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Lecture 1: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: general information.

The plan.

1. General Information.

2. Population.

3. Language.

4. National emblems.

5. Religion.

6. The land.

7. Climate.

8. The British character.
United Kingdom is a country in North-western Europe. The nation's official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is situated on the British Isles and consists of four political divisions--England, Scotland, and Wales, which make up the island of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland, which occupies the Northeastern part of the island of Ireland. When people refer to the country, most shorten its name to (1) the United Kingdom, (2) the U.K., (3) Great Britain, or (4) Britain. London is the capital and largest city.

The UK is an island state: it is composed of some 5500 islands. The two main islands are Great Britain and Ireland. They are separated by the Irish Sea. The total area of the British Isles is 244100 sq. km. The country is separated from the European continent by the English Channel (or La Manche) and the Strait of Dover (or Pas de Calais). The English Channel is a very dangerous place. Half of the world’s ship collisions take place there. It stretches along the coast for 350 miles, and it’s 120 miles wide at its broadest point, and 21 miles at its narrowest point. On a bright day one can see the white cliffs of Dover from the French coast. The Western coast of the Kingdom is washed by the Atlantic Ocean.

The United Kingdom is one of the world’s smallest countries (it’s only half the size of France or Spain). More than 70 countries are larger in size than the United Kingdom, and the country has only about 1 percent of the world's people.

Population. The United Kingdom is more thickly populated than most countries. There are 58.144 million people in the UK. 5 million people live in Scotland, 2,8 million – in Wales, and 1,5 million in Northern Ireland. The rest number of the population belongs to England. Most of the people live in cities and towns. About a third of the country's residents live in England's seven metropolitan areas. Greater London, the largest metropolitan area, has about 10 percent of the United Kingdom's total population. The six other metropolitan areas are as follows, with the largest city of each area shown in parentheses: Greater Manchester (Manchester), Merseyside (Liverpool), South Yorkshire (Sheffield), Tyne and Wear (Newcastle upon Tyne), West Midlands (Birmingham), and West Yorkshire (Leeds).

More than four-fifths of the population of the United Kingdom live in England. London and England as a whole have great influence over the rest of the United Kingdom because of their large populations.

Each of the four parts of the UK is divided into the counties: England – 46 (London the capital), Scotland – 33 (Edinburgh the capital), Wales – 13 (with the capital of Cardiff), and Northern Ireland (or Ulster) – 6 (the capital – Belfast).

Language. English is the official language of the United Kingdom and is spoken throughout most of the country. English developed chiefly from the language of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman invaders.

Less than a fifth of the people of Wales speak both English and Welsh, a language that developed from one of the languages of the Celts. A few people of Wales speak only Welsh.

Thousands of people in Scotland speak the Scottish form of Gaelic, which is another Celtic language. The Irish form of Gaelic is spoken by a small number of people in Northern Ireland.

National emblems. The formal name of the British national flag is Union Flag, but it is commonly known as the Union Jack. It combines the St. George’s cross of England, St. Andrew’s cross of Scotland and St. Patrick’s cross of Ireland. “Union” symbolizes the union of England and Scotland in 1606, while “Jack” refers to the flag by which a ship shows its nationality.

The upright red cross on a white background is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. St. George’s Day falls on the 23rd of April and is regarded as England’s national day. On this day some patriotic Englishmen wear a rose pinned to their jackets. A red rose is the national emblem of England from the time of the War of Roses.

The white diagonal cross on a blue background is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, who was crucified in 69 AD on a cross formed like the letter “X”. St. Andrew’s Day (30th of November) is regarded as Scotland’s national day. On this day The Scots wear a thistle in their buttonholes. As a national emblem of Scotland thistle apparently was first used in the 15th century as a symbol of defence. The Order of the Thistle is one of the highest orders of knighthood. It was founded in 1687, and is mainly given to Scottish noblemen.

The diagonal red cross on a white background is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. He was a bishop and a missionary in Ireland and died in 461. St. Patrick’s Day (17th of March) is regarded as a national day in Northern Ireland and an official bank holiday there. The national emblem of Ireland is shamrock. According to the legend, it was the plant chosen by St. Patrick to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish.

