Britain's early history was troubled. In the
400s the Roman rulers fell and the islands were invaded
by Germanic peoples. The Normans took over in the year
1066 and were replaced in the 15th century by the royal
family Tudor. From the end of the 17th century, the
English monarchs needed to gain support in Parliament to
get their decisions through. In 1707 Britain was formed
when England, Scotland and Wales joined forces in a
union. The industrial revolution of the 18th century
made the economy flourish. At the same time, the British
built a colonial empire that spanned several continents.
However, the empire began to break apart during the 20th
century, not least because of the two world wars.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of United Kingdom, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The oldest traces of human settlements in the area
that today make up Britain are almost half a million
years old. Even up to 6000–5000 BC, hunter people could
easily get there from other parts of Europe, but at this
time the sea level rose and cut off the land connection
to the European mainland. For thousands of years, the
islanders became settled and began to cultivate the
land. The remarkable stone monument at Stonehenge in
southern England was erected during the Bronze Age
The Romans and Normans rule England
When the Roman conquest of England began in AD 43,
Celts lived on the British Isles. They were forced into
Wales and Scotland while England was incorporated into
the Roman Empire. During Roman times, the country
reached a relatively high cultural level. At the
dissolution of the Roman Empire in the 400s, England was
invaded by various Germanic peoples, mainly anglers and
scissors from German coastal areas. Roman culture was
completely crushed and England Christianized from
Ireland in the 500s. Political agreement was not reached
until the beginning of the 8th century.
In the following centuries, the British Isles were
devastated by Vikings in several waves of attacks. The
Danes finally conquered virtually all of England, which
for a time was part of the Danish empire. In 1066, the
country was invaded by the Normans under William the
Conqueror. He defeated the Anglo-Saxon King at the
Battle of Hastings and subdued both England and Wales.
William the Conqueror's descendants ruled England and
occasionally Scotland until 1485.
Magna Charter and Parliament
At this time, domestic politics was characterized by
a constant struggle for power between the church, the
great men and the kings. The famous letter of liberty
Magna Charter from 1215 was
actually a royal concession to a coalition directed at
the king, consisting of the three strongest classes in
English society: the high nobility, the merchants and
the clergy. Magna Charter laid down certain legal rules
for the royal power, restricted its arbitrary use of
power, and ordered that the king be allowed to print
taxes only with the permission of the Grand
Council, soon to be called the
Plague, social anxiety and woolen fabrics
By the middle of the 13th century, England was
plagued by the plague epidemic of death. This created a
shortage of labor, which in turn led to a change of
agriculture from arable farming to livestock management.
When the increase in population increased again at the
end of the 1300s, unemployment and social unrest arose,
which led to an increase in the population. At the same
time, industrial production grew, mainly from woolen
fabrics, which during the 1400s became an important
export commodity and source of wealth.
War and colonization of Ireland
During the Middle Ages, England sought to expand west
and north. Wales was definitely incorporated at the end
of the 13th century. The colonization of Ireland began
and even Scotland was occasionally united with England.
In addition, England was at war with France for long
periods of time. The so-called centennial war was
triggered in 1337 since the English king Edward III
claimed the French crown. England had some success at
first, but came gradually to be pushed back and the end
of the war in 1453 marked a definite end to England's
During this time the royal power was weakened and in
1455 a bloody, thirty-year civil war broke out in which
two branches of the royal house fought for England's
throne. This was called the War of the Roses
because the two fighting factions had a red and white
rose as their emblem.
Reformation under the rule of Tudor
In 1485 the Tudor family came to power and gradually
the king succeeded in strengthening his position at the
expense of the nobility and the church. By the end of
the century, Henry VII had crushed the opponents within
the high nobility by confiscating its land and riches.
So did son Henry VIII against the Catholic Church. When
the ideas of the Protestant Reformation reached England
in the 16th century, it was possible for Henry VIII to
break with the Pope and create the Anglican Church. The
king, despite the Pope's veto, divorced his first wife
and the church's property was placed under his control.
Under his daughter Elisabeth I (1558-1603), England was
further strengthened both economically and militarily.
At the same time, the country experienced a cultural
Competition for trade and religious reasons led to
war against Spain in 1585. Three years later, England
triumphed in a major battle against the Spanish armada
which intended to conquer England and reintroduce
Catholicism there. England then became Europe's foremost
naval power and began to colonize other continents,
initially in North America and the Caribbean.
Military dictatorship under Cromwell
In 1603, Scotland was united with England and Wales
in a union with Jacob I, son of Mary Stuart (Scottish
Queen 1542-1567), as king. The royal power now came into
conflict with the bourgeoisie and the low nobility,
which through parliament strengthened its position. A
civil war between, on the one hand, Jacob's son Karl I,
the high nobility and the high church, and on the other
the bourgeoisie, low nobility and extreme Protestants (Puritans)
ended with the king's execution in 1649, the republic
and finally military dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell.
During his time in power, England managed to defeat a
prolonged Irish rebellion and gain control over Ireland.
In the 1600s, the colonization of the island began in
earnest, when Protestant Scots, Englishmen and Welshmen
of the British crown were given land from which the
Catholic owners were expelled. A number of laws were
enacted which excluded the Catholic people from
political power and deprived them of the right to own
Bill of Rights and UK created
After Cromwell's death in 1658, the kingdom was
restored and the Stuart family reinstated to the throne.
