Britons lived in tribes, kept kettle, made pottery,… They worshipped many gods, offered human sacrifices and their priests were called druids. In A.D. 43 the Romans began an invasion which resulted in the Roman occupation of Britain. To prevent attacks from the north, Romans built the Hadrian’s Wall in 122. In spite of almost 400 years of Roman occupation, the British language existed side by side with Latin. The Romans left in the 1st half of the 5th century.
At the beginning of the 9th century the Danes and the Norsemen attacked England. King Alfred the Great (849-901) was successful in stopping their influence in the southern parts of the country, nevertheless the Danish wars wiped out many villages and the peasants suffered most.
Since 1016 the Danish King Canute ruled England. He died in 1035, and his sons proved incompetent. Disunion set in shortly afterwards and so Edward the Confessor (son of previous Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred II) ruled in the years 1042-1066.
William of Normandy = William the Conqueror(1066-1087), seeing his chance of a successful invasion, landed in September, 1066, while Harold was in the north defeating Tostig, the Dane. At Hastings, luck and good archery skills gave William the victory and he was crowned at Christmas,1066.
Richard I, the Lion-Heart (1189-1199), was warlike, chivalrous, and anxious to rescue the Holy Land from the Egyptian ruler, Saladin. He was killed in a war in France. His brother John I, Lackland (1199-1216), lost almost all the English possessions in France, including Normandy, in conflict with his barons he was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
In 1167, English students were expelled from Paris, and developed Oxford into a proper "studium" or university. At first there were no permanent buildings, students and teachers lived in hired rooms or halls. In 1209, some students move from Oxford to Cambridge, which later (1229) became a university.
The time of Edward I (1272-1307) was marked by his wish to win back power from barons and safeguard the royal revenue. To assess taxes, he sometimes summoned knights and burgesses to the Great Council – now called Parliament.
The Hundred Years War with France (1337-1453) ended in England’s defeat.
The reign of Richard II (1377-1399) is the story of a prolonged struggle between the party of the king and the party of Lancaster. In it lie the roots of the struggle between York and Lancaster ( the Wars of the Roses).
The Wars of the Roses took place in the 15th century. They were the wars between the House of York (which had a better claim to the throne) and the House of Lancaster (which had from the beginning a better position being led by king Henry IV). The battles lasted nearly 85 years. The battle which ended these wars was the Battle of Bosworth (1485) when the king, Richard III (1483-1485) was killed and Henry Tudor became King Henry VII (1485-1509). He married Elizabeth of York, and thus joined the two houses. The Tudor monarchy lasted till 1603.
The Tudor Age can be characterized by the consolidation of royal power, the repression of any opposition and the great wealth of the king. Henry VIII (1509-1547) was intellectually brilliant, though inclined towards pride, ambition, and brutality; he is known as a king who had six wives and who established the Church of England. He had three children, Mary (by Catherine of Aragon), later Mary I, called Bloody Mary (1553-1558); Elizabeth I (by Anne Boleyn) the English Queen between 1558 and 1603; and Edward VI (by Jane Seymour) who ruled England 1547-1553.
Elizabeth I is the most important of the above mentioned successors of Henry VIII. She enforced the Protestant religion by law. Her conflict with Roman Catholic Spain led to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. When Elizabeth I died in 1603, England was a European power.
During the following period England was ruled by Oliver Cromwell as the Lord Protector (1653-1658). After his death his son proved to be unable to follow his father. As there was no other suitable candidate to govern England and the people were tired of wars and heavy taxes, Charles II (1660-1685) was welcomed to England, after he had signed the Peace of Breda.
The most important facts on the political scene during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) were the formal union of England and Scotland in 1707, continuous hostility towards France, and the developing importance of the minority in the Parliament, which was slowly becoming the opposition and thus prepared the way for the two-party government system.
The Napoleonic War (1803-1815) meant a new struggle between the two traditional rivals, Britain and France. Napoleon's plan to invade England failed when Admiral Nelson defeated the French at Trafalgar (October, 1805). In 1815 the French were definitely defeated by Wellington together with the Prussian general Blucher at the Battle of Waterloo.
The 19th century was marked by the growth of the British Empire. The Second Afghan War (1878-1880) led afterwards to the Anglo-Russian Convention, according to which Russia agreed to leave Afghanistan alone, and the British agreed to leave Tibet alone. The Boer Wars (1881,1899-1902) led to the British supremacy over South Africa.