The national flag of the UK came into being in 1606 as a result of the union with Scotland, when St. Andrew’s cross was added to the cross of St. George. In 1807 Northern Ireland became part of the UK and St. Patrick’s cross was added to the other two.

The welsh flag, called the Welsh dragon, represents a red dragon on a white and green background. St. David’s Day (1st of March) is the church festival of St. David, a 6th century bishop and monk, the patron saint of Wales. This holiday is regarded as the national holiday in Wales. On this day many Welshmen wear either a yellow daffodil or a leek pinned to their jackets.

One can see two animals on the British coat of arms. One of them is the lion. The “king of beast” has been used as a symbol of national strength and of the British monarchy for many centuries. The other one is the unicorn. It is a mythical animal that looks like a horse with a long straight horn growing from its forehead, and is a symbol of purity.

Religion. The United Kingdom has two established (national) churches. They are the Church of England, which is Episcopal, and the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian. The monarch must belong to the Church of England and is its worldly head. The spiritual head of the English Church is the archbishop of Canterbury.

The Church of England has about 27 million members, but most of them do not attend services. The Church of Scotland has about 2 million members. The other Protestant churches have a total of about 8 million members. Of these churches, the largest are the Baptist, Methodist, and United Reformed. The country has about 51/2 million Roman Catholics. It also has about 330,000 Jews, one of the largest groups of Jews in Europe.

The land. The United Kingdom covers most of an island group called the British Isles. The island of Great Britain is the eighth largest island in the world. It covers 84,550 square miles (218,980 square kilometres). Britain can be divided into eight main land regions. Seven of these regions occupy the island of Great Britain. They are (1) the Scottish Highlands, (2) the Central Lowlands, (3) the Southern Uplands, (4) the Pennines, (5) Wales, (6) the Southwest Peninsula, and (7) the English Lowlands. Northern Ireland makes up the eighth region.

Most of the British rivers flow into the North Sea. The most famous English river is the Thames, and it is the deepest. The longest river is the Severn, which is 240 miles long. Scotland’s most important river is the Clyde, on which Glasgow stands. Some of the British greatest ports are situated on the estuaries of the Thames, the Mersey, the Trent, the Tyne, the Clyde, the Bristol Avon and others.

England, Scotland and Wales have many beautiful lakes, the most famous of which are in the Lake District in the North-West England. Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland is the largest lake in the British Isles. It is about 18 miles (29 kilometres) long and about 11 miles (18 kilometres) wide. Loch Lomond in Scotland is the largest lake on the island of Great Britain. It is 23 miles (37 kilometres) long and 5 miles (8 kilometres) wide at its widest point and its total area is 70 sq. km. England's biggest lakes are in the Lake District. The largest, Windermere, is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) long and up to 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) wide. But the most famous lake is probably Loch Ness where the Loch Ness monster lives.

British mountains are low. The highest peak, in Scotland, is Ben Nevis (1343 m) followed by Snowdon, in Wales, 1085 m. Other ranges are: the Grampians (in Scotland) and the Cambrian mountains (in Wales). In the north the Cheviot Hills (the Cheviots) separate England from Scotland. The Pennine chain is a region of low mountains extending from the Cheviot Hills to the river Trent.

There are no great forests in the UK today. But historically, the most famous is the Sherwood Forest, north of London. It was the home of Robin Hood.

The climate. The warm currents in the Atlantic Ocean influence the climate of the Kingdom. This country is known for its typically maritime climate with frequent rains, strong winds, and continuous fogs. It is generally mild, not very cold in winter and never very hot in summer. Spring is the driest season. The rivers do not freeze in winter and snow never lies on the ground for long, except in the north, especially in the highlands of Scotland. Winter temperatures rarely drop as low as 10° F (-12° C), and summer temperatures seldom rise above 90° F (32° C). The climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current that sweeps up from the equator and flows past the British Isles. Steady southwest winds blow across this current and bring warmth in winter. In summer, the ocean is cooler than the land. Winds over the ocean come to Britain as refreshing breezes.

