latin. The first inhabitants were the Britons, who came from Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, and first peopled Britain southward.” (The Saxon compiler may have mistakenly written Armenia for Armorica
Armorica
Armorica or Aremorica is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul that includes the Brittany peninsula and the territory between the Seine and Loire rivers, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic coast...

, a geographic region occupied by Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 during the first century A.D, and now modern day Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

.)

The first historical mention of the region is from the Massaliote Periplus
Massaliote Periplus
The Massaliote Periplus or Massaliot Periplus is the name of a now-lost merchants' handbook possibly dating to as early as the 6th century BC describing the sea routes used by traders from Phoenicia and Tartessus in their journeys around Iron Age Europe...

, a sailing manual for merchants thought to date to the 6th century BC, although cultural and trade links with the continent had existed for millennia prior to this. Pytheas of Massilia wrote of his trading journey to the island around 325 BC.

Later writers such as Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 (quoting Timaeus
Timaeus (historian)
Timaeus , ancient Greek historian, was born at Tauromenium in Sicily. Driven out of Sicily by Agathocles, he migrated to Athens, where he studied rhetoric under a pupil of Isocrates and lived for fifty years...

) and Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 (probably drawing on Poseidonius) mention the tin trade from southern Britain, but there is little further historical detail of the people who lived there.

Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 wrote that there was no great difference in language between the people of southern Britannia and northern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and noted that the various nations of Britons shared physical characteristics with their continental neighbours.

Roman Britain (Britannia)



Julius Caesar invaded
Caesar's invasions of Britain
In his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice, in 55 and 54 BC. The first invasion, made late in summer, was either intended as a full invasion or a reconnaissance-in-force expedition...

 southern Britain in 55 and 54 BC and wrote in De Bello Gallico that the population of southern Britannia was extremely large and shared much in common with the Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

 of the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. Coin evidence and the work of later Roman historians have provided the names of some of the rulers of the disparate tribes and their machinations in what was Britannia.
Until the Roman Conquest of Britain
Roman conquest of Britain
The Roman conquest of Britain was a gradual process, beginning effectively in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Britannia. Great Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions, planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and...

, Britain's British population was relatively stable, and by the time of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

's first invasion, the British
Brython
The Britons were the Celtic people culturally dominating Great Britain from the Iron Age through the Early Middle Ages. They spoke the Insular Celtic language known as British or Brythonic...

 population of what was western old Britain was speaking a Celtic language generally thought to be the forerunner of the modern Brythonic languages
Brythonic languages
The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

. After Julius Caesar abandoned Britain, it fell back into the hands of the Britons and the Belgae.

The Romans began their second conquest of Britain in 43 AD, during the reign of Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

. They annexed the whole of what would become modern England and Wales over the next forty years and periodically extended their control over much of lowland
Scottish Lowlands
The Scottish Lowlands is a name given to the Southern half of Scotland.The area is called a' Ghalldachd in Scottish Gaelic, and the Lawlands ....

 Scotland.

Post-Roman Britain



In the wake of the breakdown of Roman rule in Britain around 410, present day England was progressively settled by Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 groups. Collectively known as the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

, these included Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 from Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 together with larger numbers of Saxons from northwestern Germany and Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

 from what is now Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

.

They first invaded Britain in the mid-5th century, continuing for several decades. The Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 appear to have been the principal group of settlers in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 and parts of coastal Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, while the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 predominated in all other areas south of the Thames and in Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

 and Middlesex
Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

, and the Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

 in Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

, Suffolk
Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

, the Midlands
English Midlands
The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...

 and the north.

The population of Britain dramatically decreased after the Roman
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 period. The reduction seems to have been caused mainly by plague and smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

. It is known that the plague of Justinian
Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire , including its capital Constantinople, in 541–542 AD. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or...

 entered the Mediterranean world in the 6th century and first arrived in the British Isles in 544 or 545, when it reached Ireland. The Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae, or The Annals of Wales, is the name given to a complex of Cambro-Latin chronicles deriving ultimately from a text compiled from diverse sources at St David's in Dyfed, Wales, not later than the 10th century...

 mention the death of Maelgwn Wledig, king of Gwynedd from that plague in 547.

Anglo-Saxon conquests and the founding of England




In approximately 495, at the Battle of Mount Badon
Battle of Mons Badonicus
The Battle of Mons Badonicus was a battle between a force of Britons and an Anglo-Saxon army, probably sometime between 490 and 517 AD. Though it is believed to have been a major political and military event, there is no certainty about its date, location or the details of the fighting...

, Britons inflicted a severe defeat on an invading Anglo-Saxon army which halted the westward Anglo-Saxon advance for some decades. Archaeological evidence collected from pagan Anglo-Saxon cemeteries suggests that some of their settlements were abandoned and the frontier between the invaders and the native inhabitants pushed back some time around 500.

Anglo-Saxon expansion resumed in the 6th century, although the chronology of its progress is unclear. One of the few individual events which emerges with any clarity before the 7th century is the Battle of Deorham
Battle of Deorham
The Battle of Deorham or Dyrham was fought in 577 between the West Saxons under Ceawlin and Cuthwine and the Britons of the West Country. The location, Deorham, is usually taken to refer to Dyrham in South Gloucestershire. The battle was a major victory for the West Saxons, who took three important...

, in 577, a West Saxon
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 victory which led to the capture of Cirencester
Cirencester
Cirencester is a market town in east Gloucestershire, England, 93 miles west northwest of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswold District. It is the home of the Royal Agricultural College, the oldest agricultural...

, Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

 and Bath, bringing the Anglo-Saxon advance to the Bristol Channel
Bristol Channel
The Bristol Channel is a major inlet in the island of Great Britain, separating South Wales from Devon and Somerset in South West England. It extends from the lower estuary of the River Severn to the North Atlantic Ocean...

 and dividing the Britons in the West Country
West Country
The West Country is an informal term for the area of south western England roughly corresponding to the modern South West England government region. It is often defined to encompass the historic counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset and the City of Bristol, while the counties of...

 from those in Wales. The Northumbrian victory at the Battle of Chester
Battle of Chester
The Battle of Chester was a major victory for the Anglo Saxons over the native Britons near the city of Chester, England in the early 7th century. Æthelfrith of Northumbria annihilated a combined force from the Welsh kingdoms of Powys, Rhôs and possibly Mercia...

 around 616 may have had a similar effect in dividing Wales from the Britons of Cumbria
Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

.

Gradual Saxon expansion through the West Country continued through the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries. Meanwhile, by the mid-7th century the Angles had pushed the Britons back to the approximate borders of modern Wales in the west, the Tamar in the South west and expanded northward as far as the River Forth
River Forth
The River Forth , long, is the major river draining the eastern part of the central belt of Scotland.The Forth rises in Loch Ard in the Trossachs, a mountainous area some west of Stirling...

.

Heptarchy and Christianisation



Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England
Christianity in the British isles 410-1066
The history of Christianity in England from the Roman departure to the Norman Conquest is often told as one of conflict between the Celtic Christianity spread by the Irish mission, and Roman Christianity brought across by Augustine of Canterbury....

 began around 600 AD, influenced by Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages...

 from the northwest and by the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 from the southeast. Augustine
Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597...

, the first Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, took office in 597. In 601, he baptised the first Christian Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelbert of Kent. The last pagan Anglo-Saxon king, Penda of Mercia
Penda of Mercia
Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the...

, died in 655. The last pagan Jutish king, Arwald
Arwald
Arwald was the last Jutish King of the Isle of Wight and last pagan king in Anglo-Saxon England until the Vikings in the 9th century. His name may have been "Arwald" or "Atwald" - Bede's script is often difficult to read...

 of the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

 was killed in 686. The Anglo-Saxon mission
Anglo-Saxon mission
Anglo-Saxon missionaries were instrumental in the spread of Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century, continuing the work of Hiberno-Scottish missionaries which had been spreading Celtic Christianity across the Frankish Empire as well as in Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England itself...

 on the continent took off in the 8th century, leading to the Christianisation of practically all of the Frankish Empire
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

 by 800.

Throughout the 7th and 8th century power fluctuated between the larger kingdoms. Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 records Aethelbert of Kent as being dominant at the close of the 6th century, but power seems to have shifted northwards to the kingdom of Northumbria, which was formed from the amalgamation of Bernicia and Deira. Edwin of Northumbria
Edwin of Northumbria
Edwin , also known as Eadwine or Æduini, was the King of Deira and Bernicia – which later became known as Northumbria – from about 616 until his death. He converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627; after he fell at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, he was venerated as a saint.Edwin was the son...

 probably held dominance over much of Britain, though Bede's Northumbrian bias should be kept in mind. Succession crises meant Northumbrian hegemony was not constant, and Mercia
Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

 remained a very powerful kingdom, especially under Penda. Two defeats essentially ended Northumbrian dominance: the Battle of the Trent in 679 against Mercia, and Nechtanesmere in 685 against the Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

.

The so-called "Mercian Supremacy" dominated the 8th century, though it was not constant. Aethelbald and Offa
Offa of Mercia
Offa was the King of Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa, Offa came to the throne after a period of civil war following the assassination of Æthelbald after defeating the other claimant Beornred. In the early years of Offa's reign it is likely...

, the two most powerful kings, achieved high status; indeed, Offa was considered the overlord of south Britain by Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. That Offa could summon the resources to build Offa's Dyke
Offa's Dyke
Offa's Dyke is a massive linear earthwork, roughly followed by some of the current border between England and Wales. In places, it is up to wide and high. In the 8th century it formed some kind of delineation between the Anglian kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys...

 is testament to his power. However, a rising Wessex, and challenges from smaller kingdoms, kept Mercian power in check, and by the early 9th century the "Mercian Supremacy" was over.

This period has been described as the Heptarchy
Heptarchy
The Heptarchy is a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central Great Britain during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, conventionally identified as seven: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex...

, though this term has now fallen out of academic use. The word arose on the basis that the seven kingdoms of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

, Mercia
Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

, Kent
Kingdom of Kent
The Kingdom of Kent was a Jutish colony and later independent kingdom in what is now south east England. It was founded at an unknown date in the 5th century by Jutes, members of a Germanic people from continental Europe, some of whom settled in Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans...

