Culture and History of the UK



3000 BC - 1520 BC

Stonehenge is a prehistoric stone circle monument, cemetery, and archaeological site located on Salisbury Plain. It was built in six stages between 3000 and 1520 BC, during the transition from the New Stone Age (Neolithic period) to the Bronze Age.

The Ring of Brodgar

Approx. 2500 BC - Approx. 2000 BC

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Orkney, Scotland. It comprises a massive ceremonial enclosure and stone circle probably dating from between 2500 and 2000 BC.

Celtic people from mainland Europe

600 BC

Iron age civilization

Settlement of Britons

200 BC

Celtic and Belgian tribes

First Roman invasions by Julius Caesar

55 BC

Roman conquest of Britain by Claudius

43 AD

The building of the wal around Camulondunum

Approx. 65 AD - Approx. 80 AD

the Ancient Roman name for what is now Colchester in Essex, was an important town in Roman Britain, and the first capital of the province. It is claimed to be the oldest town in Britain. Originally the site of the Brythonic-Celtic oppidum of Camulodunum. The Roman wall around Colchester, or Camulodunum, is believed to have been built between the years 65 and 80

Hadrian's Wall

122 AD

A defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in 122 AD during the reign of the emperor Hadrian.

Saint Patrick

358 AD - 493 AD

A fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.

Collapse of Roman Britain

410 AD

Angles, Saxons & Jutes settle in Britain. In 410 the leaders of the Romano-Celts sent a letter to the Roman Emperor Honorius, appealing for help. However he had no troops to spare and he told the Britons they must defend themselves.
The beginning of the so-called Heptarchy is a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central England during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages.
Origin of the Arthurian legends (King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD)
Literacy (reading and writing) and coin usage disappeared

Saint Augustine

597 AD

lands in Kent in 597 and builds a church and a monastery in Canterbury

Holy Island of Lindisfarne

635 AD

Synod of Whitby

664 AD

A Northumbrian synod where the King ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Irish monks.

The Venerable Bede

673 AD - 735 AD

He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work is 'Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum'; translated Latin texts into Anglo-Saxon (An Ecclesiastical History of the English People)

First Viking raids

789 AD - 795 AD

The Book of Kells

800 AD

An illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created in a Columban monastery in Ireland.

Alfred the Great

871 AD - 899 AD

King of Wessex, the only Anglo-Saxon king outside the Danelaw. In
878 he defeats the Danes when they attack Wessex. He builds “burhs” (fortified settlements) and organizes the country in “shires”. Alfred’s Anglo-Saxon successors gradually gain control over Danelaw regions.

Ethelred the Unready

978 AD - 1016 AD

Tried to stop new Danish attacks by making an alliance with the Dukes of Normandy (married Emma, daughter of the Duke of Normandy) by paying ‘Danegeld’.
Canute/Cnut was the king of Denmark (1013) and England (1016)
=> Disputes about his succession

1013 new Danish invasion

King Edward the Confessor

1042 AD - 1066 AD

Son of Ethelred the Unready (last Saxon King of England), he had spent his youth in Normandy. He was pious (a virtue that may include religious devotion, spirituality, or a mixture of both) and built Westminster Abbey (the first Norman Romanesque church in England)
He had no direct successors, upon his death Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, was elected King of England by the ‘Witanagemot’ (early form of parliament). Harold was challenged by Duke William of Normandy, who claimed Edward had promised him the crown.

Norman conquest of England


The last invasion of Britain. King Harold versus William, duke of Normandy. William the Conquerer was crowned King of England in 1066 in Westminster Abbey.

Domesday book

1085 - 1086

The Domesday Book is the record of the great survey (of all taxable land, together with such information as would indicate its worth) of much of England, and parts of Wales, completed in 1086, done for William the Conqueror.

The Angevin Empire


Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitane
The Angevin Empire is a collection of states ruled by the Angevin Plantagenet dynasty. The Plantagenets ruled over an area from the Pyrenees to Ireland during the 12th and early 13th centuries. Their empire was roughly half of medieval France as well as all of England and Ireland.

King Richard I

1157 - 1199

He was known as Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. Richard was a central Christian commander during the Third Crusade. In popular culture,
Robin Hood is typically seen as a contemporary and supporter of the late-12th-century king Richard the Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry during the misrule of Richard's brother John while Richard was away at the Third Crusade.

Legends of Robin Hood

Henry II & Thomas à Becket


Henry II appoints Thomas à Becket as his Chancellor and then as Archbishop of Canterbury. Canon law (the internal Ecclesiastical law of many churches) vs common law, the problem of the “criminous clerks” escaping punishment because they were tried in ecclesiastical courts by "benefit of Clergy". 1/6 of the English population was “clergy”, mostly “lay clergy”, should they to be tried in ecclesiastical courts or in the King’s criminal courts?
Thomas refuses to accept the King’s authority and excommunicates (religious censure) a number of bishops who had supported the King in their dispute.

Murder in the Cathedral


The assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. The shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral became an important centre of pilgrimage and a symbol of the independence of the Church

King John and the Magna Carta


The house of Plantagenet. The baronial revolt at the end of John's reign led to the sealing of the Magna Carta. It forced the King to take advice, increased aristocratic influence, ensured fair trials for citizens and no taxes without consultation.

Henry III and the Parliament


Henry III's regents summoned a “parliament” in 1257, including two knights per county. A Parliamentary rebellion was led by Simon de Montfort.