The British character. The UK is an island country on the outer edge of the European continent, and its geographical situation has produced a certain insular spirit among its inhabitants, who tend, a little more perhaps than other people, to regard their own community as the centre of the world. The British look on foreigners in general with contempt and think that nothing is as well done elsewhere as in their own country.

Englishmen tend to be rather conservative. They are practical and realistic. They are not misled by romantic delusions. They love familiar things and are hostile to some modifications of their habits.

English people rarely shake hands, except when they are introduced for the first time. They are prudent and careful about almost everything. Their lawns are carefully and closely cropped, drinks are carefully measured, seats are carefully assigned. They are devoted to animals but they may be very cruel to children.

The class system is very important in Britain. It is created by complex systems of accents, clothes, school and family. There are three basic grades: upper, middle and working-class. But often there are grades within these three. Accent is the sound of a person’s pronunciation. It is very important in Britain. It shows where a person comes from, and, to an extent, what class he or she belongs to. Britain has many different accents. Received Pronunciation (RP), or BBC English (so called because it is used by BBC announcers) is the accent of the southeast of England. It has been associated with power and high social class since the 14th century. At that time the King, the court and the government settled in London, and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, both in the southeast, provided higher education for the whole country. People who wanted to be part of this powerful world had to use the same accent and language. In the 19th century RP was used in public schools and universities, the government and the army to form small groups who would run the Empire. It was often impossible to get any kind of high position if you did not speak in the right way. Today society has changed and regional accents are also acceptable.
Lecture 2. The history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The plan.

1. Early Britain.

2. Celtic Britain.

3. The Roman Britain.

4. Anglo-Saxon England.

5. The Danes.

6. Norman Conquest of England.

7. Medieval England.

8. Tudor England.

9. The Stuarts.

10. The Growth of Empire and Eighteenth-Century Political Developments.

11. Economic, social, and political change.

12. Victorian foreign policy.

13. World War I and its aftermath.

14. World War II and the welfare state.

15. The 1960s and 70s. The Thatcher era to the present.
1. Early Britain.

Nobody knows exactly when the first men appeared on the territory of the British Isles. The very oldest things found were some rough stone tools which dropped from the hands of the men who made and used them in the old days when this land was not an island, but the part of the continent now called Europe. Wild animals could walk everywhere: there was no English Channel or the Irish Sea and nothing could stop them.

We don’t know what became of those men. The Cave Men lived after them around 6000-5000 B.C. Their tools were better made: they had harpoons to catch fish and arrow-heads to catch birds. But nobody knows exactly what became of the Cave Men. The most interesting thing which the Cave Men left to us are their drawings of animals they saw before them: the great long-haired mammoth, the reindeer, the oxen. Many of such drawings can still be seen in the caves of England and France.

During the Neolithic Era (4000-2500 B.C.), when people first figured out that there was an easier way to live than chasing animals, sometime around 4000 B.C. some bright characters from the Mediterranean region moved into England bringing with them the idea of agriculture and cattle breeding.

Around 2500 B.C. an influx of migrants settled in England. These newcomers have been called the Beaker People because of the shape of the pottery vessels which are often found in their graves.

The Beaker People were farmers and archers, wearing stone wrist guards to protect their arms from the sting of the bowstring. They were also first metalsmiths in England, working first in copper and gold, and lster in the bronze which has given the name for the Bronze Age.

Little is known about the earliest inhabitants of Britain, but the remains of their dolmens and barrows and the great stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury are evidence of the developed culture. They had developed a Bronze Age culture by the time the first Celtic invaders (early 5th cent. B.C.) brought their energetic Iron Age culture to Britain. Some Celtic tribes called the Picts as well as tribes of Scots penetrated from the Continent into the mountains, crossed over to Ireland and settled there. Later the Scots settled in the North. They came in such large numbers that the name Scotland was given to that country. Powerful Celtic tribes, the Britons, held most of the country, and the southern part of the island was named Britain after them.

