History of the British Isles by jolinmilioncherie


									History of the British Isles
Palaeolithic - Mesolithic-Neolithic
     The pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain had no written language, so their history, culture and
      way of life can be understood solely on archaeological grounds.
     First written record of Britain and its inhabitants was by the Greek navigator Pytheas,
      (around 325 BC).

     Palaeolithic Britain ranges from the period from almost 750,000 years ago until around
      10,000 years ago.
     Inhabitants were bands of hunter-gatherers roaming all over northern Europe following
      herds of animals.
     In the lower Palaeolithic Homo erectus was present in what is now Britain. This time,
      southern and eastern Britain were linked to continental Europe by a wide land bridge
      allowing humans to move freely.
     Sites of excavation in Sussex illustrate an archaic Homo species called Homo
      heidelbergensis lived here around 500,000 years ago. These peoples made flint tools and
      hunted the large native mammals of the period (elephants, rhinoceri and hippopotami lived
      in the Isles at that time).
     The extreme cold of ice-age drove humans out of Britain altogether and the region does not
      appear to have been occupied again until the ice receded during from around 300,000 BC.
     Periods of glaciation and melting took place in the next thousands of years with tribes
      appearing and disappearing.
     In the Upper Palaeolithic Neanderthal occupation of Britain was limited and by 30,000 BC
      the first signs of modern human (Homo sapiens) activity are known.
     A final ice age covered Britain between around 70,000 and 10,000 years ago, eventually it
      was replaced by a warmer climate, perhaps reaching 17 degrees Celsius in summer.
     The first distinct Upper Palaeolithic culture of Britain is the Creswellian industry,
      producing refined flint tools, using bone, antler, shell, amber, animal teeth, and ivory. The
      possibility that groups also travelled to meet and exchange goods or sent out dedicated
      expeditions to source flint has also been suggested.
     Artistic expression seems to have been mostly limited to engraved bone although the cave
      art at Creswell Crags is a notable exception.
     In Mesolithic Britain (Around 10,000 years ago) the ice age finally ended. Temperatures
      rose, probably to levels similar to those today, and forests expanded further.
     By 8,500 years ago, the rising sea levels caused by the melting glaciers cut Britain off from
      continental Europe for the last time. The present day flora and fauna of the isles came into
     Environmental changes were accompanied by social changes, humans spread and reached
      the far north of Scotland during this period. The view of Mesolithic Britons as being
      exclusively nomadic is nowadays being replaced with a more complex picture of seasonal
      occupation or in some cases, permanent occupation and attendant land and food source
      management where conditions permitted it.
     During the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (around 4500 BC) ancient Britons’ the farming
      of both crops and domestic animals was adopted in Britain in need for reliable food sources.
      Other elements such as pottery, leaf-shaped arrowheads and polished stone axes would have
      been adopted at his time earlier as part of the Neolithic ‘package’. The climate had been
      warming since the later Mesolithic and continued to improve, replacing the earlier pine
      forests with woodland.
     In the Neolithic (New Stone Age, circa. 4400 BC–3300 BC) the monumental architecture
      venerating the dead may represent more comprehensive social and ideological changes
      involving new interpretations of time, ancestry, community and identity.
     The Neolithic Revolution, as it is called, introduced a more settled way of life and
      ultimately led to societies becoming divided into differing groups of farmers, artisans and
      leaders. Forest clearances provided room for cereal cultivation and animal herds. Native
      cattle and pigs was started to be reared with sheep and goat introduced later, also the
      growing of wheats and barleys. Long barrows were used for communal burial. To build
      these huge organization of labour was necessary.
     Most of the population lived on the chalk uplands located on the south of the island. At that
      time the soil conditions made expansive agriculture possible, also resulted in overpopulation
      and later the overfarming of the land lead.
     In the Middle Neolithic (circa 3300 BC–circa 2900 BC) impressive chamber tombs were
      built. The earliest stone circles and individual burials also appear. These were centres of
      religious, political and economic power and although the precise purpose of these
      constructions remain a mystery, they could only have been built by people who had
      influence and authority over a very large area, possibly the whole of the British Isles.
     The stone rows of Stonehenge and Silbury Hill were built in the later Neolithic (c. 2900
      BC-c. 2200 BC).

The Bronze Age
     Bronze Age started in Britain at around 2,700 BC and brought the skill of refining metal.
      At first they made items from copper, but from around 2,150 BC smiths had discovered
      how to make bronze. Over the next thousand years, bronze gradually replaced stone as the
      main material for tool and weapon making.
     After 2400 BC new groups of people arrived in southeast Britain from Europe. They were
      stronger built, taller and better skilled in metal-working than earlier inhabitants. They
      became leaders of the early British society and by their burial costumes (individual grave
      containing pottery beakers – serleg) were called the “Beaker” people. Later in the period,
      cremation was adopted as a burial practice with cemeteries of urns containing cremated
      individuals. Their skills of working with bronze meant that stone tools were soon replaced
      by longer lasting metal ones.
     By around 1,600 BC the southwest of Britain was experiencing a trade boom as British tin
      was exported across Europe.
     The centre of the Beaker civilization was in Stonehenge, they added a new circle of stones
      around the old ones. From 1300 BC the centre of their authority was relocated in the
      Thames valley and southeast Britain. The lands found here was more fertile and could
      support more people, soon hill forts replaced the henges.

Celtic Britain
     The Greeks used the word Keltoi and the Romans Celtae as a name given to certain tribes
      who occupied a part of western France, or Gaul. Both nations also used the word as
      denoting a people who used stone and bronze axes. Hence even to this day stone axes are
      known in the British Isles as Kelts or Celts.
     Around 750 BC iron working techniques possessed by the Celts reached Britain from
      southern Europe, which saw the introduction of the iron age, a metal much stronger and
      more plentiful than bronze. Iron revolutionised many aspects of life, most importantly
      agriculture. (e.g. iron tipped ploughs that made the farming of heavier soils possible, axes
      made of iron to make wood-clearings).
     It is presumed that the Celts drove the older inhabitants of the island westward and north, to
      Wales, Scotland and Ireland. During the next seven hundred years they arrived in many
      waves and occupied much of lowland Britain. By 500 BC the broadly termed Celtic culture
      covered most of the British Isles. The Celts were highly skilled craftsmen and produced
      intricately patterned gold jewellery and weapons in bronze and iron. Britons at this time
      lived in organised tribal groups, ruled by a chieftain.
     From the 2nd century BC refugees from the continent, running from Roman conquest fled
      and settled in southeast England and brought with them pottery making skills far more
      advanced than anything produced previously. The Belgae were partially romanised and
      were responsible for creating the first settlements large enough to be called towns. These
      were hill-forts and serves as centres of trade and centres of tribal areas.
     About 100 BC, iron bars began to be used as currency, while internal trade and trade with
      continental Europe flourished, largely due to Britain’s extensive mineral reserves. As the
      Roman Empire expanded northwards, Rome began to take interest in Britain. This may
      have been caused by an influx of refugees from Roman occupied Europe, or Britain’s large
      mineral reserves.
     The Celtic tribes were ruled by a warrior class, an influential sect of which was the priests,
      the so-called Druids. These people could not yet write or read, they memorised all the
      religious teachings, tribal history and laws. They met in sacred groves of trees near to rivers,
      their religious ceremonies often included human sacrifices.
     Some tribes were matriarchal, dominated by woman, who would be fierce warriors. One of
      the best known was headed by a woman called Boadicea and was the leader of the most
      important rebel against Roman rule.

Roman Britain
     The first direct Roman contact came when the Roman general and future dictator, Julius
      Caesar, made two expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC. Caesar had conquered no
      territory, but had established clients on the island and brought Britain into Rome’s sphere of
      political influence.
     Augustus prepared invasions in 34 BC, 27 BC and 25 BC. The first and third were called
      off due to revolts elsewhere in the empire, the second because the Britons seemed ready to
      come to terms. Britain paid more in customs and duties than could be raised by taxation if
      the island were conquered. By the 40s AD the Catuvellauni became the most powerful
      kingdom in south-eastern Britain, and were pressing their neighbours, ruled by the
      descendants of Julius Caesar’s former allies. In 43 AD Claudius’ invasion totalling about
      40,000 men invaded the islands after all. Contemporary Roman sources say that Claudius
      received the surrender of the Britons without battle or bloodshed. Eleven tribes of South
      East Britain surrendered to Claudius and the Romans prepared to move further west and
      north. The Romans established their new capital at Camulodunum and Claudius returned to
      Rome to revel in his victory.
     The Romans had invaded the Isles because the Celts of Britain were aiding the Celts of the
      Gaul, enemies of the Empire. The Romans established a Romano-British culture across the
      southern half of Britain, from the River Humber to the River Severn.
     Between 44-60 later emperor Vespasian took a force westwards subduing tribes and
      capturing several oppidas (Latin name for pre-Roman towns) as he went. The border
      between Roman and Iron Age Britain however remained mutable during this period.
    Military expeditions were sent to campaign against the tribes of modern day Wales, and
    brought the Welsh borders under control but did not move further north or west, probably
    because Claudius was keen to avoid what he considered a difficult and drawn-out war for
    little material gain in the mountainous terrain of upland Britain.
   Consecutive Roman governors set out to conquest the northern part of the island, they
    called “Caledonia”. Most important of them was the famous Gnaeus Julius Agricola (70-84
    AD). He took his troops north along the Pennines, building roads as he went. He built a
    fortress at Chester and employed tactics of terrorising each local tribe before offering terms.
    He took control of most of present day Scotland after the battle at Mons Graupius. This
    marked the high tide mark of Roman territory in Britain; shortly after his victory, Agricola
    was recalled from Britain back to Rome, and the Romans retired to a more defensible line.
    The costs of a drawn-out war outweighed any economic or political benefit and it was more
    profitable to leave the Caledonians alone and only under de jure submission.
   Roman occupation was withdrawn to a line subsequently established as one of the limes of
    the empire (i.e. a defensible frontier) by the construction of Hadrian’s Wall around 122.
    The successes and failures of the Romans in subduing the peoples of Britain are still
    represented in the political geography of the British Isles today, with the modern border
    between Scotland and England running close to the line of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall was
    the northern border of the Empire in Britain for much of the Roman Empire’s rule, and also
    the most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its use as a military
    fortification, it is thought that the gates through the wall would also have served as customs
    posts to allow trade taxation. In the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161) the Hadrianic
    border was briefly extended north to the Forth-Clyde isthmus, where the Antonine Wall was
    built around.
   The period of the 2nd to the 3rd centuries were spent in relative peace with occasional
    uprising on the part of the native Celtic tribes and local civil wars, the walls served as a
    protective shield where Roman legios could launch scouting expeditions only to retreat after
    the counterattacks of the so called barbarians, that is tribal Brits. During the middle of the
    third century the Roman empire was convulsed by barbarian invasions (Germanic tribes,
    Saxons, Franks), rebellions and new imperial pretenders. Britannia apparently avoided these
    troubles and still Roman legions found it more and more difficult to stop raidings through –
    the Hadrian’s Wall. Later due to revolts and uprising the province of Britannia was divided
    into four provinces.
   In the 4th century, Britain also saw increasing attacks from the Saxons in the east, and the
    Irish in the west. A series of forts was built, starting around 280, to defend the coasts, but
    these preparations were not enough and the Empire’s military resources were struggling
    after the catastrophic Battle of Adrianople in 378. There were growing barbarian attacks,
    but these were focused on vulnerable rural settlements rather than towns. Britain not only
    came under increasing pressure from barbarian attack on all sides towards the end of the 4th
    century, but troops were too few to mount an effective defence and rebellions occurred
    within the army as well.
   In AD 409 Rome pulled its last soldiers out of Britain. By the early 5th century with the
    higher levels of the military and civil government gone, administration and justice fell to
    municipal authorities consisted of Romanised Celts, and small warlords gradually emerged
    all over Britain, still aspiring to Roman ideals and conventions.

Life in Roman Britain
   Gold, iron, lead, silver, marble and pearl reserves were exploited by the Romans in Britain
    along with more everyday commodities such as hunting dogs, animal skins, timber, wool
    and slaves. Foreign investment created a vigorous domestic market and imports were often
       of exotic Continental items such as fine pottery, olive oil, lavastone querns, glassware,
       garum and fruit.
      The Romans introduced new technical knowledge and large-scale industrial production to
       revolutionise the Mineral extraction industry. Many prospecting areas were in dangerous,
       upland country, and, although mineral exploitation was presumably one of the main reasons
       for the Roman invasion, it had to wait long until these areas were subdued.
      By the third century, Britain’s economy was diverse and well-established, with commerce
       extending into the non-Romanised north. The design of Hadrian’s Wall especially catered to
       the need for customs inspections of merchants’ goods. During their occupation of Britain,
       the Romans built an extensive network of roads, many of whose routes are still followed
       today. The Romans also built water and sewage systems.
      Under the Roman Empire imperial provinces were run by resident governors who were
       former senators who had held the consulship. These men were carefully selected often
       having strong records of military success and administrative ability. In Britain, a
       governor’s role was primarily military but numerous other tasks were also his responsibility
       such as maintaining diplomatic relations with local client kings, building roads, ensuring the
       public courier system functioned, supervising the civitates and acting as a judge in
       important legal cases. When not campaigning he would travel the province hearing
       complaints and recruiting new troops. To assist him in legal matters he had an adviser.
       Financial administration was dealt with by a procurator with junior posts for each tax-
       raising power. Each legion in Britain had a commander who answered to the governor and
       in time of war probably directly ruled troublesome districts
      Colchester was probably the earliest capital of Roman Britain but it was soon eclipsed by
       London with its strong mercantile connections.

      Provincial subdivisions in Roman Britain were as follows
                    43-early 3rd c.
                    Capital Camulodunum
                    then London

                                              Britannia Superior
                   Early 3rd c. -
                                              Early 3rd c. - 293,
                                              capital at Londinium
                   capital      at

                                                                 Maxima              Britannia
                    Britannia Secunda,                           Caesariensis,      Prima,
                    293-410,                                     293-410,           293-410,
                    capital Eboracum                             capital            capital
capital Lincoln
                                                                 Londinium          Cirenceste
    The town of Bath during the Roman period was a place where grand temples and bathing
      complexes were built, including the Great Bath. Rediscovered gradually from the 18 th
      century onward, they have become one of the city’s main attractions.
     There were three types of Roman settlement. These were
                  1. the coloniae, inhibited by Roman settlers
                  2. the municipia, where the whole population was given Roman citizenship
                  3. the civitas, populated by Celts under Roman administration
      All of these towns were given walls for better protection; they were well planes and
      contained roads, markets and shops. The population of London was about 20000.
     Beside towns there were also numerous villas, large farms. The workers lived in round
      houses made of planks and wickerwork (rőzsegát) the roof being thatch (nádtető).
     The Romans brought the skills of writing and reading to Britain, a high number of town
      dwellers could speak Latin and/or Greek fluently. With the Romans the toga also came into
     As far as religion is concerned the druids, the Celtic priestly caste believed to have
      originated in Britain were outlawed by Claudius, however, under Roman rule the Britons
      continued to worship native Celtic deities.
     Archaeological evidence for Christian communities begins to appear in the 3rd and 4th
      centuries. Small timber churches are suggested at Lincoln and Silchester and fonts have
      been found at Icklingham. Some early fourth century and the Roman villas contained
      Christian wall paintings and mosaics respectively. A large 4th century cemetery at
      Poundbury has been interpreted as an early Christian burial ground, although such burial
      rites were also becoming increasingly common in pagan contexts during the period.

Anglo-Saxon England
     The History of Anglo-Saxon England covers the history of early medieval England from the
      end of Roman Britain and the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century
      until the Conquest by the Normans in 1066.
     Various myths and legends surround the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, some based on
      documentary evidence, some far less so. Two main literary sources provide the evidence.
      Gildas’ The Ruin of Britain (c. 540) is polemical, and more concerned with criticising
      British kings than accurately describing events. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English
      People is based in part on Gildas, though brings in other evidence.
     From the 4th century AD, Britons had migrated across the English Channel and started to
      settle in the western part of Gaul forming Brittany. Others may have migrated to northern
      Spain. The migration of the British to the continent and the Anglo-Saxons to Britain, should
      be considered in the context of wider European migrations. The invaders came from three
      powerful Germanic tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes.
                  1. Angles→east and north Midlands
                  2. Saxons →westward of the Thames Estuary (torkolat)
                  3. Jutes→along the south coast, mainly in Kent
      The Celts retreated to the territory later known as Wales and to the Scottish lowlands.
     The 5th and 6th centuries are known archaeologically as Sub-Roman Britain, or in popular
      history as the “Dark Ages”. Archaeological findings from this period also reveal that that
      Saxon immigrants and native Britons lived side by side in certain areas with the Britons
      adopting Anglo-Saxon practices.
     Throughout the 7th and 8th century power fluctuated between the larger kingdoms.
      Succession crises in Northumbrian meant that the hegemony of this kingdom was not
      constant, and Mercia remained a very powerful kingdom.
     The so-called “Mercian Supremacy” dominated the 8th century, though again was not
      constant, however, a rising Wessex, and challenges from smaller kingdoms, kept Mercian
      power in check, and by the end of the 8th century the “Mercian Supremacy” was over.
     This period has been described as the Heptarchy, the word referring to the seven kingdoms
      of Northumbria, Mercia, Kent, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex and Wessex were the main
      polities of south Britain. The Saxons also divided the land into administrative areas,
      counties (or shires), the borders of which remained unchallenged for a thousand of years
      and very much forms the basis of the present administrative system. The chief administrator
      of the shires was called the sheriff by the Saxons.
     In the late 8th century King Offa of Mercia received so much power that claimed the
      “kingship of the English” although as all of the rulers of his time he also had to rely on the
      Saxon institution of the witan, the main strengths of the English state between the 5 th and
      10th century. The Witan (Witenagemot) was the remnant of the ancient tribal general
      assembly, which had soon developed into a convocation of the land’s most powerful
      warriors including senior clergy. Summoned by the king (and later by regional earls),
      witans would advise on the administration and organization of the kingdom, dealing with
      issues such as taxation, jurisprudence and both internal and external security. The Witan
      was also needed to approve the succession of each monarch. The new king could be
      whoever the Witan decided would best lead the country, not necessarily the offspring of the
      previous monarch. Although it had no authority over the king without its support no ruler
      could take authority granted. The Witan was in some respects a predecessor to Parliament,
      but had substantially different powers and some major limitations, such as a lack of a fixed
      procedure, schedule, or meeting place.
     The Saxons started to use heavier ploughs than the Celts and preferred long thin stripes of
      land. They also introduced the three-course rotation of the land (spring crops, autumn crops,
      common land – legelő). They also cut down a lot of forest and started to drain the wet land.
      The largest house in a Saxon village would be the manor, where taxes were paid and justice
      was administered. The well administered society of Saxon times signalled the beginning of
      a class system made up of a monarch, lords, soldiers, clergyman and farmers.

     Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England began around AD 600, influenced by Celtic
      Christianity from the north-west and by the Roman Catholic Church from the south-east.
      The first Archbishop of Canterbury, Augustine took office in 597. In 601, he baptised the
      first Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelbert of Kent.
     Christianity in Britain during the seventh century existed in two forms distinguished by
      differing liturgical traditions, labelled the “Celtic” tradition – practiced Irish monks who
      resided in a monastery on the isle of Iona – and “Roman” traditions. The “Roman” practice
      refers to the practice of the remainder of the West Empire, which kept observances
      according to the customs of Rome. Whereas the Celtic Church was widely accepted by the
      ordinary people (their bishops would go from village to village and teach the Christian
      messages) the Roman Church established a strong presence at the courts of the kings.
     One of the main differences between the two traditions, and hence a source of controversy,
      was the proper calculation of Easter. Calculating the proper date was a complex process
      (involving a lunisolar calendar), and different calculation tables developed which resulted in
      different dates for the celebration of Easter. To settle the differences of the two “traditions”
      a synod was held at Whitby abbey. The “Roman arguments” were stronger and thus
      accepted as legitimate. The arguments were characteristic of Christian logic: (1) it was the
      practice in Rome, where the apostles Peter and Paul had “lived, taught, suffered, and are
      buried”, (2) it was the universal practice of the Church, even as far as Egypt (3) Columba
      had done the best he could considering his knowledge, and thus his irregular practice is
      excusable, but the Ionan monks at present did not have the excuse of ignorance, and (4)
      whatever the case, no one has authority over Peter (and thus his successors, the Bishops of
     The Synod of Whitby may have seemed simply one of many councils held concerning the
      proper calculation of Easter throughout Latin Christendom in the Early Middle Ages,
      nevertheless it was seen by many as the “subjugation” of the “British Church” to Rome and
      proved the strength of what remained of the Roman culture.
     Saxon kings assisted the growth of the Roman Church because they understood that the
      approval they received from Rome would make them rulers on “God’s approval” and
      ensure a kind of divine legitimacy to their authority. Cooperation between monarch and the
      clergy was widened by the foundation of monasteries that would serve as places of literacy
      and the origins of the new administrative class. The role of administering, registering
      property became important during the Saxon rule. The Roman Church was also favoured
      because of economic reasons: monasteries grew to be centres of local trade.

         The Celts who lived in the area known today as Wales were physically sealed of from
          the inland areas of the island by the earth wall built during the reign of King Offa. For
          its mountainous terrain the people could not achieve so widespread agricultural
          activities as elsewhere. Welsh society was based on family groupings, owners of a
          village. Headed by warriors these groups would constantly try to conquer their
          neighbours land and become kings. A constant state of violence characterised early
          Welsh history.
         Ireland escaped being invaded by either the Romans or the Saxons, thus the Celtic
          culture could flourish without any major threats. Society was based on tribal groupings
          which elected the king, there were five kingdoms in Ireland. Historical account in
          Ireland date to the arrival of Christianity and spread by a British slave, called Patrick
          who later became the patron saint of the land. Parallel with the establishment of
          Christian monasteries the power of the illiterate druid priest declined. The golden age of
          the Celtic culture was wiped away by the arrival of Viking raids, although for a short
          period of time it united the kingdoms that were in continuous conflict with one another.
         Early inhabitants of Scotland were the Picts, a matriarchal society, later they were
          accompanied by Celtic Scots and later their kingdoms were united. The Lowland was
          inhabited by Britons, who were less tribal and more part of the Romano-British world,
          yet were open to form alliance with the other animal farming people of the area and start
          trading relation with them. The spread of Celtic Christianity was also a uniting force.
          Columba – a Christian missionary – is remembered to have spread the words of Christ.
          At times when foreign armies wanted to invade the land the Pictish-Scot allegiance
The Viking Rule
     The Vikings – Scandinavian warriors and traders – raided and explored most parts of
      Europe, south-western Asia, northern Africa and north-eastern North America. They come
      from Denmark and Norway and are of Germanic origin who by the eighth century started to
      build ships of war and set out on raiding expeditions to initiate the Viking Age. They were
      traders, colonizers and explorers as well as plunderers.
     Viking expansion has many components and causes. According to one view their desire for
      goods led Scandinavian traders to explore and develop extensive trading partnerships in the
      territories they explored. It has been suggested that the Scandinavians suffered from
      unequal trade practices imposed by Christian advocates and that this eventually led to the
      breakdown in trade relations and the start of raiding. British merchants who declared openly
      that they were Christian, and would not trade with heathens and infidels (Muslims and the
    Norse) would get preferred status for availability and pricing of goods through a Christian
    network of traders.
   According to others the Scandinavian population was too large for the peninsula, and there
    were not enough crops to feed everyone. This led to a hunt for more land to feed the ever
    growing Viking population. Particularly for the settlement and conquest period that
    followed the early raids, the internal strife in Scandinavia resulted in the progressive
    centralisation of power into fewer hands. This meant that lower classes who wanted not to
    be oppressed by greedy kings went in search of their own lands.

