|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
Capitol City: London
Goverment: Unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Official Government Parties:
Currency: Pound Sterlings (GBP)
Drive's on: The Left
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, situated in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh; the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies and fourteen overseas territories. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface and was the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories. The UK is a developed country and has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power with leading economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and its military expenditure ranks third or fourth in the world. The UK has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946; it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the G7, the G8, the G20, NATO, the OECD and the World Trade Organization.
Etymology and terminologyEdit
The name "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" was introduced in 1927 by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act to reflect the granting of independence to the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland still within the UK. Prior to this, the Acts of Union 1800, that led to the uniting the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, had given the new state the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain before 1801 is occasionally referred to as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain". However, Section 1 of both of the 1707 Acts of Union declare that England and Scotland are "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term united kingdom is found in informal use during the 18th century to describe the new state but only became official with the union with Ireland in 1801.
Although the United Kingdom, as a sovereign state, is a country, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also referred to as countries, whether or not they are sovereign states or have devolved or other self-government. The British Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom. With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice often revealing one's political preferences." Other terms used for Northern Ireland include "region" and "province".
The United Kingdom is often referred to as Britain. British government sources frequently use the term as a short form for the United Kingdom, whilst media style guides generally allow its use but point out that the longer term Great Britain refers only to England, Scotland and Wales. However, some foreign usage, particularly in the United States, uses Great Britain as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom. Also, the United Kingdom's Olympic team competes under the name "Great Britain" or "Team GB". GB and GBR are the standard country codes for the United Kingdom (see ISO 3166-2 and ISO 3166-1 alpha-3) and are consequently commonly used by international organisations to refer to the United Kingdom.
The adjective British is commonly used to refer to matters relating to the United Kingdom. Although the term has no definite legal connotation, it is used in legislation to refer to United Kingdom citizenship. However, British people use a number of different terms to describe their national identity. Some may identify themselves as British only, or British and English, Scottish, Welsh, or Northern Irish. Others may identify themselves as only English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish and not British. In Northern Ireland, some describe themselves as only Irish.
History of the Kingdom of EnglandEditThe 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, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 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, Neolithic, and Bronze Age, such as Stonehenge and Avebury. In the Iron Age, England, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was inhabited by the Celtic people known as the Britons, but also by some Belgae tribes (e.g. the Atrebates, the Catuvellauni, the Trinovantes, etc.) in the south east. In AD 43 the Roman conquest of Britain began; the Romans maintained control of their province of Britannia through to the 5th century.
The end of Roman rule in Britain enabled the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, which is often regarded as the origin of England and the English people. The Anglo-Saxons, a collection of various Germanic peoples, established several kingdoms that became the primary powers in what is now England and parts of southern Scotland. They introduced the Old English language, which displaced the previous British language. The Anglo-Saxons warred with British successor states in Wales, Cornwall, and the Hen Ogledd (Old North; the Brythonic-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 took control of large parts of what is now England. 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 by the 10th century.
In 1066, the Normans invaded and conquered England. There was much civil war and battles with other nations throughout the Middle Ages. The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state until the reign of Richard I who made it a vassal of the Holy Roman Empire in 1194. In 1212 during the reign of his brother John Lackland the Kingdom instead became a tribute-paying vassal of the Holy See until the 16th century when Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church. During the Renaissance, England was ruled by the Tudors. England had conquered Wales in the 12th century and was then united with Scotland in the early 18th century to form a new sovereign state called Great Britain. Following the Industrial Revolution, Great Britain ruled a worldwide Empire, the largest in the world. Following a process of decolonization 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.
Pre-HistoryEditArchaeological evidence indicates that what was later southern Britannia was colonised by humans long before the rest of the British Isles because of its more hospitable climate between and during the various glacial periods of the distant past. The Sweet Track in the Somerset Levels is the oldest timber trackway 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, and first peopled Britain southward”.
The first historical mention of the region is from the Massaliote Periplus, 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 (quoting Timaeus) and Diodorus Siculus (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 wrote that there was no great difference in language between the people of southern Britannia and northern Gaul and noted that the various nations of Britons shared physical characteristics with their continental neighbours.