The Iberians, the people who lived on the British isles before the Celtic invasion, were unable to fight back the attacks of the Celts who were armed with metal spears, swords, daggers and axes. Some of them were driven westwards into the mountains of what is now Wales, and others mixed with the Celts.

2. Celtic Britain.

The Celts had no towns, they lived in villages. They used copper, tin, iron and gold, practiced agriculture and kept wealth. They cultivated corn. The Celtic tribes of Britons were more civilized than the other tribes; their clothing was made of wool, woven in many colours while the other Celts wore skins. In war times the Celts wore skins and painted their faces with a blue dye to make themselves look more fierce.

The basic unit of Celtic life was the clan, a sort of extended family. The term "family" is a bit misleading, for by all accounts the Celts practiced a peculiar form of child rearing; they didn't rear them, they farmed them out. Children were actually raised by foster parents. The foster father was often the brother of the birth-mother. Clans were bound together very loosely with other clans into tribes, each of which had its own social structure and customs, and possibly its own local gods.

Housing. The Celts lived in huts of arched timber with walls of wicker and roofs of thatch. The huts were generally gathered in loose hamlets. In several places each tribe had its own coinage system.

Farming. The Celts were farmers when they weren't fighting. One of the interesting innovations that they brought to England was the iron plough. Earlier ploughs had been awkward affairs, basically a stick with a pointed end harnessed behind two oxen. They were suitable only for ploughing the light upland soils. The heavier iron ploughs constituted an agricultural revolution all by themselves, for they made it possible for the first time to cultivate the rich valley and lowland soils. They came with a price, though. It generally required a team of eight oxen to pull the plough, so to avoid the difficulty of turning that large a team, Celtic fields tended to be long and narrow, a pattern that can still be seen in some parts of the country today.

The lot of women. Celtic lands were owned communally, and wealth seems to have been based largely on the size of cattle herd owned. The lot of women was a good deal better than in most societies of that time. They were technically equal to men, owned property, and could choose their own husbands. They could also be war leaders, as Boudicca (Boadicea) later proved.

Druids. Another area where oral traditions were important was in the training of Druids. There has been a lot of nonsense written about Druids, but they were a curious lot; a sort of super-class of priests, political advisors, teachers, healers, and arbitrators. They had their own universities, where traditional knowledge was passed on by rote. They had the right to speak ahead of the king in council, and may have held more authority than the king. They acted as ambassadors in time of war, they composed verse and upheld the law. They were a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture.

The Celts worshipped the Nature. They believed in many nameless spirits who lived in their rivers, mountains and thick forests. They sacrificed not only animals but also human beings to their gods. They believed in another life after death.

The Celts loved war. If one wasn't happening they'd be sure to start one. The main problem with the Celts was that they couldn't stop fighting among themselves long enough to put up a unified front. Each tribe was out for itself, and in the long run this cost them control of England. So when the Romans started their invasion, they were unable to fight them.
3. The Roman Britain.

In the 1st century the Roman Empire became the strongest slave-owning state in the Mediterranean. It was the last and the greatest of the civilizations of the ancient world. One of the last countries to be conquered by Rome was France, or Gaul, as it was then called. In 55 B.C. a Roman Army led by Julius Caesar crossed the Channel and invaded Britain. The Celts made a great impression on the Romans who saw them for the first time in battle, but they were not strong enough to drive the Romans off. But the first Roman invasion of Britain did not last long as the Roman soldiers were needed to defend their own country which was often attacked by Barbarian tribes. So the Roman legions left Britain but only to be back in A.D. 43 when the emperor Claudius began the second Roman conquest of Britain, establishing bases at present-day London and Colchester. By A.D. 85, Rome controlled Britain south of the Clyde River. There were a number of revolts in the early years of the conquest, the most famous being that of Boadicea. In the 2d century A.D., Hadrian's Wall was constructed as a northern defence line. Under the Roman occupation towns developed, and roads were built to ensure the success of the military occupation. These roads were the most lasting Roman achievement in Britain, long serving as the basic arteries of overland transportation in England. Colchester, Lincoln, and Gloucester were founded by the Romans as colonia, settlements of ex-legionaries.