   The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives the date for the first Viking attack in Britain for 793.
    They burnt churches and monasteries along the east, north and west coast of Britain and
    Ireland. From about 800 on, waves of Danish assaults on the coastlines of the British Isles
    were gradually followed by a succession of Danish settlers. During the next few decades
    little by little the Danes gained control over East Anglia, Northumbria and Mercia, leaving
    only Wessex to resist. After a time of plunder and raids, the Vikings began to settle in
    England. An important Viking centre was York, called Jorvik by the Vikings. King Ethelred
    of Wessex and his brother, Alfred fought numerous battles with various Viking warlords,
    most notably Guthrum the Old.
   As a result of the conquests the so called Danelaw came into being, the name given to the
    northern and eastern part of today’s England, in which the laws of the Danes held
    predominance over those of the Anglo-Saxons. This name is also used to describe the set of
    legal terms and definitions created in the treatises between the English king Alfred the
    Great and the Norwegian warlord Guthrum. This treaty was an agreement over the
    boundaries of their kingdoms, with provisions for peaceful relations between the English
    and the Vikings. The treaty outlined the boundaries of the Danelaw and allowed for Danish
    self-rule in the region. The Danelaw represented a consolidation of power for Alfred; the
    subsequent conversion of Guthrum to Christianity underlines the ideological significance of
    this shift in the balance of power. During the struggle against the Danes, Alfred built walled
    settlements called “burgs” (later known as “borough”) to keep them out. Later these became
    prosperous market towns.
   A new wave of Norwegian Vikings appeared in England in 947 when Erik Bloodaxe
    captured York. The Saxon rulers decided to pay the Vikings to stay away. To find the
    money he set a tax on all his people called Danegeld. This was the beginning of a regular
    taxation of the people to provide the money for armies. Ordinary villagers suffered the most
    from these taxes. The Viking presence continued through the reign of the Danish king
    Canute the Great (1016-1035), after which a series of inheritance arguments weakened the
    family reign. The Viking presence dwindled until 1066, when the Norwegians lost their
    final battle with the English.
   The Vikings conducted extensive raids in Ireland and founded a few towns, including
    Dublin. At some points, they seemingly came close to taking over the whole isle; however,
    the Vikings and Scandinavians settled down and intermixed with the Irish. Literature, crafts,
    and decorative styles in Ireland and Britain reflected Scandinavian culture. Vikings traded
    at Irish markets in Dublin.
   Much of the area known today as Scotland (almost all of the islands and some of mainland
    Scotland) was occupied by the Vikings for the longest period, from the early eights century
    to the early thirteenth century. The Vikings were one reason behind the formation of the
    Kingdom of Alba, which eventually evolved into Scotland. The influence of this period of
    Scandinavian settlement can still be seen in the North of England and the East Midlands,
    most evidently in place names: name endings such as "by" or "thorp" being particular
    giveaways. Danelaw caused the incorporation of many Norse words into the English
      language, including the word law itself, as well as the third person plural pronouns they,
      them and their. Many Old Norse words still survive in the dialects of Northeastern England.

The 10th Century and the Norman Conquest
     Alfred of Wessex died in 899 and was succeeded by his son Edward the Elder. Edward
      began a programme of expansion in Mercia. His son, Athelstan, succeeded to the Mercian
      kingdom, and, after some uncertainty, Wessex.
     Athelstan continued the expansion of his father and aunt, and was the first king to achieve
      direct rulership of what we would now consider ‘England’. Certainly the titles attributed to
      him in charters and on coins suggest a widespread dominance. His expansion aroused ill-
      feeling among the other kingdoms of Britain, and he faced a combined Scottish-Viking
      army which he defeated.
     Interestingly, Anglo-Saxon England was probably the most ‘developed’ kingdom of the
      period; one has only to look at the way coinage was managed in the period to realise that
      10th century Anglo-Saxon kings wielded far greater royal authority than their European
     The end of the 10th century saw renewed Scandinavian interest in England and Canute the
      Great become king of the land (1017), one part of a mighty empire stretching across the
      North Sea. It was probably in this period that the Viking influence on English culture
      became engrained.
     It was during Canutes’s reign that Godwin – was one of the most powerful lords in England
      – became the earl of Wessex. Godwin later supported the claim of Edward the Confessor
      (Edward II) to the throne to whom he was a father-in-law and also the murderer of his
      brother. Edward at a very young age lived in Normandy populated by Normans – children
      and grandchildren of the Vikings who captured than settled in northern France. They soon
      began to speak French and were Christianized, but maintained to practice their fighting
      skills. Edward in Normandy developed an intense personal piety in his quarter-century of
      Norman exile, as a ruler he was more interested in the church than in kingship. He
      encouraged church building and by the time he died there was a church in almost every
      village of his land. It was he who started building the church at Westminster, it would be a
      Norman, not a Saxon building. Edward brought many Normans to his English court from
      France, but in the eyes of the Saxon landlords they were aliens. Edward had no heir and
      would have preferred a Norman Ruler, William of Normandy on the English throne, but the
      English landlords wanted a Saxon.
     Upon Edward’s death, Harold Godwinson was proclaimed king, even though several people
      had a claim to the English throne. Apart from Harold, William of Normandy and Harald of
      Norway (aided by Harold Godwin’s estranged brother Tostig). The decision was in the
      hands of the Witenamegot that under Anglo-Saxon law, held the ultimate authority to
      convey kingship. The Witan in 1066 approved of Harold to become the king of England and
      he was the first one to have a coronation in Westminster Abbey. King Harold however
      reigned for less than 10 months and during this time had to face strong opposition by both
      William of Normandy and Harald of Norway.
     William of Normandy though that he should have received the kingdom, and with the help
      of the Roman Church managed to turn the cause of England into an internationally
      authorized crusade. In other words he managed to re-dimension his hunger for the English
      throne and turned his campaign into a kind of “holy war”. Some sources argue that he was a
      great manipulator and early propagandist. The Bayeux Tapestry, portraying details of the
      conquest was an “incomparable work of Norman propaganda” (Schama 78).
     First he encountered Harald Hardrada, king of Norway in a surprise attack at the Battle of
      Stamford Bridge, having led his army north on a forced march from London in four days.
     In less then a fortnight he was back in the South and preparing to intercept William, who
      had landed around 7000 men in Sussex, the largest army since the time of Claudius. The
      two armies clashed at the Battle of Hastings, near the present town of Battle close by
      Hastings on October 14, where after a hard fight Harold – with his two brothers– was killed
      and his forces defeated. William became King William I on Christmas day 1066.
Norman Britain
    Although the south of England submitted quickly to Norman rule, resistance continued,
     especially in the North. After six years William moved north in 1072, subduing rebellions
     by the Anglo-Saxons and installing Norman lords along the way. By 1086 only two of the
     greater landlords and two bishops were Saxons. However, particularly in Yorkshire, he
     made agreements with local Saxon Lords to keep control of their land in exchange for
     avoidance of battle and loss of any controlling share.
   The Anglo-Saxon world coming to an end was seen by many of the native countrymen as a
     trauma, a ruthlessly calculated, brutally executed act of aggression. According to the Saxon
     traditions of inheriting land and power the replacement of the ruling class by foreign
     speaking conquerors was by no means trivial. The loss of their land – the main source of
     income – was also a great loss for the Saxons. Of all the farmland of England William gave
     half to Norman nobles, a quarter to the Church and kept a fifth to himself. It is thus no
     surprise that once England had been conquered, the Normans faced many challenges in
     maintaining control. The Anglo-Saxon lords were accustomed to being independent from
     centralized government, contrary to the Normans who had a centralized system, which was
     resented by the Anglo-Saxons. Revolts had sprung up almost at once from the time of
     William’s coronation, led either by members of Harold’s family or disaffected English
     nobles. To deal with these, the new Norman lords constructed a variety of forts, castles such
     as the motte-and-bailey to provide a stronghold against a popular revolt (or increasingly rare
     Viking attacks) and to dominate the nearby town and countryside. The Tower of London
     was begun to be built by William.
   It was William who was the first king to organise his Kingdom according to the feudal
     system. The expression “feudalism” comes from the French, the word “feu“ referring to
     land held in return for duty or service to the lord. In the feudal system the king gave large
     estates to his main nobles in return for 40 days military service in case of a war. Nobles also
     had to give a portion of what they produced on their land. Greater nobles themselves gave
     their land to knights, freemen (for rent or military service) and serfs (who did most of the
     work and lived almost like slaves). According to the feudal principles every man had a lord
     and every lord had land. The king at the top of the hierarchy (top of a pyramidal country)
     was connected to even the lowest man in the country. At each level a man had to promise
     loyalty and service to his lord. When a noble died his male heir would get his estate. If he
     had no heir the land went back to the king, who would be expected to give it to another
     deserving noble. He would sometimes keep the land for himself for years and enjoy its
     wealth before giving it to a noble. This was necessary because the monarch had to make it
     sure that he had a good number of satisfied nobles, who would not want to rebel against him
     and would be willing to fight in wars for more land.
    Any remaining Anglo-Saxon lords who refused to acknowledge William’s accession to the
      throne or who revolted were stripped of titles and lands, which were then re-distributed to
      Norman favourites of William. If an Anglo-Saxon lord died without issue the Normans
    would always choose a successor from Normandy. In this way the Normans displaced the
    native aristocracy and took control of the top ranks of power.
   Keeping the Norman lords together and loyal as a group was just as important, as any
    friction could easily give the English speaking natives a chance to divide and conquer their
    minority Anglo-French speaking lords. A Norman lord typically had property spread out all
    over England and Normandy, and not in a single geographic block. Thus, if the lord tried to
    break away from the King, he could only defend a small number of his holdings at any one
    time. This proved an effective deterrent to rebellion and kept the Norman nobility loyal to
    the King. William facilitated contacts between the nobility of different regions and
    encouraged the nobility to organize and act as a class, rather than on an individual or
    regional base which was the normal way in other feudal countries. The existence of a
    strong centralized monarchy encouraged the nobility to form ties with the city dwellers,
    which was eventually manifested in the rise of English parliamentarianism. To understand
    the role of kingship and lordship in medieval England it is essential to realise that there was
    no idea of nationalism at that time. There may have been people speaking French in one
    part of the kingdom and English at the other. Land was more important than language.
   Even before the Normans arrived All of England had been divided into administrative units
    called shires of roughly uniform size and shape, and was run by an official known as
    “sheriff”. The shires tended to be somewhat autonomous and lacked coordinated control.
    Anglo-Saxons made heavy use of written documentation which was unusual for kings in
    Western Europe at the time and made for more efficient governance than word of mouth.
    The Anglo-Saxons also established permanent physical locations of government. One of
    this was a permanent treasury at Winchester, from which a permanent government
    bureaucracy and document archive had begun to grow.
   This sophisticated medieval form of government was handed over to the Normans and
    under the reign William I – a propagator of feudalism and the first ”data-base king”
    (Schama 100) grew even stronger. The Normans centralised the autonomous shire system.
    Because in the feudal system land was the main source of income William wanted to know
    exactly who owned which piece of land and how much it was worth. Relying on the
    information the financial experts at this court could find out how much was produced and
    how much he could ask in tax. He sent out people to survey the whole country and as a
    result put together his findings in the Doomsday Book which was one of its kind in Europe
    and served as the strengthening of centralised control.
   Despite the assistance William received from the pope he refused to accept the head of the
    Roman Catholic Church as a feudal lord. He created Norman bishops and gave them land
    on condition they would serve him. During the next century Rome would argue that the
    monarchs were answerable to God and that they should accept religious authority over both
    spiritual and earthly matters.
   After the death of William the Conqueror (1087) first his older, then his younger son would
    serve as kings, but their power was very insecure and could not come into terms with the
    remaining Saxon landlords who were opposed the Norman style of controlling the country.
    To pacify them Henry I issued the Charter of Liberties that bound the king to certain laws
    regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles. It is considered a landmark
    document in English history and a forerunner of the Magna Carta.
   After the death of Henry the question of succession divided the lords and led to a bloody
    civil war and saw the throne first go to Stephen of Blois and then to Henry’s daughter
    Matilda. With her death the rule of the House of Normandy ended. At the same time, the
    mid-12th century saw the coming of a calmer climate to the British Isles, harvest were
    abundant, the size of agricultural land grew considerably and technological innovations
       concerning crop growing and milling took place. Commercial connections were also

The House of Plantagenets
      The House of Plantagenet also called the House of Anjou did not regard England their home
       until King John lost their French possessions. This long-lived dynasty is usually divided
       into three houses: the Angevins, the Lancastrians, and the Yorkists.

      This era of British history is characterised by monarchs who thought of the management of
       the kingdom as a family business. A good example of this was Henry II (crowned in 1154)
       who was the most powerful emperor at the time would make Ireland a part of his vast
       domain. He conquered it with the help of Norman lords and forced the Irish chiefs to accept
       his lordship. It was Henry II who made Dublin a capital and through his lords governed the
       east part of the country, the western parts remained in the hands of local chief. He did so
       with the authority of the pope, who hoped to bring the Irish Celtic Church under his own
       control. Canterbury clergy wished to assert their hierarchical supremacy over the newly
       created Irish diocesan structure, but with the help of loyal Norman dukes along with many
       Irish princes – who took oaths of homage to Henry – he extended his kingdom onto Ireland.
       In 1172, at the Synod of Cashel, Roman Catholicism was proclaimed as the only permitted
       religious practice in Ireland.
       He brought under control the reign of the barons who in previous decades had undermined
        the monarch’s grip on the realm. Henry had castles torn down which the barons had built
        without authorization during his predecessor’s reign, and he improved record keeping
        dramatically in order to streamline this taxation.
       Henry II established courts in various parts of England and first instituted the royal practice
        of granting magistrates the power to render legal decisions on a wide range of civil matters
        in the name of the Crown. His reign saw the production of the first written legal textbook,
        providing the basis of today’s “Common Law”. As a consequence of the improvements in
        the legal system, the power of church courts waned. The church naturally opposed this and
        found its most vehement spokesman in Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
        formerly a close friend of Henry’s and his Chancellor.
       The conflict with Becket effectively began with a dispute over whether the secular courts
        could try clergy who had committed a secular offence. Henry attempted to subdue Becket
        and his fellow churchmen by making them swear to obey the “customs of the realm”, but
        controversy ensued over what constituted these customs, and the church proved reluctant to
       The question, which of his sons would succeed Henry on the thrown lead to a lot of power
        struggle and amounted to treason and rebellion, finally it was Richard the Lionheart who
        became King of England having defeated his father in battle.
       Richard himself was more of a soldier than a statesman. First occupied Sicily, than
        captured Cyprus, which proved immensely valuable in keeping the Frankish kingdoms in
        the Holy Land viable for another century. Richard’s absence from the English political
        landscape meant that the highly efficient government created by his father was allowed to
        entrench itself.
       During the military adventures of Richard England went through a period of prosperity and
        the barons of the country gained a great degree of Sovereignty and power. Royal power
        was declining, not least to the activities of King John. His reign has been traditionally
        characterised as one of the most disastrous in English history: it began with defeats – he
    lost Normandy – and ended with England torn by civil war and himself on the verge of
    being forced out of power. During his reign John would make himself highly unpopular
    with the nobles, the merchants and also with the Church. He raised the amount of money
    one had to pay for inheriting family land and if a nobles family died out he would kept the
    land for a longer time that it was customary. He also angered his nobility by losing
    Normandy, where a lot of English nobles possessed land and thought that their king failed
    to carry out his duty to them. His rebellious barons forced him to sign Magna Carta in
    1215, the act for which he is best remembered. (His reputation is a reason many English
    monarchs have refrained from giving the name John to their expected heirs.)
   By 1215 the barons were so unsatisfied with the English military failures, John’s conflicts
    with the church and the extra taxes (a kind of income tax) introduced that they banned
    together and as a sign of their rebellion travelled to London and forced King John to agree
    to the “Articles of the Barons”, to which his Great Seal was attached. This was the original
    Magna Carta, and amongst others it contained Clause 61, stating that an established
    committee of 25 barons could at any time meet and over-rule the will of the King, through
    force by seizing his castles and possessions if needed. This was based on a medieval legal
    practice known as distraint (záloglás), which was commonly done, but it was the first time
    it had been applied to a monarch. As soon as the barons left London the king renounced the
    document plunging England into a civil war. It ended after John’s death, when Henry III
    (still a child) was crowned in 1216 and the barons had the upper hand again. In the next 60
    years the Magna Carta was reissued many times, although in shortened version and with
    some articles omitted. There were other signs indicating that feudalism – the use of land in
    return for services – was changing. The nobles would not serve their king after their
    compulsory forty days’ fighting service was over, so the king had to pay soldiers.
   There are a number of popular misconceptions about Magna Carta, such as that it was the
    first document to limit the power of an English king by law (it was not the first, and was
    partly based on the Charter of Liberties); that it in practice limited the power of the king (it
    mostly did not in the Middle Ages); and that it is a single static document (it is a variety of
    documents referred to under a common name). The set of documents may not have brought
    freedom to all, but it surely ended despotism. It looked upon law as a power independent of
    will of the king. Everybody – including the monarch – could be brought be brought before
    it, and reasons had to be enlisted before anyone got prosecuted
   Another misconception needs to be done away with: Magna Carta had little effect on
    subsequent development of parliament until the Tudor period. Knights and county
    representatives attended the Great Council (Simon de Montfort’s Parliament). The
    Council only existed to give input on the opinion of the kingdom as a whole, originally
    only met three times a year, and so was subservient to the king’s council, the Curiae Regis,
    which, unlike the Great Council, followed the king wherever he went. Still, in some senses
    the council was an early form of parliament. It had the power to meet outside the authority
    of the king, and was not appointed by him. While executive government descends from the
    Curiae Regis, parliament descends from the Great Council which was later called the
    parliamentum. Still, the Great Council was very different from modern parliament. There
    were no knights, let alone commons, and it was composed of the most powerful men, rather
    than elected.
   The Commons separated from the Lords in 1341. The right of the Commons to exclusively
    sanction taxes (based on a withdrawn provision of Magna Carta) was re-asserted in 1407,
    although it was not in force in this period. The power vested in the Great Council by (albeit
    withdrawn) Clause 14 of Magna Carta became vested in the House of Commons but
    Magna Carta was all but forgotten for about a century, until the Tudors.
   Henry III was the first English king to be crowned in Westminster Abbey that was rebuilt
    in Anglo-French Gothic style as a shrine to honour Edward the Confessor. His reign of
    Henry saw the upheaval if not of not nationalism, then nativism – “a politics of birthplace,
    of land of language” (Schama 145). Much of the second half of his reign could be
    characterised by his confrontation with Simon de Monfort, a French born English aristocrat
    who organized a very efficient opposition to monarchical powers. A dogmatic person, de
    Monfort believed that instead of a just rule, the English monarchy is tending towards
    tyranny, so after a long process of gaining public attention among the barons proposed
    radical changes in the structure of the English government.
   In Montfort’s system, the right to vote in Parliamentary elections for county constituencies
    was uniform throughout the country, granting a vote to all those who owned the freehold of
    land to an annual rent of 40 shillings. In the boroughs (törvényhatóság), the franchise
    varied and individual boroughs had varying arrangements. The archbishops, bishops,
    abbots, earls and barons were summoned, as were two knights from each shire and two
    burgesses from each borough. Knights had been summoned to previous councils, but the
    representation of the boroughs was unprecedented. This council would decide upon
    common business of the realm, the choice of ministers and councillors and also proposing
    and disposing of funds to make war or peace. The royal delegation within this committee
    was reduced to three. It is uncertain whether this concept of Sovereign rule was only a plan
    or it actually turned a reality during de Monfort’s life. Although Monfort was powerful, he
    and his revolutionary ideas were not popular among many landlords, who helped Henry to
    defeat and kill the Frenchman.
   The reign of Edward I (1272–1307) was rather more successful, he basically took the field
    of expansion on Britain. He wanted unconditional submission to being treated as the feudal
    overlord of the rulers of Wales and Scotland. This would have also meant obligation for
    these rulers to provide Edward with troops and money when he needed it. Unlike his father
    he took great interest in the workings of his government and undertook a number of
    reforms to regain royal control in government and administration. It was during Edward’s
    reign that Parliament began to meet regularly. And though still extremely limited to matters
    of taxation, it enabled Edward I to obtain a number of taxation grants which had been
    impossible before. He also conquered Wales by defeating Llewellyn ap Gruffydd in 1282,
    was the last native to hold the title, Prince of Wales. Since then this titles is given to all the
    heir-apparent princes of the royal family. After the conquest of Wales a huge castle-
    building wave took place (e.g. Conwy) and he also brought the English county system to
    the newly conquered land.
   Edward’s attention towards Scotland was fairly incidental, it followed the death of
    Alexander III of Scotland and the ensuing succession crisis. First it was intended to be the
    marriage of two realms with Scotland keeping its independent identity, laws and customs.
    He however had to keep in mind that Scotland was much stronger then Wales and that the
    foundations of feudalism were also strong. The feudal system, however, did not develop in
    the Highland where the tribal “clan system“ continued to flourish. While John Balliol (John
    of Scotland) became the new Scottish king, Edward I, who had gained recognition as Lord
    Paramount of Scotland, the feudal superior of the realm, steadily undermined the authority
    of John. Edward treated Scotland as a feudal vassal state, and repeatedly humiliated his
    appointee. Without direct rule Edward wanted to use feudal levies collected in Scotland to
    finance his war expeditions against France. When John resisted and travelled to France to
    form an alliance with the French against the English, Edward acted swiftly defeating the
    Scottish army – which had no serious war-experience for two generations – and
    establishing a colonial form of administration. Later due to the strong armed resistance of
    William Wallace and later Robert the Bruce though this developed into a costly and drawn-
    out military campaign. Edward might have persuaded some Scottish nobles to accept him,
    but the people altogether refused the rule of the English and began to develop a national
    identity. The son of Edward, Edward II, suffered a massive defeat at Bannockburn; but the
    campaign continued until the early years of Edward III, and was only finally abandoned
    after the conclusion of the Treaty of Northampton in 1328.
   It was also Edward I, who formally expelled all Jews from England. In the course of his
    persecution, he arrested all the heads of Jewish households, some 300 individuals were
    executed with all their possessions were confiscated. The reasons for such an anti-semitic
    act are disputed. It may have been the result of a ritual murdering of a Christian boy. It is
    also possible that the prosecutions took place solely for financial gain since the Jews (who
    dealt exclusively in money lending) were loaners of the monarchy.
   Oxford gained influence in the mid-13th century, and maintained houses for students. At
    about the same time, private benefactors established colleges to serve as self-contained
    scholarly communities. Soon after Cambridge followed.

