Between the 6th and the 3rd century BC, the British Isles were invaded by Celtic tribes who settled in southern England. They originally came from the central Europe. Their culture goes back to about 1200 BC. Between 500 and 250 BC, they were the most powerful people north of the Alps. Originally they were pagan, with priests called Druids. They later converted to Christianity. It was Celtic missionaries who spread the Christian religion through Scotland and Northern England.
The Celts were famous artists, known for their sophisticated designs, which are found in their elaborate jewellery, decorated crosses and illuminated manuscripts.
In AD 43, the Romans invaded southern Britain. It became a Roman colony called Britannia. The Romans set up their capital in London and built major cities in Bath, Chester and York. The cities contained beautiful buildings, squares and public baths. Fine villas were built for Celtic aristocrats who accepted Roman rule.
The Roman invasion was not completely peaceful. In AD 60, the Iceni,a tribe led by Queen Boudicca, destroyed 3 cities, including London. The Romans stopped the rebellion brutally and Boudicca killed herself.
The tribes of Scotland never completely surrended to the Romans. As a result, in AD 122, Emperor Hadrian built a long wall to defend the border between England and Scotland. Hadrian’s Wall was overrun several times by Scottish tribes and was finally abandoned in AD 383. By then, the Roman Empire was collapsing and the Roman legions had left Britain to fight the tribes on the continent.
THE SAXONS, JUTES AND ANGLES
From about AD 350, Germanic tribes began invading south-east England. The tribes came from what is now northern Germany, Holland and Denmark. The first to come were the Saxons, joined later by the Jutes and Angles. The Angles gave England its name. Britain had the protection of only a few Roman legions. The native people couldn’t stop the new enemy, known as Anglo-Saxons. The Celts fled north and west taking their ancient arts and languages with them. Celtic languages have disappeared from most of Europe, but are still spoken in parts of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Celtic Christians later returned to Engalnd from Scotland and Ireland as missionaries. The Anglo-Saxons in southern England were converted to Christianity following the arrival of Saint Augustine of Rome in AD 597. As Christianity spread, churches and monasteries were built all over England.
About AD 790, the Vikings started to invade England. The Norsemen, who came from Norway, mainly settled in Scotland and Ireland. The north and East of England were settled by the Danes. The Vikings were excellent traders and navigators. They traded in silk and furs as far as Russia. In 1016, England became part of the Scandinavian empire under King Cnut. In 1066, England was again facing invasion from the north and the south. In September, King Harold II marched north to defeat his half-brother, the king of Norway, at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Just 3 weeks later, he himself was defeated and killed at Hastings by another invader of Viking origin, William Duke of Normandy, form northern France.
The Duke of Normandy, known as William the Conqueror, now beacme king of England, establishing a new Anglo-Norman state. England became a strong, centralised country under military rule. Castles appeared all over England to enforce Norman rule. England has never been invaded since 1066. William was a harsh ruler: he destroyed many villages to make sure the English people did not rebel. The Normans‘ power was absolute and the language of the new rulers, Norman-French, has had a lasting effect on English.
THE HUNDRED YEARS‘ WAR (1337-1453)
Since the battle of Hastings in 1066 relationship between England and France were bad. In 1154 England acquired the Aquitaine and defence of this country was the reason why Edward III. attacked France in 1337. This war lated more than 100 years but there were many periods of truces during these years. The English won majority of the battles but they weren’t able to keep such a large area and after exhausting both sides, the war fell flat.
Four convincing victories brought the English feeling that they are the winners in this war. But during 40years England lost all domains except Calais.
English vicorious wars:
- 1340 – the English knocked down the French in the marine battle ner Flander coast and they became lords in the Lamanche Channel.
- 1346 – in the battle of Crecy English archers cut attacking French cavalary.
- 1356 – battle of Poitiers [poate]. French king John II. was arrested.
- 1415 – English forces of only 600 men, lead by king Henry V. knocked down French army of 25 000 in the battle of Azincourt.
14 – 16TH CENTURY
The 14th century was disastrous for Britain as well as most of Europe, beacuse of the effect of wars and plagues. Probably one third of Europe’s population died of plague.
Britain and France suffered, too, from the damages of War. In 1330s England began a long stuggle against the French crown. England had the additional burden of fighting the Scots, and maintaining control of Iraland and Wales, both of which were trying to throw off English rule.
Edward III declared war on France in 1337. He claimed the right to the French crown. It’s enough reason for starting a war. The war, later called „the Hundred Year’s War“, didn’t end until 1453 and resulted in the loss of all possessions of the English kings in France except for Calais.
England had lost a war and was ruled by a mental ill king (Henry VI) who was bad at choosing advisers. Nobles began to ask questions about who should be ruling the country. The wars that broke out in 1453 were a dynastic struggle for the possessions of the Crown. As the badge of the House of Lancaster was a red rose and that of the House of York was white rose, the brutal consest between them became known as „the War of Roses“. The wars came to an end when Richard III. , the last king of the House of York, was killed in the Battle of Boshworth Field in 1485. To affirm the peace between the two families, Henry Tudor, the victor of the Battle of Boshworth, married Elizabeth the Princess of York. He was crowned Henry VII. And started the greatest of the royal lines in England. The most famous rulers of the House of Tudor were Henry VIII. and Elizabeth I.
Henry VIII. ( 1491-1547) came to thethrone in 1509. As king of an island nation, Henry understood the importance of ships. During his reign, England built the biggest and most powerful navy the world ever seen. One of his greatest ships was The Mary Rose, which was named after his sister.
Henry wanted a son to succeed him as king. Catherine of Aragon (the mother of the future queen Mary I), couldn’t give him a son. Henry asked the Pope to annual his marriage, but he refused.
All over Europe, people were already questioning the authority of the Pope. Henry decided to establish his own church – the church of England. It became the first official Protestant Church. Henry made himself the head of the Church and divorced to Catherine.
He had 5 more wives after Catherine – Anne Boleyn (the mother of the future queen Elizabeth I), she was beheaded, Jane Seymour, having a child (Edward) she died, Anne of Cleves- he divorced her, Catherine Howard-she was beheaded and Catherine Parr outlived him.