Trade contributed to town prosperity; wine, olive oil, plate, and furnishings were imported, and lead, tin, iron, wheat, and wool were exported. This trade declined with the economic dislocation of the late Roman Empire and the withdrawal of Roman troops to meet barbarian threats elsewhere. Barbarian incursions became frequent. In 410 an appeal to Rome for military aid was refused, and Roman officials subsequently were withdrawn.
4. Anglo-Saxon England.

As Rome withdrew its legions from Britain, Germanic peoples—the Anglo-Saxons and the Jutes—began raids that turned into great waves of invasion and settlement in the later 5th cent. The Jutes and Angles came from Juteland Peninsula. In 449 the Jutes landed in Kent and this was the beginning of the conquest. By the 7th century several kingdoms were formed on the territory of Britain. Kent was set up by the Jutes in the South-East, in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country the Saxons formed a number of kingdoms – Sussex, Wessex, and Essex. Further north were the settlements of the Angles. In the North they founded Northumbria, which has left its name in the present county of Northumberland; Mercia was formed in the middle, and East Anglia – in the east of the country.

The Celts fell back into Wales and Cornwall and across the English Channel to Brittany. They new conquerors brought about new changes. They disliked towns, preferring to live in small villages. In the course of time they destroyed the Roman towns, the roads were broken, the stones being used as building material.

The Angles, Saxons and Jutes were closely akin in speech and customs, so they gradually merged into one people. They called the Celts “welsh” which meant “foreigners” as they could not understand their language. But gradually, the Celts who were in minority, merged with the conquerors, adopted their customs and learned to speak their language. Only the Celts who remained independent in Wales, Western Scotland and Ireland spoke their native language.

Penny of Offa of Mercia

At first the Anglo-Saxons spoke various dialects, but gradually the dialect of the Angles of Mercia became predominant. So all people of Britain were referred to as the English after the Angles and the new name of England was given to the whole country.

The Anglo-Saxons were pagans when they came to England. They worshipped gods of nature and held springs, wells, rocks, and trees in reverence. Religion was not a source of spiritual revelation, it was a means of ensuring success in material things. For example, you might pray to a particular goddess for a successful harvest, or for victory in battle. A few of the main Anglo-Saxon gods were Tiw, Odin, Thor, and Friya, whose names are remembered in our days of the week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

There is a possibility that female slaves may have been sacrificed on the death of a male owner and included in the Saxon Soldiers

grave to accompany him in the next world. Society was divided into several social classes, which might vary from place to place. At the top was the king. He was essentially a war leader.He was expected to provide opportunities for plunder and glory for his followers.The king who did not provide land, slaves, or plunder might wake up dead one fine morning. Below the king there were two levels of freemen, the upper class thanes and the lower class ceorls (churls). The division between the two was strictly in terms of land owned. A man could only be a thane if he owned at least five hides of land (a hide was defined as the amount of land necessary to provide a living for one family). Aside from the ownership of land, a ceorl could actually be a richer man than the thane. Below the thanes and ceorls were the slaves.

The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms followed Germanic religions. Pope Gregory I decided to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. In 597 he sent a mission of 41 monks under the leadership of the monk Augustine to Aethelbert, the king of Kent. He chose Canterbury, the capital of the Kentish kingdom, to be the centre from which Christianity spread throughout England. Aethelbert was chosen because he was married to Bertha, a Frankish Christian princess. By 700 all England was Christian. The Pope was the head of the church. Many monasteries were built and they became centres of religion and culture. One of the monks, the Venerable Bede, was a great scholar. He wrote the first history of the English people. But the Anglo-Saxon tribes kept much of their old pagan culture. They told legends about brave warriors fighting monsters and dragons. One of such legends was about a warrior named Beowulf. In the 8th century an epic poem was written, called “Beowulf”, which became known as the most important work of the Anglo-Saxon literature.
5. The Danes.