   Edward III (aka. The Black Prince possibly coined by French chroniclers in reference to the
    ruinous military defeats he had inflicted on France or his cruelty in these), still under
    regency signed the Treaty of Northampton which he later rejected and committed very
    large armies to Scottish operations, and after much of the land lost previously has been
    recovered Edward had moved from a policy of conquest to one of suppression.
   Edward II and The Black Prince became symbols of the “code of chivalry”, the way in
    which a perfect knight should behave. Interest in the legendary King Arthur and his court
    grew. Chivalry was a useful way of persuading men to fight by creating the idea that war
    was a noble and glorious thing, whereas the reality of war was just the opposite: cruelty,
    death and destruction.
   Edward’s military problems, however, were on two fronts; the challenge from the French
    monarchy was of no less concern. The French represented a problem in three areas: first,
    they provided constant support to the Scottish through the Franco-Scottish alliance.
    Second, the French attacked several English coastal towns, leading to rumours in England
    of a full-scale invasion. Finally, the English king’s possessions in France were under threat,
    but not only that. The French king started to interfere with England’s trade, the export of
    corn and wool to and through Gascony and Flanders that made a lot of money to the
    English trade. Instead of seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict by paying homage to
    the French king, Edward laid claim to the French crown and after he was rejected the
    Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) broke out.
   The financial demands of the Hundred Years’ War were enormous, and although the
    merchant classes – fearing their trade and wealth would decline – financed the war efforts,
    and the king and his ministers tried different methods of covering the expenses. The
    monarchy needed to resort to taxation of his subjects, but to do this he had to rely on the
    parliament – and in particular the Commons – which consequently gained political
    influence. A consensus emerged that in order for a tax to be just, the king had to prove its
    necessity, it had to be granted by the community of the realm, and it had to be to the benefit
    of that community. In addition to imposing taxes, parliament would also present petitions
    for redress of grievances to the king, most often concerning misgovernment by royal
    officials. Through this process the commons, and the community they represented, became
    increasingly politically aware, and the foundation was laid for the particular English brand
    of constitutional monarchy. In general we can say that the taxes imposed on the gentry and
    the merchants weakened the economic strength of town and countryside, but increased their
    political strength.
   The English army of the time was experienced, was lightly armed, and thus quick in
    manoeuvres and their most important weapon was the Welsh longbow. This enabled them a
    quick rate of fire. The value of longbow was proved in two victories, at Crécy in 1346 and
    at Poitiers in 1356 where the French king himself was taken prisoner. Later his freedom
    was bough and the treaty of Brétigny (1360) was signed. Edward II gave up his claim to the
    French throne but established control over areas previously held by the English (Aquitaine,
    including Gascony, parts of Normandy and the port town of Calais). Not only had the peace
    treaty halted the fighting bit a global epidemic later called the Great Plague/Black Death.
   In 1348, the Black Death struck Europe with full force, killing almost half of England’s
    population in less than 18 months. Whole villages died out or were abandoned, but the
    worst-hit areas were the bigger town, with little hygiene that could have stopped the spread
    of the epidemic. People were buried in mass graves. This loss of manpower, and
    subsequently of revenues, meant a halt to major campaigning. The great landowners
    struggled with the shortage of manpower and the resulting in the rise of labour cost. The
    king and Parliament tried – from time to time – control wage increase, but failed. The poor
    found that they could demand more money for work and did so. Rural England began to
    see a major transformation. Following the labour market hundreds of thousands migrated to
    find better economic and social prospects, this meant the end of serfhood for good. The
    great number of folks living in the countryside no longer did what they were told by their
    superiors, they started thinking for themselves, questioned the structure of social power, the
    ever present contract between submission (by the surfs) and protection (by the lords). Serf
    farmers who rented the manorial lands slowly became a new class, known as the
    “yeomen”. The plague did not, however, lead to a full-scale breakdown of government and
    society, and recovery was remarkably swift. Nevertheless agricultural land production
    shrank, but those who survived the plague enjoyed a greater share of the agricultural
    economy. Peasants also had an easier and more comfortable life.
   Other economic changes also took place during the 14th century, the replacement of wool
    export by finished cloth export. Merchants decided they can buy wool in England for half
    the price it was called in Flanders and started to produce finished cloth that was later sold
    elsewhere in Europe. Exporting a finished product instead of a raw material meant a clear
    benefit for England and the court. The West Country, Wales and Yorkshire all did well
    from clothmaking.
   Kings of the second half of the 14th century – namely Richard II and Henry IV – spent
    much of their reign defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts.
    This was a time of great unrest as both the aristocratic and the lower classes were
    concerned. The autocratic and arrogant methods of Richard II only served to alienate the
    nobility. The English Peasant Revolt of 1381 is another sign of the state of general
   When Richard II was crowned in 1376, the country was still in a state of shock from the
    third wave of the Black Death that rampage the island the previous year. The young king
    was greeted with much expectation to bring order and peace. To achieve this he first had to
    encounter the up and coming rural community, taking shape in a Peasant’s Revolt.
   The most direct cause of the revolt was the poll tax levied (3 occasions) to finance the
    Hundred Years’ War. The levy in 1381 was particularly unpopular, as each person aged
    over 15 was required to pay the amount of one shilling, which was a large amount then.
    The revolt was headed by John Ball, Watt Tyler and Jack Straw, who during their march to
    and London they ordered the burning of estates belonging to tax collectors, officials,
    sheriffs prominent members of the royal council and symbols of wealth and the aristocratic
    way of life. Tyler claimed that God had created all people equal, called for an end of
    feudalism and respect for honest labour. The revolt lasted less than 2 months with the
       reassertion of royal authority and the restoration pf peace with as little bloodshed as
      Despite its name, participation in the Peasants’ Revolt was not confined to serfs or even to
       the lower classes. As the effects of the Black Death on the labour market wore off the
       landlords tried to force the peasants back into serfdom, because serf labour was cheaper
       than paid labour. Although the most significant events took place in the capital, there were
       violent encounters throughout eastern England – but those involved hurried to dissociate
       themselves in the months that followed. The revolt was never directly against the monarchy
       or the king, it was a responsible popular movement with loyalty and possessing political
       maturity. Tyler’s Rebellion is significant because it marked the beginning of the end of
       serfdom in medieval England. Tyler’s Rebellion led to calls for the reform of feudalism in
       England and an increase in rights for the serf class.
      As far as the Hundred Years’ War is concerned, after the treaty of Brétigny the fighting
       soon began again and the French forces during the next fifteen years took back all the land
       except the coastal port of Calais, Cherbourg, Brest, Bordeaux and Bayonne.
      This, but more relevantly the peasant’s revolt led to the strengthening of the nobility and
       the most powerful magnates of the realm. Richard – who in the meantime grew to be “an
       early Renaissance prince in the European mode” (Schama 220), a patron of the arts, feasts
       of arms and hunts who made Geoffrey Chaucer a diplomat and Clerk of The King’s Works
       for Richard II – paid insufficient attention to the power-hunger ancient aristocracy: their
       conflict was inevitable. The king did not look upon them as wise councillors, instead tried,
       with little success, to choose his own. It took some time to encounter them – namely
       Arundel, Warwick and Glouchester – face to face. He even took to robbing the magnate
       family of the Bolingbroke of its possessions and inheritance. This caused an outrage among
       other aristocratic families and due to Richard’s military inexperience was forced off the
       throne in 1399 and killed by starvation the following year.
      The growing discontent did not only focus on the court and the feudal system, but the
       Church too which was a feudal power and handled peasants and townspeople with cruelty.
       The tax paid to the pope – who was a foreigner and in the 14th century lived in Avignon
       and probably assisted the French side in their war with England – was also unpopular. The
       clergy was at the time appointed by the king and often acted as his administration. Another
       threat to the Church was the spread of religious writings relying on which private prayers
       could be held. This allowed people to pray and think without the control of the Church so it
       quickly declared people doing so heretics. This heresy would be named “Lollardy” and one
       of its main figures was an Oxford professor, John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible from
       Latin, however was not allowed to publish it. The Lollards were supported by a small
       fragment of literate nobles and merchants.

      The next king of England would be Henry IV of Bolingbroke (A.K.A. Henry of
       Lancaster) was Henry, who was tolerated as king since Richard II’s government had been
       highly unpopular. Nevertheless, within a few years of taking the throne, Henry found
       himself facing several rebellions in Wales, Cheshire and Northumberland. A century after
       Edward I annexed Wales the Welsh were ready to rebel against their feudal lords, the
       English. The border rebellion headed by Owain Glyndwr developed into a national revolt
       and in 1400 he was proclaimed by his supporters Prince of Wales. Since his army was not
       strong enough to defeat the English troops sent to put down the revolt, he took to guerrilla
       warfare. Although soon the Welsh understood that no matter how hard they fought they
       would never be able to free themselves from the English a feeling of national identity was
       strengthened. Otherwise Henry IV spent much of his reign defending himself against plots,
       rebellions and assassination attempts and had serious illnesses in the last years of his life.
      His son and successor, Henry V, as remembered among other by Shakespeare was first and
       foremost a warlord. Henry tackled all of the domestic policies together, and gradually built
       on them a wider policy. From the first, he made it clear that he would rule England as the
       head of a united nation, and that past differences were to be forgotten. His campaigns
       against France (1415, 1417, 1421) were likewise ambitious. In 1415 on the plains near the
       village of Agincourt, he turned to give battle to a pursuing French army. Despite his men-
       at-arms being exhausted and outnumbered, Henry led his men into battle, miraculously
       defeating the French. In 1417 after six months’ negotiation Henry was by the Treaty of
       Troyes recognised as heir and regent of France. The 1521 campaign would be his last as he
       died the following year from dysentery.
      As a result of his successes in the Hundred Years’ War, Henry V had left England in
       possession of considerable territories in France, but the momentum was lost on his death.
       Henry VI proved to be a deeply spiritual man, lacking the worldly wisdom necessary to
       allow him to rule effectively. Right from the time he assumed control as king in 1437, he
       allowed his court to be dominated by a few noble favourites; the faction in favour of ending
       the war in France quickly came to dominate, while the voices of Richard, Duke of York
       and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the leaders of the pro-war faction, were ignored. The
       government’s increasing unpopularity was due to a breakdown in law and order,
       corruption, the distribution of royal land to the king’s court favourites, the troubled state of
       the crown’s finances, and the steady loss of territories in France. By 1450, the French had
       retaken the whole province so hard won by Henry V. Returning troops, who had often not
       been paid, added to the sense of lawlessness in the southern counties of England, and Jack
       Cade led a peasant rebellion in Kent in 1450. On hearing the news of the English defeat in
       August 1453 (the result of which was that England lost all of its possessions except the port
       of Calais), Henry slipped into a mental breakdown and became completely unaware of
       everything that was going on around him.
      Henry’s character as king is best summed up as pious, indecisive and easily-led, and of
       course later in life, he became severely mentally unstable. He was kind and generous to
       those he cared about (which did not help the dire financial situation of his government)
       giving away land and titles to his advisors. Henry seems to have been a decent man, but
       completely unsuited to kingship in a violent society. He allowed himself to be totally
       dominated by the power-hungry factions which surrounded him at court and was later
       powerless to stop the outbreak of bloody civil war.
      At the time some sixty noble families would control Britain, many of which had a private
       army of their own. After Henry’s mental breakdowns became permanent the nobility were
       divided between those who remained loyal to Henry VI (the “Lancastrians”) and who
       supported the duke of York (the “Yorkists”). As a result of this situation the War of Roses
       (1455-1487) broke out. The Wars were fought largely by the landed aristocracy and armies
       of feudal retainers: between adherents of the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
       Both houses were branches of the Plantagenet royal house, tracing their descent from King
       Edward III. Support for each house largely depended upon dynastic marriages with the
       nobility, feudal titles, and tenures (hűbéri szolgálat). It is sometimes difficult to follow the
       shifts of power and allegiance.

      The Yorkistst took power in 1471 and in a short period of time had three kings: Edward
       IV, Edward V and Richard III. Since ruling during the War of the Roses, they all saw
       periods of restoration and breakdown of law and order during their reign. Edward took up
    the struggle and won the throne in 1461 and put Henry into the Tower of London, but nine
    years later a new Lancastrian army rescued Henry and chased Edward out of the country.
    He would soon returned with a strengthened army of his own in 1471 defeated the
    Lancastrians again, just as he sent Henry back to the Tower only this time he gave orders to
    be killed. When Edward died in 1483 he had no heirs old enough to rule so Richard of
    Gloucester proclaimed himself king, Richard III and according to Shakespeare ordered his
    nephews to be killed. He was not popular among the nobility, this is the reason why the
    duke of Richmond (later crowned as Henry VII) landed in the south of England the lords
    were quick to desert and offer him service. In the battle of Bosworth Richard was defeated
    and this event marked the end of the house of Plantagenets and the rise of the house of the
   The Wars of the Roses resulted in massive political upheaval and huge changes to the
    established balance of power. The most obvious effect was the collapse of the Plantagenet
    dynasty and its replacement with the new Tudor rulers who were to change England
    dramatically over the following years. With their heavy casualties among the nobility
    coupled with the effects of the Black Death, the wars are thought to have ushered in a
    period of great social upheaval in feudal England, including a weakening of the feudal
    power of the nobles and a corresponding strengthening of the merchant classes, and the
    growth of a strong, centralized monarchy under the Tudors. The war almost destroyed the
    English idea of kinship forever, there has been less and less respect for anything except the
    power to take the Crown. Another effect of the war was that almost half of the lords of the
    biggest noble families lay dead and the nobility as a class lost some of its strength.
   The war was disastrous for England’s already declining influence in France and by the end
    of the struggle few of the gains made over the course of the Hundred Years’ War remained,
    apart from Calais. Although later English rulers would continue to campaign on the
    continent, England’s territories were never reclaimed. Indeed, various duchies and
    kingdoms in Europe played a pivotal role in the outcome of the war; in particular the kings
    of France and the dukes of Burgundy played the two factions off each other, pledging
    military and financial aid and offering asylum to defeated nobles to prevent a strong and
    unified England making war on them.
   The post-war period was also the death knell for the large standing baronial armies, which
    had helped fuel the conflict. As a result the military power of individual barons declined,
    and the Tudor court became a place where baronial squabbles were decided with the
    influence of the monarch.

   As far as Scotland is concerned, the “Auld Alliance” (Scottish-French pact against the
    English) had a lot of disadvantages, and resulted in continuous invasions of the lowlands
    where most of the wealth of the country came. The Scottish kings also had to struggle a lot
    with their nobles. Due to the early deaths of three kings in a row, practical government was
    taken over by powerful nobles who kept private armies just like the English. In the
    Highland the clan system still dominated, however it no longer meant a family unit, but
    groups of people occupying an area of land following a particular chief. Not all the
    members of a clan were related by kinship, some groups joined for protection or because
    they did not want to leave the area. Clan Donald became the most powerful in the land.
    Scotland as a whole carried on building the national unity rooted in the legacy of William
    Wallace. Their parliament would meet once a year giving advice to the king, towns grew in
    importance and with the help of Flemish settlers’ wool, leather and fish exports grew.
    Education also grew in importance, three universities were founded in the second half of
    the Middle Ages (St Andres – 1412, Glasgow –1451 and Aberdeen – 1495).
      Henry VII would be the first Tudor monarch of England. The first of Henry’s concerns on
       attaining the throne was the question of establishing the strength and supremacy of his rule.
       His own claim to the throne being weak as it was, he was fortunate in that there were few
       other claimants to the throne left alive after the long civil war. He managed to secure his
       crown principally by dividing and undermining the power of the nobility, especially through
       the aggressive use of bonds and recognisances (kötelezvény) to secure loyalty, as well as by
       a legislative assault on the practice of maintaining private armies. Henry VII’s policy was
       both to maintain peace and to create economic prosperity. Up to a point, he succeeded in
       both. He was not a military man, and had no interest in trying to regain the French
       territories lost during the reigns of his predecessors.
       Henry VII built the foundations of a wealthy nation state and a powerful monarchy, he
        based royal on good business sense. He firmly believed that whereas fighting and glory
        were threats to business, business was good for the state. During the War of the Roses
        England’s trading positions had been badly damaged. The German Hanseatic League
        strengthened and took over important markets. Henry VII made important agreements with
        the Netherlands. He also made good money from the confiscating of large areas of land that
        were previously owned by landlord victims of the wars. He dealt with the rioting landlords
        in his court and justice slowly began to return and operate in the countryside. Henry’s aim
        was to make the court financially independent, he never spent money unless he had to.
        Although he raised taxes for waging wars, he did not start any. He maintained a good
        relation with the merchant and lesser gentry classes, and created a new nobility from
        among them. The only thing on which he was happy to spend money freely was the
        building of ships for a merchant fleet.
       In 1502, fate dealt Henry VII a blow from which he never fully recovered: His heir, the
        recently-married Arthur, died in an epidemic. Not wishing the negotiations that had led to
        the marriage of his elder son to Catherine of Aragon to go to waste, he arranged a Papal
        allowance for his younger son, later to be crowned Henry VIII to marry his brother’s
        widow – normally a degree of relationship that precluded marriage in the Roman Catholic
       During his early reign Henry VIII led victorious campaigns in Normandy and beat of the
        Scottish army attacking northern territories led by James IV. Yet he realized that France
        and Spain was more powerful than England and wanted to hold the balance of power
        between these two giants. In 1525, King Henry’s increasing impatience with what he
        perceived to be Catherine’s inability to produce the desired heir was given a new spur when
        he became attracted to a charismatic young courtier in the Queen’s entourage, Anne
        Boleyn. Since neither of his cardinals – Wolsey and Thomas More – could or wanted to
        annul his marriage to Catherine he took things in his own hands and promoted other men of
        a different temper. Foremost among these were two gifted young clerics, Thomas
        Cromwell (to become chief adviser to the king) and Thomas Cranmer (the future
        Archbishop of Canterbury). Both of these men with Anne Boleyn and family were
        Protestant sympathizers.
       Protestantism marks a revisionist phase in the history of Christianity, an attack on the
        Christianity of spectacle and corruption, a propagator of religious wisdom based not on the
        words of a clergy controlled by Rome, but the words of the Bible itself. Lutheranism
        wanted both a depoliticised church, one that would not view its main purpose as sellers of
        salvation, rather pass down self-shepherdness. In England anti-clericalism revealed itself in
        numerous ways, like the translation and illegal rounding of the English translation of the
        Bible by William Tindale. It was in such circumstances that Cromwell made more daring
        proposal that Henry consider abolishing papal supremacy and declare himself head of the
    Church in England. He also he secretly married Boleyn in January 1533, and shortly
    thereafter, had his allies in Parliament pass a statute forbidding further appeals to Rome.
    Archbishop Cranmer quickly moved to declare Henry’s marriage to Catherine invalid and
    his new one to Anne Boleyn valid. Boleyn was crowned Queen of England on June 1. The
    Statute in Restraint of Appeals prohibited appeals from English ecclesiastical courts to the
    Pope. It also prevented the Church from making any regulations without the King’s
    consent. The Ecclesiastical Appointments Act 1534 required the clergy to elect bishops
    nominated by the Sovereign. The Act of Supremacy 1534 declared that the King was “the
    only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England”; the Treasons Act 1534 made it
    high treason punishable by death to refuse to acknowledge the King as such. The Pope was
    also denied sources of revenue such as Peter’s Pence.
   Part of this manoeuvre was the recognition that the Church was a huge landowner, the
    wealth of which could not completely control and keep in his kingdom. Henry was not the
    only king in Europe to “centralise” state authority. As far as financial matters were
    concerned Thomas Cromwell was authorized to visit monasteries, ostensibly to ensure that
    they followed royal instructions, but in reality to assess their wealth. In 1536, an Act of
    Parliament allowed Henry to seize the possessions of the lesser monasteries (those with
    annual incomes of £200 or less). They also closed 560 monasteries and other religious
    houses. The dissolution of monasteries was probably the greatest act of official destruction
    in the history of Britain. These steps were popular with the rising classes of landowners and
    merchants. He therefore gave or sold much of the monasteries’ lands to them. As these
    details reveal Cranmer and Cromwell made good use if the Renaissance idea of a strong
    prince in a strong Christian state: a form of tyranny, even state terror.
   These suppressions in turn contributed to further resistance among the English people, most
    notably in the Pilgrimage of Grace, a large uprising in northern England in October of the
    same year. Henry VIII promised the rebels he would pardon them and thanked them for
    raising the issues to his attention. Since the government was not yet ready to crush the
    rebellion agreed to look into the possibilities of a Catholic restoration. This tactic, which
    may remind us to the ones used to crush the revolt of 1381 helped to pacify the protesters
    who feeling that they have reached their goal returned to their homes. After the prosecution
    and execution of their leader, Robert Aske the rebels realized that the King was not keeping
    his promises and rebelled again later that year, but their strength was not as great and was
    crushed. As a result of the uprising pilgrimages marches and other religious festivals were
   Though she was instrumental in helping to bring about these radical religious changes, the
    King’s relationship with his Queen quickly soured. After the Princess Elizabeth’s birth,
    Queen Anne had at least two pregnancies that ended in either miscarriage or stillbirth. After
    the death of Catherine of Aragon, Henry wanted to make up with Charles V (the Holy
    Roman Emperor and Catholic) that could be achieved by the relegitimation of his former
    wife to which his present one would not agree. Consequently Anne had to be dealt away
    with Henry had Anne arrested on charges of using witchcraft to trap him into marrying her,
    of having adulterous relationships with five other men, of incest with her brother, of
    injuring the King and of conspiring to kill him, which amounted to treason. The charges
    were most likely fabricated, nevertheless she was trialled and executed in 1536.
   In the final period of his life Henry would prove to be more of a conservative, orthodox
    Catholic and would agree less and less with Crammer’s openly Protestant dogmatic. Her
    last wife Catherine Parr helped reconcile Henry with his first two daughters, the Lady Mary
    and the Lady Elizabeth. In 1544, an Act of Parliament put them back in the line of
    succession After his death in 1547 Henry’s only surviving legitimate son, Edward (from
    Jane Seymour), inherited the Crown, becoming Edward VI.
   No account of the legacy of Henry VIII can overlook its dominating fact — the launching
    of the English Reformation. Though mainly motivated by dynastic and personal concerns,
    and despite never really abandoning the fundamentals of the Catholic faith, Henry ensured
    that the greatest act of his reign would be one of the most radical and decisive of any
    English monarch. His break with Rome in 1533-4 was an act with enormous consequences
    for the course of modern English history well beyond the end of the Tudor dynasty: not
    only in making possible the subsequent transformation of England into a vibrant (albeit
    very distinctive) Protestant society but also in the shift of economic and political power
    from the Church to the gentry, chiefly through the seizure and transfer of monastic lands
    and assets — a short-term strategy with long term social consequences. The power of the
    state was magnified, yet so too (at least after Henry’s death) were demands for increased
    political participation by the middle class. Henry worked with some success to once again
    make England a major player on the European scene but depleted his treasury in the course
    of doing so, a legacy that would remain an issue for English monarchs through the very end
    of the Tudor dynasty.

