History of Great Britain

Autor: Kamča Nová | 14.9.2010 20:12 | 0 komentářů | Přečteno: 1813 krát

Britain was part of the continent of Europe until about 6000 BC. Stone-age people arrived 3000 ago. In the 1st century BC arrived Celts. They worshipped many gods, and their priests were called druids. They believed the soul is immortal and offered human sacrifices. 
England was added to the Roman Empire in 43 AD, the Romans army was lead by Julius Caesar. The Romans built camps, fortresses and roads. Another Roman emperor, Hadrian, made on the border between today’s Scotland and England a wall as a protection against the invasion of the Celtic tribes from the North. In spite of Roman occupation, the old Celtic social system was not completely destroyed and the British language existed side by side with Latin. Trade flourished and Christianity was brought to Britain. Also London was founded by Romans. 
After the withdrawal of Roman legions in 5th century waves of the Jutes, Angels and Saxons arrived from German lands. The Roman Empire split at the year 476. They drove Celtic people into the mountains of Wales and Scotland, and fought with the Danes from the 8th to the 11th centuries. Alfred the Great in wanted to unify Anglo-Saxon kings. He was very well educated (as well as our Karl IV.), ha also started to write Anglo-Saxon chronicle, the first prosaic piece. He protected the England but when he died, the Danish King Canute made Britain part of his Scandinavian Empire. His sons were too weak to reign at Britain and it became independent. There were some kings, one of the most important was Edward Confessor. After his death, his immature son became a king. But he was too young, so the most powerful man Anglo-Saxon Herold became a king. In 11th century was the last successful invasion by French speaking Normans led by William, Duke of Normandy, who became William the Conqueror after defeating Harold in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. William was brought up on the court of Edward Confessor and claimed that Edward wanted him to be a king of Britain. William the Conqueror established a strong central government and appointed Norman nobleman to high positions. He made London the capital town and built the Tower of London. In this time the Norman and Anglo-Saxon language and customs merged. They influenced each other. 
Henry II gained a piece of French Empire in the South. He made Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury and a few years later he let him executed. He had two sons Richard I, the Lion-Heart, the oldest son. He was killed in a war in France. His brother John I, Lackland is known for two things. He lost almost all the English possessions in France, only the town Calais remained. In conflict with his barons he was forced to sing the Magna Charta – a guarantee of rights and the rule of law. In Magna Charta stood, that nobody can be punished without sending to the trial. The time of Edward I was marked by his wish to win back power from the barons. He joined Wales to England. His son, Edward II., married Isabelle, a daughter of French king. He had a son, Edward III. 
The Capulet’s dynasty in France died and Edward III. wanted to be a king of France. This led to the Hundred Years War (in the 14th century) and the defeat of England. At first, English won, at Crécy – the Czech king John of Luxemburg was killed there. But then Joan of Arc became a leader of French army. Later she was proclaimed as a witch and was burnt. After this war the English practically lost their power in France. 
The Wars of the Roses took place in the 15th century. It was a long civil war between the House of York (whose emblem was a white rose) and the House of Lancaster (whose emblem was a red rose). King Richard III. killed all the men belonged to the House of Lancaster. The war began. It lasted 35 years and ended with the establishment of the powerful Tudor House. Henry Tudor was a member of House of Lancaster. He established Tudor dynasty. 
Under Henry VIII., the protestant Church of England was established. Henry VIII. had six wives. He establish the Church of England and made himself the head of the Church, because he wanted to be divorced with one of his wife and marry another and Holly Father didn’t allow him to do it. After his death, his daughter Marry Catholic became a queen. She was very cruel and executed protestants. Sometime she is called Bloody Marry. Fortunately she didn’t reign very long, because she was too old. 
Her sister Elizabeth I. became a queen of Britain. Britain became a major sea power, leading to the founding of colonies in the New World and the expansion of trade with Europe and the Orient. Elizabeth I. had no children, so her closest relative James VI., son of her old rival Marry Stuart Queen of Scotland (catholic, she was sent to the court, because she was leading an uprising against Queen Elizabeth), became King James I. of England and Stuart dynasty began. The Act of Union in 1707 united Scotland with England. 
A struggle between parliament and the Stuart kings led to a bloody Civil War. The country was divided between the supporters of Charles I., who wanted to rule absolutely, and the supporters of Parliament, who wanted to limit the King’s powers. Finally Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan Army leader, established republic and King Charles was publicly executed. During the following period England was ruled by Oliver Cromwell as the Lord Protector. 
The monarchy was restored in 1660 (Charles II) but The Glorious Revolution in 1688 confirmed the sovereignty of Parliament. In 1689 the Bill of Rights, signed by William III. definitely put the power into the hands of the Parliament. Britain became a constitution monarchy. 
At the end of the 18th century England became the richest country in the world, it was transformed from an agricultural to a manufacturing country – Industrial Revolution (Stevenson invited a steam engine, textile machines were developed). 
The Napoleonic War meant a new struggle between the two traditional rivals, Britain and France. Admiral Nelson defeated the French at Trafalgar and in 1815 the French were definitely defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. After Napoleonic War, there were some troubles in Britain. But the situation got calm, because the state policy was very good. A low about emancipation was passed. It meat that all people protestant and catholic had the same rights. 
Queen Victoria reigned from the beginning of the 19th century till the end of this century. Large parts of Africa and Asia were added to the empire during her reign. She made changes in education, society, etc. 
Through victorious World War I (1914 – 1919) Britain suffered huge casualties and economic losses. Ireland became independent in 1921 and independence movement became active in India and other colonies. 
The country suffered major bombing damage in World War II, but held out against Germany after the fall of France in 1940. The war ended in 1945. During the decades after W.W.II Britain had to recognise the independence of the majority of its colonies – mainly in the 1960s. Nevertheless, most remained members of the Commonwealth. In Europe NATO, Britain being a member, kept the security of the Western countries. 

The British Commonwealth and political system – see 30.

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