, East Anglia, Essex
Kingdom of Essex
The Kingdom of Essex or Kingdom of the East Saxons was one of the seven traditional kingdoms of the so-called Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was founded in the 6th century and covered the territory later occupied by the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Kent. Kings of Essex were...

, Sussex
Kingdom of Sussex
The Kingdom of Sussex or Kingdom of the South Saxons was a Saxon colony and later independent kingdom of the Saxons, on the south coast of England. Its boundaries coincided in general with those of the earlier kingdom of the Regnenses and the later county of Sussex. A large part of its territory...

 and Wessex were the main polities of south Britain. More recent scholarship has shown that other kingdoms were also politically important across this period: Hwicce
Hwicce
The Hwicce were one of the peoples of Anglo-Saxon England. The exact boundaries of their kingdom are uncertain, though it is likely that they coincided with those of the old Diocese of Worcester, founded in 679–80, the early bishops of which bore the title Episcopus Hwicciorum...

, Magonsaete
Magonsaete
Magonsæte was a minor sub-kingdom of the greater Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, thought to be coterminous with the Diocese of Hereford.The British territory of Pengwern was conquered by Oswiu of Northumbria in 656, while he was overlord of the Mercians. Western Pengwern was then occupied by Anglian...

, Lindsey
Kingdom of Lindsey
Lindsey or Linnuis is the name of a petty Anglo-Saxon kingdom, absorbed into Northumbria in the 7th century.It lay between the Humber and the Wash, forming its inland boundaries from the course of the Witham and Trent rivers , and the Foss Dyke between...

 and Middle Anglia.

Viking challenge and the rise of Wessex


The first recorded Viking attack in Britain was in 793 at Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

 monastery as given by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

. However, by then the Vikings were almost certainly well established in Orkney and Shetland, and it is probable that many other non-recorded raids occurred before this. Records do show the first Viking attack on Iona
Iona
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

 taking place in 794. The arrival of the Vikings, in particular the Danish Great Heathen Army
Great Heathen Army
The Great Heathen Army, also known as the Great Army or the Great Danish Army, was a Viking army originating in Denmark which pillaged and conquered much of England in the late 9th century...

, upset the political and social geography of Britain and Ireland. Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

's victory at Edington
Edington, Wiltshire
Edington is a small village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, about five miles east of Westbury.The parish includes two principal settlements, Edington village and Tinhead, which lies between the main village and Coulston and contains the parish's only surviving public house, The Paulet Arms...

 in 878 stemmed the Danish attack; however, by then Northumbria had devolved into Bernicia and a Viking kingdom, Mercia had been split down the middle, and East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

 ceased to exist as an Anglo-Saxon polity. The Vikings had similar effects on the various kingdoms of the Scots, Picts and (to a lesser extent) Welsh. Certainly in North Britain the Vikings were one reason behind the formation of the Kingdom of Alba
Alba
Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. It is cognate to Alba in Irish and Nalbin in Manx, the two other Goidelic Insular Celtic languages, as well as similar words in the Brythonic Insular Celtic languages of Cornish and Welsh also meaning Scotland.- Etymology :The term first appears in...

, which eventually evolved into Scotland.

The conquest of Northumbria, north-western Mercia and East Anglia by the Danes led to widespread Danish settlement in these areas. In the early 10th century the Norwegian rulers of Dublin took over the Danish kingdom of York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

. Danish and Norwegian settlement made enough of an impact to leave significant traces in the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

; many fundamental words in modern English are derived from Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

, though of the 100 most used words in English the vast majority are Old English in origin. Similarly, many place-names in areas of Danish and Norwegian settlement have Scandinavian roots.

By the end of Alfred's reign in 899 he was the only remaining English king, having reduced Mercia to a dependency of Wessex, governed by his son-in-law Ealdorman Aethelred
Earl Aethelred of Mercia
Ealdorman Æthelred was ruler of Mercia from about 883, when he submitted to King Alfred of Wessex. He married Alfred's daughter Æthelfleda between 882 and 887, and his title was "Lord of the Mercians". Although he had many attributes of a king, he was subject to the power of his close ally Wessex...

. Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 (Kernow) was subject to West Saxon dominance, and the Welsh
History of Wales
The history of Wales begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 29,000 years ago...

 kingdoms recognised Alfred as their overlord.

English unification




Alfred of Wessex died in 899 and was succeeded by his son Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder was an English king. He became king in 899 upon the death of his father, Alfred the Great. His court was at Winchester, previously the capital of Wessex...

. Edward, and his brother-in-law Æthelred of (what was left of) Mercia, began a programme of expansion, building forts and towns on an Alfredian model. On Æthelred's death his wife (Edward's sister) Æthelflæd ruled as "Lady of the Mercians" and continued expansion. It seems Edward had his son Æthelstan brought up in the Mercian court, and on Edward's death Athelstan succeeded to the Mercian kingdom, and, after some uncertainty, Wessex.

Æthelstan continued the expansion of his father and aunt and was the first king to achieve direct rulership of what we would now consider England. The titles attributed to him in charters
Anglo-Saxon Charters
Anglo-Saxon charters are documents from the early medieval period in Britain which typically make a grant of land or record a privilege. The earliest surviving charters were drawn up in the 670s; the oldest surviving charters granted land to the Church, but from the eighth century surviving...

 and on coins suggest a still more widespread dominance. His expansion aroused ill-feeling among the other kingdoms of Britain, and he defeated a combined Scottish-Viking army at the Battle of Brunanburh
Battle of Brunanburh
The Battle of Brunanburh was an English victory in 937 by the army of Æthelstan, King of England, and his brother Edmund over the combined armies of Olaf III Guthfrithson, the Norse-Gael King of Dublin, Constantine II, King of Scots, and Owen I, King of Strathclyde...

. However, the unification of England was not a certainty. Under Æthelstan's successors Edmund and Eadred
Edred of England
Eadred was the king of England from 946 until his death in 955, in succession to his elder brother Edmund I.-Background and succession:...

 the English kings repeatedly lost and regained control of Northumbria. Nevertheless, Edgar
Edgar of England
Edgar the Peaceful, or Edgar I , also called the Peaceable, was a king of England . Edgar was the younger son of Edmund I of England.-Accession:...

, who ruled the same expanse as Athelstan, consolidated the kingdom, which remained united thereafter.

England under the Danes and the Norman conquest




There were renewed Scandinavian attacks on England at the end of the 10th century. Æthelred ruled a long reign but ultimately lost his kingdom to Sweyn of Denmark
Sweyn I of Denmark
Sweyn I Forkbeard was king of Denmark and England, as well as parts of Norway. His name appears as Swegen in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and he is also known in English as Svein, Swein, Sven the Dane, and Tuck.He was a Viking leader and the father of Cnut the Great...

, though he recovered it following the latter's death. However, Æthelred's son Edmund II Ironside died shortly afterwards, allowing Canute, Sweyn's son, to become king of England. Under his rule the kingdom became the centre of government for an empire which also included Denmark and Norway.

Canute was succeeded by his sons, but in 1042 the native dynasty was restored with the accession of Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

. Edward's failure to produce an heir caused a furious conflict over the succession on his death in 1066. His struggles for power against Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin of Wessex , was one of the most powerful lords in England under the Danish king Cnut the Great and his successors. Cnut made him the first Earl of Wessex...

, the claims of Canute's Scandinavian successors, and the ambitions of the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 whom Edward introduced to English politics to bolster his own position caused each to vie for control Edward's reign.

Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 became king, in all likelihood appointed by Edward the Confessor on his deathbed and endorsed by the Witan. William of Normandy, Harald III of Norway (aided by Harold Godwin's estranged brother Tostig
Tostig Godwinson
Tostig Godwinson was an Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northumbria and brother of King Harold Godwinson, the last crowned english King of England.-Early life:...

) and Sweyn II of Denmark
Sweyn II of Denmark
Sweyn II Estridsson Ulfsson was the King of Denmark from 1047 to 1074. He was the son of Ulf Jarl and Estrid Svendsdatter. He was married three times, and fathered 20 children or more, including the five future kings Harald III Hen, Canute IV the Saint, Oluf I Hunger, Eric I Evergood and Niels...

 all asserted claims to the throne. By far the strongest hereditary claim was that of Edgar the Atheling, but his youth and apparent lack of powerful supporters caused him to be passed over, and he did not play a major part in the struggles of 1066, though he was made king for a short time by the Witan after the death of Harold Godwinson.

In September 1066, Harald III of Norway landed in Northern England with a force of around 15,000 men and 300 longship
Longship
Longships were sea vessels made and used by the Vikings from the Nordic countries for trade, commerce, exploration, and warfare during the Viking Age. The longship’s design evolved over many years, beginning in the Stone Age with the invention of the umiak and continuing up to the 9th century with...

s (50 men in each boat). With him was Earl Tostig
Tostig Godwinson
Tostig Godwinson was an Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northumbria and brother of King Harold Godwinson, the last crowned english King of England.-Early life:...

, who had promised him support. Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 defeated and killed Harald III of Norway and Tostig
Tostig Godwinson
Tostig Godwinson was an Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northumbria and brother of King Harold Godwinson, the last crowned english King of England.-Early life:...

 and the Norwegian force at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

.

On 28 September 1066, William of Normandy invaded England with a force of Normans, in a campaign known as the Norman Conquest. On 14 October, after having marched his exhausted army all the way from Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, Harold fought the Normans at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

, where England's army was defeated and Harold was killed. Further opposition to William in support of Edgar the Atheling soon collapsed, and William was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066. For the next five years he faced a series of English rebellions in various parts of the country and a half-hearted Danish invasion, but he was able to subdue all resistance and establish an enduring regime.

Norman England




The Norman Conquest led to a sea-change in the history of the English state. William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

, a survey of the entire population and their lands and property for tax purposes, which reveals that within twenty years of the conquest the English ruling class had been almost entirely dispossessed and replaced by Norman landholders, who also monopolised all senior positions in the government and the Church. William and his nobles spoke and conducted court in Norman French
Norman language
Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

, in England as well as in Normandy. The use of the Anglo-Norman language by the aristocracy endured for centuries and left an indelible mark in the development of modern English.

