Unit 12.1

Legendary and historical events and personalities


Fundamental Milestones in the United Kingdom’s History

  • 655 – The Battle of the Winwaed: It was fought on 15 November 655 (or 654) between King Penda of Mercia and Oswiu of Bernicia, ending in the Mercians’ defeat and Penda’s death. The Battle of the Winwaed contributed significantly to the Christianisation of England.
  • 1215 – Magna Carta: King John signed the Magna Carta which limited Kings power and gave people the right to a fair trial. It was the beginning of legal rights for English people.
  • 1284 – Conquest of Wales: King Edward I successes in conquering Wales. It will unite with England later in 1543.
  • 1453 – The Battle of Castillon: It is considered to mark the end of the Hundred Years’ War. As a result of the battle, the English lost all landholdings in France, except Calais.
  • 1534 – Reformation: King Henry VIII breaks away from Roman Catholic Church and starts Church of England. From this time England becomes a Protestant country.
  • 1649 – Execution of King Charles I: After winning over King forces and executions of King Charles I, England became a republic.
  • 1707 – Treaty of Union: Even though England with Wales and Scotland already had the same King, from this year they were officially united.
  • 1801 – Acts of Union: Ireland becomes part of the United Kingdom, so the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is formed.
  • 1921 – Partition of Ireland: Ireland got divided into two separate policies. Southern Ireland received complete independence while Northern Ireland stayed in the United Kingdom.
  • 1973 – Joining EEC: the United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community which later transforms into European Union.
  • 2016 – European Union membership referendum: Around 52% of the population declared that they want the UK to leave the European Union.
  • 2020 – Brexit: After long negotiations, the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Main Examples of the Historical Periods of the United Kingdom

  • Roman Britain (AD 43 – C.410):
    • It was a time of invasion of the Roman Empire on the British Isles.
    • Queen Boudica rebellions against the Roman Empire took place.
    • The Romans failed to take over Caledonia, which is today’s Scotland.
    • During this period, Romans build many roads and cities.
  • Medieval period (C.410 to 1485):
    • Early Medieval period is also known as the Dark Ages.
    • It was a time of invasions on Britain lead by Saxons, then by Vikings and later by Danish people.
    • William, Duke of Normandy invaded England and defeated King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. He declared himself to be King William I.
    • In this period Black Death has reached England.
    • The late medieval period was a time of many battles with France.
  • Tudor period (1485 to 1603):
    • In this period English Reformation took place, leading to the creation of the English Church. Scottish reformation also took place in Scotland and lead to the creation of The Church of Scotland known as Kirk.
    • Quality of daily life improved in the 16th century.
    • England defeated Spanish armada in 1588. It led to many changes which later turned Britain into naval power.
  • Stuarts era (1603 to 1714):
    • This era starts when King James VI of Scotland became also King of England. He was named as King James I.
    • It was a time of religious debates and radical politics.
    • English Civil war took place. It ended with the execution of King Charles I.
    • Treaty of Union took place in this era.
  • Georgian era (1714 to 1837):
    • It is also known as the Regency era.
    • Britain became an international power after winning the Seven Years War over Spain and France over colonies in North America. Later Britain loses colonies in North America during the American War of Independence.
    • The industrial revolution took place in that era. Many new technologies were invented in England.
    • Acts of Union took place in this era.
    • Great Britain won over Napoleon in 1815 making it the main naval power in Europe.
  • Victorian era (1837 to 1901):
    • Its name comes from Queen Victoria who ruled for 63 years.
    • By winning the Opium War with China, Hong Kong became a British colony.
    • Britain starts to rule over India. Queen Victoria becomes Empress of India.
    • Great Famine hits Ireland, killing around one million people.
    • The second industrial revolution starts in this era.
    • First World’s Fair called The Great Exhibition took place in London, Hyde Park.
  • 20th century (1901 to 1999):
    • Britain takes part in the First World War. After winning it takes over German colonies in Africa.
    • In 1918 women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote. Later it became illegal to exclude women from jobs.
    • Partition of Ireland takes place.
    • Britain takes part in the Second World War. After winning country gets in dept. Having colonies becomes too expensive. Later Britain loses most of its colonies which mean an end to the British Empire.
    • National Health Care is created.
    • The United Kingdom becomes a nuclear power.
    • The United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community.
  • 21st century (2000 till today):
    • The United Kingdom joins the war in Iraq.
    • The UK takes an important part in Libya conflict.
    • Scotland rejects independence in the referendum. Around 55% of the population prefer to stay in the United Kingdom.
    • The United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Main cultural and artistic examples of historical periods in the United Kingdom:

  • Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument build around 3000 BC to 2000 BC. It is made of a ring of standing stones weighing around 25 tons. It is a British cultural icon.
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated manuscript gospel book produced around the years 715-720. The manuscript is one of the finest works in the unique style of Hiberno-Saxon or Insular art, combining the Mediterranean, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic elements.
  • Shakespeare’s works and plays were created in the Tudor period and had a big impact on English culture and language. Till this day words created by Shakespeare are used. His plays were shown in Globe Theatre in London.
  • Banqueting House at Whitehall was built by Inigo Jones in 1622, during the Stuart period. It was the first building completed fully in neo-classical style.
  • Jane Austin’s works marked the Georgian era. Her novels often are about marriages and social problems related to it. She was recognized as a writer already during her life. Her works like EmmaSense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are well-known novels till this day.
  • The Lady of Shalott is a painting by John William Waterhouse, from the Victorian era. It is an oil-on-canvas painting,   is an illustration of Alfred Tennyson’s poem the Lady of Shalott from Camelot. It is one of the most reproduced paintings to this day.

Great historical and legendary people from the United Kingdom

  • Queen Boudica – she started an uprising against the Romans, responding to the wave of terror and humiliation that had occurred after the death of her husband Prasutagus. She and rebels won over Romans in Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London) and Verulamium (St. Albans).
  • Queen Victoria – her rule of 63 years is a time many changes within the United Kingdom and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. This time is also known as the Victorian Era.
  • Robert the Bruce – King of Scotland from 1306 to 1329. He was a famous warrior and led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. Till today he is seen as a national hero in Scotland.
  • Horatio Nelson – was a British admiral, Viscount, Prince of Bronte, Baron of the Nile. He is the most famous admiral in the history of the British fleet. He defeated the French fleet twice.
  • Sir Winston Churchill – was a politician, writer and army officer. He became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for two times and won Nobel Prize in literature. In 2002 he was recognized as the greatest British of all time. He led Britain to victory in the Second World War.
  • Diana, Princess of Wales – was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. Her philanthropic and charity activities and a passion for fashion made her one of the most famous and loved members of the British royal family. Her tragic death in car crash met with emotional reception, both from the public and tabloids.


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