Late in the 8th cent., and with increasing severity until the middle of the 9th cent., raiding Vikings (known in English history as Danes) harassed coastal England and finally, in 865, launched a full-scale invasion. They were first effectively checked by King Alfred of Wessex and were with great difficulty confined to the Danelaw, where their leaders divided land among the soldiers for settlement. Alfred's successors conquered the Danelaw to form a united England, but new Danish invasions late in the 10th cent. overcame ineffective resistance. The Dane Canute ruled all England by 1016. At the expiration of the Scandinavian line in 1042, the Wessex dynasty in the face of Edward the Confessor regained the throne. He spent so much time on religious work that later he failed to carry out his royal duties. As a result, the nobles increased their hold on the country. Edward approached old age without a son to succeed him. In the interests of continuity he was expected to name an heir. The two chief candidates were Harold Godwinson, a prominent earl, and William, Duke of Normandy. There is no sign that Edward had actually promised the throne to William. Harold made a better choice politically within the realm. There is a story that Harold had sworn an oath, which he later claimed was taken under duress, to defer in favour of William. However it may have happened, Edward named Harold as his heir.
6. Norman Conquest of England.

Edward died on January 5,1066. On the same day Harold was crowned king in Westminster Abbey. But William did not agree with such course of events. So he led an army of 5000 Norman archers and knights across the sea to England. They met Harold’s army in battle near Hastings, a town on the southern coast of England. By nightfall of October, 14th, the English were defeated. On Christmas Day, William, known as William the Conqueror, was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey, in London. The conquest of England in 1066 by William, duke of Normandy (William I of England), ended the Anglo-Saxon period. Under William’s rule, the English people learned Norman customs, the French language; they built castles, cathedrals and monasteries in the French style. The freeman (ceorl) of the early Germanic invaders had been responsible to the king and superior to the serf. Subsequent centuries of war and subsistence farming, however, had forced the majority of freemen into serfdom, or dependence on the aristocracy of lords and thanes, who came to enjoy a large measure of autonomous control over manors granted them by the king. The central government evolved from tribal chieftainships to become a monarchy in which executive and judicial powers were usually vested in the king. The aristocracy made up his witan, or council of advisers. The king set up shires as units of local government ruled by earldormen. In some instances these earldormen became powerful hereditary earls, ruling several shires. Subdivisions of shires were called hundreds. There were shire and hundred courts, the former headed by sheriffs, the latter by reeves. Agriculture was the principal industry, but the Danes were aggressive traders, and towns increased in importance starting in the 9th cent.
King Harold’s death

7. Medieval England.

A new era in English history began with the Norman Conquest. William I introduced Norman-style political and military feudalism. He used the feudal system to collect taxes, employed the bureaucracy of the church to strengthen the central government, and made the administration of royal justice more efficient.

After the death of William's second son, Henry I, the country was subjected to a period of civil war that ended one year before the accession of Henry II in 1154. Henry II's reign was marked by the sharp conflict between king and church that led to the murder of Thomas à Becket. Henry carried out great judicial reforms that increased the power and scope of the royal courts. During his reign, in 1171, began the English conquest of Ireland. As part of his inheritance he brought to the throne Anjou, Normandy, and Aquitaine. The defense and enlargement of these French territories engaged the energies of successive English kings. In their need for money the kings stimulated the growth of English towns by selling them charters of liberties.

Conflict between kings and nobles, which had begun under Richard I, came to a head under John, who made unprecedented financial demands and whose foreign and church policies were unsuccessful. A temporary victory of the nobles bore fruit in the most noted of all English constitutional documents, the Magna Carta (1215). The recurring baronial wars of the 13th cent. were roughly contemporaneous with the first steps in the development of Parliament.

Edward I began the conquest of Wales and Scotland. He also carried out an elaborate reform and expansion of the central courts and of other aspects of the legal system. The Hundred Years War with France began (1337) in the reign of Edward III. The Black Death first arrived in 1348 and had a tremendous effect on economic life, hastening the breakdown (long since under way) of the manorial and feudal systems, including the institution of serfdom. At the same time the fast-growing towns and trades gave new prominence to the burgess and artisan classes.