The English Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 were characterised by civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, international war, occasional insurrection, and widespread political intrigue amongst the aristocratic and monarchic elite. England was more than self-sufficient in cereals, dairy products, beef and mutton. The nation's international economy was based on the wool trade, in which the produce of the sheepwalk
Sheepwalk
A sheepwalk is an area of grassland where sheep can roam freely.The productivity of sheepwalk is measured by the number of sheep per area. This is dependent, among other things, on the underlying rock....

s of northern England was exported to the textile cities of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, where it was worked into cloth. Medieval foreign policy was as much shaped by relations with the Flemish textile industry as it was by dynastic adventures in western France. An English textile industry was established in the 15th century, providing the basis for rapid English capital accumulation.

Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

, the fourth son of William I the Conqueror, succeeded his elder brother William II
William II of England
William II , the third son of William I of England, was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales...

 as King of England in 1100. Henry was also known as "Henry Beauclerc" (because of his education—as his older brother William
William II of England
William II , the third son of William I of England, was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales...

 was the heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

 and thus given the practical training to be king, Henry received the alternate, formal education), worked hard to reform and stabilise the country and smooth the differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 societies. The loss of his son, William Adelin
William Adelin
William , surnamed Adelin , was the son of Henry I of England by his wife Matilda of Scotland, and was thus heir-apparent to the throne. His early death without issue caused a succession crisis.William was born in Winchester...

, in the wreck of the White Ship
White Ship
The White Ship was a vessel that sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast off Barfleur, on 25 November 1120. Only one of those aboard survived. Those who drowned included William Adelin, the only surviving legitimate son and heir of King Henry I of England...

 in November 1120, undermined his reforms. This problem regarding succession cast a long shadow over English history.

During the confused and contested reign of Stephen, there was a major swing in the balance of power towards the feudal baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

s, as civil war
The Anarchy
The Anarchy or The Nineteen-Year Winter was a period of English history during the reign of King Stephen, which was characterised by civil war and unsettled government...

 and lawlessness broke out. In trying to appease Scottish and Welsh raiders, he handed over large tracts of land. His conflicts with his cousin The Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda
Empress Matilda , also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood...

 (also known as Empress Maud), led to a civil war from 1139-1153 known as the Anarchy
The Anarchy
The Anarchy or The Nineteen-Year Winter was a period of English history during the reign of King Stephen, which was characterised by civil war and unsettled government...

. Matilda’s father, Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

, had required the leading barons, ecclesiastics and officials in Normandy and England, to take an oath to accept Matilda as his heir. England was far less than enthusiastic to accept an outsider, and a woman, as their ruler.

There is some evidence suggesting Henry was unsure of his own hopes and the oath to make Matilda his heir. In likelihood, Henry probably hoped Matilda would have a son and step aside as Queen Mother, making her son the next heir. Upon Henry’s death, the Norman and English barons ignored Matilda’s claim to the throne, and thus through a series of decisions, Stephen, Henry’s favourite nephew, was welcomed by many in England and Normandy as their new ruler.

On 22 December 1135, Stephen was anointed king with the implicit support of the church and nation. Matilda and her own son stood for direct descent by heredity from Henry I, and she bided her time in France. In the autumn of 1139, she invaded England with her illegitimate half-brother Robert of Gloucester
Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester
Robert Fitzroy, 1st Earl of Gloucester was an illegitimate son of King Henry I of England. He was called "Rufus" and occasionally "de Caen", he is also known as Robert "the Consul"...

. Her husband, Geoffroy V of Anjou
Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
Geoffrey V , called the Handsome and Plantagenet, was the Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine by inheritance from 1129 and then Duke of Normandy by conquest from 1144...

, conquered Normandy but did not cross the channel to help his wife, satisfied with Normandy and Anjou. During this breakdown of central authority, the nobles ran amuck building adulterine castles (i.e. castles erected without government permission).

Stephen was captured, and his government fell. Matilda was proclaimed queen but was soon at odds with her subjects and was expelled from London. The period of insurrection and civil war that followed continued until 1148, when Matilda returned to France. Stephen effectively reigned unopposed until his death in 1154, although his hold on the throne was still uneasy. As soon as he regained power, he began the process of demolishing the adulterine castles, which were hated by the peasants due to their being employed as forced labor to build and maintain them. Stephen kept a few castles standing however, which put him at odds with his heir.

England under the Plantagenets


Geoffroy's
Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
Geoffrey V , called the Handsome and Plantagenet, was the Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine by inheritance from 1129 and then Duke of Normandy by conquest from 1144...

 son, Henry, resumed the invasion; he was already Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy and Duke of Aquitaine when he landed in England. When Stephen's son and heir apparent Eustace died in 1153, the king reached an accommodation with Henry of Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

 (who became Henry II
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...

) to succeed Stephen and in which peace between them was guaranteed. England was part of a greater union, retrospectively named the Angevin Empire
Angevin Empire
The term Angevin Empire is a modern term describing the collection of states once ruled by the Angevin Plantagenet dynasty.The Plantagenets ruled over an area stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland during the 12th and early 13th centuries, located north of Moorish Iberia. This "empire" extended...

. Henry destroyed the remaining adulterine castles and expanded his power through various means and to different levels into Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Flanders, Nantes, Brittany, Quercy, Toulouse, Bourges and Auvergne.

The reign of Henry II represents a reversion in power back from the barony to the monarchical state in England; it was also to see a similar redistribution of legislative power from the Church, again to the monarchical state. This period also presaged a properly constituted legislation and a radical shift away from feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

. In his reign new Anglo-Angevin and Anglo-Aquitanian aristocracies developed, though not to the same point as the Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 once did, and the Norman nobles interacted with their French peers.

Henry's successor, Richard I
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 "the Lion Heart" (also known as "The absent king"), was preoccupied with foreign wars, taking part in the Third Crusade
Third Crusade
The Third Crusade , also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin...

 and defending his French territories against Philip II of France.

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state until the reign of Richard I who made it a nominal vassal of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 in 1194 as part of a ransom when he was captured after a crusade.

Richard's younger brother John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

, who succeeded him, was not so fortunate; he suffered the loss of Normandy and numerous other French territories following the disastrous Battle of Bouvines
Battle of Bouvines
The Battle of Bouvines, 27 July 1214, was a conclusive medieval battle ending the twelve year old Angevin-Flanders War that was important to the early development of both the French state by confirming the French crown's sovereignty over the Angevin lands of Brittany and Normandy.Philip Augustus of...

.

Facing internal disorder, in 1212 John made the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 a tribute-paying vassal of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, which it remained until the 14th century when the Kingdom rejected the overlordship of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 and re-established its sovereignty. From 1212 onwards, John had a constant policy of maintaining close relations with the Pope, which partially explains how he persuaded the Pope to reject the legitimacy of the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

.

The European wars culminated in defeat at the Battle of Bouvines
Battle of Bouvines
The Battle of Bouvines, 27 July 1214, was a conclusive medieval battle ending the twelve year old Angevin-Flanders War that was important to the early development of both the French state by confirming the French crown's sovereignty over the Angevin lands of Brittany and Normandy.Philip Augustus of...

 (1214), which forced the king to accept an unfavourable peace with France after having failed to get help from King Mohammed el-Nasir of Morocco.

Magna Carta




Over the course of his reign a combination of higher taxes, unsuccessful wars and conflict with the Pope had made King John unpopular with his barons, and in 1215 some of the most important decided to rebel against him. He met their leaders along with their French and Scot allies at Runnymede
Runnymede
Runnymede is a water-meadow alongside the River Thames in the English county of Berkshire, and just over west of central London. It is notable for its association with the sealing of Magna Carta, and as a consequence is the site of a collection of memorials...

, near London on 15 June 1215 to seal the Great Charter
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 (Magna Carta in Latin), which imposed legal limits on the king's personal powers. Because he had sealed under duress, however, John received approval from the Pope to break his word as soon as hostilities had ceased, provoking the First Barons' War
First Barons' War
The First Barons' War was a civil war in the Kingdom of England, between a group of rebellious barons—led by Robert Fitzwalter and supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII of France—and King John of England...

 and an invited French invasion by Prince Louis
Louis VIII of France
Louis VIII the Lion reigned as King of France from 1223 to 1226. He was a member of the House of Capet. Louis VIII was born in Paris, France, the son of Philip II Augustus and Isabelle of Hainaut. He was also Count of Artois, inheriting the county from his mother, from 1190–1226...

 of France (whom the majority of the English barons had invited to replace John on the throne and had him proclaimed king in London in May 1216). John travelled around the country to oppose the rebel forces, directing, among other operations, a two-month siege of the rebel-held Rochester Castle
Rochester Castle
Rochester Castle stands on the east bank of the River Medway in Rochester, Kent, England. The 12th-century keep or stone tower, which is the castle's most prominent feature, is one of the best preserved in England or France. Located along the River Medway and Watling Street, Rochester was a...

.

John's son, Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

, was only 9 years old when he became king (1216–1272). He spent much of his reign fighting the barons over the Magna Carta and the royal rights, and was eventually forced to call the first "parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

" in 1264. He was also unsuccessful on the Continent, where he endeavoured to re-establish English control over Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

, and Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

.

His reign was punctuated by numerous rebellions and civil wars, often provoked by incompetence and mismanagement in government and Henry's perceived over-reliance on French courtiers (thus restricting the influence of the English nobility). One of these rebellions—led by a disaffected courtier, Simon de Montfort
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, 1st Earl of Chester , sometimes referred to as Simon V de Montfort to distinguish him from other Simon de Montforts, was an Anglo-Norman nobleman. He led the barons' rebellion against King Henry III of England during the Second Barons' War of 1263-4, and...

—was notable for its assembly of one of the earliest precursors to Parliament. In addition to fighting the Second Barons' War
Second Barons' War
The Second Barons' War was a civil war in England between the forces of a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort, against the Royalist forces led by Prince Edward , in the name of Henry III.-Causes:...

, Henry III made war against Saint Louis and was defeated during the Saintonge War
Saintonge War
The Saintonge War was a feudal dynastic encounter that occurred in 1242 between forces of Louis IX of France and those of Henry III of England. Saintonge is the region around Saintes in the center-west of France. The conflict arose because some vassals of Louis were displeased with accession of his...

, yet Louis IX did not capitalise on his victory, respecting his opponent's rights.