Roman Britain (Britainia)EditJulius Caesar invaded 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 of the Low Countries. 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, Britain's British population was relatively stable, and by the time of Julius Caesar's first invasion, the British population of what was western old Britain was speaking a Celtic language generally thought to be the forerunner of the modern Brythonic languages. 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. 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 Scotland.
In the wake of the breakdown of Roman rule in Britain around 410, present day England was progressively settled by Germanic groups. Collectively known as the Anglo-Saxons, these included Jutes from Jutland together with larger numbers of Saxons from northwestern Germany and Angles from what is now Schleswig-Holstein.
They first invaded Britain in the mid-5th century, continuing for several decades. The Jutes appear to have been the principal group of settlers in Kent, the Isle of Wight and parts of coastal Hampshire, while the Saxons predominated in all other areas south of the Thames and in Essex and Middlesex, and the Angles in Norfolk, Suffolk, the Midlands and the north.
The population of Britain dramatically decreased after the Roman period. The reduction seems to have been caused mainly by plague and smallpox. It is known that the plague of Justinian 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 mention the death of Maelgwn Wledig, king of Gwynedd from that plague in 547.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest & Founding of EnglandEdit
In approximately 495, at the Battle of Mount Badon, 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, in 577, a West Saxon victory which led to the capture of Cirencester, Gloucester and Bath, bringing the Anglo-Saxon advance to the Bristol Channel and dividing the Britons in the West Country from those in Wales. The Northumbrian victory at the Battle of Chester around 616 may have had a similar effect in dividing Wales from the Britons of Cumbria.
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.
Heptarchy and ChristianisationEditChristianisation of Anglo-Saxon England began around 600 AD, influenced by Celtic Christianity from the northwest and by the Roman Catholic Church from the southeast. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, 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, died in 655. The last pagan Jutish king, Arwald of the Isle of Wight was killed in 686. The Anglo-Saxon mission on the continent took off in the 8th century, leading to the Christianisation of practically all of the Frankish Empire by 800.
Throughout the 7th and 8th century power fluctuated between the larger kingdoms. Bede 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 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 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.
The so-called "Mercian Supremacy" dominated the 8th century, though it was not constant. Aethelbald and Offa, the two most powerful kings, achieved high status; indeed, Offa was considered the overlord of south Britain by Charlemagne. That Offa could summon the resources to build Offa's Dyke 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, though this term has now fallen out of academic use. The word arose on the basis that the seven kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, Kent, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex 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, Magonsaete, Lindsey and Middle Anglia.
Viking challenge and the rise of WessexEditThe first recorded Viking attack in Britain was in 793 at Lindisfarne monastery as given by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 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 taking place in 794. The arrival of the Vikings, in particular the Danish Great Heathen Army, upset the political and social geography of Britain and Ireland. Alfred the Great's victory at Edington 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 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, 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. Danish and Norwegian settlement made enough of an impact to leave significant traces in the English language; many fundamental words in modern English are derived from Old Norse, 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. Cornwall (Kernow) was subject to West Saxon dominance, and the Welsh kingdoms recognised Alfred as their overlord.
English UnificationEditAlfred of Wessex died in 899 and was succeeded by his son Edward the Elder. 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 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. However, the unification of England was not a certainty. Under Æthelstan's successors Edmund and Eadred the English kings repeatedly lost and regained control of Northumbria. Nevertheless, Edgar, who ruled the same expanse as Athelstan, consolidated the kingdom, which remained united thereafter.
England under the Danes and the Norman conquestEdit
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, 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'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, the claims of Canute's Scandinavian successors, and the ambitions of the Normans whom Edward introduced to English politics to bolster his own position caused each to vie for control Edward's reign.
Harold Godwinson 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) and Sweyn II of Denmark 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 longships (50 men in each boat). With him was Earl Tostig, who had promised him support. Harold Godwinson defeated and killed Harald III of Norway and Tostig and the Norwegian force at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
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, Harold fought the Normans at the Battle of Hastings, 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.