   Although Henry VIII had broken the link between the English church and Rome, it was
    during the reign of Edward VI that Protestantism was established for the first time in
    England. Cranmer was the driving force behind Edward’s reform spirit, a true and
    comprehensive reformation. As part of this Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was
    published solely in English in 1549 to replace the four old liturgical books in Latin. The
    political aim of the work was to unite moderate religious factions into a single Protestant
    fold by obscuring the role of the Mass and downplaying the status of saints. Its use was
    enforced by an Act of Uniformity 1549 but it served only to antagonise both Protestants
    and Catholics. A cornerstone of the conflict was the new custom according to which priests
    could marry and people could divorce. Reformation also included the banning of all
    Catholic customs and ceremonies, the purification of church interiors, the limewashing of
    walls, and the publishing and distribution of English-language bibles. Although in some
    part of the country common tongue was not English (e.g. Cornwall they spoke Cornish).
   Reformation resulted in a divided country both geographically (Reformation was strongest
    in the southeast), and as far as generations were concerned (younger age-groups favoured
    an anti-Catholic Anglican Church). Problems in the countryside added to the conflict.
    Although the wool industry boomed during this period – the ongoing fencing in or
    enclosure of the landscape to raise sheep for individual proprietors – the displacement of
    common land caused great social unrest known as the enclosure riots.
   Henry’s early death and the unsuccessful attempts to leave the crown in hands (Lady Jane
    Grey’s) that would ensure the success of Reformation brought about the rule of Mary I
    (daughter of Catherine of Aragon and often referred to as Bloody Mary) and the
    restoration of the pre-Reformation England. The entire religious legislation of Edwards
    reign was repealed, England returned to Rome and the pre-1526 state of the Church,
    however tens of thousands of acres of monastery lands confiscated under Henry were not to
    be returned to the monasteries as the new landowners created by this distribution were very
    influential Cranmer with many evangelical priests were executed. Although enjoying a
    great deal of popularity in her early reign she lost all when she decided to marry the
    Spanish prince Phillip with the hope to produce an heir that would prevent the Protestant
    Elizabeth (still her successor under the terms of Henry VIII’s will) from succeeding to the
    throne. The Parliament even petitioned her to consider marrying an Englishman, fearing
    that England would be relegated to a dependency of Spain. She died childless and was
    followed by Henry VIIIth third heir, Mary’s half-sister, Elizabeth.
   Elizabeth I is sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess,
    and was immortalised by Edmund Spenser as the Faerie Queen. Elizabeth I was the fifth
    and final monarch of the Tudor dynasty and reigned for about 45 years, during a period
    marked by increases in English power and influence worldwide, as well as great religious
    turmoil within the country.
   Elizabeth’s reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era or the Golden Age of Elizabeth.
    Playwrights William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson all flourished
    during this era; Francis Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe;
    Francis Bacon laid out his philosophical and political views; and English colonisation of
    North America took place under Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert.
   One of the most important concerns during Elizabeth’s early reign was religion. She relied
    primarily on Sir William Cecil for advice on the matter. The Act of Uniformity 1559, to
    which she gave assent shortly after ascending the throne, required the use of the Protestant
    Book of Common Prayer in church services. Many bishops were unwilling to conform to
    the Elizabethan religious policy. These bishops were removed from the ecclesiastical bench
    and replaced by appointees who would agree with the Queen’s decision.
   Soon after her accession, many questioned whom Elizabeth would marry. The most likely
    cause, however, was probably Elizabeth’s reluctance to share the power of the Crown with
    another for fear that a marriage with a foreigner would provoke the same hostility as that of
    her sister Mary’s disastrous marriage to Philip II. She also did not want to risk making
    England a foreign vassal and possibly involving it in the unprofitable and unpopular wars
    that Mary’s marriage had done (including the loss of Calais, a great psychological and
    emotional trauma to the English), and marriage to a high-born Englishman would involve
    England in factional dispute at court. As a married queen, some would have expected her to
    give over her power to her husband, and take no part in matters of state.
   The Queen found a dangerous rival in her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, who was
    the wife of the French King Francis II. In 1559, Mary had declared herself Queen of
    England with French support. Mary, Queen of Scots, had to suffer her own troubles in
    Scotland. As a result of her marriage to a Catholic nobleman, who was later murdered, the
    Scottish nobles imprisoned Mary and forcing her to abdicate in favour of her infant son,
    who consequently became James VI of Scotland. Mary later escaped from her prison and
    fled to England, where she was captured by English forces. Elizabeth was faced with a
    conundrum: sending her back to the Scottish nobles was deemed too cruel; sending her to
    France would put a powerful pawn in the hands of the French king; forcibly restoring her to
    the Scottish throne may have been seen as an heroic gesture, but would cause too much
    conflict with the Scots; and imprisoning her in England would allow her to participate in
    plots against the Queen. Elizabeth chose the last option and Mary was kept confined for
    eighteen years.
   In 1569, Elizabeth faced a major uprising, known as the Northern Rebellion as a result of
    which she chose not to continue her policy of religious tolerance. She instead began the
    persecution of her religious enemies, giving impetus to various conspiracies to remove her
    from the throne. To fight conspiracies, Parliament had passed the Act of Association 1584,
    under which anyone associated with a plot to murder the Sovereign would be excluded
    from the line of succession. One of these plots was allegedly linked to Mary who – as a
    result – was beheaded in 1586.
   In 1572, Elizabeth made an alliance with France against Catholic Spain and Philip II, who
    intended to invade England, but the navy led by Francis Drake prevented such event.
    English privateers continued to attack Spanish treasure ships from the Americas. The most
    famous privateers included Sir John Hawkins and Sir Martin Frobisher. In 1598 France and
    Spain finally made peace and the Anglo-Spanish War reached a stalemate after Philip II
          died later in the year. At the same time as England was fighting Spain, it also faced a
          rebellion in Ireland, known as the Nine Years War.
         Without any alternative heirs pressing their claims to the throne, James VI of Scotland was
          proclaimed King of England as James I a few hours after Elizabeth’s death on March 24,
         Elizabeth was a successful monarch, helping steady the nation even after inheriting an
          enormous national debt from her sister Mary. Under her, England managed to avoid a
          crippling Spanish invasion. Elizabeth was also able to prevent the outbreak of a religious or
          civil war on English soil. Elizabeth’s government did much to consolidate the work begun
          under Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII, that is, expanding the role of the
          government and in effecting common law and administration throughout England.

      •Before crowned as King of England, James I had been King of Scotland for 36 year, a
       considerable part of which still a child and ruled under regency. He then became Sovereign
       of England, Scotland and Ireland for 22 years, until his death at the age of 58. In Scotland
       James had managed to establish effective royal government and relative peace among the
      James was pro-absolute monarchy and he wrote lengthily about the divine rights of the
       monarch, the theory of monarchical rule, which he compared to the ways feudal lords rule
       their land. He also made it clear in these texts that he viewed parliament as a kind of “head
       court” which foreshadows his difficulties with the English Commons.
      As King of England James had to handle a couple of conspiracies at the beginning of his
       reign, but later he established himself and many of his earlier advisors and aids as ruler of
       two realms. James was ambitious to build on the personal union of the crowns of Scotland
       and England to establish a permanent Union of the Crowns under one monarch, one
       parliament and one law, a plan which met opposition in both countries. In April 1604,
       however, the Commons refused on legal grounds his request to be titled “King of Great
       Britain”. In foreign policy, James achieved more success. Never having been at war with
       Spain, he devoted his efforts to bringing the long war with the Armada to an end, and in
       August 1604 he signed a peace treaty with the Spanish ruler. Freedom of worship for
       Catholics in England continued, however, to be a major objective of Spanish policy, causing
       constant dilemmas for James, distrusted abroad for repression of Catholics and at home for
       tolerance towards them.
      On 5 November 1605, a soldier called Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellars of the
       parliament buildings guarding a pile of faggots, not far from about twenty barrels of
       gunpowder with which he intended to blow up Parliament House the following day. The
       sensational discovery of the Catholic Gunpowder Plot, as it quickly became known,
       aroused a mood of national relief at the delivery of the king and his sons which Salisbury
       exploited to extract higher subsidies from Parliament.
      As James’s reign progressed his government faced growing financial pressures, due partly
       to creeping inflation and the low taxation, but also to the financial incompetence of James’s
       court. He dissolved two parliaments which hesitated to long whether to grant him the
       money he required or not. In his later years he sold earldoms and other dignities as an
       alternative source of income. Another potential source of income was the prospect of a
       Spanish dowry from a marriage between Charles, Prince of Wales and the Spanish Infanta,
       Maria, which however was never realised. Peace with Spain was a way for James to
       maintain peace with Spain and avoid the additional costs of a war. Supported Catholic-
       leaning ministers and diplomats – together known as the Spanish Party – the policy was
       deeply distrusted in Protestant England.
   The outbreak of the Thirty Years War, however, jeopardized James’s peace policy.
    Matters came to a head when James finally called a parliament in 1621 to fund a military
    expedition in support of his son-in-law. The Commons on the one hand granted subsidies
    inadequate to finance serious military operations in aid of Frederick, and on the other –
    remembering the profits gained under Elizabeth by naval attacks on gold shipments from
    the New World – called for a war directly against Spain. James still refused to declare war,
    but his son, Charles – who in the meantime fell out with the Infanta a marriage with whom
    would have meant his conversion to Catholic religion – was more committed to start a war
    with Spain.
   Any assessment of James’ reign must take it into account that he had often neglected the
    business of government for leisure pastimes, such as hunting; and his later dependence on
    male favourites at a scandal-ridden court undermined the respected image of monarchy so
    carefully constructed by Elizabeth. Another part of his legacy involves the influence he had
    on his son, and ensuing king. He passed down to Charles a fatal belief in the divine right of
    kings, combined with a disdain for Parliament, which culminated in the English Civil War.
    During his reign the influence of Puritanism and other Nonconformist sects (most
    importantly the Baptists and the Quakers) grew. Because of their being disliked by the
    Anglican Church many members set sail for America where they hoped to live a free life. In
    1620 the, so called, “Pilgrim Fathers” sailed in a ship called the Mayflower to

   Charles (crowned as Charles I of England) hoped to unite the kingdoms of England,
    Scotland and Ireland into a new single kingdom, fulfilling the dream of his father. Many
    English Parliamentarians had suspicions regarding such a move because they feared that
    setting up a new kingdom might destroy the old English traditions, which had bound the
    English monarchy.
   Although pious Charles expected outright loyalty in return for “just rule”. He considered
    any questioning of his orders as, at best, insulting. This latter trait, and a series of events,
    each seemingly minor on its own, led to a serious break between Charles and his English
    Parliament, and eventually to war. Before the fighting, the Parliament did not have a large
    permanent role in the English system of government, instead it functioned as a temporary
    advisory committee – summoned by the monarch whenever the Crown required additional
    tax revenue, and was subject to dissolution by the monarch at any time. If the gentry were to
    refuse to collect the King’s taxes, he would lack the authority to compel them. These
    representatives did not, however, have any means of forcing their will upon the king –
    except by withholding the financial means required to execute his plans.
   One of the first events to cause concern about Charles I came with his marriage to a French
    Roman Catholic princess, Henriette-Marie de Bourbon. Charles also wanted to take part in
    the conflicts underway in Europe, known as the Thirty Years’ War, but experienced
    financial difficulty when his first Parliament refused to follow the tradition of giving him
    the right to collect customs duties for his entire reign, deciding instead to grant it for only a
    year at a time.
   Consequently he dissolved Parliament, but unable to raise money without it, he assembled a
    new one in 1628. The new Parliament drew up the Petition of Right that amongst others
    referred to Magna Carta, and Charles accepted it as a concession in order to get his subsidy.
    Charles I avoided calling a Parliament for the next decade. Depending upon their political
    affiliation, people referred to this time either as the “Eleven Years’ Tyranny” or as
    “Charles’ Personal Rule”.
   During the “Personal Rule”, Charles aroused most antagonism through his religious
    measures: Charles believed in a sacramental version of the Church of England, called High
      Anglicanism. Charles appointed William Laud as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633 and
      started a series of reforms in the Church to make it more ceremonial, starting with the
      replacement of the wooden communion tables with stone altars. Puritans accused Laud of
      trying to reintroduce Catholicism, and when they complained, Laud had them arrested.
      Moreover, the church authorities revived the statutes passed in the time of Elizabeth I
      concerning church attendance and fined Puritans around the country for failure to attend
      Anglican services.
     The Church of Scotland, although reluctantly Episcopal in structure, had long enjoyed its
      own independent traditions. Charles, however, wanted one uniform church throughout
      Britain and introduced a new version (High Anglican) of the English Common Prayer Book
      into Scotland in the summer of 1637. This met with a violent reaction. A riot broke out in
      Edinburgh and before long Charles was forced to withdraw his Prayer Book and summon a
      General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The differences could not be settled by
      meeting and as a result the Bishop Wars broke out. In the second phase of the war the royal
      forces in the north were defeated by a Scots army, and Charles was eventually forced to
      agree not only not to interfere with religion in Scotland, but to pay the Scottish war
      expenses as well. This however required instant cash, so he was forced to summon a new
      Parliament. The majority faction in the new Parliament, led by John Pym, took this appeal
      for money as an opportunity to discuss grievances against the Crown, and were opposed to
      an English invasion of Scotland. Charles dissolved Parliament after only a few weeks, this
      earning it the name “the Short Parliament”.
     Finance, or rather the lack of it forced Charles to summon yet another Parliament in
      November 1640. The new Parliament proved even more hostile to Charles than its
      predecessor and took the opportunity presented by the King’s troubles to force various
      reforming measures upon him. A law was passed which stated that a new Parliament should
      convene at least once every three years, without the King’s summons if necessary. Other
      laws passed by the Parliament made it illegal for the king to impose taxes without
      Parliamentary consent, and later, gave Parliament control over the king’s ministers. Finally,
      the Parliament passed a law forbidding the King to dissolve it without its consent, even if
      the three years were up. Learning about the destabilised state of politics in England and
      fearing a resurgence of Protestant power, the Irish Catholics sent their Ireland into chaos in
      late 1641. Thousands of Protestants were killed or chased of their land. Rumours circulated
      that the King supported the Irish, and Puritan members of the Commons were soon agitating
      that this was the sort of thing that Charles had in store for all of them.
     In early January 1642, accompanied by 400 soldiers, Charles attempted to arrest five
      members of the House of Commons on a charge of treason. This attempt failed. In the
      summer of 1642 these national troubles helped to polarize opinion, ending indecision about
      which side to support or what action to take. As the summer progressed, cities and towns
      declared their sympathies for one faction or the other. At the outset of the conflict, much of
      the country remained neutral, though the Royal Navy and most English cities favoured
      Parliament, while the King found considerable support in rural communities. The war
      quickly spread and eventually involved every level of society, throughout the British Isles.
      On one side, the King and his supporters thought that they fought for traditional government
      in Church and state. On the other, most supporters of the Parliamentary cause, initially took
      up arms to defend what they thought was the traditional balance of government in Church
      and state, which had been undermined by the bad advice the King had received from his
      advisers, before and during the “Eleven Years’ Tyranny”.

The English Civil War
   The military events of the Civil War lasted for four years (1642-1646), including a decisive
    victory of the Parliamentarians in the Battle of Nasby and ended with the victory of the
    Parliamentarian forces. In the remains of his English realm Charles attempted to recover a
    stable base of support by consolidating the Midlands, but his resources exhausted and at
    Nasby he was captured. This marked the end of the First English Civil War. A series of
    Royalist uprisings throughout England and a Scottish invasion occurred in the summer of
    1648. Forces loyal to Parliament put down most of the uprisings, but it took a few months
    before at Walton-le-Dale near Preston in Lancashire, the troops of Cromwell defeated the
    Royalists and this Parliamentarian victory marked the end of the Second English Civil
   The betrayal by Charles caused Parliament to debate whether to return the King to power at
    all. Those who still supported Charles’ place on the throne tried once more to negotiate with
    him. This was not successful and the so called Rump Parliament was ordered to set up a
    high court of justice in order to try Charles I for treason in the name of the people of
    England. At the end of the trial the 59 Commissioners (judges) found Charles I guilty of
    high treason, as a “tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy”. He was beheaded on 30
    January 1649.
   Oliver Cromwell was a centre-figure in the Civil War. He was already a member of the
    1628-29 Parliament and returned as Member of Parliament for Cambridge in the Short
    (1640) and Long (1640-49) Parliaments, and later entered the English Civil War on the side
    of the Roundheads that is the Parliamentarians. A brilliant soldier (nicknamed “Old
    Ironsides”) he rose from leading a single cavalry troop to eventual command of the entire
    army. It was he who set up the New Model Army which comprised professional soldiers
    led by trained generals, unlike other military forces of the era, which tended to have
    aristocratic leaders with no guarantee of military training. Apart from their military
    successes, the New Model Army troops also became famous for their Puritan religious zeal.
   The so-called Third English Civil War involved events in both Ireland and Scotland. Ireland
    had known continuous war since the rebellion of 1641. Increasingly threatened by the
    armies of the English Parliament after Charles I’s arrest, the Confederates signed a treaty of
    alliance with the English Royalists. Cromwell’s suppression of the Royalists in Ireland
    during 1649 still has a strong resonance for many Irish people. After the siege of Drogheda,
    the massacre of nearly 3,500 people – comprising around 2,700 Royalist soldiers and all the
    men in the town carrying arms, including civilians, prisoners, and Catholic priests – became
    one of the historical memories that has driven Irish-English and Catholic-Protestant conflict
    during the last three centuries. The Parliamentarian conquest of Ireland continued for
    another four years until 1653, when the last Irish Confederate and Royalist troops
    surrendered. It has been estimated that up to 30% of Ireland’s population either died or were
    exiled by the end of the wars. Almost all Irish Catholic owned land was confiscated in the
    wake of the conquest and distributed to the Parliament’s creditors, to the Parliamentary
    soldiers who served in Ireland, and to English people who had settled there before the war.
   The execution of Charles I altered the dynamics of the Civil War in Scotland, which had
    raged between Royalists and Covenanters since 1644. Charles II landed in Scotland in mid-
    1650 and with his original Scottish Royalist followers and his new Covenanter allies, King
    Charles II became the greatest threat facing the new English Republic. Cromwell’s army
    soon took Edinburgh, and by the end of the year, his army had occupied much of southern
    Scotland. It took two more years to mop up the remnants of the Scottish resistance and
    under the terms of the “Tender of Union”, the Scots received 30 seats in a united Parliament
    in London, and a military governor was appointed to ensure security in Scotland. Charles II
    escaped to France.
     Cromwell was a central figure to the Civil War in more than one way. He was the third
      person to sign Charles I’s death warrant in 1649 and was an MP in the Rump Parliament
      being chosen by the Rump to take command of the English campaign in Ireland during
      1649-50. He then led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650-51. After the
      military actions ended Cromwell returned to London and was made Lord Protector on 16
      December 1653, with a ceremony in which he wore plain black clothing, rather than any
      monarchical regalia. Cromwell had two key objectives as Lord Protector. The first was to
      offer “healing and settling” to the nation after the chaos of the civil wars. To Cromwell, the
      form this healing took was important. His second objective was spiritual and moral reform.
      He aimed to restore liberty of conscience and promote both outward and inward godliness
      throughout England. As Lord Protector, Cromwell was aware of the contribution the Jewish
      community made to the economic success of Holland, now England’s leading commercial
      rival. It was this – allied to Cromwell’s toleration of the right to private worship of those
      who fell outside evangelical Puritanism – that led to the return of the Jewish community to
      England in 1657, over 350 years after their banishment by Edward I, in the hope that they
      would help speed up the recovery of the country after the disruption of the Civil Wars.
     In 1657, Cromwell was offered the crown by Parliament as part of a revised constitutional
      settlement, presenting him with a dilemma, since he had been instrumental in abolishing the
      monarchy. Cromwell agonised for six weeks over the offer. He was attracted by the
      prospect of stability it held out, but turned it down. Instead, Cromwell was ceremonially re-
      installed as Lord Protector with greater powers than had previously been granted him under
      this title. Most notably, the office of Lord Protector was still not to become hereditary,
      though Cromwell was now able to nominate his own successor.

