The earliest evidence of human presence in the British Isles – flint tools – date back to approximately 250,000 BC. However, this civilization did not receive its development due to the onset of the ice age. Around 50,000 B.C. the ice receded, and a new generation of people arrived on the islands, the ancestors of the modern inhabitants of Great Britain. Their main occupations were hunting and fishing. In 800 – 700 BC from the mainland begins the resettlement of the Celts. They lived in separate tribes ruled by the warrior class. For the Celtic and Celtic population of Britain, the conditional name “Britons” was established. The Britons developed cattle breeding and agriculture, they used a heavy wheeled plow, a hand mill, a potter’s wheel, processed animal skins, were engaged in weaving, developed mines, traded with merchants who came from the continent. Briton tribes sometimes united in tribal unions led by military leaders (“kings”). Check a2zdirectory for old history of United Kingdom.
In 55 BC Julius Caesar visited Britain, and in 43 BC. it was conquered by the Romans and became part of the Roman Empire, becoming one of its outlying provinces. Under the Romans, Britain began to export food, hunting dogs and slaves to the continent. They also brought writing to the islands. The Romans never took over Scotland, although they tried to do so for a good hundred years. They eventually built a wall along the northern border with the unconquered lands, which subsequently defined the border between England and Scotland. The wall was named after the Emperor Hadrian, during whose reign it was erected. The crisis of the Roman Empire also affected the fate of Britain. At the beginning of the 5th century Roman rule ended, and it again broke up into a number of independent Celtic regions.
In the middle of the 5th century the conquest of Britain began by the North Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians), who are usually called by a common name – the Anglo-Saxons. Having broken the resistance of the Britons, by the end of the VI century. captured most of Britain and formed a number of early feudal kingdoms (Kent, Wessex, Mercia, etc.). During the Anglo-Saxon conquest, most of the Britons were exterminated, some were pushed to the north (Caledonia) and west (Wales, Cornwall), some moved to the Armorica peninsula (modern Brittany). The remaining Britons were for the most part turned into slaves and dependent people. The Anglo-Saxons developed a good system of government, in which the king had a council, then called Witan, which consisted of warriors and church officials and made decisions on difficult issues. The Saxons also divided the territory of England into districts and changed the way the land was plowed. Now the inhabitants plowed long narrow strips of land with a heavier plow and used a three-field farming system that survived into the 18th century. At the end of the VI century. Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons began, ending by the second half of the 7th century. The first archbishop was the monk Augustine, sent to Britain in 597 by Pope Gregory the Great. Christianity was brought to the people by Celtic priests who went from village to village and taught the new faith. sent to Britain in 597 by Pope Gregory the Great. Christianity was brought to the people by Celtic priests who went from village to village and taught the new faith. sent to Britain in 597 by Pope Gregory the Great. Christianity was brought to the people by Celtic priests who went from village to village and taught the new faith.
Great influence on the socio-political system of England had begun at the end of the VIII century. the raids of the Normans – Scandinavians, who invaded mainly from Denmark and are known in English history under the name of the Danes. They captured the entire north-east of the country and introduced their customs and customs there (the so-called “area of Danish law”). The need for defense in the fight against the Danes, on the one hand, and the need to rally all the forces of the ruling class in order to overcome the resistance of the peasants to enslavement, on the other, created the prerequisites for the political unification of the country. In the ninth century under King Egbert of Wessex, most of the country united into one state, which became known as “England”.
In 1066 the country was conquered by the Duke of Normandy William, who became the founder of a new dynasty. From the X – XI centuries. in Britain begins the growth of cities as centers of crafts and trade. In addition to London, which was the economic and political center of the country, significant cities were Winchester, Canterbury, York, Gloucester, Worcester, Dover, Norwich, Lincoln, Nottingham, Chester, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Newcastle and others.
From the end of the XII century. and especially in the thirteenth century. royal power often acted to the detriment of the interests of a significant part of the ruling class, carrying out arbitrary confiscations of land, oppressing objectionable magnates. The policy of the royal power (especially external) did not correspond to the interests of the country as a whole. In 1215, dissatisfied vassals of King John the Landless and merchants who joined them forced him to sign an agreement called Magna Carta. It served as the main symbol of political freedom. “Magna Carta” is one of the main laws of the country to this day.
In 1337, a long war began between England and France, which was caused by the desire of the French kings to oust the British from their territory, the struggle for rich Flanders, and the attempts of large English feudal lords to increase their income by plundering and seizing booty in France. Almost immediately after its end, a war for the English throne broke out in England, known in history as the War of the Roses. The struggle was waged by the Lancaster and York dynasties, which were almost completely exterminated in its course. As a result of a new dynasty – the Tudors – the path to absolutism was opened.
In the XVI century. England’s economic relations with other countries began to develop rapidly due to the shift of the main trade routes to the Atlantic Ocean. The expansion of maritime trade, accompanied by piracy, robbery and the seizure of other people’s possessions, led the British to clash with the most powerful colonial power of that time – Spain. In 1588, England defeated the Spanish “Invincible Armada”, which put her in a number of major maritime powers. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England acquired very extensive colonies on different continents.
In 1642 – 1649. the resulting conflict between the royal house of Stuarts and Parliament led to a bloody civil war, as a result of which the Republic was proclaimed, led by Oliver Cromwell. The monarchy was soon restored, but the rights of the King were significantly curtailed, and in fact the full power was in Parliament. In 1649 – 1651. England conquered Ireland, and in 1652 annexed Scotland.
In 1707 the Scottish Parliament merged with the English. The new state formation was called Great Britain, and London became its capital.
In the following century, the country rapidly and successfully developed and, by the time of the accession of Queen Victoria (1837), became the world’s largest power. An important factor in its rise was the active struggle with the Napoleonic army.
Great Britain entered the First World War mainly to fight its main competitor – Germany. Great Britain emerged from the war as one of the victorious powers, having received a significant part of the former German colonies in Asia and Africa and most of the territories taken from Turkey. However, after the war, she found herself in a difficult economic situation. This allowed Ireland to declare independence.
In relation to fascist Germany, England at first applied a policy of “non-intervention”. However, Germany’s offensive to the west – the occupation by it in the spring of a number of Western European countries (including the invasion of France), meant the complete collapse of the “appeasement” policy. The threat of invasion forced Britain to start fighting Germany and enter the Second World War. The war caused a further significant weakening of the economic and political positions of the country, although its human losses were less than in the First World War. After the Second World War, national problems in Scotland and Northern Ireland escalated. The events in Northern Ireland took on a particularly dramatic character, where a war had actually been waged since 1969. At this time, the collapse of the colonial system began.
The post-war reconstruction of the country lasted until the 1960s.
In August 1994, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced a unilateral ceasefire, and the peace process, which began in the early 1990s with negotiations between the governments of Great Britain and Ireland, began to develop much faster. An agreement was reached to settle differences by peaceful political means. However, dissatisfied with the course of the negotiations, the IRA militants in 1996 again resumed their terrorist activities, which continue to this day.
Modern Great Britain is a member of the UN and all the specialized agencies of this organization, NATO, CFE, the EU, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the British Commonwealth of Nations.