United Kingdom Old History

By | January 3, 2023

United Kingdom is an independent nation in Northern Europe. With the capital city of London, United Kingdom 2020 population is estimated at 67,886,022 according to countryaah. 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.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: 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 (2000–700 BC). For United Kingdom political system, please check computerminus.

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 Parliament.

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 continental aspirations.

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 boom.

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 land.

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 Ireland).

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 recovered economically.



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

June 4th

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.

United Kingdom Old History