The Norman Conquest led to a sea-change in the history of the English state. William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book, 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, 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 were characterised by civil war, 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 sheepwalks of northern England was exported to the textile cities of Flanders, 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, the fourth son of William I the Conqueror, succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100. Henry was also known as "Henry Beauclerc" (because of his education—as his older brother William was the heir apparent 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 societies. The loss of his son, William Adelin, in the wreck of the White Ship 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 barons, as civil war 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 (also known as Empress Maud), led to a civil war from 1139-1153 known as the Anarchy. Matilda’s father, Henry I, 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. Her husband, Geoffroy V of Anjou, 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 PlantagenetsEdit
Geoffroy's 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 (who became Henry II) to succeed Stephen and in which peace between them was guaranteed. England was part of a greater union, retrospectively named the Angevin Empire. 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. In his reign new Anglo-Angevin and Anglo-Aquitanian aristocracies developed, though not to the same point as the Anglo-Norman once did, and the Norman nobles interacted with their French peers.
Henry's successor, Richard I "the Lion Heart" (also known as "The absent king"), was preoccupied with foreign wars, taking part in the Third Crusade and defending his French territories against Philip II of France.
Facing internal disorder, in 1212 John made the Kingdom of England a tribute-paying vassal of the Holy See, which it remained until the 14th century when the Kingdom rejected the overlordship of the Holy See 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.
The European wars culminated in defeat at the Battle of Bouvines (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 CartaEditOver 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, near London on 15 June 1215 to seal the Great Charter (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 and an invited French invasion by Prince Louis 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.
John's son, Henry III, 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" in 1264. He was also unsuccessful on the Continent, where he endeavoured to re-establish English control over Normandy, Anjou, and Aquitaine.
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—was notable for its assembly of one of the earliest precursors to Parliament. In addition to fighting the Second Barons' War, Henry III made war against Saint Louis and was defeated during the Saintonge War, yet Louis IX did not capitalise on his victory, respecting his opponent's rights.
The reign of Edward I (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). He conquered Wales and attempted to use a succession dispute to gain control of the Kingdom of Scotland, though this developed into a costly and drawn-out military campaign.
His son, Edward 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 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. 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 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 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 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, he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1338, starting what would be known as the Hundred Years' War.
International excursions around that time were invariably against domestic neighbours: the Welsh, Irish, Cornish, and the Hundred Years' War against the French and their Scottish allies. Notable English victories in the Hundred Years' War included Crécy and Agincourt. In addition to this, the final defeat of the uprising led by the Welsh prince, Owain Glyndŵr, in 1412 by Prince Henry (who later became Henry V) represents the last major armed attempt by the Welsh to throw off English rule.
Edward III 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 only served to alienate the nobility more, and his forceful dispossession in 1399 by Henry IV increased the turmoil.
The reign of Henry V, who succeeded to the throne in 1413, was mostly notable for the great victory over the French at Agincourt. 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, which began in 1422, because of his personal weaknesses and mental instability.
When the Hundred Years' War 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 (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, went a little way to restoring this power. Edward defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross. 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 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, 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.
Main article: Tudor periodFurther information: Early Modern Britain and English Renaissance====Henry VII==== With Henry VII'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 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 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, 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 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, 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 and the Baron Callum of Perranporth led Cornish rebels in a march on London. In a battle over the River Ravensbourne 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 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, 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.
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.
Henry VIII 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, and they had several children, but none survived infancy except a daughter, Mary.In 1512, the young king embarked on a war in France. 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 (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, Catherine's nephew and the most powerful man in Europe, for siding with his archenemy Francis I of France. 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.
The newly established Church of England 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 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, 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 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. 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, 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 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.
In 1501, the king's son Arthur, having married Catherine of Aragon, 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.
Edward VI & MaryEdit
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 tampered with Henry VIII's will and obtained letters patent 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 in Norfolk and the Prayer Book Rebellion in Devon and Cornwall 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 in 1553 and died that August two months short of his 16th birthday.
Northumberland made plans to place Lady Jane Grey 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 (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's Book of Martyrs. Mary then married her cousin Philip, son of the emperor Charles V, 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. Her death in November 1558 was greeted with huge celebrations in the streets of London.