The English restoration and the Glorious Revolution
     When he died in 1658 he was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son, Richard Cromwell,
      who although was not entirely without ability, had no power base in either Parliament or the
      Army, and was forced to resign in the spring of 1659, bringing the Protectorate to an end. In
      the period immediately following his abdication the head of the army, George Monck, took
      power for less than a year, at which point Parliament restored Charles II as king. These
      events became known as the English Restoration. As they resulted in the restoration of the
      monarchy with the consent of Parliament, the civil wars effectively set England and
      Scotland on course to adopt a parliamentary monarchy form of government. This was a
      major, probably the most significant momentum in British history: it meant the foundation
      of the political system of modern Britain. This system would result in the outcome that the
      future Kingdom of Great Britain, formed in 1707 under the Acts of Union.
     According to royalists, Charles II became king when his father Charles I was executed at
      the climax of the Second English Civil War. The English Parliament did not proclaim
      Charles II king at this time however, and England entered the period known to history as the
      English Interregnum. The Parliament of Scotland, on the other hand, proclaimed Charles
      II King of Scots on crowned him in 1651. He was popularly known as the Merrie Monarch,
      in reference to both the liveliness and hedonism of his court and the general relief at the
      return to normacy after over a decade of rule by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans.
     Charles’ parliament (the Cavalier Parliament, 1661–79), enacted harsh anti-Puritan laws
      designed to shore up the position of the re-established Church of England in English
      society, even though he himself favoured a policy of religious toleration. Charles fought
      two wars with the Dutch over trade routes and rights. It was during this conflict that New
      Amsterdam was captured (and later renamed New York in honour of Charles’ brother
      James, Duke of York, the future James II of England/James VII of Scotland). Meanwhile,
      by a series of five acts around 1670, Charles granted the British East India Company the
    rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and
    troops, to form alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal
    jurisdiction over the acquired areas in India. In 1670, Charles also granted a royal charter to
    establish the Hudson’s Bay Company in North America. The company eventually became
    the oldest corporation on the North American continent. It started out in the lucrative fur
    trade with the native people, but eventually colonized and governed a large portion of the
    land of what is known today as Canada.
   In 1665, Charles II was faced with a great health crisis: an outbreak of Bubonic Plague in
    London. Various attempts at containing the disease by London public health officials all fell
    in vain and the disease continued to spread rapidly. On 2 September 1666, adding to
    London’s woes was what later became famously known as the Great Fire of London.
    Although effectively ending the spreading of the Great Plague by burning the plague-
    carrying rats and fleas, the fire consumed about 13,200 houses and 87 churches, including
    St. Paul’s Cathedral. Charles II is famously remembered for joining the fire-fighters in
    combating the fire.
   Charles’ heir would be his unpopular Roman Catholic brother, James, Duke of York.
    Allegations about a Papist Plot, that set out to assassinate the king spread over the country,
    as a result of which the people were seized with an anti-Catholic hysteria; judges and juries
    across the land condemned the supposed conspirators; numerous innocent individuals were
    executed. The Parliament of 1679 introduced the Exclusion Bill, which sought to exclude
    the Duke of York from the line of succession. The bill was never accepted by parliament,
    but this only deepened the succession crises: some even sought to confer the Crown to
    Charles’s illegitimate children. The Abhorrers – those who opposed the Exclusion Bill –
    would develop into the Tory Party, while the Petitioners – those who supported the
    Exclusion Bill – became the Whig Party. With the future of the inheritance of the throne
    uncertain, Charles died in 1685.
   As part of his heritage we must note that Charles, a patron of the arts and sciences, helped
    found the Royal Society, a scientific group whose early members included Robert Hooke,
    Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Newton. Charles was the personal patron of Sir Christopher
    Wren, the architect who helped rebuild London after the Great Fire in 1666. Wren also
    constructed the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which Charles founded as a home for retired
    soldiers in 1681.
   James II of England was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdom of
    Scotland, Kingdom of England, and Kingdom of Ireland. Many of his subjects distrusted his
    religious policies and supposed despotism. After putting down an anti-Catholic rebellion he
    sought to establish a large standing army. By putting Roman Catholics in charge of several
    regiments, the King was drawn into a conflict with Parliament. Parliament was prorogued
    (ülésszakot berekeszt) in November 1685, never to meet again during James’ brief reign.
   Religious tension intensified from 1686. James controversially allowed Roman Catholics to
    occupy the highest offices of the Kingdom. In the Declaration of Indulgence (1687), also
    known as the Declaration for Liberty of Conscience, James suspended laws punishing
    Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters. After the birth of James’ son the threat of a
    Catholic dynasty was so strong, that several influential Protestants entered into negotiations
    with William, Prince of Orange, who was James’s son-in-law and nephew that eventually
    lead to the Glorious Revolution.
   On June 30, 1688, a group of Protestant nobles requested the Prince of Orange to come to
    England with an army. By September, it had become clear that William sought to invade
    and when he arrived many Protestant officers serving in James’s army defected and joined
    him. In 1690 he landed in Ireland and defeated James army, thud Protestant victory was
    complete. James fled to France and William convened an irregular Convention Parliament.
      (The procedure of calling a Convention Parliament had been previously used when
      succession to the Throne was unclear; it was a Convention Parliament, which restored
      Charles II to the Throne following the English Civil War and republican Commonwealth.)
      The Convention declared that James’s attempt to escape constituted an abdication of the
      government, and that the Throne had then become vacant. Essentially, this was a Deposition
      Parliament. James’s daughter Mary was declared Queen; she was to rule jointly with her
      husband William III.
     William and Mary subsequently granted their assent to an Act commonly referred to as the
      Bill of Rights (Declaration of Rights). The Act charged James II with abusing his power,
      thus seriously limited the power of the Sovereign. The king/queen was now longer able to
      raise taxes or keep an army without the agreement of the Parliament, was no longer allowed
      to act against any MP for what he said or did in Parliament. This meant that the “consent of
      the people” was no longer represented by the Sovereign, but overall power was practised by
      the Parliament. The Act of Settlement in 1701 amongst other things stipulated that no
      Catholic would henceforth be permitted to ascend to the English throne, nor could any
      English monarch marry a Catholic. This act has been in force since then.

The 18th century
     Although Scotland did not accept the removal of James their rebellion was soon put down
      and the English now wanted the two countries to unite. Deeper political integration was a
      key policy of Queen Anne, (1702–14), who succeeded to the throne in 1702 as the last
      Stuart monarch of Great Britain and Ireland. Under the guidance of the Queen and her
      advisors a Bill of Union was drawn up and in 1706 negotiations between England and
      Scotland began. The circumstances of Scotland’s acceptance of the Bill are to some degree
      disputed. Scottish proponents believed that failure to accede to the Bill would result in the
      imposition of Union under less favourable terms and months of fierce debate on both sides
      of the border were to follow, particularly in Scotland where debate could often dissolve into
      civil disorder. The prospect of a Union of the kingdoms was deeply unpopular among the
      Scottish population at large, however following the near-bankrupt Parliament of Scotland
      did accept the proposals. A successful union meant that England would be financially
      responsible for paying the Scottish national debt, but in case the negotiations were
      unsuccessful, Scottish trade would have come under an English blockade. In 1707, the Acts
      of Union received their Royal assent, thereby abolishing the Parliament of the Kingdom of
      England and the Parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland to create a unified Kingdom of
      Great Britain with a single Parliament of Great Britain. Anne became formally the first
      occupant of the unified British throne and Scotland sent 45 MPs to the new parliament at
      Westminster. Perhaps the greatest single benefit to Scotland of the Union was that Scotland
      could enjoy free trade with England and her colonies overseas. For England’s part, a
      possible ally for European states hostile to England been neutralised while simultaneously
      securing a Protestant succession to the British throne.
     However, certain aspect of the former independent kingdoms remained separate. Examples
      of Scottish and English institutions which were not merged into the British system include
      the legal system and banking systems. The Presbyterian Church of Scotland and Anglican
      Church of England also remained separate as did the systems of education and higher
      learning. However, one particular provision of the Acts of Union, the renaming of Scotland
      and England as ‘North Britain’ and ‘South Britain’ respectively, failed to take hold and fell
      into disuse fairly quickly.
     By the end of Queen Anne’s rule the British Isles was becoming a trading empire and a
      country of developed industry and great wealth. The basis of the British Empire is closely
      connected to the idea of mercantilism, an economic theory that stressed maximizing the
    trade inside the empire, and trying to weaken rival empires. The modern British Empire was
    based upon the preceding English Empire which first took shape in the early 17th century,
    including the English settlement of the eastern colonies of North America (which would
    later become the original United States) and the smaller islands of the Caribbean such as
    Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica. These sugar plantation islands,
    where slavery became the basis of the economy, were part of Britain’s most important and
    successful colonies. The American colonies also utilized slave labour in the farming of
    tobacco, cotton, and rice in the south. Naval material and furs in the north were less
    financially successful, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger
    numbers of British immigrants who would also utilize slave labour to farm agricultural
    commodities. The profits made at the colonies led to the development of the industry in
    mainland Britain, and the sudden growth of such cities as Birmingham, Glasgow and
   After the death of Queen Anne the Protestant ruler of Hanover, George would become the
    king (as George I, 1714-1727). Besides being the first king of Great Britain he was the
    Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. Early on in his reign he had to deal with the
    Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland that had Tory connections, so George allowed the Whigs to
    form a government. The leader of the Whigs, a certain Robert Walpole would become the
    first “prime minister” of the country and from then one this position become even more
    influential than that of the Sovereign. Walpole was gifted financially, it was during his
    premiership that the Bank of England as the main creditor to the state was established. With
    this printed bank notes appeared and came into use. Interest in financial matter among the
    population also grew, a great number of people who wanted to take share in the commercial
    wealth of the country invested in government bonds and shares of the trading companies
    (East India Comp., South Sea Comp.) The prices of shares would first soar, but when the
    confidence of people fell, so did their price. The economic crisis, known as the South Sea
    Bubble, had significantly damaged the credibility of the King and of the Whig Party, but
    Walpole defended both with skilful oratory in the House of Commons.Walpole skilfully
    developed the idea that government should work together in a small group, which was
    called the “Cabinet”, the members of which were together responsible for policy decision. It
    was he who made sure that the power of the king would be limited. From 1724 the political
    power of the monarch was gradually diminishing, and that of his ministers gradually
   Walpole’s position was threatened in 1727, when George I died and was succeeded by
    George II. For a few days, it seemed that Walpole would be dismissed, but the King agreed
    to keep him in office upon the advice of Queen Caroline. Over the next years, Walpole
    continued to share power with his brother-in-law (Lord Townshend), but gradually became
    the clearly dominant partner in government. During the following years, Walpole was more
    dominant than during any other part of his administration. Having secured the support of
    Queen Caroline, and, by extension, of King George II, he made liberal use of the royal
    patronage, granting honours and making appointments for political gains. He selected the
    members of his Cabinet, and was capable of forcing them to act according to his wish when
    necessary; as no previous head of the administration could wield so much influence. These
    are the factors why Walpole can properly be regarded the first “Prime Minister”.
   Walpole had many opponents including Lord Bolingbroke, William Pitt “the Elder” (later
    Lord Chatham) and such representatives of the contemporary literay scene, such as
    Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, Dr Samuel Johnson. Despite such
    opposition, Walpole secured the support of the people and of the House of Commons with a
    policy of avoiding war, which, in turn, allowed him to impose low taxes. He used his
    influence to prevent George II from entering a European conflict in 1733, when the War of
    the Polish Succession broke out. After the general elections of 1734, Walpole’s supporters
    still formed a majority in the House of Commons, though they were less numerous than
    before. Though he maintained his parliamentary supremacy, however, his popularity began
    to wane. In 1736, an increase in the tax on gin inspired riots in London.
   As far as his legacy is concerned Walpole’s influence on the politics of his day was
    tremendous. The Tories became a minor, insignificant faction, and the Whigs became a
    dominant and largely unopposed party. Walpole’s influence on the development of the
    uncodified constitution of Great Britain was less momentous. Although he is rightly
    regarded as Great Britain’s first Prime Minister, he relied primarily on the favour of the
    King, rather than on the support of the House of Commons. His power stemmed from his
    personal influence instead of the influence of his office. Most of his immediate successors
    were, comparatively speaking, extremely weak; it would take several decades more for the
    premiership to develop into the most powerful and most important office in the country.
    Walpole’s strategy of keeping Great Britain at peace contributed greatly to the country’s
    prosperity. Walpole also managed to secure the position of the Hanoverian Dynasty, and
    effectively countervailed Jacobitism. Another part of Walpole’s legacy is 10 Downing
    Street. George II offered this home to Walpole as a personal gift in 1732, but Walpole
    accepted it only as the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, taking up his
    residence there in 1735. His immediate successors did not always reside in Number 10
    (preferring their larger private residences), but the home has nevertheless become
    established as the official residence of the Prime Minister.
   Meanwhile in Scotland Jacobite revolts took place occasionally, most notably in 1745 when
    James II’s grandson Prince Charles Edward Stuart (AKA Bonnie Prince Charlie) landed on
    the west coast, started a rebellion and even took Edinburgh, but failed to persuade the
    landlords of north England. He was defeated at Culloden the following year. After this
    unsuccessful rebellion British authorities acted to destroy the Scottish clan system in
    parliamentary acts of extreme vengeance. All aspects of Highland culture including the
    language and national costumes were forbidden. Highlanders were forced into the British
    Army to serve in the wider British Empire. Clan Chiefs were encouraged to consider
    themselves as owners of the land in their control, in the English manner. As these new
    landowners converted land to more profitable sheep pasture, many of the people were
    dispossessed, facing forcible eviction (kitelepítés). In what became known as the “Highland
    Clearances”, the population fell significantly. Large numbers of Highlanders resettled in the
    lowland cities, becoming the labour force for the emerging industrial revolution, many left
    for other parts of the British Empire, particularly for Nova Scotia, (East-Quebec) and Upper
    Canada (later known as Ontario).
   At the same time, the Scottish Agricultural Revolution changed the face of the Scottish
    Lowlands and transformed the traditional system of subsistence farming into a stable and
    productive agricultural system. This was another reason why large populations migrated to
    the Lowlands. Scots contributed to culture and science with such visionaries as the father of
    modern economics, the propagator of free market economy: Adam Smith. Internationally,
    Scotland’s fate was tied to that of the United Kingdom as a whole. Shortly after Culloden,
    Britain successfully fought the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), demonstrating its rising
    significance as a great power. As a partner in the new Britain, Scotland began to flourish in
    ways that she never had as an independent nation. As the memory of the Jacobite rebellion
    faded away, the 1770s and 80s saw the repeal of much of the draconian laws passed earlier.
   It was towards the end of the reign of George II that the Seven Years’ War broke out. This
    was the first conflict in human history to be fought around the globe, although most of the
    combatants were either European nations or their overseas colonies. The British fought
    against Frances’ trade and included the taking over of Quebec in 1759 and Montreal the
    following year, that meant for the Brits the control of important fish, fur and wood trades.
    Whereas the French army was destroyed near the Spanish coast in India the army of the
    British East India Company defeated the French army.
   George III’s long reign (1760-1820) was marked by a series of military conflicts involving
    his kingdom and much of the rest of Europe. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated
    France in the Seven Years’ War, becoming the dominant European power in North America
    and – after the victory of Robert Clive at Plassey that opened the province of Bengal to
    British rule – in India. Although a Hanoverian, he was born in Britain and wanted to take a
    more active part in government. He wished to be free to choose his own ministers, who
    would controll Parliament, that – at the time – still represented a very small segment of
    society. In the eighteenth century only house owners with a certain income had the right to
    vote. In today’s term Parliament was by no means an institution representing society.
   The favouritism which George initially showed towards Tory ministers led to his
    denunciation by the Whigs as an autocrat in the manner of Charles I. Later the Whigs would
    return to power and in agreement with George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763
    that placed a boundary upon the westward expansion of the American colonies. The
    Proclamation’s goal was to force colonists to negotiate with the Native Americans for the
    lawful purchase of the land and, therefore, to reduce the costly frontier warfare that had
    erupted over land conflicts. The “Proclamation Line”, as it came to be known, was
    extremely unpopular with the Americans and ultimately became another wedge between the
    colonists and the British government that would eventually lead to war. With the American
    colonists generally unburdened by British taxes, the government found it increasingly
    difficult to pay for the defence of the colonies against native uprisings and the possibility of
    French incursions. When the Tories returned to power led by Lord North (1770-1782) the
    government was chiefly concerned with discontent in America. To calm the tensions most
    of the custom duties were withdrawn, with the exception of the tea duty. Consequently in
    1773, a Boston mob threw 342 crates of tea, costing approximately £10,000, into Boston
    Harbour as a political protest, an event that became known as the Boston Tea Party. In
    Britain, opinion hardened against the colonists and as a reply Lord North introduced the
    Punitive Acts: the Port of Boston was shut down and legislative elections in the Colony of
    Massachusetts Bay were suspended.
   The American War of Independence began when armed conflict between British regulars
    and colonial militiamen broke out in New England in April 1775. A month later, delegates
    of the thirteen British colonies drafted a peace proposal known as the Olive Branch Petition.
    The proposal was quickly rejected in London because fighting had already erupted. A year
    later, on July 4, 1776 (American Independence Day), the colonies declared their
    independence from the Crown and became a new nation, the “United States of America”.
    The Declaration was a long list of grievances against the British King, legislature, and
    populace. According to the colonial population the British monarch has abdicated
    Government in the colonies, raided its seas, ravaged its costs, burnt its towns and destroyed
    many lives. George was offended when he learned of the charges of the colonists. In the war
    the British captured New York City in 1776, but the grand strategic plan of invading from
    Canada failed with the surrender of the British Lieutenant-General John Burgoyne at the
    Battle of Saratoga. In 1778, France signed a treaty of friendship with the new United States.
    George III obstinately tried to keep Great Britain at war with the revolutionaries in
    America, despite the opinions of his own ministers. To punish the Americans the king
    planned to destroy their coasting-trade, bombard their ports, sack and burn towns along the
    coast (like New London, Connecticut), and turn loose the Indians to attack civilians in
    frontier settlements. These operations, the King felt, would inspire the Loyalists; would
    splinter the Congress. The plan meant destruction for the Loyalists and loyal Indians, and
      indefinite prolongation of a costly war, as well as the risk of disaster as the French and
      Spanish were assembling an Armada to invade the British Isles and seize London. In 1781,
      after the surrender of Yorktown Lord North’s parliamentary support ebbed away and he
      subsequently resigned in 1782. George III finally accepted the defeat in North America, and
      authorised the negotiation of a peace. The Treaty of Paris and the associated Treaty of
      Versailles were ratified in 1783. The former treaty provided for the recognition of the
      United States by Great Britain. The latter required Great Britain to give up Florida to Spain
      and to grant access to the waters of Newfoundland to France.
     Whereas there were lost battles in America, there were victories in India. Clive and later
      Warren Hastings and Arthur Wellesley as future representatives of the Crown in India were
      no longer looking after trading relations, they were after direct hegemony of the vast
      subcontinent. The English soon got the rights to collect revenues and taxes from people in
      place of the Mughal ruler. Consequently the whole nature of the British presence in the land
      was transformed from overseeing trade relations to direct military rule.
     After the loss of the American colonies and a short constitutional struggle between the
      Whigs over who to form a cabinet, the Tories headed by William Pittt the Younger took
      power. For George III, Pitt’s appointment was a great victory. The King felt that the
      scenario proved that he still had the power to appoint Prime Ministers without having to
      rely on any parliamentary group. Throughout Pitt’s ministry, George eagerly supported
      many of his political aims. To aid Pitt, George created new peers at an unprecedented rate.
      The new peers flooded the House of Lords and allowed Pitt to maintain a firm majority.
      During Pitt’s ministry, George III was extremely popular despite the fact that by this time
      his health was deteriorating: he suffered from recurrent and, eventually, permanent mental
      illness. (This baffled medical science at the time, although it is now generally thought that
      he suffered from the blood disease called porphyria. Recently, owing to studies showing
      high levels of the poison arsenic in locks of King George’s hair, arsenic is also thought to be
      a possible cause of King George’s insanity and health problems.) Charles James Fox (a
      Whig politician) and William Pitt wrangled over the terms of which individual was entitled
      to take over government during the illness of the Sovereign. Although both parties agreed
      that it would be most reasonable for George III’s eldest son and heir apparent, the Prince of
      Wales, to act as Regent, they disagreed over the basis of a regency. Fox suggested that it
      was the Prince of Wales’s absolute right to act on his ill father’s behalf; Pitt argued that it
      was for Parliament to nominate a Regent. During his later reign George also aided the Royal
      Academy with large grants from his private funds. Great advances were made in fields such
      as in science and industry.

