Many studies have been dedicated to what remains of the very first inhabitants of the British Isles, to jewelry, stone, bronze, iron tools contained in the tombs; however, in the absence of written documents, little has been possible to reconstruct their very ancient events.
Some news has come around the tribes, perhaps Celtic and Iberian, who had gone there to exploit the tin mines of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
According to tradition, the island was visited by the Phoenicians and, in 550 BC, by the Carthaginian navigator Himilco. But the first to make it known were the Romans who landed there, under the guidance of Julius Caesar, in 57 BC. He pushed his ships to the coast of the country called Britannia (by the British inhabitants), or with the oldest name of Albion.
Caesar did not conquer the island, but landed there in two successive summers, in 55 and 54 before Christ, collecting many news on the territory and on the populations, to whom he imposed an annual tribute. The first real expedition to Britain was completed in 43 after Christ under the emperor Claudius.
The Roman occupation resulted in a fusion of the Latin elements with the indigenous population, since the legionaries of Rome, sent to the British island, after their service settled permanently in the region. See Countryaah for population and country facts about United Kingdom.
As the country was conquered, many Britons adapted to the customs of the new rulers, who began to reclaim the land and build cities and roads, in many places still recognizable. But not all the islanders passively accepted the situation and fought for their independence, but to no avail. Once the island became a Roman province, it remained for 4 centuries. The greatest concern of the Romans was to preserve the country from the raids of the Nordic tribes of the Picts and the Scots. And they succeeded in building a series of fortifications connected together by a wall. The most important of these was ordered by the emperor Hadrian, between the Gulf of Solvay and the mouth of the Tyne. Its construction lasted from 122 to 127 and took the name of “Hadrian’s Wall”.
Other types of fortifications were the encampments or “castra”, of which remains in many city names, such as Lancaster, Leicester, Colchester, Winchester, Bath. But remains of considerable importance from Roman culture and civilization came to us with elegant villas, adorned with precious mosaics, beautiful statues and magnificent fountains.
Towards the fifth century the Juti, the Angli and the Saxons occupied the British territory and towards the end of the sixth century missionaries of Pope St. Gregory I began to spread the Christian religion in the country. The Angles and Saxons then established 7 small states, whose leaders bore the title of king, and were allies among them. One of these kings, Egbert the Great, formed, in 827, under the name of Anglia, or England, a single state. The Danish conquest followed, made by King Sveno in 1013, consolidated by Canute the Great, which ended in the early 11th century.
In 1042 Edoardo returned to the British throne, called the “Confessor”, who was later sanctified and who made use of the work of a noble councilor, Count Godwin. Edward, educated in Normandy, introduced many Norman customs to England and also spread their juridical culture. Among the churches that Edward built the most important is Westminster Abbey.
Upon his death in 1066, the king’s crown was offered to the son of the count of Godwin, Aroldo. During his reign, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, landed in England at the head of a very powerful army of 60,000 men and defeated Aroldo in the battle of Hastings, in 1066. The king died along with many other English champions.
William was not loved by the Angles who in fact were greatly harassed by the new sovereign, who imposed serious tributes and arms on them; all to favor his Normans. Then he imposed French as the official language which, combined with the Saxon language, gave rise to the English language, considered intermediate between the Teutonic and the Romance. He died in France where he had gone to quell a revolt of barons.
The direct descendants died with William the Conqueror, in 1154 King Henry II was elected, with whom the dynasty of the Plantagenets, originally from France, began. He extended his continental domains to two thirds of France, obtained an oath of allegiance from the kings of Scotland and the Bretons of Wales and began the conquest of Ireland, which however he never completed. Even his conquests on French soil were soon lost under his sons and successors, Richard the Lionheart and John Senzaterra. The first left the kingdom to go to fight the Crusades; the second fought in Bouvines against Philip II Augustus of France and Frederick II of Swabia and was defeated. Then he suffered the rebellion of the clergy and barons and was excommunicated by the pope. To restore calm he had to grant the “Magna Carta”, with which the powers of the Parliament were defined, first composed only of the nobles and the clergy, then also of knights and bourgeois, so there were the “Upper Chamber” and the “Chamber of Commons”. But even with this concession he did not escape and was forced to flee and take refuge in Scotland.
From 1337 to 1453 England fought against France the so-called “Hundred Years War”, victorious in the early stages but disastrous at the end, and followed by the civil war, called the “Two Roses”, provoked by the ambitions of the two Lancaster families and York. This war ended with the marriage of Henry VII Tudor of the Lancaster House to Elizabeth of the York House.
Another serious crisis hit England because, despite all the prohibitions of Henry VIII, all the writings of Martin Luther, who had previously initiated the Protestant Reformation, entered and were read with particular attention. And since the king himself wanted to refute these writings, Pope Leo X named him “Defender of the Faith”. Subsequently, however, Pope Clement VII was antagonized, who had not recognized his divorce from his wife Catherine of Aragon as valid, to join in marriage with Anna Boleyn. So he proclaimed himself head of the Church in his country.
Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anna Boleyn, ascended the throne and the Anglican National Church settled, the kingdom reached its peak with the British Renaissance. Elizabeth, to partially remedy the execution of Maria Stuarda, designated her son Giacomo Stuart, king of Scotland, as his heir to the throne. He ruled under the name of James I, so Scotland was united peacefully with England, remaining the two kingdoms still distinct, and each retaining its own Constitution and Parliament. But James I, a Catholic and intolerant, caused bitter resentments of the British Parliament, which then poured out on his son Charles I, who was dismissed by Oliviero Cromwell and sentenced to death.
Cromwell took the title of “Protector” and Ireland was entirely subjugated under his protectorate. At his death, Charles II Stuart ascended the throne, who immediately proved to be an inept and was not better than him the successor James II who was expelled from Parliament. His son-in-law, William of Orange, was then proclaimed king, who with his constitutional government consolidated the kingdom and brought it back to great prosperity and power. Among the most important things he did was the alliance pact with Holland, the dispersion of the French fleet and the founding of the Bank of England. Dead without children, his sister-in-law Anna Stuart succeeded him, with whom the kingdom experienced one of the happiest moments in its history. The two Kingdoms of Scotland and England were merged into one with a single Parliament in London. Some wars were fought victoriously, for which the Spanish fleet was destroyed; France had to sell some North American possessions and from Spain it had Gibraltar and Menorca. At his death, childless, Giorgio Luigi, the elector of Hannover, ascended the throne with the name of Giorgio I: it was 1713. Other monarchs followed and each of them increased the power of England, even in overseas areas.
Under George III, problems began with the colonies of North America. In fact, taxes were imposed that the local populations did not want to accept, therefore they rebelled. And in 1775, under the leadership of General George Washington, 13 colonies united to fight against England. In 1776 at the Philadelphia Congress, these colonies proclaimed their independence.
After the war ended in 1783 with the recognition of the independence of the colonies, England found itself a few years later to fight the Napoleonic wars, which lasted from 1793 to 1815. And with the most brilliant episodes of the wars, both by sea and by land, this phase also ended.
The two traditional English parties, the “tories”, that is, the conservatives, and the “whigs”, that is, the liberals, fought over power but in 1837 Queen Victoria arrived on the throne, who was also proclaimed Empress of India, then possession English in Asia. During this time Britain extended its dominion over all the seas of the earth. After Vittoria’s death in 1901, there were other successors and the outbreak of the First World War with King George V.
With this war the kingdom had very important results, such as the annihilation of the Germanic military force; the disappearance of the German colonial empire in Africa and the division of Germanic submarine cables. And in this post-war period there were economic and social crises in Great Britain, as in almost all the countries of the world: here there were strikes by coal miners, the devaluation of the pound sterling, the end of the protectorate on the Egypt and in 1924 the foundation of the 1st Labor government, headed by Mac Donald.
After the death of George V, his son Edward VIII succeeded him. These, however, abdicated because the court ceremonial and the strict laws of the Crown did not allow him to marry an American divorcee, Wally Simpson. So he was crowned King George VI, Duke of York, in December 1936. He carried out an intense diplomatic and social activity and when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, he declared war on that state. It was the second world war. Britain, an ally of France and the United States of America, led by an exceptional character, Prime Minister Churchill, after a few years of war, achieved victory, not without huge sacrifices shared with self-sacrifice by the whole population. In February 1950 there were elections that brought the Labor party led by Attlee to government. The program envisaged: progressive implementation of the nationalization program for large industries, therefore a relatively planned economy; extension of social services; intensification of the “Austerity”. In foreign policy: collaboration with the states of the empire for the civilization and strengthening of the African and Asian populations and for the common defense; defense of British strategic and economic interests in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia; harmony with the United States of America and other countries that are part of the Atlantic Pact; defense of peace in the spirit of the United Nations, that is, rearmament. But the achievements of the Labor government were lower than expected, especially in international relations: but the diminished possibility of the kingdom’s initiative did not depend on government errors, but for historical reasons. Because there was precisely progress towards the slow but continuous unification of Europe; the rehabilitation of Franco Spain; the exclusion of popular China from the United Nations and the American protection of Formosa; the abandonment of Iranian oils; Maltese nationalism; the decreasing influence in Arab countries, such as Egypt and Jordan.
And so, in the October 1951 elections the conservatives prevailed and Churchill succeeded Attlee. On January 16, 1952, with a speech to Congress, he expressed full solidarity with the United States in the defense of South Korea and Formosa and asked the presence of American forces, at least symbolic, in the Suez Canal area. And on Feb. 6, with the death of George VI, she ascended the daughter of Elizabeth II to the throne.
After the Second World War what was the great British empire lost the colonies of Africa, America and Asia; it was called “Commonwealth”, ie free association of independent states. Whatever the form of local government, all Commonwealth states still recognize the sovereignty of the English monarchy.
As had already happened in the other countries affected and half destroyed by the war, also in England the general economic situation, seriously compromised, led to the application of a certain austerity. And here, to maintain the balance reached in 1952, the conservative government had to continue the fight against inflation. Improvements occurred, including the reopening of the gold market.