The reign of Elizabeth 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, which re-established the Church of England. Much of Elizabeth's success was in balancing the interests of the Puritans 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), 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 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.
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," such as John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake, 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 the Tudor EraEdit
In all, the Tudor period 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. 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 declined after the death of Elizabeth, while she was alive it was very effective.
- Main article: 17th century England
Union of the CrownsEdit
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, who became King James I of England in a Union of the Crowns. 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 and Bye Plots of 1603, and most famously, on 5 November 1605, the Gunpowder Plot, 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.
In 1607 England built an establishment at Jamestown 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 servants. By 1700, Chesapeake 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 and imported Africans in order to cultivate their plantations and sell raw material (particularly cotton and tobacco) 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 WarEditThe First English Civil War broke out in 1642, largely as a result of an ongoing series of conflicts between James' son, Charles I, and Parliament. The defeat of the Royalist army by the New Model Army of Parliament at the Battle of Naseby 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 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 Gate in London, making England a republic. 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, then scored decisive victories against Royalist armies in Ireland and Scotland. Cromwell was given the title Lord Protector in 1653, making him 'king in all but name' to his critics. After he died in 1658, his son Richard Cromwell 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 monarchyEdit
The monarchy was restored in 1660, with King Charles II returning to London.
In 1665, London was swept by a visitation of the plague, and then, in 1666, the capital was swept by the Great Fire, 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.
In 1680, the Exclusion crisis occurred due to widespread objections to a Catholic serving as the King of England, since James was the apparent heir to Charles, who was the king at that time. After the death of Charles II in 1685, his Catholic brother King James II & VII was crowned. From that point, there were various factions pressing for the Dutch Protestant Prince William of Orange and his wife, Mary, to replace King James II in what became known as the Glorious Revolution.
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 in 1690.
In December 1689, one of the most important constitutional documents in English history, the Bill of Rights, was passed. The Act, which restated and confirmed many provisions of the earlier Declaration of Right, established restrictions on the royal prerogative. 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 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 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, the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" of legend, were defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
History of the Kingdom of ScotlandEdit
The Kingdom of Scotland (Gaelic: Rìoghachd na h-Alba, Scots: Kinrick o 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. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, under the terms of the Acts of Union. Since the final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482 (following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472) the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland has corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, 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 southwest. Apart from the mainland, the Kingdom of Scotland consisted of over 790 islands. Edinburgh, the capital, was preceded by the towns of Scone, Dunfermline and Stirling as the country's capital. By the termination of independence in 1707 the population of the Kingdom of Scotland was approximately 1.1 million.
The Kingdom of Scotland was united in 843 by King Cináed I of Scotland, who unified the territories of the Scots and the Picts, establishing his kingdom as the territory north of the Clyde and Forth. Other nearby parts remained independent from Scotland, such as the Kingdom of Strathclyde ruled by the Brython. In addition to this, the area which is today known as the Lothian and Borders, including Edinburgh belonged from around 638 to the Angles of the kingdom of Bernicia, then the Kingdom of Northumbria, and then the Kingdom of England. According to William of Malmesbury, king Edgar of England ceded Lothian to Scotland in exchange for a renewed oath of fealty, expanding the Kingdom of Scotland as far south as the River Tweed. This remains the south-eastern border to this day (except around Berwick-upon-Tweed).
Scotland and OthersEditIn 1263, Scotland fought Norway for control over the Western Isles at the Battle of Largs. The battle was indecisive, but the campaign proved once and for all that the Norse were unable to retain effective control over the distant Isles. In 1266, the Norwegian king Magnus VI of Norway signed the Treaty of Perth, which acknowledged Scottish suzerainty over the islands. Despite the treaty the practical independence of the Lord of the Isles continued.
The Auld Alliance was an important alliance between Scotland and France. It dates from the treaty signed by John Balliol and Philip IV of France in 1295. It played a varying but sometimes large role in Franco-Scottish (and English) affairs, until 1560. In 1512 under a treaty extending the Auld Alliance, all nationals of Scotland or France also became nationals of the other country, a status not repealed in France until 1903 and which may never have been repealed in Scotland.