The Industrial Revolution
     Although Pitt personally was against slavery, slave trading had generated astounding wealth
      for Britain. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century a series of technological
      advances led to the Industrial Revolution. Britain’s position as the world’s pre-eminent
      trader helped fund research and experimentation. The nation was also gifted by some of the
      world’s greatest reserves of coal, the main fuel of the new revolution. It was also fuelled by
      a rejection of mercantilism in favour of the predominance of Adam Smith’s laissez-faire
      capitalism that was based on strict free market without any state interference, economic
      interventionism and granted state monopolies. The Industrial Revolution saw a rapid
      transformation in the British economy and society. Previously large industries had to be
      near forests or rivers for power. The use of coal-fuelled engines allowed them to be placed
      in large urban centres. These new factories proved far more efficient at producing goods
      than the cottage industry of a previous era. These manufactured goods were sold around the
      world, and raw materials and luxury goods were imported to Britain. In short, we can say
    that Britain was able to succeed in the Industrial Revolution due to the availability of key
    resources it possessed. It had a dense population for its small geographical size. Enclosure
    of common land and the related Agricultural Revolution made a supply of this labour
    readily available. There was also a local coincidence of natural resources in the North of
    England, the English Midlands, South Wales and the Scottish Lowlands. Local supplies of
    coal, iron, lead, copper, tin, limestone and hydropower (vízenergia), resulted in excellent
    conditions for the development and expansion of industry. Also, the damp, mild weather
    conditions of the North West of England provided ideal conditions for the spinning of
    cotton, providing a natural starting point for the birth of the textiles industry.
   The beginning of the Industrial Revolution is closely linked to a small number of
    innovations, made in the second half of the 18th century:
         In the early 18th century, British textile manufacture was based on wool which was
        processed by individual artisans, doing the spinning and weaving on their own premises.
        This system is called a cottage industry. Flax (len) and cotton were also used for fine
        materials, but the processing was difficult because of the pre-processing needed, and
        thus goods in these materials made only a small proportion of the output. Use of the
        spinning wheel and hand loom (szövőszék) restricted the production capacity of the
        industry, but important advances increased productivity to the extent that manufactured
        cotton goods became the dominant British export by the early decades of the 19 th
        century. India was displaced as the premier supplier of cotton goods. With the invention
        of the cotton mill all the production processes were brought together in a factory, and
        with the use of non-human power — first horse power and then hydropower — made
        cotton manufacturing a mechanised industry. Before long steam power was applied to
        drive textile machinery.
         The major change in the metal industries during the era of the Industrial Revolution
        was the replacement of organic fuels based on wood with fossil fuel based on coal. Up
        to that time, British iron manufacturers had used considerable amounts of imported iron
        to supplement native supplies. This came principally from Sweden from the mid 17th
        century and later also from Russia from the end of the 1720s. However, from 1785,
        imports decreased because of the new iron making technology, and Britain became an
        exporter of bar iron as well as manufactured wrought iron consumer goods. Since iron
        was becoming cheaper and more plentiful, it also became a major structural material
        following the building of the innovative Iron Bridge in 1778. An improvement was
        made in the production of steel, which was an expensive commodity and used only
        where iron would not do, such as for the cutting edge of tools and for springs. The
        supply of cheaper iron and steel aided the development of boilers and steam engines,
        and eventually railways. Improvements in machine tools allowed better working of iron
        and steel and further boosted the industrial growth of Britain.
         As far as mining of minerals is concerned, the introduction of the steam engine
        greatly facilitated the removal of water and enabled shafts (tárna) to be made deeper,
        making possible more coal to be extracted. The steam engine was invented before the
        Industrial Revolution, but the adoption of James Watt’s more efficient steam engine
        from the 1770s reduced the fuel costs of engines, making mines more profitable. The
        development of the stationary steam engine was an essential early element of the
        Industrial Revolution, but until it spread the majority of industries still relied on wind
        and water power as well as horse- and man-power for driving small machines. As
        mentioned above, a fundamental change in the working principles of the steam engine
        was brought about by Watt. He created a machine in which constant temperature could
        be maintained in the cylinder (henger) and that engine efficiency no longer varied
        according to atmospheric conditions. These improvements increased engine efficiency
        and saving 75% on coal costs. At first the atmospheric engine could not be adapted to
        drive a rotating wheel. However by 1783 the more economical “Watt steam engine” had
        been fully developed into a double-acting (kettős működésű) rotative type, which meant
        that it could be used to directly drive the rotary machinery of a factory or mill. The
        development of machine tools, such as the lathe (esztergapad), planning (gyalu) and
        shaping machines powered by these engines, enabled all the metal parts of the engines
        to be easily and accurately cut and in turn made it possible to build larger and more
        powerful engines. These also helped the construction of a steam engine in which the
        engine and boiler were combined into a single unit compact enough to be used on
        mobile road and rail locomotives and steam boats. The Industrial Revolution could not
        have developed without machine tools. As I have already mentioned they enabled
        manufacturing machines to be made. They have their origins in the tools developed in
        the 18th century by makers of clocks and watches and scientific instrument makers to
        enable them to batch-produce (tömegtermel) small mechanisms.
         Gas-lighting had in impact on social and industrial organisation because it allowed
        factories and stores to remain open longer than with candles or oil. Its introduction
        allowed nightlife to flourish in cities and towns as interiors and street could be lighted
        on a larger scale than before. In 1824 Joseph Aspdin, a British brick layer turned
        builder, patented a chemical process for making Portland cement which was an
        important advance in the building trades.
         At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, inland transport meant navigable
        rivers and roads. Coastal vessels were employed to move heavy goods by sea. Railways
        or wagon ways were used for conveying coal to rivers for further shipment, but canals
        had not yet been constructed. Animals supplied motive power (mozgáshoz szükséges
        erő) on land, with sails providing the same on the sea. The Industrial Revolution
        improved Britain’s transport infrastructure with a turnpike (vámút) road network, a
        canal, and waterway network, and a railway network. Raw materials and finished
        products could be moved more quickly and cheaply than before. Improved
        transportation also allowed new ideas to spread quickly. The major turnpikes radiated
        from London and were the means by which the Royal Mail was able to reach the rest of
        the country. Heavy goods transport on these roads was by means of slow broad wheeled
        carts hauled by teams of horses. Lighter goods were conveyed by smaller carts or pack
        horses (igásló). Stage coaches transported rich people. The less wealthy walked or paid
        to ride on a carriers cart. Horse-drawn public railways did not begin until the early years
        of the 19th century. Steam-hauled (gőzhajtású) public railways began with the Stockton
        and Darlington Railway in 1825 and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830.
        The construction of major railways connecting the larger cities and towns began in the
        1830s but only gained momentum at the very end of the Industrial Revolution. Railways
        helped Britain’s trade enormously, providing a quick and easy way of transport. The
        railways builders did not return to their rural lifestyles after their task was completed,
        but instead remained in the cities, providing additional workers for the factories.
   During the Industrial Revolution the empire became less important and less well-regarded.
    The British defeat in the American War of Independence (1775-1783) deprived it of one of
    its most populous colonies. This loss of the American colonies (except for the region known
    today as Canada) was coupled with a realisation that colonies were not particularly
    economically beneficial. It was realised that the costs of occupation of colonies often
    exceeded the financial return to the taxpayer. In other words, formal empire afforded no
    great economic benefit when trade would continue whether the overseas political entities
    were nominally Sovereign or not. The American Revolution helped demonstrate this by
    showing that Britain could still control trade with the colonies without having to pay for
    their defence and governance. Capitalism encouraged the British to grant their colonies self-
    government. The end of the old colonial system was most evident in the abolishment of the
    Corn Laws, the agricultural subsidies on colonial grain. The removal of these laws opened
    the British market to free competition, grain prices fell, and food became more plentiful.
    This push for free trade was coupled by the setting up of modern industrial production:
    mass manufacturing. From the turn of the century Britain enjoyed the benefits of being the
    world’s only modern, industrialised nation. Following the defeat of Napoleonic France,
    Britain was the “workshop of the world”, meaning that its finished goods were produced
    so efficiently and cheaply that they could often undersell (olcsóbban értékesít) comparable,
    locally manufactured goods in almost any other market. If political conditions in particular
    overseas markets were stable enough, Britain could dominate its economy through free
    trade alone without having to resort to formal rule or mercantilism. Britain was even
    supplying half the needs in manufactured goods of such nations as Germany, France,
    Belgium, and the United States.
   The Industrial Revolution was not without a darker side. In the countryside richer farmers
    wanted to change the system of farming and make the most of the new methods, techniques
    and equipment devised for agricultural production. This included the change of the system
    of landholding and led to the enclosures and the creation of unbroken areas, lands that
    made possible much greater and more efficient food production. In social term however the
    enclosures were damaging, the population was increasing rapidly and a new landless class
    was evolving. The sharp increase of poor people and – in bad years – high wheat prices led
    local magistrates to introduce new means of handling the poor. Authorities helped those
    whose wages were particularly low of the local rates and who had more children
    (Speedhamland Act). As a result of the enclosures more and more parish workhouses were
    set up. These hired workers to local businesses and gave food and accommodation to
    families. This was a system little better than slavery and saw the rise of child labour. Those
    who did not want to stay in these workhouses tried their luck in industrial towns. The early
    19th century saw the passing of acts that limited child labour in the industry. In 1807 slavery
    was abolished by law in Britain, but it was not before 1833 that a similar act passed
    legislation for the British colonies.
   The French Revolution, by which the French monarchy had been overthrown, worried
    many British landowners. In France the revolution was lead by the so called “bourgeoisie”,
    or middle class, that lead the urban workers class and peasants against the king. In England
    this class, together with the gentry had been working together in the House of Commons
    and were basically governing the country. They were no sympathisers of the revolutionaries
    in France, they were clearly afraid that the working class and the peasants on the
    countryside might start revolts. Actually there were a lot of radicals within the ruling classes
    of Britain who called for reforms, but instead seeing them realised, they had to see their
    homes attacked by Tory crowds that were hoping the keep things as they were previously.
    Those in the Whig party who feared “Jacobinism” (sympathy with the revolutionary ideas)
    joined Pitt, whereas those who were for reforms joined the radical leader of the party Fox.
    Other forms of radicalism were not tolerated, some leaders of the revolutionaries were even
   Britain avoided revolution partly because of a new religious movement, one that came not
    from the Church of England, but from the industrial towns. John Wesley, an Anglican
    priest founded and spearheaded it travelling around the country for 53 years preaching and
    teaching. This religion (conservative in nature) was soon known as Methodism, a personal
    and emotional form of faith, and was practised in so called “chapels”. There were 360 of
    these in Britain at the end of the 18th century. Methodism taught people to be hardworking,
    honest, and to obey their lords while avoiding political radicalism and revolutionary ideas.
    Many were brought back to religion and Christianity through the teachings of Wesley.
   After the French occupation of what is known as Belgium and Holland today, Great Britain
    declared war on France in 1793, and George soon represented the British resistance. He
    allowed Pitt to increase taxes and raise an army. As well-prepared as Great Britain may
    have been, France was stronger, nevertheless the Isles had little to fear, since past attempts
    of invasions proved that capturing Britain was not an easy military manoeuvre. The First
    Coalition (which included Austria, Prussia, and Spain) was defeated in 1798 by the French.
    The Second Coalition (which included Austria, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire) was
    defeated in 1800. One by one European countries were defeated and forced to ally with
    Napoleon Bonaparte. Only Great Britain was left fighting Napoleon. Britain decided to
    fight the French at sea because it had a stronger navy and because its own survival
    depended on the control of its trade routes. British ships would damage French trade,
    attacking their ships as they were leaving port. Although the public wanted strong action in
    Europe, nevertheless in October 1801 peace was made with France and in 1802 the Treaty
    of Amiens was signed. George did not consider the peace with France as “real”; in his view
    it was an “experiment”. In 1803, the two nations once again declared war on each other. Pitt
    concentrated on forming a coalition with Austria, Russia, and Sweden. The Third Coalition,
    however, met the same fate as the First and Second Coalitions, collapsing in 1805. An
    invasion by Napoleon seemed imminent, but the possibility was extinguished after Admiral
    Horatio Nelson’s famous victory first near the coast of Egypt and then at the Battle of
    Trafalgar in 1805. A decade later it would be another Englishman, Lord Wellington who in
    1815 defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
   While tremendously popular in Britain, George was hated in Ireland for the atrocities
    carried out in his name during the suppression of the 1798 rebellion. This was started by the
    United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group influenced by the ideas of the American
    and French Revolutions. As the 18th century progressed, liberal elements among the ruling
    class were inspired by the example of the American Revolution and sought to form common
    cause with the Catholic population to achieve reform and greater autonomy from Britain.
    The 1798 rebellion was probably the most concentrated outbreak of violence in Irish history
    and resulted in an estimated 15,000-30,000 deaths over the course of three months. These
    were slaughtered by government forces, but these rebellions convinced the British under
    Prime Minister William Pitt that the only solution was to end Irish independence once and
    for all. The legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was completed on 1 January 1801,
    in both the Irish and the British parliaments, under the Act of Union 1800, changing the
    country’s name to “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. Ireland now sent
    around 100 MPs to the House of Commons at Westminster and 28 peers to the House of
    Lords, elected from among their number by the Irish peers themselves. (Catholics were not
    permitted this “great honour”.)

   The heir of George III was George IV, who had earlier served as The Prince Regent when
    his father suffered from a relapse into insanity. George’s nine-year office as Prince Regent,
    which commenced in 1811 and ended with the death of his father in 1820, was marked by
    victory in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. George was a stubborn monarch, often
    interfering in politics, especially in the matter of Catholic emancipation, though not as much
    as his father. For most of George’s regency and reign, Lord Liverpool controlled the
    government as Prime Minister. George is remembered largely for the extravagant lifestyle
    that he maintained as prince and monarch. At first, it was believed that he would support
    Catholic emancipation, as, in 1797, he had proposed a Catholic Emancipation Bill for
    Ireland, but his anti-Catholic views became clear. By 1824 he was denouncing Catholic
      emancipation in public. Having taken the coronation oath on his accession, George now
      argued that he had sworn to uphold the Protestant faith, and could not support any pro-
      Catholic measures.

The 19th Century and the Victorian Era
     The history of Britain in the 19th century was marked by power and confidence. As “the
      workshop of the world” the British Empire controlled large areas worldwide. At home the
      population started to grow rapidly that was absorbed by the developing towns. Besides
      internal migration many choose to immigrate to America. Politics and government became
      increasingly the property of the middle class.
     As far as foreign policy was concerned, Britain wanted a balance of power in Europe and
      free market that would give a clean advantage to its strong industry and trade. Britain
      emerged from the Napoleonic Wars as the only European nation not ravaged by financial
      plunder and economic collapse, and possessing the only merchant fleet of any useful size.
      All different kinds of war supplies were manufactured in the newly industrialised towns of
      the Midlands. When peace broke out in 1815 factory-made goods were no longer required
      in such large quantities as before. Cheep corn, that was exported to Britain from oversees
      threatened the collapse of many agricultural businesses. Farmers persuaded the government
      to introduce laws to protect locally grown corn. Consequently the price of bread doubled
      while wages stayed the same. Many farmworkers starved and turned to crime that was
      severely punished. In this situation a new poor law was introduced, according to which only
      those people received help, who actually lived in workhouses. These were crowded and
      dirty, gave little food to inhabitants who had to work from early morning to late at night.
      Also, sexes were separated, families were divided. Rioting among the poor was first limited
      to towns, e.g. Manchester (1819).
     The Whigs understood better than the Tories that the driving force behind the Industrial
      Revolution and consequently the wealth of the British Empire was the new townspeople
      who more and more requested social reforms. Part of this was reforming the parliamentary
      system and making it fairer. Whereas the Tories believed that the Parliament should
      represent property owners, the more “radical” Whigs though that it should represent the
     At the time, the death of the monarch (in this case George IV) required new elections and,
      in the general election of 1830 the Tories lost to the Whig Party under Charles Grey, 2nd
      Earl Grey. When he became Prime Minister, Lord Grey immediately announced that he
      would attempt to reform an electoral system that had seen few changes since the fifteenth
      century. The inequalities in the system were great; for example, large towns such as
      Manchester and Birmingham elected no members (though they were part of county
      constituencies), whilst minuscule (apró) boroughs such as Old Sarum (with seven voters)
      elected two members of Parliament each. Often, the small boroughs – also known as rotten
      boroughs and pocket boroughs – were “owned” by great aristocrats, whose “nominees”
      would invariably be elected by the constituents – who were, most often, their tenants –
      especially since the secret ballot was not yet used in Parliamentary elections. Although first
      the Commons and then the Lords rejected the Reform Bill, it became an act in 1832 as a
      result of strong public pressure.
     The Act granted seats in the House of Commons to large cities that sprang up during the
      Industrial Revolution, and took away seats from the “rotten boroughs”– those with very
      small populations. 203 boroughs existed before the act. Of these, 56 boroughs, each with a
      population of less than two thousand, were completely abolished. Thirty two-member
      boroughs, each with a population of less than four thousand, lost half their representation.
      The Act also increased the number of individuals entitled to vote, increasing the size of
    electorate by 50 to 80 percent, and allowing a total of 653,000 adult males (around one in
    five) to vote, in a population of some 14 million. The Act specifically disenfranchised
    (szavazati jogát megtagadja) women, sparking the British suffrage movement. The Act only
    applied in England and Wales; separate reform bills were passed in the same year for
    Scotland and Ireland. Other reform measures were passed later during the 19 th century; as a
    result, the Reform Act 1832 is sometimes called the First Reform Act, or the Great Reform
    Act. The Act also introduced a system of voter registration, to be administered by the
    overseers of the poor in every parish and township. It instituted a system of special courts to
    review disputes relating to voter qualifications. It also authorized the use of multiple polling
    places (szavazóhely) within the same constituency, and limited the duration of polling to
    two days, but later this was reduced to a single day. The Reform Act undoubtedly
    strengthened the House of Commons by reducing the number of nomination boroughs
    controlled by peers, but the Lords nonetheless remained powerful. Some aristocrats
    complained that, in the future, the government could force them to pass a bill, simply by
    threatening to create new peerages in the upper House. There was considerable public
    agitation for further expansion of the electorate. In particular, the Chartist movement, which
    demanded universal suffrage (általános választójog), equally sized electoral districts, and
    voting by secret ballot (tikos szavazás), gained widespread following. But the Tories were
    united against further reform, and the Liberal Party (successor to the Whigs) did not seek a
    general revision of the electoral system until 1852. Several historians credit the Reform Act
    1832 with cementing the rise of modern democracy in Britain, it was without doubt the
    necessary political recognition that Britain had become an urban society.
   Some of the first attacks on industrialisation were the Luddites’ destruction of machines,
    but this had less to do with factory conditions and more to do with machines mass-
    producing linen much quicker and cheaper than the handmade products of skilled labourers.
    The army was called to the areas of Luddite activity (such as Lancashire and Yorkshire) and
    for a time there were more British soldiers controlling the Luddites than fighting Napoleon
    in Spain. Industrial sabotage became the primary weapon of those, who though that their
    condition was no better than slavery. Since 1824 workers had been allowed to join together
    in unions, most of which however were small and weak. They demanded reasonable wages
    and tried to stop bunglers (kontár) from working in their particular trade. Determined
    employers could still quite easily defeat strikers. In 1834 six farmworkers in a village called
    Tolpuddle formed a union and were determined to keep to their demands. Their employer
    found a law by which they could be punished. Although large populations demanded for
    their pardon (kegyelem), the government, afraid of seeming weak held to the verdict.
    Tolpuddle became a symbol of employers’ cruelty and the working classes’ need to defend
    themselves through a strong trade union. As a result of this, unions, workers and radicals
    put forward the People’s Charter in 1838. The Chartist movement’s aims were the
    following: Universal suffrage for all men over the age of 21; equal-sized electoral districts;
    voting by secret ballot; an end to the need for a property qualification for Parliament; pay
    for members of Parliament; annual election of Parliament. Chartism was possibly the first
    mass working class movement in the world. Its leaders have often been described as either
    “physical” or “moral-force” leaders, depending upon their attitudes to violent protest. The
    Chartists were united for a decade between 1838-48. In April 1848 a mass meeting on
    Kennington Common was organised by the Chartists to present another petition to
    Parliament. The Chartists (represented by some 50,000 people) had no intention of staging
    an uprising and the demonstration was peaceful. In a separate demonstration, rioters in
    Manchester attempted to storm the hated workhouses that resulted in the Chartists fighting
    the police. Eventually the mob was broken up, but rioters roamed the streets of Manchester
    for three days.
    According to the original plan of the Chartists, if the petition was ignored, they were to
    create a separate national assembly and press the Queen to dissolve parliament until the
    charter was introduced into law. However, plagued with indecision the national assembly
    eventually dissolved itself claiming lack of support.
   In 1848 Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest and finally Italy erupted into revolution. Britain
    remained in peace partly due to the skill of prime minister Robert Peel, who believed that
    changes should be made slowly but steadily. Peel was considered one of the rising stars of
    the Tory party, first entering the cabinet in 1822 as Home Secretary. In this position he
    introduced a number of important reforms of British criminal law: most memorably
    establishing the Metropolitan Police Force (Metropolitan Police Act 1829) for London
    based at Scotland Yard. The 1,000 constables employed were affectionately nicknamed
    ‘Bobbies’ or, somewhat less affectionately, ‘Peelers’ (both terms are still used today).
    Although at first unpopular, they proved very successful in cutting the crime rate in London,
    and by 1835 all cities in the UK were being directed to form their own police forces. Known
    as the father of modern policing, Robert Peel developed the Peelian Principles which
    defined the ethical requirements police officers must follow in order to be effective.
    According to his most memorable principle “the police are the public, and the public are the
    police”. As Home Secretary he also changed the Penal code reducing the number of crimes
    punishable by death. He reformed the gaol (börtön) system, introducing payment for gaolers
    and education for the inmates (rabok).