In the 14th cent. the English began exporting their wool, rather than depending on foreign traders of English wool. Later in the century, trade in woolen cloth began to gain on the raw wool trade. The confusion resulting from such rapid social and economic change fostered radical thought, typified in the teachings of John Wyclif, and the revolt led by Wat Tyler. Dynastic wars (known in the history as the wars of the Roses), which weakened both the nobility and the monarchy in the 15th cent., ended with the accession of the Tudor family in 1485.

8. Tudor England.

The reign of the Tudors (1485–1603) is one of the most fascinating periods in English history. Henry VII restored political order and the financial solvency of the crown, bequeathing his son, Henry VIII, a full exchequer. Henry VIII, who come to the throne in 1509, was a man who left his stamp on history. His six marriages in search of a male heir led to two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth) and a son Edward (who died young). Henry's need for a divorce led to a row with the pope who refused to grant Henry one. Henry countered by dissolving the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, and setting up the Church of England. A Church of England with Henry at the head could then allow Henry to divorce his wife. Of the Six the pneumonic goes - divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. He divorced the two European wives, Anne of Cleeves and Catherine of Aragon. The English ladies were more easily dispensable. Henry was a tyrant and a despot. Completely ruthless, and he let nothing and nobody get in his way.Cardinal Wolsey was banished, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More were executed.

One other bonus for Henry from his split with Rome was that he gained control of the monasteries - the monastic buildings and land were sold off after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. Many of the buildings fell into decay, and they lost their farmlands forever. In 1536, Henry VIII brought about the political union of England and Wales. Henry and his minister Thomas Cromwell greatly expanded the central administration. During Henry's reign commerce flourished and the New Learning of the Renaissance came to England. Several factors—the revival of Lollardry, anticlericalism, the influence of humanism, and burgeoning nationalism—climaxed by the pope's refusal to grant Henry a divorce from Katharine of Aragón so that he could remarry and have a male heir—led the king to break with Roman Catholicism and establish the Church of England.

As part of the English Reformation (1529–39), Henry suppressed the orders of monks and friars and secularized their property. Although these actions aroused some popular opposition, Henry's judicious use of Parliament helped secure support for his policies and set important precedents for the future of Parliament. England moved farther toward Protestantism under Edward VI; after a generally hated Roman Catholic revival under Mary I, the Roman tie was again cut under Elizabeth I, who attempted without complete success to moderate the religious differences among her people.
Henry's elder daughter Mary was a Catholic - and a militant Catholic at that.Her efforts as a queen to restore Catholicism to England made her the most unpopular queen in British history and the means that she used to pursue her aims earned her the nickname "bloody Mary". There were 283 Protestant martyrs burnt at the stake in her reign. Among the martyrs were Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury), Ridley (Bishop of London) and Latimer (a leading preacher).

A loveless marriage to the King of Spain produced no children. So when Mary died she was succeeded by her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth.

The Elizabethan age was one of great artistic and intellectual achievement, its most notable figure being William Shakespeare. A long conflict with Spain, growing partly out of commercial and maritime rivalry and partly out of religious differences, culminated in the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), although the war continued another 15 years.

Inflated prices (caused, in part, by an influx of precious metals from the New World) and the reservation of land by the process of inclosure for sheep pasture (stimulated by the expansion of the wool trade) caused great changes in the social and economic structure of England. The Elizabethan poor laws were an attempt to deal with this problem. Rising prices affected the monarchy as well, by reducing the value of its fixed customary and hereditary revenues. The country gentry were enriched by the inclosures and by their purchase of former monastic lands, which were also used for grazing. The gentry became leaders in what, toward the end of Elizabeth's reign, was an increasingly assertive Parliament.

9. The Stuarts.

Queen Elizabeth died, leaving no children. She was also known as the Maiden Queen. The accession in 1603 of the Stuart James I, who was also James VI of Scotland, united the thrones of England and Scotland. The chronic need for money of both James and his son, Charles I, which they attempted to meet by unusual and extralegal means; their espousal of the divine right of kings; their determination to enforce their high Anglican preferences in religion; and their use of royal courts such as Star Chamber, which were not bound by the common law, to persecute opponents, together produced a bitter conflict with Parliament that culminated (1642) in the English civil war.