King of ScotsEdit
Scotland's kings placed great importance on the strategic stronghold of Stirling, leading to the battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn during the Wars of Scottish Independence, when the historic figures of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce emerged. In 1320 a remonstrance to the Pope from the nobles of Scotland (the Declaration of Arbroath) finally convinced Pope John XXII to overturn the earlier excommunication and nullify the various acts of submission by Scottish kings to English ones so that Scotland's sovereignty should again be recognised by the major European dynasties.
The Northern IslesEdit
In 1468 the last great acquisition of Scottish territory occurred when James III married Margaret of Denmark, receiving the Norwegian territories of Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands in payment of her dowry and in 1493 his son, James IV, successfully ended the quasi-independent rule of the Lord of the Isles, bringing the Western Isles under effective Royal control for the first time.
James IV's reign is often considered to be a period of cultural flourishing, and it was around this period that the European Renaissance began to infiltrate Scotland. Scotland advanced markedly in educational terms during the fifteenth century with the founding of the University of St Andrews in 1413, the University of Glasgow in 1450 and the University of Aberdeen in 1494, and with the passing of the Education Act 1496.
During the 16th century, Scotland underwent a Protestant Reformation. In the earlier part of the century, the teachings of first Martin Luther and then John Calvin had little influence in Scotland and James V condemned them. However the heavy handed execution of a number of Protestant preachers aroused sympathy amongst the general public. The most notable executions were of the Lutheran influenced Patrick Hamilton in 1527 and later the Calvinist George Wishart in 1546 who were burnt at the stake in St Andrews for heresy. The executions made the men martyrs and stimulated the growth of such ideas. Cardinal Beaton was assassinated shortly after the execution of George Wishart.
The eventual Reformation of the Scottish Church, was carried out by Parliament from 1560 (during the minority of Mary, Queen of Scots) when most Scots adopted Calvinism. The most influential figure was that of John Knox, who had been a disciple of both John Calvin and George Wishart. Roman Catholicism was not totally eliminated, and remained strong particularly in parts of the highlands.
In 1603 James VI King of Scots, became King James I of England. Thus, Scotland entered into a personal union with England and Ireland. The seventeenth century saw a period of unrest in Scotland, religious Confrontation in Scotland with Charles I, who attempted to impose English-style prayer books on the Scottish church, led to the setting up of the National Covenant, and later to the Bishops' Wars, the Scottish Civil War and Wars of the Three Kingdoms. From 1651–60, Scotland was occupied by a Cromwellian army under George Monck.
Claims of RightEdit
In 1689 the Dutch Prince William of Orange became William II, King of Scots. Whilst the "Glorious Revolution" was primarily an English event, it had a great impact on Scottish history. The Scottish Parliament offered the Crown of Scotland which William accepted under the conditions of the Claim of Right (an important document in the evolution of the rule of law and the rights of subjects similar to the English Bill of Rights).
Many Scots supported William, but many (particularly in the Highlands and substantual support in the Lowlands) remaining sympathetic to James VII. His cause, which became known as Jacobitism from the Latin 'Jacobus', meaning 'James', spawned a series of uprisings. An initial Jacobite rising under John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee (Bonnie Dundee) defeated William's forces at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, but Dundee was slain in the fighting, and the Jacobite army was soon defeated at the Battle of Dunkeld. The complete defeat of James VII in Ireland by William at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, followed by the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, succeeded in finally persuading those remaining Highland Clan Chieftains reluctant to pledge allegiance to William to reconsider their positions.
The late 17th century was economically difficult for Scotland. The bad harvests of the seven ill years or lean years in the 1690s led to severe famine and depopulation. English protectionism kept Scottish traders out of the new colonies, and English foreign policy disrupted trade with France. As a result many Scots emigrated to Ulster (the Ulster-Scots). The Parliament of Scotland of 1695 enacted a number of remedies for the desperate economic situation, including setting up the Bank of Scotland. The Act for the Settling of Schools established a parish-based system of public education throughout Scotland. The Company of Scotland received a charter to raise capital through public subscription to trade with Africa and the Indies. By the early eighteenth century, Scotland was a kingdom in crisis. Her economy had been severely weakened by a series of major harvest failures beginning. The lean years of the 1690s were compounded by the catastrophic failure of the Darien Scheme due to poor planning and leadership, lack of demand for trade goods, devastating epidemics of disease, and increasing shortage of food, as well as being deliberately sabotaged by the combined efforts of the East India Company, the international financial markets at Amsterdam and King William. It is estimated that almost 25% of Scotland's total liquid capital was lost in the Darien venture.