14th century


The reign of Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 (reigned 1272–1307) was rather more successful. Edward enacted numerous laws strengthening the powers of his government, and he summoned the first officially sanctioned Parliaments of England (such as his Model Parliament
Model Parliament
The Model Parliament is the term, attributed to Frederic William Maitland, used for the 1295 Parliament of England of King Edward I. This assembly included members of the clergy and the aristocracy, as well as representatives from the various counties and boroughs. Each county returned two knights,...

). He conquered Wales and attempted to use a succession dispute to gain control of the Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

, though this developed into a costly and drawn-out military campaign.

His son, Edward II
Edward II of England
Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II...

, proved a disaster. A weak man who preferred to engage in activities like thatching and ditch-digging rather than jousting, hunting, or the usual entertainments of kings, he spent most of his reign trying in vain to control the nobility, who in return showed continual hostility to him. Meanwhile, the Scottish leader Robert Bruce
Robert I of Scotland
Robert I , popularly known as Robert the Bruce , was King of Scots from March 25, 1306, until his death in 1329.His paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage , and...

 began retaking all the territory conquered by Edward I. In 1314, the English army was disastrously defeated by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn
Battle of Bannockburn
The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Scottish Independence...

. Edward also showered favours on his companion Piers Gaveston, a knight of humble birth. While it has been widely believed that Edward was a homosexual because of his closeness to Gaveston, there is no concrete evidence of this. The king's enemies, including his cousin Thomas of Lancaster, captured and murdered Gaveston in 1312.

Edward's downfall came in 1326 when his queen Isabella
Isabella of France
Isabella of France , sometimes described as the She-wolf of France, was Queen consort of England as the wife of Edward II of England. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre...

 travelled to her native France and then, along with her lover Roger Mortimer, invaded England. Despite their tiny force, they quickly rallied support for their cause. The king fled London, and his companion since Piers Gaveston's death, Hugh Despenser, was publicly tried and executed. Edward was eventually captured and charged with breaking his coronation oath. He was deposed and remained imprisoned in Gloucestershire until he was murdered some time in the autumn of 1327, presumably by agents of Isabella and Mortimer.

The Great Famine of 1315–1317
Great Famine of 1315–1317
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century...

 was the first crisis that would strike Europe in the 14th century. Millions in northern Europe would die over an extended number of years, marking a clear end to the earlier period of growth and prosperity during the 11th and 12th centuries. The famine of 1315–1316 may have killed more than 10% of England's population, or at least 500,000 people.

Edward III
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 reigned 1327–1377, restored royal authority and went on to transform the Kingdom of England into the most efficient military power in Europe. His reign saw vital developments in legislature and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament—as well as the ravages of the Black Death. After defeating, but not subjugating, the Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

, he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1338, starting what would be known as the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

.

Black Death



The Black Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

 that spread over the whole of Europe, arrived in England in 1348 and killed as much as a third to half the population.

International excursions around that time were invariably against domestic neighbours: the Welsh, Irish, Cornish
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, and the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 against the French and their Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 allies. Notable English victories in the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 included Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

 and Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...

. In addition to this, the final defeat of the uprising led by the Welsh prince, Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndwr
Owain Glyndŵr , or Owain Glyn Dŵr, anglicised by William Shakespeare as Owen Glendower , was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales...

, in 1412 by Prince Henry (who later became Henry V
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

) represents the last major armed attempt by the Welsh to throw off English rule.

Edward III
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 gave land to powerful noble families, including many people of royal lineage. Because land was equivalent to power, these powerful men could try to claim the crown. The autocratic and arrogant methods of Richard II
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

 only served to alienate the nobility more, and his forceful dispossession in 1399 by Henry IV
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

 increased the turmoil.

15th century


The reign of Henry V
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

, who succeeded to the throne in 1413, was mostly notable for the great victory over the French at Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...

. He died of dysentery in 1422, leaving a number of unfulfilled plans, one of which was to lead a new crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims. The turmoil was at its peak in the reign of Henry VI
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

, which began in 1422, because of his personal weaknesses and mental instability.

When the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 was lost in August 1453, Henry fell into a period of mental breakdown that lasted until Christmas 1454. With his inability to control the feuding nobles, civil war began in 1455. The conflicts are known as the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

 (1455–1485), and although the fighting was very sporadic and small, there was a general breakdown in the authority and power of the Crown. Henry's cousin, who deposed him in 1461 and became Edward IV
Edward IV of England
Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

, went a little way to restoring this power. Edward defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross
Battle of Mortimer's Cross
The Battle of Mortimer's Cross was fought on 2 February 1461 near Wigmore, Herefordshire . It was part of the Wars of the Roses....

. He was briefly expelled from the throne in 1470-1471 when Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, brought Henry back to power. Six months later, Edward defeated and killed Warwick in battle and reclaimed the throne. Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died there.

Edward died in 1483, only 40 years old. His eldest son and heir Edward V, aged 13, would have succeeded him, but the king's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Richard III of England
Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

 declared his marriage to be bigamous and invalid, making all his children illegitimate. Edward V and his 10-year old brother Richard were imprisoned in the Tower of London and their uncle made himself king as Richard III. The two princes were never seen again and presumably died in the Tower. It was widely believed that Richard had them murdered, although their exact fate remains a mystery. Regardless of what really happened, the king was reviled as a treacherous fiend who murdered his own nephews to gain the throne. This hatred of Richard obscured his able governance during his brief reign. In the summer of 1485, Henry Tudor
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, the last Lancastrian male, landed in England from his exile in France. He defeated and killed Richard in battle at Bosworth Field on 22 August of that year and became king as Henry VII.

Henry VII


With Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

's accession to the throne in 1485, the Wars of the Roses came to an end, and Tudors would continue to rule England for 118 years. Traditionally, the Battle of Bosworth Field
Battle of Bosworth Field
The Battle of Bosworth Field was the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians...

 is considered to mark the end of the Middle Ages in England, although Henry did not introduce any new concept of monarchy, and for most of his reign his hold on power was tenuous. He claimed the throne by conquest and God's judgement in battle. Parliament quickly recognized him as king, but the Yorkists were far from defeated. Nonetheless, he married Edward IV's eldest daughter Elizabeth in January 1486, thereby uniting the houses of York and Lancaster.

Most of the European rulers did not believe Henry would survive long, and were thus willing to shelter claimants against him. The first plot against him was the Stafford and Lovell Rebellion
Stafford and Lovell Rebellion
The Stafford and Lovell rebellion was the first armed uprising against Henry VII after he won the crown at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The uprising was led by Viscount Lovell and the Stafford brothers, Humphrey and Thomas, and occurred during Eastertime 1486.-Rebellion:The conspirators against...

 of 1486, which presented no serious threat. But Richard III's nephew John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, hatched another attempt the following year. Using a peasant boy named Lambert Simnel
Lambert Simnel
Lambert Simnel was a pretender to the throne of England. His claim to be the Earl of Warwick in 1487 threatened the newly established reign of King Henry VII .-Early life:...

, who posed as Edward, Earl of Warwick (the real Warwick was locked up in the Tower of London), he led an army of 2,000 German mercenaries paid for by Margaret of Burgundy
Margaret of York
Margaret of York – also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy – was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles the Bold and acted as a protector of the Duchy after his death. She was a daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of...

 into England. They were defeated and de la Pole killed at the difficult Battle of Stoke, where the loyalty of some of the royal troops to Henry was questionable. The king, realizing that Simnel was merely a dupe, employed him in the royal kitchen.

A more serious menace was Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne during the reign of King Henry VII of England. By claiming to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower, Warbeck was a significant threat to the newly established Tudor Dynasty,...

, a Flemish youth who posed as Edward IV's son Richard. Again enjoying the support of Margaret of Burgundy, he invaded England four times from 1495-1497 before he was finally captured and put in the Tower of London. Both Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick were too dangerous to keep around even in captivity, and Henry had to execute them in 1499 before Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain would allow their daughter Catherine to come to England and marry his son Arthur.

In 1497, Michael An Gof
Michael An Gof
Michael Joseph and Thomas Flamank were the leaders of the Cornish Rebellion of 1497....

 and the Baron Callum of Perranporth led Cornish rebels in a march on London. In a battle over the River Ravensbourne
River Ravensbourne
The River Ravensbourne is a tributary of the River Thames in South London, England. It flows into the River Thames on the Tideway at Deptford, where its tidal reach is known as Deptford Creek.- Geography :...

 at Deptford Bridge, An Gof and Callum fought for various issues related to taxation. The English suffered high casualties, but on 17 June 1497 the forces of An Gof and Callum were defeated. The rest of his Henry VII's reign was relatively peaceful, despite worries concerning succession after the death of his wife Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York was Queen consort of England as spouse of King Henry VII from 1486 until 1503, and mother of King Henry VIII of England....

 in 1503.

Henry VII's foreign policy was a peaceful one. He had formed an alliance with Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

, but in 1493, when they went to war with France, England was dragged into the conflict. With his crown impoverished and his hold on power insecure, Henry had no desire to go to war. He quickly reached an understanding with the French and renounced all claims to their territory except the port of Calais, realizing also that nothing could be done to stop them from incorporating the Duchy of Brittany. In return, the French agreed to recognize him as king and stop sheltering pretenders. Shortly afterwards, they became preoccupied with adventures in Italy and turned their attention away from England. Henry also reached an understanding with Scotland, agreeing to marry his daughter Margaret to that country's king James IV
James IV of Scotland
James IV was King of Scots from 11 June 1488 to his death. He is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs of Scotland, but his reign ended with the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Flodden Field, where he became the last monarch from not only Scotland, but also from all...

.

Upon becoming king, Henry inherited a government severely weakened and degraded by the Wars of the Roses. The treasury was empty, having been drained by Edward IV's Woodville in-laws after his death. Through a tight fiscal policy and sometimes ruthless tax collection and confiscations, Henry managed to refill the treasury by the time of his death. He also effectively rebuilt the machinery of government.

In 1501, the king's son Arthur
Arthur, Prince of Wales
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales was the first son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, and therefore, heir to the throne of England. As he predeceased his father, Arthur never became king...

, having married Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

, died of an illness at the age of 15, leaving his younger son Henry, Duke of York, as his heir. When the king himself died in 1509, the position of the Tudors was secure at last, and his son succeeded him unopposed.

