The first people came to Britain during the Ice Age from the European continent via the isthmus, which was later flooded by the sea. Traces of Neolithic settlement are known from the 7th millennium BC, Bronze Age metal objects date from about 1800 BC. Celts from central Europe came to Britain around 450 BC.
In the middle of the 1st century AD, the Romans occupied most of what is now England and Wales (the province of Britannia) and brought with them Christianity and Latin. After the withdrawal of the Roman legions in 407, the Celtic Britons were pushed far north and into Wales by waves of Germanic tribes of Angles, Saxons and Jutes from northern Europe. By the 7th century, when missionaries brought Christianity back to the island, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom had already been established.
During the 8th and 9th centuries, the northeast and east of England came under the rule of the Norwegian and Danish Vikings. This rule was overthrown by the mid-10th century, but the already united Kingdom of England was again invaded and ruled by the Danes (Normans) from 1016–1042.
In 1066, according to GETZIPCODES, the English king Harold II. killed at the Battle of Hastings by William, the Norman duke who founded the English royal dynasty. The new feudal structure of English society gave considerable power to its nobility. In 1215, the king’s power was further limited by the Magna Carta – a charter of liberties that led to the creation of the Great Council, later known as Parliament. The first Parliament met, as far as is known, during the reign of Edward I (1239–1307).
At the end of the 12th century, Ireland was conquered. In 1284, Wales was submitted to the English Crown, but full unification with England did not occur until 1536. In 1314, Edward II. (1284–1327) forced to recognize Robert the Bruce (1274–1329) as King of Scotland. Territorial disputes with France led to the Hundred Years’ War (1337 to 1453); English troops were eventually expelled from all French territory.
The War of the Roses (1455–1485) was a bloody internal struggle for control of the country that ended when Henry VIII ascended the throne. (1457–1509) and founded the Tudor dynasty. Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1533 and declared himself the head of the Church of England. During the reign of his daughter Elizabeth I, England experienced a golden age of flourishing economy, literature and discoveries. A powerful fleet repelled the Spanish naval invasion and the British began to penetrate the North American continent.
Elizabeth’s successor, King James VI of Scotland. (1566–1625), became King of England as James I and united the two kingdoms. During his reign, thousands of Scottish and English Protestants settled in Ireland on land belonging to Catholics, sowing the seeds of conflict between Catholics and Protestants that continues to this day. Disputes over the scope of powers that James’s son Charles I (1600–1649) had with Parliament led to civil war and resulted in the king’s execution in 1649. The commander of the Parliamentary armies, Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), was appointed Lord Protector, but already two years after his death, Charles II was called to the throne. (1630–85), albeit with limited powers.
Catholic James II. (1633–1701) alienated himself from most of his subjects and was forced into exile in 1688 (the so-called “Glorious Revolution”). He was succeeded by his Protestant daughter Marie II (1662–1694) with her husband, the Dutch prince William of Orange (1650–1702). England, Scotland and Wales were formally united into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Under the new Hanoverian dynasty, a Scottish rebellion to restore the expelled Stuarts was defeated in 1715. Another rebellion was bloodily put down in 1746 in a battle at Culloden.
In the 1760s, Britain defeated France in the colonial wars in India and North America and became the world’s most powerful colonial power. Captain Cook discovered Australia and New Zealand in 1770, which contributed to the further expansion of the British Empire. However, in 1775, the American colonies revolted over taxes. In the subsequent war, they defeated the British troops and gained independence in 1783. As part of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1805 Britain defeated the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar (the Spanish cape west of Gibraltar) and in 1815 contributed to Napoleon’s final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium.
Britain became a world trading power at a time when the discovery of the steam engine and the exploitation of its own deposits of iron ore and hard coal sparked an industrial revolution that fundamentally changed production and influenced economic development. From 1837–1901, under the reign of Queen Victoria (1819–1901), the British Empire continued to grow to cover a quarter of the earth’s surface. To maintain its colonial empire, the British military fought wars almost all over the world from 1851-1902. However, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have been fully self-governing since the end of the 19th century.
On the islands, forced social reforms improved the situation of the working class, on the other hand, in Ireland, the movement demanding independence grew stronger. In 1914, the United Kingdom, together with France and Russia, entered World War I against Austria and Germany and, despite the final victory, suffered considerable losses on land and at sea. In 1922, Southern Ireland (later the Republic of Ireland) gained independence. The province of Northern Ireland decided to remain part of the United Kingdom.
In 1931, the British Commonwealth of Nations (Commonwealth) was created from the British autonomous overseas dominions. At that time, the economic crisis of the 1930s was deepening in the country and unemployment was growing. With a conciliatory policy towards Hitler, Britain contributed to the outbreak of World War II. The Royal Air Force initially successfully repulsed the German air invasion, but London and many other cities were badly damaged by bombing. The losses of the fleet and on the land battlefields of the whole world were also considerable. The post-war rationing economy lasted until the early 1950s.
The Labor socialist-oriented government elected immediately after the war created the first welfare state and nationalized key economic sectors such as transport, coal mining and energy. Later conservative governments, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, returned most businesses to private hands.
In the 1970s, the British Commonwealth was made up almost entirely of independent states. In the late 1960s, the conflict between the Protestant majority, which wished to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the Catholic minority, which sought unification with the Republic of Ireland, intensified in Northern Ireland. Even the British troops sent to Northern Ireland in 1969 did not prevent the spread of violence and terrorism. It was not until the beginning of 1994 that a cease-fire was concluded. The fragile truce was helped by a meeting of interested parties held at Stormont. It agreed to the establishment of a Northern Ireland Assembly, but the disarmament of illegal military units remains the number one issue.