A Brief History Of The UK

A Brief History Of The UK
The long and often violent history of the UK began in Saxon times before the Roman invasion in 42AD, at which time the land was divided into small tribal kingdoms involved in trade and occasional minor skirmishes with each other.

The arrival of Julius Caesar’s legions united England for the first time and lasted for over 400 years, although Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were never conquered.

Subsequent to the departure of the Romans around 410BC, England continued to be a country of small cities, such as Canterbury, based around early medieval religious communities and smaller agricultural and fishing communities, trading with each other and with few conflicts except those caused by Viking raids in the ninth century. Everything changed in 1066, with the arrival of William, Duke of Normandy and his army.

Claiming his rights as heir to the English throne, William defeated King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, installing himself as King and dispensing large swathes of the country to his Norman followers, who built many of the great castles still visible today. His famous contribution to English heritage was the Domesday Book, containing the full details of every city, town, village and community in the country in great detail.

Normans ruled not only England but parts of Ireland by the 12th century, and in 1215 AD an important milestone was the Magna Carta, a declaration of the rights of English people signed by King John in order to quell the peasant rebellions caused by high levels of tax. In the 13th century King Edward conquered the wild Welsh, incorporating Wales into his kingdom.

War with Scotland followed, with the 1297 defeat of the English forces reversed the following year and continuing for 15 years until the clans’ final victory at Bannockburn in 1314. In 1337, the ‘Hundred Years War’ against France broke out, with the Black Death plague arriving a year later and killing almost half of England’s population.

The rule of Henry VIII began in 1509, and his rejection of the Italian Pope and the forming of the Church of England came in 1534. England’s greatest historic queen Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558 and ruled throughout the extraordinary 45 years of exploration by sea which spawned the British Empire from the Georgian period onwards.

The American War of Independence and the Industrial Revolution from the 1760s onward changed the face of Britain forever, presided over mostly by Queen Victoria from 1837 until 1901. The carnage of WWI began in 1914 with compulsory military service, ending in 1918, with WWII taking over in 1939. Since its end in 1945, the world has changed beyond recognition.