Henry VIII


Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 began his reign with a high degree of optimism. The handsome, athletic young king stood in sharp contrast to his wary, miserly father. Henry's lavish court quickly drained the treasury of the fortune he had inherited. He married the widowed Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

, and they had several children, but none survived infancy except a daughter, Mary
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

.

In 1512, the young king embarked on a war in France
War of the League of Cambrai
The War of the League of Cambrai, sometimes known as the War of the Holy League and by several other names, was a major conflict in the Italian Wars...

. Although England was an ally of Spain, one of France's principal enemies, the war was mostly about Henry's desire for personal glory, regardless of the fact that his sister Mary was married to the French king Louis XII. The war accomplished little. The English army suffered badly from disease, and Henry was not even present at the one notable victory, the Battle of the Spurs. Meanwhile, James IV of Scotland
James IV of Scotland
James IV was King of Scots from 11 June 1488 to his death. He is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs of Scotland, but his reign ended with the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Flodden Field, where he became the last monarch from not only Scotland, but also from all...

 (despite being Henry's other brother-in-law), activated his alliance with the French and declared war on England. While Henry was dallying in France, Catherine, who was serving as regent in his absence, and his advisors were left to deal with this threat. At the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513, the Scots were completely and totally defeated. Most of the Scottish nobility were killed along with James himself. When Henry returned from France, he was given credit for the victory even though he had nothing to do with it.

Eventually, Catherine was no longer able to have any more children. The king became increasingly nervous about the possibility of his daughter Mary inheriting the throne, as England's one experience with a female sovereign, Matilda in the 12th century, had been a catastrophe. He eventually decided that it was necessary to divorce Catherine and find a new queen. The Church would not simply grant this favour, so Henry cited the passage in the Book of Leviticus where it said, "If a man taketh his brother's wife, he hath committed adultery; they shall be childless." However, Catherine insisted that she and Arthur had never consummated their brief marriage and that the prohibition did not apply here. The timing of Henry's case was very unfortunate; it was 1527 and the Pope had been taken prisoner by the emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, Catherine's nephew and the most powerful man in Europe, for siding with his archenemy Francis I of France
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

. As there was no possibility of getting a divorce in these circumstances, Henry decided to simply secede from the Church, in what became known as the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

.

The newly established Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 amounted to little more than the existing Catholic Church, but with the king rather than the Pope as its head. It took a number of years for the separation from Rome to be completed, however, and many were executed for resisting the king's religious policies.

In 1530, Catherine was banished from court and spent the remainder of her life (until her death in 1536) alone in an isolated manor home, barred from any contact with Mary (although her ladies-in-waiting helped the two maintain a secret correspondence). Their marriage was declared invalid, making Mary an illegitimate child. Henry married Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...

 in secret in 1531, just as his divorce from Catherine was finalized. After this, they had a second, public wedding. Anne soon became pregnant and may have already been when they wed. But on 7 September 1533, she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. The king was devastated at his failure to obtain a son after all the effort it had taken to remarry. Gradually, he came to develop a disliking of his new queen for her strange behaviour. In 1536, when Anne was pregnant again, Henry was badly injured in a jousting accident. Shaken by this, the queen gave birth prematurely to a stillborn boy. By now, the king was convinced that his marriage was hexed, and having already found a new queen, Jane Seymour, he put Anne in the Tower of London on charges of witchcraft. Afterwards, she was beheaded along with five men (her brother included) accused of adultery with her. The marriage was then declared invalid, so that Elizabeth, just like her half sister, became a bastard.

Henry immediately married Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour was Queen of England as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution for trumped up charges of high treason, incest and adultery in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of...

, who became pregnant almost as quickly. On 12 October 1537, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Edward, which was greeted with huge celebrations. The king's quest for a son was finally over, so long as Edward could be kept healthy. However, the queen died of puerperal sepsis ten days later. Henry genuinely mourned her death, and at his own passing nine years later, he was buried next to her.

The king married a fourth time in 1540, to the German Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves was a German noblewoman and the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England and as such she was Queen of England from 6 January 1540 to 9 July 1540. The marriage was never consummated, and she was not crowned queen consort...

 for a political alliance with her Protestant brother, the Duke of Cleves. He also hoped to obtain another son in case something should happen to Edward. Anne proved a dull, unattractive woman and Henry declined to consummate the marriage. He quickly divorced her, and she remained in England as a kind of adopted sister to him. So he married again, to a 19-year old named Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard , also spelled Katherine, Katheryn or Kathryn, was the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, and sometimes known by his reference to her as his "rose without a thorn"....

. But when it became known that she was neither a virgin at the wedding, nor a faithful wife afterwards, she ended up on the scaffold and the marriage declared invalid. His sixth and last marriage was to Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr ; 1512 – 5 September 1548) was Queen consort of England and Ireland and the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. She married Henry VIII on 12 July 1543. She was the fourth commoner Henry had taken as his consort, and outlived him...

, more a nursemaid to him than anything else, as his health was failing (it had declined ever since the jousting accident in 1536).

In 1542, the king embarked on a new campaign in France, but unlike in 1512, he only managed with great difficulty. The war netted England the city of Boulogne, but nothing else, and the French retook it in 1549. Scotland also declared war and at Solway Moss
Battle of Solway Moss
The Battle of Solway Moss took place on Solway Moss near the River Esk on the English side of the Anglo-Scottish Border in November 1542 between forces from England and Scotland.-Background:...

 was once again totally defeated.

Henry's paranoia and suspicion worsened in his last years. The total number of executions during his 38-year reign numbered in the tens of thousands. He died in January 1547 at the age of 55 and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI.

Edward VI and Mary


Although he showed piety and intelligence, Edward VI was only nine years old when he took the throne in 1547. His uncle, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, 1st Earl of Hertford, 1st Viscount Beauchamp of Hache, KG, Earl Marshal was Lord Protector of England in the period between the death of Henry VIII in 1547 and his own indictment in 1549....

 tampered with Henry VIII's will and obtained letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

 giving him much of the power of a monarch by March 1547. He took the title of Protector. Whilst some see him as a high-minded idealist, his stay in power culminated in a crisis in 1549 when many counties of the realm were up in protest. Kett's Rebellion
Kett's Rebellion
Kett's Rebellion was a revolt in Norfolk, England during the reign of Edward VI. The rebellion was in response to the enclosure of land. It began in July 1549 but was eventually crushed by forces loyal to the English crown....

 in Norfolk and the Prayer Book Rebellion
Prayer Book Rebellion
The Prayer Book Rebellion, Prayer Book Revolt, Prayer Book Rising, Western Rising or Western Rebellion was a popular revolt in Cornwall and Devon, in 1549. In 1549 the Book of Common Prayer, presenting the theology of the English Reformation, was introduced...

 in Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 and Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 simultaneously created a crisis during a time when invasion from Scotland and France were feared. Somerset, disliked by the Regency Council for his autocratic methods, was removed from power by John Dudley, who is known as Lord President Northumberland. Northumberland proceeded to adopt the power for himself, but his methods were more conciliatory and the Council accepted him. It was during Edward's reign that England became a Protestant nation as opposed to a Catholic one in schism from Rome.

Edward was beginning to show great promise when he fell violently ill with tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 in 1553 and died that August two months short of his 16th birthday.

Northumberland made plans to place Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey , also known as The Nine Days' Queen, was an English noblewoman who was de facto monarch of England from 10 July until 19 July 1553 and was subsequently executed...

 on the throne and marry her to his son, so that he could remain the power behind the throne. His plot failed in a matter of days, Jane Grey was beheaded, and Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

 (1516–1558) took the throne amidst popular demonstration in her favour in London, which contemporaries described as the largest show of affection for a Tudor monarch. Mary had never been expected to hold the throne, at least not since Edward was born. She was a devoted Catholic who believed that she could turn the clock back to 1516, before the Reformation began.

Returning England to Catholicism led to the burnings of 274 Protestants, which are recorded especially in John Foxe
John Foxe
John Foxe was an English historian and martyrologist, the author of what is popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, , an account of Christian martyrs throughout Western history but emphasizing the sufferings of English Protestants and proto-Protestants from the fourteenth century through the...

's Book of Martyrs. Mary then married her cousin Philip
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

, son of the emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, and King of Spain when Charles abdicated in 1556. The union was a difficult one, since Mary was already in her late 30s and Philip was a Catholic and a foreigner, and so not very welcome in England. This wedding also had the effect of provoking the hostility of the French, already at war with Spain and now alarmed at the prospect of being completely encircled by the Hapsburgs. Calais, the last English outpost on the Continent, was then taken by France. King Philip (1527–1598) had very little power, although he did protect Elizabeth. He was not popular in England, and spent little time there. Mary eventually became pregnant, or at least believed herself to be. In reality, she may have had uterine cancer
Uterine cancer
The term uterine cancer may refer to any of several different types of cancer which occur in the uterus, namely:*Uterine sarcomas: sarcomas of the myometrium, or muscular layer of the uterus, are most commonly leiomyosarcomas.*Endometrial cancer:...

. Her death in November 1558 was greeted with huge celebrations in the streets of London.

Elizabeth



The reign of Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 restored a sort of order to the realm following the turbulence of the reigns of Edward and Mary when she came to the throne following the death of Mary in 1558. The religious issue which had divided the country since Henry VIII was in a way put to rest by the Elizabethan Religious Settlement
Elizabethan Religious Settlement
The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was Elizabeth I’s response to the religious divisions created over the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. This response, described as "The Revolution of 1559", was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England...

, which re-established the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

. Much of Elizabeth's success was in balancing the interests of the Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

s and Catholics. She managed to offend neither to a large extent, although she clamped down on Catholics towards the end of her reign as war with Catholic Spain loomed.

Despite the need for an heir, Elizabeth declined to marry, despite offers from a number of suitors across Europe, including the Swedish king Erik XIV. This created endless worries over her succession, especially in the 1570s when she nearly died of smallpox. It has been often rumored that she had a number of lovers (including Francis Drake
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...

), but there is no hard evidence.

Elizabeth maintained relative government stability apart from the Revolt of the Northern Earls in 1569, she was effective in reducing the power of the old nobility and expanding the power of her government. Elizabeth's government did much to consolidate the work begun under Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, , was an English statesman who served as chief minister of King Henry VIII of England from 1532 to 1540....

 in the reign of Henry VIII, that is, expanding the role of the government and effecting common law and administration throughout England. During the reign of Elizabeth and shortly afterward, the population grew significantly: from three million in 1564 to nearly five million in 1616.