   The Victorian era of the United Kingdom marked the height of the British Industrial
    Revolution and the high time of the British Empire. Queen Victoria (1837-1901) had the
    longest reign in British history, and the cultural, political, economic, industrial and scientific
    changes that occurred during her reign were remarkable. When Victoria came to the throne,
    Britain was essentially agrarian and rural; upon her death, the country was highly
    industrialised and connected by an expansive railway network. The first decades of
    Victoria’s reign witnessed a series of epidemics, crop failures and economic collapses.
    There were riots over enfranchisement and the repeal (hatályon kívül helyez) of the Corn
    Laws which were passed in 1846 during the Peel-government. The price of corn in the two
    decades after 1850 averaged 52 shillings. Due to the development of faster transportation
    through rail and steamboat and the modernisation of agricultural machinery, the prairie
    farms of North America were able to export vast quantities of cheap corn. Every corn-
    growing country decided to increase tariffs in reaction to this, except Britain and Belgium.
    Peel resigned in 1846, after the repeal narrowly passed, he was replaced by Lord John
    Russell. Peel had to go because his position as a member of the Tories was weakened, as
    most of the landowning class – which was hard hit by cheap export corn – were themselves
    Tories. Yet Peel had no other choice but to do away with the laws, since the power of the
    manufacturing middle class was growing greater than that of the landed gentry.
   At this time, Ireland saw the worst of famines. The Great Irish Famine was caused
    initially by potato blight (burgonyavész), which almost instantly destroyed the primary food
    source for the majority of the Irish people. Irish tenant farmers, forced into smaller and
    smaller land holdings, depended too much on potatoes as a food. Ireland was not unique in
    its single-crop dependency, common among exporting nations. The blight explains the crop
    failure but the dramatic and deadly effect of the famine was amplified by other factors of
    economic, political, and social origin. The impact of the Great Famine in Ireland remains
    unparalleled, in terms of the demographic decline, the Irish population falling by
    approximately 25 percent in just six years, due to a combination of mortality and mass
    emigration. Modern historians and statisticians estimate that between 800,000 and
    1,000,000 died from disease and starvation. In addition, in excess of one million Irish
    emigrated to Great Britain, United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere, while more
    than one million emigrated over the following decades. One preconception must be made
    clear in connection with the emigration: since it was desirable to keep the family farm and
    land holding intact the families never emigrated together, only younger members of it did.
   In 1851 Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition of Industries of All Nations inside
    Crystal Palace, London. It exhibited the world the greatness of the British Industry, it was a
    celebration of iron, the material behind England as an industrial empire. With
    industrialisation the middle class grew rapidly in the 19th century. Prior to the Industrial
    Revolution, Britain had a very rigid social structure consisting of three distinct classes: the
    Church and aristocracy, the middle class, and the working class. The top class was known
    as the aristocracy. It included the Church and nobility and had great power and wealth. This
    class consisted of about two percent of the population, who were born into nobility and who
    owned the majority of the land. It included the royal family, lords spiritual and temporal, the
    clergy, high-ranking officers of state, and those above the degree of baronet. These people
    were privileged and avoided taxes. The middle class or bourgeoisie was made up of factory
    owners, bankers, shopkeepers, merchants, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, traders, and
    other professionals. These people could be sometimes extremely rich, but in normal
    circumstances they were not privileged, and they especially resented this. There was a very
    large gap between the middle class and the lower class. The British lower class was divided
    into two sections: “the working class” (labourers), and “the poor” (those who were not
    working, or not working regularly, and were receiving public charity). The lower class
    contained men, women, and children performing many types of labour, including factory
    work, seamstressing, chimney sweeping, mining, and other jobs. Both the poorer class and
    the middle class had to endure a large burden of tax (adóteher). This third class consisted of
    about eighty-five percent of the population.
   Victorian era morality is two-sided. Behind the widespread cultivation of an outward
    appearance of dignity and restraint prevailed such social phenomena as prostitution and
    child labour. Various social reform movements and high principles arose from attempts to
    improve the harsh conditions of both children, woman and working man. For the
    improvement of working conditions in the factories, the working hours were limited (Ten
    Hours Act). The Bank Holiday Act of 1871 which created a number of fixed holidays which
    all sectors of society could enjoy. The Victorians were impressed by science and progress,
    and felt that they could improve society in the same way as they were improving
    technology. The model town of Saltaire was founded, along with others, as a planned
    environment with good sanitation (közegészségügy) and many civic, educational and
    recreational facilities (szabadidőközpont), although it lacked a pub, which was regarded as a
    focus of dissent. Similar sanitation reforms, prompted by the Public Health Acts 1848 and
    1869, were made in the crowded, dirty streets of the existing cities, and soap was the main
    product shown in the relatively new phenomenon of advertising. Victorians also strove to
    improve society through many charities and relief organisations such as the Salvation
    Army, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the
    National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and at the same time
    there were many people such as the nurse, Florence Nightingale trying to reform areas of
    public life. There were many movements to obtain greater rights for women, but voting
    rights did not come until the next century. The Married Women’s Property Act 1882 meant
    that women did not lose their right to their own property when they got married and could
    divorce without fear of poverty, although divorce was very rare during the 19th century. The
    Victorians are often credited with having invented childhood. Despite the image of large
    Victorian families, the trend was towards smaller families, probably because of lower infant
    mortality rates and longer life spans. Legislation reduced the working hours of children
    while raising the minimum working age, and the passing of the Education Act 1870 and
    1891 set the basis for universal and free primary education, according to which children had
    to go to school up to the age of fourteen. A driving force behind this latter Act was the
    recognition that for Britain to remain competitive in the world it must remain at the
    forefront of manufacture and improvement.
    Victorian morality that can be summarised by a set of values that promote sexual
    repression, low tolerance of crime, and a strong social ethic. The social reform spirit soon
    conquered the world. This could happen thanks to the prominence of the British Empire, the
    Pax Britannia that also let to the spread of the English language, parliamentary democracy,
    technology, the British Imperial system of measures, and rules for commodity markets
    based on English common law.
   Beside Robert Peel, the most important political figure of the first half of Queen Victoria’s
    reign was Lord Palmerton. He began his parliamentary career as a Tory and concluded it as
    a Liberal. He is best remembered for his direction of British foreign policy through a period
    when the United Kingdom was at the height of its power, serving terms as both Foreign
    Secretary and Prime Minister. Some of his aggressive actions, now sometimes termed
    liberal interventionist, caused great controversy at the time. For the first twenty years of his
    career he remained a subordinate minister without influence on the general policy of the
    cabinets in which he served, though he was entirely devoted, like his friends Peel and
    Croker, to the Tory party of the day. Lord Palmerston often went against his own party’s
    ideas and values, he was a liberal in his sentiments, favourable to the march of
    technological progress, and entirely opposed to the notion of democratic government in
    Britain. During his lifetime the two traditional parties, the Tory and the Whig party
    developed into the Conservatives and the Liberals. With the development of the so called
    “two party system” parties demanded greater loyalty from their members.
   The two politicians and prime ministers of Britain that dominated the second half of the 19 th
    century were Benjamin Disraeli (Conservative) and William Ewart Gladstone (Liberal).
    Disraeli served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister: the first and thus
    far only prime minister of Jewish parentage to do so. He was the main driving force behind
    the Reform Act of 1868. The act enfranchised 1,500,000 people by giving the vote to all
    adult male urban householders and male lodgers paying £10 a year for unfurnished rooms.
    The Conservatives had virtually doubled the British electorate. Several towns that were
    previously unrepresented were given MPs, whilst places with a population of less than
    10,000 lost an MP. 52 seats were thus redistributed from small towns to the new towns, the
    growing industrial towns, the northern counties and 1 to the University of London.
    Disraeli’s first premiership was dominated by the heated debate over the established Church
    of Ireland. Although Ireland was (and remains) overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, the
    Protestant Church remained the established church and was funded by direct taxation. His
    second government introduced various reforms, including the Artisan’s and Labourers’
    Dwellings Improvement Act 1875, the Public Health Act (1875), the Sale of Food and
    Drugs Act (1875), and the Education Act (1876). His government also introduced a new
    Factory Act aiming to protect workers, the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act
    (1875) to allow peaceful picketing (sztrájkőrség-állítás), and the Employers and Workmen
    Act (1878) to enable workers to sue employers in the civil courts if they broke legal
   In the 1860s and 1870s, Gladstonian Liberalism was characterised by a number of policies
    intended to improve individual liberty and loosen political and economic restraints. First
    was the minimization of public expenditure on the premise that the economy and society
    were best helped by allowing people to spend as they saw fit. Secondly, his foreign policy
    aimed at promoting peace to help reduce expenditures and taxation and enhance trade.
    Thirdly, laws that prevented people from acting freely to improve themselves were
    reformed. During this administration he first introduced his Home Rule Bill for Ireland. It
    provided for the formation of a parliament for Ireland. The Bill did not offer Ireland
    independence, but the Irish Parliamentary Party had not demanded independence in the first
    place. The Bill was passed by the Commons but rejected by the House of Lords on the
    grounds that it had gone too far. After this defeat Gladstone resigned.
   Much of what we know today as modern state was built in the 1860s and 1870s, a period
    during which democracy grew quickly. Not only in Parliament, but due to the growth of the
    newspaper industry outside it. A good example of this was the spread of the “Co-operative
    movement” that consisted of a network of shops that sold goods at fair prices and shared the
    profit among their members. The number and influence of trade unions and members also
    grew, Union leaders wished to work within Parliament rather than outside it. It was also
    during these decades that the machinery of modern government was established and regular
    civil service (köztisztviselői réteg) started to assist in the running of the country’s affairs.
    The height of the Victorian era was not only formative period from the point of view of
    parliamentary democracy but the future of the monarchy as well. Queen Victoria was a
    popular Sovereign, her family was a model for moral and religious values. She showed the
    people that despite having lost its political power the monarchy can still be an integral part
    of the nation. And also to the empire, since Britain was most powerful and recognised on
    the international level during the Victorian era.
   For the governments serving under the queen the most important aim was to keep a balance
    of power around the world and parallel with this strengthen the British influence wherever it
    could. In May of 1857, the Indian Mutiny, a widespread revolt in India against the rule of
    the British East India Company, was sparked by sepoys (native Indian soldiers) in the
    Company’s army. The rebellion, which was put down after a year, involved not just sepoys
    but many sectors of the Indian population as well. In response to the Mutiny, the East India
    Company was abolished in August 1858 and India came under the direct rule of the British
    crown, beginning the period of the British Raj (the term used synonymously for the region,
    the rule, and the period, from 1858 to 1947, of the British Empire on the Indian
    subcontinent). Cultural and religious centres were closed down, properties and estates of
    those participating in the uprising were confiscated. Many existing economic and revenue
    policies remained virtually unchanged in the post-1857 period, but several administrative
    modifications were introduced, beginning with the creation in London of a cabinet post, the
    Secretary of State for India. The governor-general (called viceroy) headquartered in
    Calcutta, ran the administration in India, assisted by executive and legislative councils.
    Beneath the governor-general were the governors of Provinces of India, who held power
    over the division and district officials, who formed the lower rungs of the Indian Civil
    Service. For decades the Indian Civil Service was the exclusive preserve of the British-born,
    as were the superior ranks in other professions such as law and medicine. This continued
    until the 1880s when a small but steadily growing number of native-born Indians, educated
    in British schools on the Subcontinent or in Britain, were able to assume such positions.
    British attitudes toward Indians shifted from relative openness to racism, even against those
    with comparable background and achievement as well as loyalty. British families and their
    servants lived in accommodation at a distance from Indian settlements. Private clubs where
    the British gathered for social interaction became symbols of exclusivity and snobbery. The
    first steps were taken toward self-government in British India in the late 19th century with
    the appointment of Indian counsellors to advise the British viceroy and the establishment of
    provincial councils with Indian members. Actually, rule became more and more formal and
    despite such symbolic overtures, like Queen Victoria’s grandiose title of “Empress of India”
    (celebrated during Disraeli’s second premiership in the 1870s) did not annihilate the fact
    that the British share of the world’s export trade declined and the German, American, and
    French economic competition rose.
   China has been an important trading partner of the British since the 16th century. As a result
    of high demand for tea, silk, and porcelain in Britain and the low demand for British
    commodities in China, Britain had a large trade deficit with China and had to pay for these
    goods with silver. Britain began illegally exporting opium to China from British India in the
    18th century to counter its deficit. The opium trade took off rapidly, and the flow of silver
    began to reverse. The Chinese Emperor took protective measures and the sale and smoking
    of opium was banned, mainly because of the large number of addicts. But with the
    government in Beijing (the north) merchants could not be stopped smuggling opium into the
    country from the south. The desire for more profit by the British East India Company was
    satisfied after it had been granted a monopoly on trade with China by the British
    government. By the 1820s China imported 900 tons of opium from Bengal annually and an
    overall volume of 1400 tons by 1838. In March of 1839, the Emperor appointed a new strict
    Confucianist commissioner to control the opium trade at the port of Canton. His first course
    of action was to enforce the imperial demand that there be a permanent halt to drug
    shipments into China. The British responded militarily, the British Indian army force
    arrived in 1840. British military superiority was clearly evident during the armed conflict.
    British warships caused chaos in coastal towns. In addition, the British troops, armed with
    modern muskets and cannons, greatly outpowered the Chinese forces. Hong Kong Island
    was first occupied by British forces during these years, and then formally ceded (átenged)
    from China at the end of the war. The British established a Crown Colony with the
    founding of Victoria City the following year. The Second Opium War (1856-1860) was
    fought for similar reasons and ended with the Convention of Peking, where China – among
    others – legalized the import of opium, and granted a number of privileges to British (and
    other Western) subjects within China. After the second war territories in the neighbourhood
    of Hong Kong were added to the colony. In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Hong
    Kong, which became known as the New Territories and functioned as a free port.
   In 1875, the Conservative government of Benjamin Disraeli, bought the indebted
    (eladósodott) Egyptian ruler’s 44% shareholding (részesedés) in the Suez Canal for £4
    million to secure control of this strategic waterway, a channel for shipping between the
    United Kingdom and India. Joint Anglo-French financial control over Egypt ended in
    outright British occupation in 1882. Next Britain wished to secure control of the Nile
    valley, leading to the conquest of the neighbouring Sudan in 1896–98 and confrontation
    with a French military expedition.
   Fear of Russia’s centuries-old southward expansion was a further factor in British policy.
    Britain feared that Russia would destroy the balance of power in Europe, and at the same
    time endanger Britain’s sea and land routes to India. When Russia and the Ottoman Empire
    clashed in the Crimean War, Britain sided with the Turks in the 1854. In 1878 the United
    Kingdom took control of Cyprus as a base for action against a possible Russian attack on
    the Ottoman Empire. Britain also invaded Afghanistan to forestall an increase in Russian
    influence there. It waged three bloody and unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan, as popular
    rebellions, invocations of jihad and impenetrable terrain frustrated British objectives. The
    First Anglo-Afghan War led to one of the most disastrous defeats of the Victorian military
    when an entire British army was wiped out by Russian-supplied Afghan tribesmen during
    the 1842 retreat from Kabul. During the 1890s the United Kingdom adopted the new policy
    wholeheartedly, quickly emerging as the front-runner in the scramble (hajsza) for tropical
    African territories.
   The British were primarily interested in maintaining secure communication lines to India,
    which led to initial interest in Egypt and South Africa. Once these two areas were secure, it
      was the intent of British colonialist and head of the privately owned British South Africa
      Company, Cecil Rhodes, to establish a railway and a telegraph line connecting Cape Town
      in the south to Alexandria in the north passing through a British Africa covering the
      continent. His company put pressure on the government for further expansion into Africa.
      This would result in the colonisation of Kenya, Uganda, Rhodesia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria,
      parts of Cameroon. Not all the land could be taken peacefully. The British fought two wars
      for South Africa with the Boers (1880-1881 and 1899-1902). Paradoxically, the United
      Kingdom, the staunch (rendületlen) advocate of free trade, emerged in 1914 with not only
      the largest overseas empire thanks to its long-standing presence in India, but also the
      greatest gains in the “scramble for Africa”, reflecting its advantageous position at its
      inception. Between 1885 and 1914 the United Kingdom took nearly 30% of Africa’s
      population under its control.
     The United Kingdom’s empire had already begun its transformation into the modern
      Commonwealth with the extension of Dominion status to the already self-governing white-
      colonies of Canada (1867), Australia (1901), New Zealand (1907), Newfoundland (1907),
      and the newly-created Union of South Africa (1910). Politically these countries no longer
      depended on Britain, however, accepted the British monarch as their head of state. This
      transformation prepared the way from Empire to a British “Commonwealth of Nations” in
      the 20th century.
     In Wales, Scotland and Ireland significant changes also took place during the second half of
      the 19th century. In Wales average life expectancy doubled and by 1900 the population grew
      to over 2 million. From an agricultural society it also transformed into an industrial one due
      to its rapidly growing coal and steel industry. Population moved into the southeast coast.
      With the parliamentary reforms Wales was given a new voice, the strong working class
      soon got rid of the Tories and landowning families as the representatives of their interests.
      Scotland was likewise transformed into an industrialised area. Around Glasgow and
      Edinburgh there were vast coal mines and factories producing steel and iron in large
      quantities, which was the main reason why this part of the land became the centre of
      shipbuilding industry. The clearances (erdőírtás) on the Highlands continued, but this area
      never recovered from the collapse of the clan system and was mostly depopulated
      (elnéptelenedik). In Ireland things were not going as swift, for the majority Catholic
      population Irish Protestants were a reminder of the English way of rule. The struggle for
      power in the island thus was inseparable from the struggle between Catholics and
      Protestants. The large numbers immigrating to America after the great famine at the middle
      of the century was a serious demographic shock although the immigrants supported
      financially those who stayed home and later also supported the Irish freedom movement.