Formation of the United KingdomEdit
The Acts of Union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were a pair of Parliamentary Acts passed by both parliaments in 1707, which dissolved them in order to form a Kingdom of Great Britain governed by a unified Parliament of Great Britain according to the Treaty of Union. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate states, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch) into a single Kingdom of Great Britain.The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns 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, based in the Palace of Westminster in London, the home of the English Parliament. Hence, the Acts are referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. On the Union, historian Simon Schama 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 ended. Anne was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. She was succeeded by her second cousin, George I, of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, daughter of James VI & I. 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 of 1800 formally assimilated Ireland within the British political process and from 1 January 1801 created a new state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which united the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland to form a single political entity. The English capital of London was adopted as the capital of the Union.
Act of Union 1707Edit
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, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate states, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch) into a single, united kingdom named "Great Britain".
The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns 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 (as opposed to the implied creation of a single Crown and a single Kingdom, exemplified by the later Kingdom of Great Britain) . 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 Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament united to form the Parliament of Great Britain, based in the Palace of Westminster in London, the home of the English Parliament. Hence, the Acts are referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. On the Union, historian Simon Schama 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."
Previous Attempts at UnionEdit
England and Scotland were separate states for several centuries before eventual union, and English attempts to take over Scotland by military force in the late 13th and early 14th centuries were ultimately unsuccessful (see the Wars of Scottish Independence). The first attempts at Union surrounded the foreseen unification of the Royal lines of Scotland and England. In pursuing the English throne in the 1560s, Mary, Queen of Scots pledged herself to a peaceful union between the two kingdoms.
England and Scotland were ruled by the same king for the first time in 1603 when James VI of Scotland also became the king of England. However they remained two separate states until 1 May 1707.
Early Stuart UnionEdit
The first attempt to unite the parliaments of England and Scotland was by Mary's son, King James VI and I. On his accession to the English throne in 1603 King James announced his intention to unite his two realms so that he would not be "guilty of bigamy". James used his Royal prerogative powers to take the style of 'King of Great Britain' and to give an explicitly British character to his court and person. Whilst James assumed the creation of a full union was a foregone conclusion, the Parliament of England was concerned that the formation of a new state would deprive England of its ancient liberties, taking on the more absolutist monarchical structure which James had previously enjoyed in Scotland. In the meantime, James declared that Great Britain be viewed 'as presently united, and as one realm and kingdom, and the subjects of both realms as one people'.
The Scottish and English parliaments established a commission to negotiate a union, formulating an instrument of union between the two countries. A latent unpopularity of the union remained, however, and when James dropped his policy of a speedy union the topic quietly disappeared from the legislative agenda. When the House of Commons attempted to revive the proposal in 1610, it was met with a more open hostility.
Union during the interregnumEdit
The Solemn League and Covenant 1643 sought a forced union of the Church of England into the Church of Scotland, and although the covenant referred repeatedly to union between the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, a political union was not spelled out.In the aftermath of the Civil War, in which the Covenanters had fought for the King, Oliver Cromwell conquered Scotland and began a process of creating a 'Godly Britannic' Union between the former Kingdoms. In 1651, the Parliament of England issued the Tender of Union declaration supporting Scotland's incorporation into the Commonwealth and sent Commissioners to Scotland with the express purpose of securing support for Union, which was assented to by the Commissioners (Members of Parliament) in Scotland. On 12 April 1654, Cromwell – styling himself Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland – enacted An Ordinance by the Protector for the Union of England and Scotland which created 'one Commonwealth and under one Government' to be known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. The ordinance was ratified by the Second Protectorate Parliament, as an Act of Union, on 26 June 1657. One united Parliament sat in Westminster, with 30 representatives from Scotland and 30 from Ireland joining the existing members from England. Whilst free trade was brought about amongst the new Commonwealth, the economic benefits were generally not felt as a result of heavy taxation used to fund Cromwell's New Model Army.