The queen ran afoul of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, who was a devoted Catholic and had been forced to abdicate her throne as a consequence (Scotland had recently become Protestant). She fled to England, where Elizabeth immediately had her arrested. Mary spent the next 18 years in confinement, but proved too dangerous to keep alive, as the Catholic powers in Europe considered her, not Elizabeth, the legitimate ruler of England. She was eventually tried for treason and sentenced to death, being beheaded in February 1587.

Foreign affairs


In foreign policy Elizabeth played against each other the major powers of France and Spain, as well as the papacy and Scotland. These were all Catholic and each wanted to end Protestantism in England. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs and only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France and Ireland. She risked war with Spain by supporting the "Sea Dogs
Sea Dogs
Sea Dogs received mixed views from critics on its release. IGN were impressed with it, calling it "one booty call you won't want to miss". Gamespot were also positive about the game saying it's "an adventure that can be enthralling despite its many problems"....

," such as ohn Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...

, who preyed on the Spanish merchant ships carrying gold and silver from the New World. The major war came with Spain, 1585-1603. When Spain tried to invade and conquer England it was a fiasco, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth's name forever with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history. Her enemies failed to combine and Elizabeth's foreign policy successfully navigated all the dangers.

End of Tudor era


In all, the Tudor period
Tudor period
The Tudor period usually refers to the period between 1485 and 1603, specifically in relation to the history of England. This coincides with the rule of the Tudor dynasty in England whose first monarch was Henry VII...

 is seen as a decisive one which set up many important questions which would have to be answered in the next century and during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

. These were questions of the relative power of the monarch and Parliament and to what extent one should control the other. Some historians think that Thomas Cromwell affected a "Tudor Revolution" in government, and it is certain that Parliament became more important during his chancellorship. Other historians say the "Tudor Revolution" really extended to the end of Elizabeth's reign, when the work was all consolidated. Although the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 declined after the death of Elizabeth, while she was alive it was very effective.

Union of the Crowns


Elizabeth died in 1603 at the age of 69. Her closest male Protestant relative was the King of Scots, James VI, of the House of Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

, who became King James I of England
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 in a Union of the Crowns
Union of the Crowns
The Union of the Crowns was the accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the throne of England, and the consequential unification of Scotland and England under one monarch. The Union of Crowns followed the death of James' unmarried and childless first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I of...

. King James I & VI as he was styled became the first monarch to rule the entire island of Great Britain, although it was merely a union of the English and Scottish crowns, and both countries remained separate political entities until 1707. Several assassination attempts were made on James, notably the Main Plot
Main Plot
The Main Plot was an alleged conspiracy of July 1603 by English courtiers, to remove King James I from the English throne, replacing him with his cousin Arabella Stuart. The plot was supposedly led by Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, and funded by Spain...

 and Bye Plot
Bye Plot
The Bye Plot was a conspiracy by a Roman Catholic priest, William Watson, to kidnap James I of England and to force him to repeal anti-Catholic legislation.-Background:...

s of 1603, and most famously, on 5 November 1605, the Gunpowder Plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

, by a group of Catholic conspirators, led by Sir Robert Catesby, which caused more antipathy in England towards the Catholic faith. Upon taking power, James immediately made peace with Spain, and for the first half of the 17th century, England remained largely inactive in European politics.

Colonial England


In 1607 England built an establishment at Jamestown
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

 This was the beginning of colonialism by England in North America. Many English settled then in North America for religious or economic reasons. About 70% of migrants from England who came between 1630-1660 were indentured servant
Indentured servant
Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

s. By 1700, Chesapeake
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 planters brought in about 100,000 indentured servants, more than 75% of all European immigrants to Virginia and Maryland. The English merchants holding plantations in the warm southern parts of America then resorted rather quickly to the slavery of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and imported Africans in order to cultivate their plantations and sell raw material (particularly cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 and tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

) in Europe. The English merchants involved in colonization amassed fortunes equal to those of great aristocratic landowners in England, and their money, which fuelled the rise of the middle class, permanently altered the balance of political power. The American colonies did not prove profitable to the mother country in the end. Pennsylvania and Delaware were home to a large population of self-sufficient farmers from various parts of Europe, especially Germany. New York traded with pirates and smugglers, and the colonies of New England consistently frustrated the government's attempts to utilize the area's forests for shipbuilding. Only Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay area produced a useful cash crop, tobacco, but it quickly wore the soil out. By the end of the 18th century, the tobacco industry in Virginia had been completely ruined by soil exhaustion and low prices. Indeed, the small sugar-growing islands in the Caribbean were worth more than all of the thirteen colonies put together.

The English colonies did not have an independent foreign policy, but otherwise were mostly left to manage their own affairs. This was very different from the authoritarian control France and Spain held over their colonies. It was the gradual infringement on the rights of the colonies starting in the 1760s that would lead to the American War of Independence. Nothing of the sort would have been possible in the French and Spanish colonies.


English Civil War



The First English Civil War
First English Civil War
The First English Civil War began the series of three wars known as the English Civil War . "The English Civil War" was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1651, and includes the Second English Civil War and...

 broke out in 1642, largely as a result of an ongoing series of conflicts between James' son, Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

, and Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

. The defeat of the Royalist army by the New Model Army
New Model Army
The New Model Army of England was formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, and was disbanded in 1660 after the Restoration...

 of Parliament at the Battle of Naseby
Battle of Naseby
The Battle of Naseby was the key battle of the first English Civil War. On 14 June 1645, the main army of King Charles I was destroyed by the Parliamentarian New Model Army commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.-The Campaign:...

 in June 1645 effectively destroyed the king's forces. Charles surrendered to the Scottish army at Newark. He was eventually handed over to the English Parliament in early 1647. He escaped, and the Second English Civil War
Second English Civil War
The Second English Civil War was the second of three wars known as the English Civil War which refers to the series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1652 and also include the First English Civil War and the...

 began, although it was a short conflict, with the New Model Army quickly securing the country. The capture and subsequent trial of Charles led to his beheading in January 1649 at Whitehall
Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

 Gate in London, making England a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. The trial and execution of Charles by his own subjects shocked the rest of Europe (the king argued to the end that only God could judge him) and was a precursor of sorts to the beheading of Louis XVI 145 years later.

The New Model Army, under the command of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

, then scored decisive victories against Royalist armies in Ireland and Scotland. Cromwell was given the title Lord Protector
Lord Protector
Lord Protector is a title used in British constitutional law for certain heads of state at different periods of history. It is also a particular title for the British Heads of State in respect to the established church...

 in 1653, making him 'king in all but name' to his critics. After he died in 1658, his son Richard Cromwell
Richard Cromwell
At the same time, the officers of the New Model Army became increasingly wary about the government's commitment to the military cause. The fact that Richard Cromwell lacked military credentials grated with men who had fought on the battlefields of the English Civil War to secure their nation's...

 succeeded him in the office but he was forced to abdicate within a year. For a while it looked as if a new civil war would begin as the New Model Army split into factions. Troops stationed in Scotland under the command of George Monck eventually marched on London to restore order.

Restoration of the monarchy


The monarchy was restored in 1660, with King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 returning to London.

In 1665, London was swept by a visitation of the plague
Great Plague of London
The Great Plague was a massive outbreak of disease in the Kingdom of England that killed an estimated 100,000 people, 20% of London's population. The disease is identified as bubonic plague, an infection by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted through a flea vector...

, and then, in 1666, the capital was swept by the Great Fire
Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...

, which raged for 5 days, destroying approximately 15,000 buildings. After the Restoration, there was an overall reduction in the power of the crown, and by the 18th century England rivaled the Netherlands for being one of the freest countries in Europe.

Glorious Revolution


In 1680, the Exclusion crisis
Exclusion Bill
The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1678 through 1681 in the reign of Charles II of England. The Exclusion Bill sought to exclude the king's brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic...

 occurred due to widespread objections to a Catholic serving as the King of England, since James was the heir presumptive to Charles, who was the king at that time. After the death of Charles II in 1685, his Catholic brother King James II & VII
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 was crowned. From that point, there were various factions pressing for his Protestant daughter Mary
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

 and her husband, Prince William III of Orange
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, to replace him in what became known as the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

.

In November 1688, William landed in England with an invading force, and succeeding in being crowned king. After this, James attempted to retake the throne by force in the Williamite War, and was finally defeated by William at the Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne
The Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 between two rival claimants of the English, Scottish and Irish thronesthe Catholic King James and the Protestant King William across the River Boyne near Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland...

 in 1690.

In December 1689, one of the most important constitutional documents in English history, the Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, was passed. The Act, which restated and confirmed many provisions of the earlier Declaration of Right, established restrictions on the royal prerogative
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

. It provided, amongst other things, that the Sovereign could not suspend laws passed by Parliament, levy taxes without parliamentary consent, infringe the right to petition, raise a standing army during peacetime without parliamentary consent, deny the right to bear arms to Protestant subjects, unduly interfere with parliamentary elections, punish members of either House of Parliament for anything said during debates, require excessive bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

 or inflict cruel and unusual punishments. William was opposed to the imposition of such constraints, but he chose not to engage in a conflict with Parliament and agreed to abide by the statute.

In parts of Scotland and Ireland, Catholics loyal to James remained determined to see him restored to the throne, and there followed a series of bloody though unsuccessful uprisings. As a result of these, any failure to pledge loyalty to the victorious King William was severely dealt with. The most infamous example of this policy was the Massacre of Glencoe
Massacre of Glencoe
Early in the morning of 13 February 1692, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689 led by John Graham of Claverhouse, an infamous massacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This incident is referred to as the Massacre of Glencoe, or in...

 in 1692. Jacobite rebellions continued on into the mid-18th century until the son of the last Catholic claimant to the throne, (James III & VIII), mounted a final campaign in 1745. The Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles Edward Stuart
Prince Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Young Pretender was the second Jacobite pretender to the thrones of Great Britain , and Ireland...

, the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" of legend, were defeated at the Battle of Culloden
Battle of Culloden
The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Taking place on 16 April 1746, the battle pitted the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart against an army commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, loyal to the British government...

 in 1746.