Karl II became king in 1660. He was succeeded in 1685 by
his Catholic brother Jacob II who was deposed three
years later by the so-called glorious revolution. The
throne went to the Dutch governor William of Orange who
ruled the country together with his wife Maria, Jacob
II's daughter. The Bill of Rights
1689 Declaration of Rights
established Parliament's supremacy over the throne. At
the coronation, the monarch must swear to "govern in
accordance with the laws enacted in parliament". From
now on, it became necessary for the royal ministers to
be supported by a majority in Parliament. Both political
parties Whigs (largely opposed
to the King) and the Tories(royalty)
grew up towards the end of the 17th century. Thus, the
foundation had been laid for the parliamentary system
that still applies today, where the government must have
the confidence of the people's representation.
Britain (Kingdom of Great Britain) was formed in 1707
when England and Wales were formally in union with
Scotland (in 1801 it was converted to the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland and in the 20th century to
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Industrialization and war against France
During the first part of the 18th century, industry
and business were promoted and the foundations laid for
the industrial breakthrough. The sciences also
flourished with names like John Locke and Isaac Newton.
The kings were weak but the more prominent were
political leaders such as Robert Walpole and William
Pitt. Ireland continued to be a troublemaker.
After the relative peace in the first half of the
18th century, the latter part was characterized by
external concerns. Britain had to fight against France
and Spain for colonial possessions and then see their
North American colonies revolt and in 1776 declare
themselves independent. At the end of the century, long
wars were fought with revolutionary France and at the
beginning of the new century against the French emperor
Napoleon, who was definitely defeated in 1815 at
Waterloo in today's Belgium.
The right to vote is expanded
The war against France was followed by a long period
of industrial and economic expansion, which caused
severe social problems, especially among the urban
population. Political and social reforms became
necessary. This led, among other things, to the 1832
Great Parliament Reform (Reform
Act), which extended the voting right,
which until then was very limited, and reformed the
constituency to better match the population distribution
in the country. The government then came to switch
between whigliberals and conservative tories and
gradually gained more and more British voting rights.
The British Empire is growing
Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) was characterized
by both internal and external expansion. The industrial
revolution continued and Britain became an economic
superpower. The colonial empire expanded through India's
eventual conquest and the incorporation of large parts
of the African continent into the British Empire during
the late 19th century.
In Ireland, the economy was hampered by British
coercive laws. In addition, when the potato harvest
failed in 1845-1848, nearly one million people died of
starvation and malnutrition. In the wake of the famine
followed an extensive emigration, mainly to North
America. At the same time, Irish self-awareness grew.
The Irish nationalists often became heavy on the balance
between liberals and conservatives in the British
Parliament, and Liberal leader William Gladstone
unsuccessfully tried to persuade Parliament to grant
Ireland autonomy. During Victoria's era, the process of
self-government for the British colonies Canada,
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa began.
The World War and Northern Ireland are being created
At the beginning of the 20th century, Britain was
still a great power. The First World War, however, posed
a severe strain for the country and the end of the peace
was followed by major economic difficulties and high
unemployment. The women, who had played an important
role in making the country functioning during the war,
succeeded in 1918 in winning the right to vote. The
Liberals went back and were disadvantaged by the system
of majority elections that had been introduced in 1832.
Instead, politics was dominated by the Conservative
Party and the Labor Party.
During the First World War, British troops mainly
participated in battles in Belgium and northern France.
At the same time, worries in Ireland increased. An armed
uprising broke out in 1916 but was quickly defeated by
the British. The Irish struggle for independence
continued. In 1921, they reluctantly agreed to a British
proposal that gave them autonomy. Six counties (today's
Northern Ireland) remained British, as the Protestant
majority opposed a break with Britain. Northern Ireland
came to be governed without much interference from the
London government. Politics were dominated by the
Protestant Unionists, while the Catholic minority was
largely lacking in political and economic influence.
In 1939, Britain entered World War II. Through great
efforts under the leadership of Prime Minister Winston
Churchill, the British managed to fight back the German
attacks both in the air and at sea. The war put great
strain and it was a long time before the country
Britt becomes EU's new "Foreign Minister"
Labor politician Catherine Ashton is named EU High Representative for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy in the EU.
Libyan assailant released
Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill decides that a Libyan citizen,
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who is dying of cancer, should be released for
humanitarian reasons and flown to Libya. The man had been convicted in 2001 for
blowing up an American passenger plane in the air over Scottish Lockerbie in
1988. The council claimed 270 lives. The decision to release al-Megrahi is
controversial and draws criticism from, among others, the United States (189 of
the victims of the Lockerbie attack were Americans).
Labor strike in English local elections
The municipal elections in England on June 4 mean a stinging defeat for
Labor. The election will be a clear success for the Conservative Party, which in
total gets about 38 percent of the vote, against 28 percent for the Liberal
Democrats and 23 percent for Labor. In the EU elections, which are held at the
same time as the municipal elections, Labor receives only 13 seats. The
Conservatives win 25 seats, one more than before. As big as Labor becomes the
British Independence Party (UKIP), 11 seats go to the Liberal Democrats. Several
smaller parties are also joining the European Parliament, including the
xenophobic British Nationalist Party (GDP), which will receive two seats.
Corruption scandal in parliament
MPs from the three major parties end up in blustery weather because of
disclosures about what they have requested and received reimbursement for
(including as compensation for double accommodation expenses). The information
has leaked to the Daily Telegraph newspaper and although many members have not
violated any rules it seems that they have tried to get as much as they can up
to the maximum limit of just over £ 24,000. It is about everything from
renovating homes, building swimming pools, buying incandescent lamps or trying
to avoid paying all their municipal taxes.