The 20th Century
     The Edwardian period or Edwardian era in the United Kingdom is the period from 1901 to
      1910, the reign of King Edward VII. It succeeded the Victorian period and is sometimes
      extended to include the period up to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the start of World
      War I in 1914, or even the end of the war in 1918. Socially, the Edwardian era was the
      period during which the British class system was at its most rigid, although paradoxically,
      changes in social thought, particularly the rising interest in socialism, attention to the plight
      of the poor and the status of women, expressed in, for example, the issue of women’s
      suffrage, together with increased economic opportunities as a result of rapid
      industrialization, created an environment in which there could be more social mobility and
      people would become more liberal. Most of the changes occurred during the premiership of
    Herbert Henry Asquish (1908-16). His liberal welfare reforms saw the emergence of the
    modern welfare state in the UK. The reasons for the reforms were:
              The rise of progressive liberalism within the Liberal Party
              Extensive research into the poor living conditions and poverty provided
                statistical evidence for genuine moral concern for the poor
              The threat from the emerging Labour Party. Socialism was an increasingly
                popular ideology; if the Liberals did not put forward popular policies, they were
                in danger of losing votes
              The condition of soldiers during the Boer War was considered unacceptable. The
                British government had trouble enlisting enough able-bodied recruits to the
                British army.
              Germany and the USA were overtaking Britain as economic powers – the
                success of social legislation in Bismarck’s Germany made leading Liberals want
                to put forward similar legislation.
   As far as reforms concentrating on children were concerned, it became illegal to sell
    children tobacco and alcohol or to send children begging. Juvenile courts and borstals
    (javítóintézet) were created instead for young offenders so they did not have to stand in
    adult courts and go to adult prisons for most offences. Furthermore free medical treatment
    for school children was introduced and free school meals were made compulsory. Pensions
    were introduced for the over 70 age-group. The pensions were made intentionally low to
    encourage workers to make their own provisions for the future. To be eligible (jogosult) you
    also would have had to live in the country for 20 years or more, so many immigrants could
    not claim their pensions, or British people who had worked abroad and returned to Britain
    to retire. Workers were given the right to sick pay and free medical treatment in return for a
    regular fee, and workers were also given the right to unemployment benefit. Compulsory
    health insurance was provided for workers earning less than £160 per year. Workers had to
    pay some money for which the scheme provided sickness benefit, free medical treatment
    and maternity benefit.
   The reforms put forward by the Liberals were not at all welcomed by the Conservatives,
    that dominated the upper house, the House of Lords. A battle emerged between the two
    Houses that resulted in crises over budget. The crisis however was not only about money,
    but reform. The Liberals wanted the powers of the Lords weakened so that they could not
    prevent the will of the Commons from being carried out. In 1911 the Parliament Act
    asserted the supremacy of the House of Commons by limiting the legislation-blocking
    powers of the House of Lords (the suspensory veto). Since then, provided the provisions of
    the Act are met, legislation can be passed without the approval of the House of Lords. One
    of the reasons for the Irish MPs’ support for the Parliament Act, and the bitterness of the
    Unionist resistance, was that the loss of the Lords’ veto would make possible Irish Home
    Rule. This seemed to be realised through the Government of Ireland Act (1914) that
    intended to provide self-government (“home rule”) for Ireland within the United Kingdom
    of Great Britain and Ireland. The Act was the first law ever passed by the British parliament
    that established devolved government in a part of the United Kingdom. With the outbreak
    of the First World War (Great War) in August 1914 the implementation of the act was
    postponed for a minimum of twelve months. Subsequent developments in Ireland led to
    further postponements which meant that the Act never took effect. Events in Ireland took a
    nasty turn in 1916. Irish nationalists opposed the country’s support for the war effort,
    believing Irishmen should focus on one closer to hand. In Easter 1916 a rebellion, the
    Easter Rising, took place in Dublin and there were minor incidents in other parts of Ireland
    as well. The Rising was an attempt by militant Irish republicans to win independence from
    Britain by force of arms. It was suppressed after six days of fighting, and its leaders were
    court-martialled and executed. This event however marked a crucial turning point on the
    path to attaining self-government. The rising put an end to the democratic-constitutional
    parliamentary movement to create independence for Ireland and replaced it with a radical
    physical-force approach.
   Had the war no started, the situation in Ireland might not have taken this dramatic turn. The
    danger of war with Germany had been clear from the beginning of the century. Britain
    could do nothing about this, since it had lost almost all advantage it had over other
    countries. Germany had greater natural wealth – including iron and coal – and also wheat-
    producing lands. Britain was also behind in science and technology. This resulted in a shift
    in the balance of power. This situation forced succeeding governments to make treaties or
    “understandings of friendship” with France, Japan and Russia. The government also started
    a programme of building battleships to ensure its upper hand on sea. Without this the island
    could be brought under blockade and would not have a chance of surviving without food
    and other essential goods.
   The situation turned for the worse when in 1914 the Triple Alliance was formed. Britain
    hoped to stay out of the war, but after Germany attacked Belgium, it immediately declared
    war. WW I with its modern weapons and the so called trench warfare (lövészárok-háború)
    caused huge casualties to everyone involved. The most often remembered campaign of the
    war is known as the Battle of Gallipoli. It was a result of a joint Imperial British and
    French operation to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and provide a secure sea route
    for military and agricultural trade with Russian. The attempt failed with heavy casualties on
    both sides, many of which were caused by sickness and heat. On 1 July 1916, the first day
    of the Battle of the Somme, the British Army endured the bloodiest day in its history,
    suffering 57,470 casualties and 19,240 dead. The entire offensive cost the British Army
    almost half a million dead. In 1916 the British government forced men to join the army
    whether they wanted or not. At the start of the war, the German Empire had cruisers
    scattered across the globe, some of which were subsequently used to attack Allied merchant
    shipping. The British Royal Navy systematically hunted them down, though not without
    some embarrassment from its inability to protect allied shipping. Soon after the outbreak of
    hostilities, Britain initiated a naval blockade of Germany. The strategy proved effective,
    cutting off vital military and civilian supplies, although this blockade violated generally
    accepted international law codified by several international agreements of the past two
    centuries. The 1916 Battle of Jutland developed into the largest naval battle of the war,
    after which the British asserted their control of the sea. After the US joining in the war the
    strength of the Central Power was crushed. From the British point of view WWI was won at
    a too great price. Not only did millions of its citizens lie dead or wounded, 40 % of its
    merchant ships were sunk by German U-boots.
   An important political development in Britain during the first two decades of t 20th century
    was the growth of the Labour Party. The Labour Party’s origins lie in the late 19th century
    increase of the urban proletariat and the extension of the franchise to working-class males,
    when it became apparent that there was a need for a political party to represent the interests
    and needs of those groups. Some members of the trade union movement became interested
    in moving into the political field, and after the extensions of the franchise in 1867 and 1885,
    the Liberal Party endorsed some trade-union sponsored candidates. In addition, several
    small socialist groups had formed around this time with the intention of linking the
    movement to political aims. In 1899 the Trade Union Congress called together for allying
    all the left-wing organisations and formed them into a single body which would sponsor
    Parliamentary candidates. The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) was created
    with Ramsay MacDonald as elected Secretary. In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats
    and in their first meeting after the election, the group’s Members of Parliament decided to
    adopt the name “The Labour Party”. Support grew further during the 1910–1914 period
    along with an unprecedented level of industrial action with seamen, rail workers, cotton
    workers, coal miners, dock workers and many other groups all organising strikes. This was
    called the period of “Great Unrest” with many sympathy strikes also occurring. Labour’s
    electoral base resided in the industrial areas of Northern England, the Midlands, central
    Scotland and Wales. Party membership was often working-class but also included many
    middle-class radicals, former liberals and socialists especially in London and the South of
    England. Ramsay MacDonald became Prime Minister in January 1924 and formed the first
    ever Labour government and at the same time the Liberal party almost completely
    disappeared, some of its members joined the Labours, others the Conservatives.
   Parallel with the coming into power of socialist ideas the woman’s suffrage movement
    also gained power. It is important to note that the movement was primarily run by middle
    class women, particularly the unmarried ones, who – frustrated by their social and economic
    situation – sought an outlet in which to start change. Their struggles for change within
    society, along with the work of such advocates for women’s rights as John Stuart Mill, were
    enough to spearhead a movement that would encompass mass groups of women fighting for
    suffrage. Mill had first brought the idea of women’s suffrage up in the platform he
    presented to British electors in 1865 and although tried hard, did not succeed to include
    votes for woman in the 1867 Reform Bill. By 1912 their campaign reached its height as
    suffragettes carried out direct actions like chaining themselves to railings, setting fire to the
    contents of mailboxes, smashing windows and on occasions setting off bombs––when
    imprisoned they went on hunger strikes. During World War I, a serious shortage of able-
    bodied men occurred, and women were required to take on many of the traditional male
    roles. This meant that their wish could not be ignored any longer. Political movement
    towards women’s suffrage began during the war and in 1918, the Parliament of the United
    Kingdom passed an act granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who were
    householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5,
    and graduates of British universities. Finally, women in the United Kingdom achieved a
    right to vote on the same terms as men in 1928. Once women above 21 could vote, many
    people thought that they have gained full and equal rights. In reality their long battle for
    equal treatment and respect both at the workplace and at home still carries on.
   After the Eastern Rising was put down by the British, the Sinn Féin became the dominant
    voice of Irish Nationalism. The party won the majority of seats in the 1918 general
    elections. The long-standing demand for home rule had been replaced among Nationalists
    by a demand for complete independence. It was in such atmosphere that he Fourth Home
    Rule Bill passed legislation in Britain. The Act divided Ireland into two territories, Southern
    Ireland and Northern Ireland, each intended to be self-governing except in areas specifically
    reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom: chief amongst these were matters
    relating to the Crown, to defence, foreign affairs, international trade, and currency. The
    Anglo–Irish Treaty of 1921 between the Government of the United Kingdom and
    representatives of the de facto Irish Republic established an Irish dominion, known as the
    Irish Free State, within the British Empire and provided Northern Ireland an option to opt
    out of the Irish Free State, which it duly exercised. Having been given self government,
    Northern Ireland government under successive prime ministers practiced a policy of
    wholesale discrimination against the nationalist/ Roman Catholic minority. In the southern,
    Catholic counties a minority opposed the treaty, on the grounds that it did not create a fully
    independent state, or a republic, that it imposed an oath of fidelity to the British monarch on
    Irish parliamentarians and that it established the partition of the island. Their leader De
    Valera led the country into a bloody, 2 year long civil war between pro and anti-treaty sides.
    In 1937 the new “Constitution of Ireland” came into effect, renaming the Irish Free State to
    simply “Ireland”. The new state was not yet a republic, the British monarch continued to
    reign theoretically, but was only used as an ‘agent’ in international and diplomatic relations.
   After WWI veterans returned to a country that where economic hardship were very much
    present. The war meant many decades of accumulated wealth go up in smoke. Government
    control of the economy and increased taxation of the individual followed. No wonder that
    so did strikes. The General Strike of 1926 lasted nine days and turned out to be an
    unsuccessful attempt to force the government to act to prevent wage reduction and
    worsening conditions for coal miners. It ended because it was by no means a general strike,
    since the middle classes kept essential services running. For several months the miners
    continued to maintain resistance, but by October 1926 hardship forced many men back to
    work. The effect on the British coal-mining industry was profound. By the late 1930s,
    employment in mining had fallen by more than one-third from its pre-strike peak, but
    productivity had rebounded from under 200 tons produced per miner to over 300 tons by the
    outbreak of the Second World War.
   The Great Depression of 1929-36 broke out at a time when Britain was still far from having
    recovered from the effects of WWI more than a decade earlier. Economic output fell by
    25% between 1918 and 1921 and did not recover until the end of the Great Depression. A
    major cause of financial instability, which preceded and accompanied the Great Depression,
    was the debt which many European countries had accumulated to pay for their involvement
    in the war. This debt destabilised many European economies as they tried to rebuild during
    the 1920s. During this decade the British economy became more dependent upon exports,
    and more vulnerable to any decline in world markets. The 1920s saw the development of
    new industries such as the motor industry and the electrical industry, but British products in
    these fields were not usually sufficiently advanced to compete in world markets, and so
    British products largely served the domestic market. MacDonald’s Labour Party was not
    radical in economic thinking, and was wedded to the orthodoxy of Victorian classical
    economics, with its emphasis on maintaining a balanced budget at any cost. In October
    1929 the Stock Market Crash in New York was the precursor (kiváltó ok) of the Great
    Depression. The ensuing American economic collapse swept across the globe. World trade
    contracted, prices fell and governments faced financial crisis as the supply of American
    credit dried up. Many countries adopted an emergency response to the crisis by erecting
    trade barriers and tariffs, which worsened the crisis by further hindering global trade. The
    effects of the crises on the industrial areas of Britain were immediate and devastating, as
    demand for British products collapsed. By the end of 1930 unemployment had more than
    doubled, and exports had fallen in value by 50%. Government revenues contracted as
    national income fell, while the cost of assisting the jobless rose. The industrial areas were
    hardest hit, along with the coal mining districts. The Government reacted with public-sector
    wage cuts and large cuts in public spending (notably in payments to the unemployed) to
    avoid incurring a budget deficit (költsgvetési hiányt okoz). The junior government minister,
    Oswald Mosley, proposed that the government should take control of banking and exports,
    as well as increase pensions to boost purchasing power. Although this would have been the
    proper approach to the crisis, his idea was turned down. It was only following Britain’s
    devaluation of the pound that British export prices became more competitive on world
    markets. This led to a modest economic recovery and a fall in unemployment from 1933.
   Although the overall picture for the British economy in the 1930s was bleak, the effects of
    the depression were uneven. Some parts of the country and some industries were hit better
    than others. Although in London and the south east of England unemployment was initially
    as high as 15%, the later 1930s were a prosperous time in these areas, as a house building
    boom was fuelled by the low interest rates. The south was also the home of new developing
    industries such as the electrical industry, which prospered from the large-scale
    electrification of housing and industry. Mass production methods brought new products
    such as electrical cookers, washing machines and radios into the reach of the middle classes,
    and the industries which produced these prospered. Other parts of the country, such as south
    Wales, experienced mass unemployment and poverty. The north was also hit so hard:
    industries of primary importance, such as coal, steel and shipbuilding were smaller, less
    modern and efficient and over-staffed compared to continental rivals. In severely depressed
    parts of the country, the government enacted a number of policies to stimulate growth and
    reduce unemployment, including road building, loans to shipyards and tariffs on steel
    imports. These policies helped but were not, however, on a sufficiently large scale to make
    a huge impact on unemployment levels. The development of the motor industry – mainly
    concentrated in the Midlands – meant more of a remedy.
   It was result of the Great Depression that political radicalism started to govern in some
    countries (Germany, Italy, Austria, and Spain). This was coupled by a sweeping build-up of
    the military in these countries and. By 1937 British industry was producing weapons,
    aircraft and equipment for war with help of money from the US. Although the allied powers
    created the League of Nations to act in such strained international situations it was itself
    ineffective. The League’s goals included disarmament, preventing war through collective
    security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation, diplomacy and improving
    global welfare. The League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the Great
    Powers to enforce its resolutions, keep to economic sanctions which the League ordered, or
    provide an army, when needed, for the League to use. However, they were often very
    reluctant to do so. After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s,
    the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis Powers in the
    1930s. The philosophy of managing international affairs was quite similar in Britain. As
    with many in Europe who had witnessed the horrors of the First World War and its
    aftermath, prime minister Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940), was committed to peace at
    any price short of war. Chamberlain – as even his political detractors admitted – was an
    honourable man, raised in the old school of European politics. He hoped to deal with Nazi
    Germany through diplomatic channels and handle any sign of dissent from within,
    particularly from Churchill. His legacy is marked by his policy regarding the appeasement
    of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany regarding the concession of Czechoslovakia to Hitler,
    marked by the Munich Agreement in 1938. Chamberlain believed passionately in peace
    for many reasons, thinking it his job as Britain’s leader to maintain stability in Europe. Like
    many people in Britain and elsewhere, he thought that the best way to deal with Germany’s
    assertiveness was to treat it with kindness and meet its demands. He also believed that the
    leaders of men are essentially rational beings, and that Hitler must necessarily be rational as
    well. Many of his contemporaries (e.g. Churchill) believed that he pursued the policy of
    appeasement (megbékítés) far longer than was justifiable. Still, the policy of keeping the
    peace had broad support; had the Commons wanted a more aggressive prime minister,
    Winston Churchill would have been the obvious choice. Even after the outbreak of war, it
    was not clear that the invasion of Poland need lead to a general conflict.
   With the resignation of Chamberlain (May 1940) the fighting spirit returned to British
    politics. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill was appointed First Lord of
    the Admiralty. Following Chamberlain’s resignation, he became Prime Minister of the
    United Kingdom in May 1940 and led Britain to victory against the Axis powers. His
    speeches were a great inspiration to the embattled Allied forces. Churchill’s greatest
    achievement was his refusal to capitulate when defeat seemed imminent, and he remained a
    strong opponent of any negotiations with Germany throughout the war. Few others in the
    Cabinet had the same degree of resolve. By adopting a policy of no surrender, Churchill
    kept democracy alive in the UK and created the basis for the later Allied counter-attacks of
    1942-45, with Britain serving as a platform for the supply of Soviet Union and the liberation
    of Western Europe. His good relationship with Franklin D. Roosevelt secured vital food, oil
    and munitions via the North Atlantic shipping routes. It was for this reason that Churchill
    was relieved when Roosevelt was re-elected in 1940. By the summer of 1940 the United
    Kingdom was the only remaining opposing force in Europe. Germany began to prepare
    Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain and the annihilation of the British Army, whose
    heavy weapons and supplies had been lost at Dunkirk. The Germans then attempted to gain
    air superiority by destroying the Royal Air Force (RAF) using the Luftwaffe. The ensuing
    air war in the late summer of 1940 became known as the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe
    initially targeted military infrastructure and radar stations, but later Hitler switched to the
    bombing British cities, an offensive which became known as The Blitz. Meanwhile The
    Royal Navy became severely stretched, having to remain stationed in the English Channel
    to protect against a German invasion.
   Although the war begun as a traditional European struggle, it quickly became worldwide.
    Both sides wanted to control the oil reserves of the Middle East and the Suez Canal,
    Britain’s route to India. In 1941 Japan, Germany’s ally, attacked British colonial
    possessions, including Malaysia, Burma and India. All except Ireland declared a state of
    hostility with Germany from among the countries possessing the British Dominion status.
    As a result, Britain used soldiers from all parts of its empire to help fight against Germany.
    In the summer of 1941, the Soviet Union entered the war on the side of the Allies, but they
    lost much of their equipment and manufacturing base in the first few weeks following the
    German invasion. Although a strong anti-communist he maintained good relations with the
    Soviet-Union and soon British supplies and tanks were flowing to help the Red Army.
    When the United States entered the war that December 1941, the Allied production of mass-
    produced ships, improved antisubmarine warfare tactics, sea route patrols with long range
    attack aircrafts, and ever-improving technology led to increasing U-boot losses on the part
    of Germany and more supplies getting through. This allowed for the massive supply build
    up in the United Kingdom needed for the eventual invasion of Western Europe. By the
    spring of 1944, the Allied preparations for the invasion of France and the initial stages for
    the liberation of Western Europe (Operation Overlord) were complete. They had assembled
    over 2 million men, of which 1.3 million were Americans, 600,000 were British and the rest
    Canadian, Free French and Polish. The invasion, code-named Operation Neptune but
    commonly referred to as D-Day, was set for June 5th but bad weather postponed the
    invasion to June 6, 1944. In the next year the Allied bombings of German towns did
    exceptionally large damage to the economy and the morale of the people, leading to
    surrender in the May of 1945.
   Although half of the number of men died in WWII than in the previous war, the casualties
    were sky high. Britain had to pay a heavy price for the mistakes of the inter-war year. The
    rise of anti-colonial nationalist movements in British colonies and the changing economic
    situation of the world in the first half of the 20th century challenged an imperial power now
    increasingly preoccupied with issues nearer home. The Empire’s end began with the onset
    of the Second World War, when a deal was reached between the British government and the
    leaders of the Indian independence movement, whereby the Indians would co-operate and
    remain loyal during the war, after which they would be granted independence. India was
    granted independence in August of 1947. Over the next two decades most of the former
    colonies would become independent. The United Kingdom’s efforts during World War II
    left the country all but exhausted and found its former allies unwilling to support the
    colonial status quo. Though the United Kingdom and its Empire emerged victorious from
    World War II, the economic costs of the war were far greater than those of World War I.
    The United Kingdom was heavily bombed and the submarine war cost the Empire almost its
    entire merchant fleet. The United Kingdom’s already weakened commercial and financial
    leadership were further undermined, heightening the importance of the Dominions and the
    United States as a source of military assistance. In the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the
    Pacific, post-war decolonisation was accomplished in the face of increasingly powerful (and
    sometimes mutually conflicting) nationalist movements, with Britain rarely fighting to
    retain any territory. Burma achieved independence (1948) outside the Commonwealth;
    Burma being the first colony to sever all ties with the British with Ceylon (1948) to follow.
    The end of the United Kingdom’s Empire in Africa came with exceptional rapidity, often
    leaving the newly-independent states ill-equipped to deal with Sovereignty: Ghana was the
    first (1957) and Swaziland the last (1968). The United Kingdom retains Sovereignty over
    fourteen territories outside of the British Isles, collectively named the British overseas
    territories. British Sovereignty of two of the overseas territories, Gibraltar and the Falkland
    Islands, is disputed by their nearest geographical neighbours, Spain and Argentina
    respectively. Most former British colonies are members of the Commonwealth of Nations,
    a non-political, voluntary association of equal members, in which the United Kingdom has
    no privileged status. Although often marked by economic and political nationalism, the
    Commonwealth offers the United Kingdom a voice in matters concerning many developing
    countries, and is a forum for those countries to raise concerns. Notable non-members of the
    Commonwealth are Ireland, the USA and the former middle-eastern colonies and
    protectorates. In addition, the Commonwealth helps preserve many institutions deriving
    from British experience and models, such as Westminster-style parliamentary
    democracy, in those countries.
   The status of the United Kingdom changed in another sense too. Although it was influential
    at the time the “Atlantic Charter” – a document of the post-war world order guaranteeing
    freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want – was
    put together and also played a rule in the formation in the United Nations and the Security
    Council, the emergence of the cold war bipolarised both Europe and the world likewise.
    Britain joined the NATO and although it became more fearful of Soviet intentions, it was
    also unhappy with the forceful attitude of its ally, the U.S. One thing is sure, unlike these
    two countries Britain did not become a superpower. For a long time in the mid-century,
    Britain lacked any interest in the European Common Market (European Community).
    After the loss of its colonies and imperial power it could no longer neglect European affairs,
    its main market has become the E.C., which it hoped to join from the early 1960s with little
    success. Finally it became a member state in 1973.
   At the end of the war many reforms were introduced, both by Conservatives and Labour
    Party ministers. Most of them agreed that there were social wrongs in the life of the country
    which had to be handled somehow. Both parties moved politically to the left and
    concentrated on social rights (e.g. education, free health care, old age pension,
    unemployment benefit). The 1950s saw the rise of a universal welfare state, a social
    democracy. Both parties agreed on most of the basic values, and disagreed mainly over
    methods. The Labour government also took control of the credit, the power and the
    transportation industries. This is called nationalization, which was nevertheless less
    successful than hoped. Workers in the nationalised industries did not feel involved and
    strikes were just as frequent as in the private sector.
   By the 1960s Britain was more “youthful” than ever, youth culture was booming and young
    people began to question the authority of the values their parents shared. They particularly
    rebelled against the rigid sexual rules of Christian society. Many lived a family life without
    getting married, the number of divorces also rose. A permissive society had been created,
    although it had numerous critics.
   By the end of the 1960s the situation in Northern Ireland grew into a crisis. For decades
    Ireland had been a self-governing province, but its government was controlled by
    Protestants, who feared the Catholic republicans and kept them out of responsible positions.
    In 1969 republican protesters flooded the streets and demanded equal rights and a fairer
    system. This later turned into a nationalist rebellion against the British Rule. The British
    army arrived to Northern Ireland in 1969 to protect nationalists from attack, and was
    warmly welcomed. However, the murder of thirteen unarmed civilians in 1972 in
    Londonderry by British soldiers (AKA “Bloody Sunday”) inflamed the situation and turned
    northern nationalists against the British Army. The appearance of the Provisional Irish
    Republican Army (IRA) and a campaign of violence by loyalist terror groups like the
    Ulster Defence Association and others brought Northern Ireland to the brink of Civil War.
    Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, extremists on both sides carried out a series of brutal mass
    murders, often on innocent civilians. Among the most notorious outrages were the Le Mon
    bombing and the bombings in Enniskillen and Omagh. Some British politicians advocated
    British withdrawal from Ireland, but this policy was opposed by successive Irish
    governments, who called their prediction of the possible results of British withdrawal the
    Doomsday Scenario, with widespread communal strife, followed by the mass exodus of
    hundreds of thousands of men, women and children as refugees to their community’s ‘side’
    of the province; nationalists fleeing to western Northern Ireland, unionists fleeing to eastern
    Northern Ireland. The worst fear was of a civil war which would engulf not just Northern
    Ireland, but the neighbouring Republic of Ireland and Scotland both of whom had major
    links with either or both communities.
   By the 1990s, the failure of the IRA campaign to win mass public support or achieve its aim
    by British Withdrawal was evident. A long decade of negotiation began producing in 1998
    the so called “Good Friday Agreement” which was approved by a majority of both
    communities in Northern Ireland and by the people of the Republic of Ireland, where the
    constitution was amended to replace a claim it allegedly made to the territory of Northern
    Ireland with a recognition of Northern Ireland’s right to exist, while also acknowledging the
    nationalist desire for a united Ireland. The agreement contained the principle that the
    constitutional future of Northern Ireland should be determined by the majority vote of its
    citizens. It furthermore committed all parties to use “exclusively peaceful and democratic
   Over the course of the 20th century, the population of Wales increased from just over 2
    million in 1901 to 2.9 million in 2001, but the process was not linear – 430,000 people left
    Wales between 1921 and 1940 largely owing to the economic depression of the 1930s. In
    this era, most incomers settled in the expanding industrial areas, contributing to a partial
    Anglicisation of some parts of south and east Wales. The proportion of the Welsh
    population able to speak the Welsh language fell from just under 50% in 1901 to 43.5% in
    1911, and continued to fall to a low of 18.9% in 1981.
   Tied as it was to the health of the British Empire, Scotland suffered after the First World
    War as it had gained beforehand. In the Highlands, which had provided a disproportionate
    (aránytalan) number of recruits for the army, a whole generation of young men were lost,
    and many villages and communities suffered greatly. In the Lowlands, particularly
    Glasgow, poor working and living conditions led to industrial and political unrest. In the
    Second World War naval bases and infrastructure in Scotland were primary German targets.
    The shipyards and heavy engineering factories in Glasgow played a key part in the war
    effort, and suffered attacks from the Luftwaffe. After World War II, Scotland’s economic
    situation became progressively worse due to overseas competition, inefficient industry, and
    industrial disputes. This only began to change in the 1970s, partly due to the discovery and
    development of North Sea oil and gas and partly as Scotland moved towards a more
    service-based economy. This period saw the emergence of the Scottish National Party and
    movements for both Scottish independence and more popularly devolution (jogkör
    átruházás). However, a referendum on devolution in 1979 was unsuccessful. In 1997, the
    Blair Labour government again held a referendum on the issue of devolution. A positive
    outcome led to the establishment of a devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999.
   From the late sixties and early seventies Britain started to fall behind economically. Prices
    grew rapidly and so did unemployment. Many believed that the immigrants were behind
    these unfavourable changes. Most of the immigrants arrived from the West Indies, later
    from Pakistan and East Africa. Thy settled in poor areas of large industrial cities. They
    were willing to do dirty or unpopular work. However the relationship between black and
    white populations was not easy. Just like woman in the past, they were not treated as equals.
    They would have to fight hard to win the same pay and work opportunities as white men.
    Laws were passed to prevent unequal treatment of coloured people and soon the state
    started to control the number of immigrants coming to Britain. Yet the problem was no
    longer the new immigrants but the second generation immigrants, who were born in Britain
    and seeing no advancement in their serious physical and economic situation and low living
    standard and condition started riots in Liverpool, Bristol and London. Another face of the
    social unrest was the emerging football hooliganism, a phenomenon that strengthened in
    the eighties, during Thatcherism.
   Mrs Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. As the first female
    and the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century, Thatcher brought with her a
    completely new ideology and policies which were distinct just as her controversial style of
    leadership. However, unlike previous prime ministers, Thatcher had a significant impact on
    British politics as she was elected to power with a set of ideas that were not widely held by
    anyone else. She then used her power to push forward her personal agenda in the face of
    resistance from many areas such as public opinion, Whitehall, Cabinet, Parliament and
    social institutions such as universities and Trade Unions. Despite this resistance, she
    managed to pass much of her legislation and have many of her ideas accepted onto the
    political agenda.
   It is hard to understand just how much an impact Thatcher had on British politics unless it is
    compared to similar experiences in other Western democracies. With the exception of
    France, every country elected a right-wing party to power at the beginning of the 1980s.
    Together with the USA, where the Republicans returned to power in 1981, the New Right
    seemed to dominate in the world politics. The New Right occurred in the 1960s and
    manifested its agenda through Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980s and was perceived as an
    attack on traditional conservatism, which was seen to be betraying its principles by moving
    towards collectivism and undermining economic liberty. Also, it was against freedoms
    gained in the 1960s which Thatcher government saw as the seed of the problems which
    have occurred during the 1970s. Thatcher brought with her an ideological break with the
    past and a large project to change nearly every aspect of Britain in the belief that it would
    make the country great again. The Thatcher administrations have, at one and the same time
    been pro-active and prescriptive while also seeking to roll back the frontiers of the state. A
    whole battery of new measures and agencies have been used to increase central policy
    direction and control over local government while, at the same time, the rhetoric has
    involved an appeal to expanded consumer choice; to curbing and rationalising state power.
    Thatcherism was also distinctly anti-socialist, as it introduced monetarism with the strict
    control of public spending. Also the control of inflation without regarding the social
    consequences which led to massive unemployment signalled what Thatcherism saw as true
    Conservatism – a return to Nineteenth Century liberalism.
   During her premiership unemployment, which had been rising mildly throughout the late
    1970s, nearly tripled during her first two terms (from 1,100,000 to 3,000,000). Though the
    Conservative Party’s parliamentary majority was large, it won with only a little over 40
    percent of the vote in 1987; that figure reflected the lowest share of the vote for the
    Conservatives since 1922. Also, Thatcherism put a strong emphasis on populism as it
    praised the spirit of the middle-class values as the spirit of national greatness. Yet,
    Thatcherism also showed the true nature of the Conservative Party, which is the protection
    of property rights and all the assumptions and value judgements which have evolved as a
    coherent political ideology to protect the interests of property owners. Throughout her
    terms Thatcher pursued the policies that earned her the nickname of ‘Iron Lady’ because of
    her strict dominance over the ministers of her cabinet; the continuation of a strong
    monetarist policy; increased subjection of trade unions to legal constraints; and
    ‘privatisation’ of state-owned enterprises. She was strongly opposing further UK integration
    into Europe maybe as a way to preserve her powers (although she liked the idea of the
    single European market and free trade), while concentrating on the special relationship
    with the United States. Thatcher’s second government in 1983 which begun on an
    optimistic and victorious atmosphere just after the Falkland war, was soon struck with the
    Miners Strike in 1984. The miners went on strike to protest the closing of many pits which
    deemed unprofitable and this bitterness caused by the strike and the insensitivity of the
    government to their demands deeply divided the whole of British society. This may be the
    reason why the Conservatives won three consecutive elections under Thatcher – not only
    because the general public supported her political agenda, but rather because there was no
    realistic opposition against her.
   Nevertheless, Thatcher’s downfall came from her own party in 1990. After much
    controversy over Thatcher’s tax policy and over her reluctance to commit the United
    Kingdom to full economic integration with Europe inspired a strong challenge to her
    leadership, with her failure to support agreed party policies on Europe attracting severe
    criticism. Her failure in creating Poll Tax even resulted in demonstrations during 1989-
    1990. This was soon followed by a leadership ballot which failed to secure her a convincing
    majority. She soon resigned and was succeeded by John Major who also won the next

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