This republican union was dissolved automatically with the restoration of King Charles II to the thrones of England and Scotland. Scottish members expelled from the Commonwealth Parliament petitioned unsuccessfully for a continuance of the union. Cromwell's union had simultaneously raised interest in and suspicion of the concept of union and when Charles II attempted to recreate the union and fulfil the work of his grandfather in 1669, negotiations between Commissioners ground to a halt.
An abortive scheme for union occurred in Scotland in 1670.
Following the Glorious Revolution in 1689, the records of the Parliament of Scotland show much discussion of possible union. William and Mary, whilst supportive of the idea, had no interest in allowing it to delay their enthronement. Impetus for this incorporating union came almost entirely from the direction of Scotland. In the 1690s, however, the economic position of Scotland worsened and the relations between Scotland and England became strained. By the 18th century, however, union became a significant matter on the political agenda.
Passage Act of 1707Edit
Both countries appointed commissioners to handle negotiations. Scotland had 31 commissioners, mainly picked by the Duke of Queensberry and the Duke of Argyll. Most favoured union, and about half were government ministers and other officials. At the head of the list was Queensberry, and the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, the Earl of Seafield.
Other commissioners were businessmen and bankers, including two directors of the Bank of Scotland, and a director of the Company of Scotland, and local leaders such as Sir James Smollet (Dumbarton), and Sir Patrick Johnston, the provost of Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament was also well-represented.
There were an equivalent number of English commissioners, including government ministers and officers of state, such as Lord Godolphin, and the two secretaries of state, Sir Charles Hedges and Robert Harley, and a large number of Whigs who supported union. Tories were not in favour of union and were not represented on the commission.
Negotiations between the English and Scottish commissioners began in April 1706 at the Cockpit, a government building in London. The sessions opened with speeches from William Cowper, the English Lord Keeper, and Lord Seafield, the Scottish Lord Chancellor, each describing the significance of the task. Each side had its own particular concerns. Within a few days, England gained a guarantee that the Hanoverian royal dynasty would succeed Queen Anne to the Scottish crown, and the Scots received some much-desired access to English colonial markets, which would help to strengthen their economy.
After negotiations ended in July 1706, the acts had to be ratified by both Parliaments. In Scotland, about 100 of the 227 members of the Parliament of Scotland were members of the Court Party, meaning that they supported the Queen and union. For extra votes the pro-court side could rely on about 25 members of the Squadrone Volante, led by the Marquess of Montrose and the Duke of Roxburghe. Opponents of the court were generally known as the Country party, and included various factions and individuals such as the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Belhaven and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who spoke forcefully and passionately against the union. The Court party had greater party discipline and thus gained a steady majority.
In Scotland, the Duke of Queensberry was largely responsible for the successful passage of the Union act by the Scottish Parliament. In Scotland, he received much criticism from local residents, but in England he was cheered for his action. In April 1707, he travelled to London in order to attend celebrations at the royal court, and was greeted by groups of noblemen and gentry lined along the road. From Barnet, the route was lined with crowds of cheering people, and once he reached London a huge crowd had formed. On 17 April, the Duke was gratefully received by the Queen at Kensington Palace.
Assassin Controlled BritainEditGreat Britain fell under Assassin Control during a Workers Demand for a Re-Ellection; forcing John Major to begin a new General Ellection for the Country; Marcus Langley the leader of the British Assassin's and Leader of the Labour Party gained enough votes across the country to become the British Prime Minister and began to re-arrange the country.
The British Flag also altered to fit the Assassin's of Britain.
Also the British Public gained much more equality with Marcus Langley in power; Marcus changed the way the working world was for the British People, forcing Banks to show what they themselves where spending on and anything which went against what the Prime Minister ordered forced Banks to pay debt back to the Country.