In the war the parliamentarians, effectively led at the end by Oliver Cromwell, defeated the royalists. The king was tried for treason and beheaded (1649). The monarchy was abolished, and the country was governed by the Rump Parliament, the remainder of the last Parliament (the Long Parliament) Charles had called (1640), until 1653, when Cromwell dissolved it and established the Protectorate. Cromwell brutally subjugated Ireland, made a single commonwealth of Scotland and England, and strengthened England's naval power and position in international trade. When he died (1658), his son, Richard, succeeded as Lord Protector but governed ineffectively.

The threat of anarchy led to an invitation by a newly elected Parliament (the Convention Parliament) to Charles, son of Charles I, to become king, ushering in the Restoration (1660). It was significant that Parliament had summoned the king, rather than the reverse; it was now clear that to be successful the king had to cooperate with Parliament. The Whig and Tory parties developed in the Restoration period. Although Charles II was personally popular, the old issues of religion, money, and the royal prerogative came to the fore again. Parliament revived official Anglicanism, but Charles's private sympathies lay with Catholicism. He attempted to bypass Parliament in the matter of revenue by receiving subsidies from Louis XIV of France.

Charles's brother and successor, James II, was an avowed Catholic. James tried to strengthen his position in Parliament by tampering with the methods of selecting members; he put Catholics in high university positions, maintained a standing army (which later deserted him), and claimed the right to suspend laws. The birth (1688) of a male heir, who, it was assumed, would be raised as a Catholic, precipitated a crisis.

In the Glorious Revolution, Whig and Tory leaders offered the throne to William of Orange (William III), whose Protestant wife, Mary, was James's daughter. William and Mary were proclaimed king and queen by Parliament in 1689. The Bill of Rights confirmed that sovereignty resided in Parliament. The Act of Toleration (1689) extended religious liberty to all Protestant sects; in subsequent years, religious passions slowly subsided.

By the Act of Settlement (1701) the succession to the English throne was determined. Since 1603, with the exception of the 1654–60 portion of the interregnum, Scotland and England had remained two kingdoms united only in the person of the monarch. When it appeared that William's successor, Queen Anne, Mary's Protestant sister, would not have an heir, the Scottish succession became of concern, since the Scottish Parliament had not passed legislation corresponding to the Act of Settlement. England feared that under a separate monarch Scotland might ally itself with France, or worse still, permit a restoration of the Catholic heirs of James II—although a non-Protestant succession had been barred by the Scottish Parliament. On its part, Scotland wished to achieve economic equality with England. The result was the Act of Union (1707), by which the two kingdoms became one. Scotland obtained representation in (what then became) the British Parliament at Westminster, and the Scottish Parliament was abolished.

10. The Growth of Empire and Eighteenth-Century Political Developments.

The beginnings of Britain's national debt (1692) and the founding of the Bank of England (1694) were closely tied with the nation's more active role in world affairs. Britain's overseas possessions were augmented by the victorious outcome of the War of the Spanish Succession, ratified in the Peace of Utrecht (1713). Britain emerged from the War of the Austrian Succession and from the Seven Years War as the possessor of the world's greatest empire. The peace of 1763 confirmed British predominance in India and North America. Settlements were made in Australia toward the end of the 18th cent.; however, a serious loss was sustained when 13 North American colonies broke away in the American Revolution. Additional colonies were won in the wars against Napoleon I, notable for the victories of Horatio Nelson and Arthur Wellesley, duke of Wellington.

In Ireland, the Irish Parliament was granted independence in 1782, but in 1798 there was an Irish rebellion. A vain attempt to solve the centuries-old Irish problem was the abrogation of the Irish Parliament and the union (1801) of Great Britain and Ireland, with Ireland represented in the British Parliament.

Domestically the long ministry of Sir Robert Walpole (1721–42), during the reigns of George I and George II, was a period of relative stability that saw the beginnings of the development of the cabinet as the chief executive organ of government.
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