United Kingdom History

From the mainland to the island

Great Britain wasn’t an island in the past! Admittedly, that was a long time ago. Until about 6000 BC In fact, Great Britain was connected to the mainland by a land bridge. It was only when the climate warmed and the sea level rose after the last ice age that the last land bridge disappeared and Great Britain was cut off from the continent. In the Neolithic Age, huge megalithic structures and circular stone settings such as Stonehenge were built.

Celts and Romans

From the 5th century, Celts immigrated to Britain from what is now France.

In AD 43, the Romans under Emperor Claudius succeeded in conquering Britain. The country became a Roman province. The inhabitants called the Romans “Britanni”, probably derived from the Celtic tribe of the Brythons. The thermal baths in Bath, for example, date from Roman times. London is also a Roman foundation, the Romans called the city with its favorable location on the Thames Londinium.

In the north the Romans penetrated almost as far as today’s Scotland. On Hadrian’s Wall on the border with Scotland, the Roman territory ended.

Roman rule ended entirely in 410 when the Roman Empire fell apart. The Romans withdrew from Britain. By the way, they called it “Great Britain”, in contrast to the “Little Britain” in France, Brittany.

The Anglo-Saxons and the Danes

At the time of the Great Migration, Germanic tribes invaded the island: the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons. The Christianized British fought against the pagan Germans. The legend of King Arthur tells of this.

The Germanic tribes eventually merged into the Anglo-Saxons. They ruled England when Danes invaded the country from 866 onwards. Until 1042 the Danes were the kings. Only then did an Anglo-Saxon come back to the English throne.

The Normans are coming – William the Conqueror

The British Isles were to be conquered once again – by the Normans. The date 1066 knows every English schoolchild, because this year the Norman Duke landed William the Conqueror (William the Conqueror) near Hastings and struck the Anglo-Saxons in a fierce battle. William became King of England.

Plantegenet dynasty

After the last Norman king had died in 1138 without an heir, a civil war began, which only ended in 1154 with Henry II’s accession to the throne. He came from the Anjou-Plantegenet family. This dynasty ruled until 1399. The most famous representative is Richard the Lionheart (1189-1199).

A hundred years of war

In the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) England fought against France after Edward III. Had laid claim to the French throne. A short time later, the War of the Roses (1455-1485) broke out, in which the royal houses of York and Lancaster fought for the throne. Her symbols are a white and a red rose. Henry Tudor from the House of Lancaster finally won and founded the Tudor dynasty as Henry VII.

With the Tudors into modern times

The best known Tudor is Henry VIII. The English remember the fate of his six wives with the saying: Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived (divorced, beheaded, dead. Divorced, beheaded, survived). Heinrich also went down in history as the founder of the Anglican State Church. Because the Pope in Rome did not want to agree to his divorce from Catherine of Aragón, England renounced the Catholic Church. Heinrich had all the monasteries dissolved.

In 1536 Wales became part of the Kingdom of England.

From Elisabeth I until today

The Elizabethan Age

In the concept of the Elizabethan Age, Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, immortalized herself. During her reign (1558-1603) England flourished on a hitherto unknown extent. Economically and culturally things went uphill. England became the greatest sea power.

After the great discoveries by the Portuguese and Spaniards, England also entered the overseas business. Francis Drake was the second person to circumnavigate the earth (1577-1580). The East India Company brought a great economic boom to the country. Not only tea and spices were traded with great profits, but also slaves. William Shakespeare wrote more than 30 plays and performed them at the Globe Theater in London.

The Stuarts in power

Elizabeth I died childless and so in 1603, James I, a Scottish king, came to the throne of England. In 1605 an old conflict flared up again: that between Catholics and Protestants. The Catholic Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament in the so-called Gunpowder Plot on November 5th – but failed. The Catholics were then persecuted.

There was also constant friction between parliament and the monarchy in the 17th century. In 1642 civil war broke out: Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentary troops won, England became a republic for the first and only time in its history. In 1660 the monarchy was restored. In 1707 Scotland and England became the Kingdom of Great Britain.

German kings on the throne: the House of Hanover

In 1714 George I came to the throne. The elector from Hanover was the grandson of Elisabeth Stuart and secured the Protestant succession to the throne. The 18th century is called the Georgian century – Georg I was followed by three namesakes until 1820: Georg II., III. and IV. Under their rule the agrarian land became the motherland of the industrial revolution.

As a trading and colonial power, England was repeatedly in conflict, especially with France. In 1800 Ireland united with the Kingdom of Great Britain and was now officially called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1805 Nelson defeated the French at Cape Trafalgar, in 1815 the devastating blow was achieved at the Battle of Waterloo.

Victorian era

After Wilhelm IV, Queen Victoria finally succeeded the throne. She ruled from 1837 to 1901 and gave her name to an entire age. The industrialization led to an economic boom. The British Empire arose through colonization.

Victoria’s son Edward VII belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This sex still rules in Great Britain – however, George V had the name changed to House Windsor during World War I because the old name sounded too German.

Great Britain in the 20th and 21st centuries

In 1922 Ireland broke away from Great Britain, only Northern Ireland remained with the United Kingdom. The English colonies sought independence. This eventually led to the founding of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1931. India was given independence in 1947.

In 1951 the Conservative Winston Churchill was re-elected Prime Minister. King George VI died in 1952. and his daughter Elisabeth succeeded him as Elisabeth II. As Queen Elizabeth she rules to this day. The 1950s and 1960s also saw an economic boom in Great Britain. Other colonies became independent, such as British Somaliland and Nigeria in 1961, Singapore in 1963 and Mauritius and Swaziland in 1968.

In 1973 Great Britain joined the EU. In the 1970s, the country suffered from inflation, high unemployment rates and an economic crisis. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister and shaped an entire era as the “iron lady”. In 1982 Great Britain remained successful in the Falklands War. In 1997 the British crown colony of Hong Kong fell back to China.

Great Britain did not introduce the euro. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had their own parliaments since 1999. As of 2010, David Cameron was Prime Minister. He was replaced by Theresa May in 2016.


With a referendum in June 2016, the country decided to leave the European Union. This process is also called Brexit. After Theresa May resigned in July 2019, she was followed by Boris Johnson. The new elections in December 2019 were won by the Tories under Johnson. In January, the British Parliament and the EU Parliament approved the Brexit agreement. The exit from the EU then took place on January 31, 2020.

According to itypeusa, Great Britain is a parliamentary monarchy. Monarchy means that there is a king or a queen. Another word is monarch. “Parliamentary” means that the monarch is bound to parliament, that is to say the representative body. For example, he cannot just oust the government. This also means that there is even a parliament and an elected government in the country. The monarch has little to do with politics and is more of a representation of the country.