Formation of the United Kingdom


The Acts of Union
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 between the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 and the Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 were a pair of Parliamentary Acts
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 passed by both parliaments in 1707, which dissolved them in order to form a Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 governed by a unified Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 according to the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 and the Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 (previously separate state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

) into a single Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

.

The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns
Union of the Crowns
The Union of the Crowns was the accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the throne of England, and the consequential unification of Scotland and England under one monarch. The Union of Crowns followed the death of James' unmarried and childless first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I of...

 in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his double first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I. Although described as a Union of Crowns, until 1707 there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head. There had been three attempts in 1606, 1667, and 1689 to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early 18th century that the idea had the will of both political establishments behind them, albeit for rather different reasons.

The Acts took effect on 1 May 1707. On this date, the Scots Parliament and the English Parliament united to form the Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

, based in the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, the home of the English Parliament. Hence, the Acts are referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. On the Union, historian Simon Schama
Simon Schama
Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

 said "What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world ... it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history."

In 1714, the reign of Queen Anne
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

 ended. Anne was the last monarch of the House of Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

. She was succeeded by her second cousin, George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

, of the House of Hanover
House of Hanover
The House of Hanover is a deposed German royal dynasty which has ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , the Kingdom of Hanover, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth
Elizabeth of Bohemia
Elizabeth of Bohemia was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. As the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, she was Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia...

, daughter of James VI & I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

. A series of Jacobite rebellions broke out in an attempt to restore the Stuart monarchy, but all ultimately failed. Several Planned French Invasions were attempted, also with the intention of placing the Stuarts on the throne.

The Act of Union
Act of Union 1800
The Acts of Union 1800 describe two complementary Acts, namely:* the Union with Ireland Act 1800 , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, and...

 of 1800 formally assimilated Ireland within the British political process and from 1 January 1801 created a new state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, which united the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 to form a single political entity. The English capital of London was adopted as the capital of the Union.

Modern England, 18th-19th centuries


Following the formation of the United Kingdom, the history of England is no longer the history of a sovereign nation, but rather the history of a country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 that is a part of the United Kingdom
Countries of the United Kingdom
Countries of the United Kingdom is a term used to describe England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These four countries together form the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is also described as a country. The alternative terms, constituent...

.

Industrial Revolution



During the late 18th century and early 19th century, there was considerable social upheaval as a largely agrarian society was transformed by technological advances and increasing mechanization, which was the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. Much of the agricultural workforce was uprooted from the countryside and moved into large urban centres of production, as the steam-based production factories could undercut the traditional cottage industries, because of economies of scale and the increased output per worker made possible by the new technologies. The consequent overcrowding into areas with little supporting infrastructure saw dramatic increases in the rate of infant mortality (to the extent that many Sunday schools for pre-working age children (5 or 6) had funeral clubs to pay for each others funeral arrangements), crime, and social deprivation.

The transition to industrialization was not wholly seamless for workers, many of whom saw their livelihoods threatened by the process. Of these, some frequently sabotaged or attempted to sabotage factories. These saboteurs were known as "Luddites".

Local governance



The Local Government Act of 1888 was the first systematic attempt to impose a standardised system of local government in England. The counties of England at the time (today known as the historic counties
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

, since the major boundary changes of 1974) were used as the basis of the system. A second Act in 1894 (Local Government Act 1894
Local Government Act 1894
The Local Government Act 1894 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales outside the County of London. The Act followed the reforms carried out at county level under the Local Government Act 1888...

) also created a second tier of local government. Henceforth, all administrative counties and county boroughs would be divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration.

By 1888, it was clear that the piecemeal system that had developed over the previous century in response to the vastly increased need for local administration could no longer cope. The sanitary districts and parish councils had legal status, but were not part of the mechanism of government. They were run by volunteers; often there was no-one who could be held responsible for the failure to undertake the required duties. Furthermore, the increased "county business" could not be handled by the Quarter Sessions, nor was it appropriate to do so. Finally, there was a desire to see local administration performed by elected officials, as in the reformed municipal boroughs. The Local Government Act
Local Government Act 1888
The Local Government Act 1888 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which established county councils and county borough councils in England and Wales...

 was therefore the first systematic attempt to impose a standardised system of local government in England

The counties of England at the time (now known as the historic counties
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

, since the major boundary changes of 1974) were used as the basis of the system. The counties themselves had undergone some boundary changes in the preceding 50 years, mainly to remove enclaves and exclaves. The act called for the creation of statutory counties, based on the ancient/historic counties, but completely corrected for enclaves and exclaves, and adjusted so that all settlements were completely within a single county. These statutory counties were to be used for non-administrative functions: "sheriff
High Sheriff
A high sheriff is, or was, a law enforcement officer in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.In England and Wales, the office is unpaid and partly ceremonial, appointed by the Crown through a warrant from the Privy Council. In Cornwall, the High Sheriff is appointed by the Duke of...

, lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant
The title Lord Lieutenant is given to the British monarch's personal representatives in the United Kingdom, usually in a county or similar circumscription, with varying tasks throughout history. Usually a retired local notable, senior military officer, peer or business person is given the post...

, custos rotulorum
Custos rotulorum
Custos rotulorum is the keeper of an English county's records and, by virtue of that office, the highest civil officer in the county...

, justices, militia, coroner, or other"
. With the advent of elected councils, the offices of lord lieutenant and sheriff became largely ceremonial.

The statutory counties formed the basis for the so-called 'administrative counties'. However, it was felt that large cities and primarily rural areas in the same county could not be well administered by the same body. Thus 59 "counties in themselves", or 'county boroughs', were created to administer the urban centres of England. These were part of the statutory counties, but not part of the administrative counties.

A second Act in 1894 (Local Government Act 1894
Local Government Act 1894
The Local Government Act 1894 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales outside the County of London. The Act followed the reforms carried out at county level under the Local Government Act 1888...

) also created a second tier of local government. Henceforth, all administrative counties and county boroughs would be divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration. The municipal boroughs reformed after 1835 were brought into this system as special cases of urban districts. The urban and rural districts were based upon, and incorporated the sanitary district
Sanitary district
Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales in 1875 and in Ireland in 1878. The districts were of two types, based on existing structures:*Urban sanitary districts in towns with existing local government bodies...

s which had been created in 1875 (with adjustments, so that districts did not overlap two counties).

The Act also provided for the establishment of civil parishes. The 1894 Act formed an official system of civil parishes, separated from the ecclesiastical parishes, to carry on some of these responsibilities (others being transferred to the district/county councils). However, the civil parishes were not a complete third-tier of local government. Instead, they were 'community councils' for smaller, rural settlements, which did not have a local government district to themselves. Where urban parish councils had previously existed, they were absorbed into the new urban districts.

Political issues


Following years of political and military agitation for 'Home Rule' for Ireland, the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 established the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 (now the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

) as a separate state, leaving Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 as part of the United Kingdom. The official name of the UK thus became "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

England, as part of the UK, joined the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 in 1973, which became the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 in 1993.

There is a movement in England to create a devolved English Parliament
Devolved English parliament
A devolved English parliament or assembly, giving separate decision-making powers to representatives for voters in England similar to the representation given by the National Assembly for Wales, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, is currently a growing issue in the politics of...

. This would give England a local Parliament like those already functioning for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This issue is referred to as the West Lothian question
West Lothian question
The West Lothian question refers to issues concerning the ability of Members of Parliament from constituencies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to vote on matters that only affect people living in England...

.

General history and local government


A Local Government Commission
Local Government Commission for England (1958 - 1967)
The Local Government Commission for England was established by the Local Government Act 1958 to review the organisation of local government, and make "such proposals as are hereinafter authorised for effecting changes appearing to the Commissions desirable in the interests of effective and...

 was wound up in 1966, and replaced with a Royal Commission (known as the Redcliffe-Maud commission
Redcliffe-Maud Report
The Redcliffe–Maud Report is the name generally given to the report published by the Royal Commission on Local Government in England 1966–1969 under the chairmanship of Lord Redcliffe-Maud.-Terms of reference and membership:...

). In 1969 it recommended a system of single-tier unitary authorities for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

, Selnec
Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 2.6 million. It encompasses one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom and comprises ten metropolitan boroughs: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the...

 (Greater Manchester) and West Midlands
West Midlands (county)
The West Midlands is a metropolitan county in western central England with a 2009 estimated population of 2,638,700. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972, formed from parts of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The...

 (Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and the Black Country
Black Country
The Black Country is a loosely defined area of the English West Midlands conurbation, to the north and west of Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton. During the industrial revolution in the 19th century this area had become one of the most intensely industrialised in the nation...

), which were to have both a metropolitan council and district councils. This report was accepted by the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 government of the time despite considerable opposition, but the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 won the June 1970 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1970
The United Kingdom general election of 1970 was held on 18 June 1970, and resulted in a surprise victory for the Conservative Party under leader Edward Heath, who defeated the Labour Party under Harold Wilson. The election also saw the Liberal Party and its new leader Jeremy Thorpe lose half their...

, and on a manifesto that committed them to a two-tier structure.

The reforms arising from the Local Government Act
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

 of 1972 resulted in the most uniform and simplified system of local government which has been used in England. They effectively wiped away everything that had gone before, and built an administrative system from scratch. All previous administrative districts - statutory counties, administrative counties, county boroughs, municipal boroughs, counties corporate, civil parishes - were abolished.

The aim of the act was to establish a uniform two tier system across the country. Onto the blank canvas, new counties were created to cover the entire country; many of these were obviously based on the historic counties, but there were some major changes, especially in the north.

This uniform two-tier system lasted only 12 years. In 1986, the metropolitan county councils and Greater London were abolished. This restored autonomy (in effect the old county borough status) to the metropolitan and London boroughs. The Local Government Act (1992) established a commission (Local Government Commission for England
Local Government Commission for England (1992)
The Local Government Commission for England was the body responsible for reviewing the structure of local government in England from 1992 to 2002. It was established under the Local Government Act 1992, replacing the Local Government Boundary Commission for England...

) to examine the issues, and make recommendations on where unitary authorities should be established. It was considered too expensive to make the system entirely unitary, and also there would doubtlessly be cases where the two-tier system functioned well. The commission recommended that many counties be moved to completely unitary systems; that some cities become unitary authorities, but that the remainder of their parent counties remain two-tier; and that in some counties the status quo should remain.

