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English History

The history of England began around the time the Stonehenge was erected, but it didn’t really start grow and develop till the Romans and Julius Caesar invaded the country in 54 BC. They controlled most of Britain and called England and Wales, Britannia, as it was a Roman province. They tried to invade Scotland, but the Scots or Picts fought them off. They then decided to build Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England to keep the Picts out. The Roman rule lasted till around 400 AD when they whole Empire was falling apart and they had lost most of their land.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in England, the Anglo-Saxons, which was a Germanic group invaded and settled mainly areas around South-East England in the 5th century. They had to expand westward and take more land, but the Britons (English) had inflicted a severe defeat on them at the Battle of Mount Badon. This only stopped the Anglo-Saxons temporarily, as gradually through the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries they gained territory all the way to the Welsh border and up as far as the River Forth. It was also the Anglo-Saxons who started to encourage religion in the area, which led to the first Archbishop of Canterbury taking office in 597.  During this time the Vikings had attacked Northern England several times and the first known attack took place in Iona in 794. The Anglo-Saxons couldn’t fight off the Vikings, which eventually lead to the Vikings controlling much of Northern Britain. The Vikings called this the Kingdom of Alba, which most of it was later to become what is known today as Scotland. In the Northumbria region the Danish brought over thousands of settlers, which settled the land and made the area what it is today. It’s thought that many words of the English language were derived from Old Norse.

In 1066, the Normans invaded and conquered England under the leadership of William of Orange. He replaced the English ruling class and replaced them with Norman landholders, who also monopolized all senior positions in the government and Church. They all the nobles spoke Norman French, but the rest of the citizens spoke Anglo-Norman, which later developed into what is known as English today.

Over the next two centuries England (Britain) experienced problems within the country and wars with its neighbors mainly from France. It was during this time that Scotland, Wales and Ireland were trying to break away from English hands and in England they succeeded in forming the Kingdom of Scotland. When Edward I took the reign in England things changed, as he sent in his armies to conquer Wales and also sent up his armies to defeat the Scottish. The first battle in Scotland took place with a massive defeat at Bannockburn, but he continued until finally signing the Treaty of Northampton in 1328, which recognized Scottish Independence. If you have seen the movie Braveheart, this is what these events are based around. 

In the 16th century Henry III was in power and he split the Roman Catholic Church over a question of his divorce from one of his wives. He wasn’t Protestant at the time, but his divorce led to England distancing itself from Rome, which led to the English Reformation. Elizabeth I took power in 1558 and she created the Church of England. She was a popular Queen as she kept a good balance between the Catholics and Protestants, but up in Scotland she did try to force a Protestant Reformation, which many people were executed. One of the most famous events took place during Elizabeth’s reign was the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, by Sir Francis Drake.  In 1603 Elizabeth died not leaving any direct heirs, which led to her male Protestant cousin, who was King of Scots and who became King James I of England in a Union of the Crowns. He was the first King to rule the entire island of Great Britain even though he continued to rule them both separately. During his reign England built an establishment at Jamestown in North America in 1607, which led to the beginning of English colonization of the world. The English Civil War broke out in 1642 and lasted till 1645, which led to mass exodus of mainly Scots and Irish to North America. Nova Scotia in Canada originally was called New Scotland, as it saw thousands of Scottish immigrants.

In 1707 the Acts of Union was created, which created a unified Kingdom of Great Britain governed by the Parliament of Great Britain. In 1800 the Act of Union assimilated Ireland within British political process and it then it created the new state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1921 after years of fighting a treaty was signed that established the Republic of Ireland, but Britain would still keep Northern Ireland.

During World War II, Britain would experience mass bombing from the German Luftwaffe, but they managed to with stand the bombing and resulted in the Normandy Beach landings in 1944, which eventually ended World War II. The result of World War II on Britain is even till felt today, as they are still paying off debit to the Americans for the weapons that were loaned during the war. The whole English Empire collapsed around the world, but the English have made there mark on the world as English is the most widely spoken language in the world and at one time it controlled half the land mass of the globe.





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