The rate-capping rebellion was a campaign within English local councils in 1985 which aimed to force the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 to withdraw powers to restrict the spending of councils. The affected councils were almost all run by left-wing Labour Party leaderships. The campaign's tactic was that councils whose budgets were restricted would refuse to set any budget at all for the financial year 1985-86, requiring the Government to intervene directly in providing local services, or to concede. However, all 15 councils which initially refused to set a rate eventually did so, and the campaign failed to change Government policy. Powers to restrict council budgets have remained in place ever since.

In 1997, the Lieutenancies Act
Lieutenancies Act 1997
The Lieutenancies Act 1997 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, that defines areas that Lord-Lieutenants are appointed to in Great Britain. It came into force on July 1, 1997.-Creation of modern local government:...

 was passed. This firmly separated all local authority areas (whether unitary or two-tier), from the geographical concept of a county as high level spatial unit. The lieutenancies it established became known as ceremonial counties, since they were no longer administrative divisions. The counties represent a compromise between the historic counties
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

 and the counties established in 1974.

While the 1997 Labour government devolved power to Wales, Scotland
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

 and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

, it refused to created a devolved Assembly or parliament for England
Devolved English parliament
A devolved English parliament or assembly, giving separate decision-making powers to representatives for voters in England similar to the representation given by the National Assembly for Wales, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, is currently a growing issue in the politics of...

, planning instead to introduce eight regional assemblies around England to devolve power to the regions. In the event, only a London Assembly
London Assembly
The London Assembly is an elected body, part of the Greater London Authority, that scrutinises the activities of the Mayor of London and has the power, with a two-thirds majority, to amend the mayor's annual budget. The assembly was established in 2000 and is headquartered at City Hall on the south...

 (and directly elected Mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

) was established. Rejection in a referendum of a proposed North-East Assembly in 2004 effectively scrapped those plans. A pre-condition of having a regional assembly was for the whole area to move to unitary authority status. Since the 2005 general election
United Kingdom general election, 2005
The United Kingdom general election of 2005 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2005 to elect 646 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party under Tony Blair won its third consecutive victory, but with a majority of 66, reduced from 160....

 the government has floated the idea of voluntary mergers of local councils, avoiding a costly reorganisation but achieving desired reform. For instance, the guiding principles of the government's "New Localism" demand levels of efficiency not present in the current over-duplicated two-tier structure.

In 2009, new changes to local government
2009 structural changes to local government in England
Structural changes to local government in England were effected on 1 April 2009, whereby a number of new unitary authorities were created in parts of the country which previously operated a 'two-tier' system of counties and districts...

 were made whereby a number of new unitary authorities
Unitary authority
A unitary authority is a type of local authority that has a single tier and is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are usually performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national...

 were created in areas which previously had a 'two-tier' system of counties
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and...

 and districts. In five shire counties
Shire county
A non-metropolitan county, or shire county, is a county-level entity in England that is not a metropolitan county. The counties typically have populations of 300,000 to 1.4 million. The term shire county is, however, an unofficial usage. Many of the non-metropolitan counties bear historic names...

 the functions of the county and district councils were combined into a single authority; and in two counties the powers of the county council were absorbed into a significantly reduced number of districts.

Related historical overviews

  • Bretwalda
    Bretwalda
    Bretwalda is an Old English word, the first record of which comes from the late 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is given to some of the rulers of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the 5th century onwards who had achieved overlordship of some or all of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms...

  • Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

  • Danelaw
    Danelaw
    The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

  • History of the British constitution
    History of the British constitution
    The History of the Constitution of the United Kingdom is a story that begins before the creation of the United Kingdom itself and continues to the present day...

  • History of the British Isles
    History of the British Isles
    The history of the British Isles has witnessed intermittent periods of competition and cooperation between the people that occupy the various parts of Great Britain, Ireland, and the smaller adjacent islands, which together make up the British Isles, as well as with France, Germany, the Low...

  • History of the United Kingdom
    History of the United Kingdom
    The history of the United Kingdom as a unified sovereign state began with the political union of the kingdoms of England, which included Wales, and Scotland on 1 May 1707 in accordance with the Treaty of Union, as ratified by the Acts of Union 1707...

  • History of Scotland
    History of Scotland
    The history of Scotland begins around 10,000 years ago, when humans first began to inhabit what is now Scotland after the end of the Devensian glaciation, the last ice age...

  • History of Ireland
    History of Ireland
    The first known settlement in Ireland began around 8000 BC, when hunter-gatherers arrived from continental Europe, probably via a land bridge. Few archaeological traces remain of this group, but their descendants and later Neolithic arrivals, particularly from the Iberian Peninsula, were...

  • History of Wales
    History of Wales
    The history of Wales begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 29,000 years ago...

  • Politics of the United Kingdom
    Politics of the United Kingdom
    The politics of the United Kingdom takes place within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, in which the Monarch is the head of state and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government...

  • Administrative geography of the United Kingdom
  • List of articles about local government in the United Kingdom
  • Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics
    Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics
    The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics or Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics is a geocode standard for referencing the subdivisions of countries for statistical purposes...


Historical lists and timelines

  • List of British monarchs, British monarchs' family tree
    British monarchs' family tree
    This is the British monarchs' family tree, from James VI of Scotland to the present queen, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.-Before James VI/I:-House of Stuart:-House of Hanover:...

  • Timeline of English history
    Timeline of English history
    -To AD 999:* 55 BC Julius Caesar makes first visit to England* 54 BC Julius Caesar makes second visit to England* 43 Roman invasion ordered by Claudius, who dispatched Aulus Plautius and an army of some 40,000 men....

  • English and French monarchs overlap chart
    English and French monarchs overlap chart
    This chart shows which monarchs of England and France reigned at the same time. This chart was created to help understand the progression of relations between these kingdoms because of the long rivalry between them over the centuries. France has had no monarchs since 1870...

  • Historical and alternative regions of England
    Historical and alternative regions of England
    England is divided into a number of different regional schemes for various purposes. Since the creation of the Government Office Regions in 1994 and their adoption for statistical purposes in 1999, some historical regional schemes have become obsolete...

  • Rule of the Major-Generals (1655) and their ten regions

Societal overviews

  • English people
    English people
    The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

  • Population of England - historical estimates
  • Culture of England
    Culture of England
    The culture of England refers to the idiosyncratic cultural norms of England and the English people. Because of England's dominant position within the United Kingdom in terms of population, English culture is often difficult to differentiate from the culture of the United Kingdom as a whole...

  • Politics of England
    Politics of England
    The Politics of England forms the major part of the wider politics of the United Kingdom, with England being more populus than all the other countries of the United Kingdom put together. As England is also the largest in terms of area and GDP, its relationship to the UK is somewhat different from...

  • Social history of England

Local government

  • History of local government in England
    History of local government in England
    The history of local government in England is one of gradual change and evolution since the Middle Ages. England has never possessed a formal written constitution, with the result that modern administration is based on precedent, and is derived from administrative powers granted to older systems,...

  • 2009 structural changes to local government in England
    2009 structural changes to local government in England
    Structural changes to local government in England were effected on 1 April 2009, whereby a number of new unitary authorities were created in parts of the country which previously operated a 'two-tier' system of counties and districts...

  • Regions of England
    Regions of England
    In England, the region is the highest tier of sub-national division used by central Government. Between 1994 and 2011, the nine regions had an administrative role in the implementation of UK Government policy, and as the areas covered by elected bodies...

  • Subdivisions of England
    Subdivisions of England
    The subdivisions of England consist of a hierarchy of administrative divisions, and non-administrative ceremonial areas. All of England is divided into one of nine regions and 48 ceremonial counties, although these have only a limited role in public policy....

  • Unitary authorities of England
    Unitary authorities of England
    Unitary authorities of England are areas where a single local authority is responsible for a variety of services for a district that elsewhere are administered separately by two councils...


Historical subtopics

  • History of education in England
    History of education in England
    The history of education in England can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England, or even back to the Roman occupation. During the Middle Ages schools were established to teach Latin grammar, while apprenticeship was the main way to enter practical occupations. Two universities were...

  • History of the Jews in England
    History of the Jews in England
    The history of the Jews in England goes back to the reign of William I. The first written record of Jewish settlement in England dates from 1070, although Jews may have lived there since Roman times...

  • English nationalism
    English nationalism
    English nationalism refers to a nationalist outlook or political stance applied to England. In a general sense, it comprises political and social movements and sentiment inspired by a love for English culture, language and history, and a sense of pride in England and the English people...


Further reading

  • Simon Schama
    Simon Schama
    Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

    , A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World, 3500 BC – 1603 AD BBC/Miramax, 2000 ISBN 0-7868-6675-6; TV series A History of Britain, Volume 2: The Wars of the British 1603–1776 BBC/Miramax, 2001 ISBN 0-7868-6675-6; A History of Britain - The Complete Collection on DVD BBC 2002
  • Norman Davies
    Norman Davies
    Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom.- Academic career :...

    , The Isles, A History Oxford University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-19-513442-7
  • Roberts, Clayton et al. History Of England (2 vol 2009)
  • G. M. Trevelyan Shortened History of England Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-023323-7; an old classic
  • History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Sir Winston Churchill
    Winston Churchill
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

     Cassell reference, ISBN 0-304-36389-8

Primary sources

  • Connected Histories
  • Stephenson, Carl and Frederick G. Marcham, eds. Sources of English Constitutional History (2nd ed. 1990)
  • English historical documents London: Methuen; 12 vol to 1957; reprinted 2011
  • Wiener, Joel H. ed. Great Britain: the lion at home; a documentary history of domestic policy, 1689-1973 (4 vol)
  • Beard, Charles, ed. An introduction to the English historians (1906) excerpts
  • "Finding primary resources for modern British history"
  • Letters of the Kings of England, now first collected from the originals in royal archives
    Royal Archives
    The Royal Archives, also known as the Queen's Archives, are a division of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. It is operationally under the control of the Keeper of the Royal Archives, who is customarily the Private Secretary to the Sovereign.Although Sovereigns have kept...

    , and from other authentic sources, private as well as public
    by J O Halliwell-Phillipps, London, H. Colburn, 1846. vol. 1 — Google Books