Wales annexed by Edward I


Protected by a “ring of castles” (eg Harlech Castle)

Model Parliament


The term used for the 1295 Parliament of England of King Edward I (Hamer of the Scots). Edward's paramount goal in summoning the parliament was to raise funds for his wars, specifically planned campaigns against France, Scotland and Wales. The resulting parliament became a model for a new function as well: The addressing of grievances with the king. Two chambers emerged:
Lords/Bishops vs Commons

Hundred Years War

1337 - 1453

Black death, Peasant’s revolt (1381) and the Lollards (a political and religious movement, the Lollards' demands were primarily for reform of Western Christianity. They laid the path for reformation). Battle of Crécy: The battle saw the rise as the dominant Western European battlefield weapon of the longbow, whose effects were devastating when used en masse.

The Wars of the Roses

1455 - 1487

Civil War and rebellions between House of Lancaster and House of York (both Plantagenet). Henry Tudor (Lancaster) won and founded new house of Tudor.

House of Tudor: Henry VII

1485 - 1509

Henry was successful in restoring the dominance of the English monarchy.
He also managed to make the landed gentry (& parliament) dependent on the king.
(Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I)

Henry VIII & Catherine of Aragon

1509 - 1533

Henry VIII married his brother Arthur’s widow Catherine of Aragon.
Daughter: Mary Tudor

Luther's work circulates in England


In 1521 Henry VIII published Assertio Septem Sacramentorum: against Luther and in vindication (rechtvaardiging) of the Church’s teaching on the sacraments and mass (central act of divine worship), insisting on the supremacy of the papacy (the pope). Written with the help of Thomas More. Pope Leo X confers the title of Fidei Defensor on Henry.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

1534 - 1536


Act of Supremacy


Henry VIII is declared Supreme Head of the Church of England

Thomas More executed


Edward VI

1547 - 1553

Son of protestant Jane Seymour, dies at the age of 16. The counsellors introduce more protestant elements: veneration of statues forbidden, transsubstantiation rejected (the change of substance by which the bread and the wine offered in the sacrifice of the sacrament of the Eucharist during the Mass, become, in reality, the physical Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ.) and only two sacraments: baptism & communion.

Lady Jane Grey

July 10, 1553 - July 19, 1553

"The nine day queen", The great-granddaughter of Henry VII through his younger daughter Mary.

Mary Tudor

Jul 20, 1553 - 1558

The "Marian restoration”: restore ties with Rome, persecution of protestants - some 300 people executed, including Archbishop ( “Bloody Mary”). Mary marries prince Philip (later Philip II) of Spain. Mary was baptised into the Catholic church.

Elizabeth I Tudor

1558 - 1603

Back to Henry's reformation. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, this evolved into the Church of England. "The Virgin Queen"
Renaissance period in England: Literature & music (Shakespeare), explorers: Drake, Raleigh, ... and architecture.

Catholic rebellion and protestant pressure


Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots


Defeat of the Spanish Armada


James I Stuart

1603 - 1625

Religious conflict, Further colonization (settlements in Virginia and New England), Emigration of Puritans to North America,
(The state Virginia is named after the Virgin Queen), absolutist tendencies & financial problems.
1611 King James’ Bible (based on William Tyndale's work)

The Union of the Crowns


James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England
union of the kingdoms of Scotland and England (& Wales)
First Union Jack (1606) named after James I

Elizabeth's death


The crown passes on to James VI of Scotland, great-grandson of Margaret, younger sister of Henry VIII, who had married James IV of Scotland.
Personal union of the kingdoms of Scotland and England (& Wales)

the gunpowder plot


an failed assassination attempt against King James I Stuart by a group of provincial English Catholics. On of the members was Guy Fawkes

Charles I Stuart

1625 - 1649

second son of James I, absolutist tendencies, maried a Roman Catholic bride, religious conflicts with Scotland and Ireland, conflicts with parliament over finances and confidentials, royalists (torries) & parliamentarians (whigs)
1642: Civil War

Civil war

1642 - 1649

The Commonwealth

1653 - 1659

Lord protector: Oliver Cromwell, Cromwell's body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution because people felt betrayed, they expected a republican.
Republic under “Lord Protector”
monarchy abolished
 House of Lords abolished
 Bishops abolished
 various parliamentary experiments
Puritan influence: destruction of statues, crucifixes, altars, etc., theatres and inns closed, …

The Restoration


Charles II: Merry King, London as a metropolis, Catholic sympathies, Anglo-Dutch Wars (important for colonialist expansion), the “Exclusion Bill” (for James II): Whigs supporting the bill, Tories opposing it.

The Great Fire of London


James II

1685 - 1688

The last Roman Catholic monarch (England, Scotland, Wales)
Refusal to take Test Act Oath (a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office)
James II and Mary of Modena have a son: James, the new most likely successor

The Glorious Revolution


The overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William of Orange.
Parliament declares James II’ daughter Mary Queen, jointly with William of Orange

William III & Mary II

1688 - 1702

House of Orange and Stuart
Declaration of Rights: an Act of the Parliament of England that deals with constitutional matters and sets out certain basic civil rights (on top of the magna carta)
Jacobite rebellions: a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746. They were named after James II.

Battle of the Boyne

12 July 1690

A battle between the King James II and William of Orange. The battle took place across the River Boyne on the east coast of Ireland, and resulted in a victory for William.
"The Twelfth": celebration and commeration by marching in orange


1700 - 1807

British colonies relied on slaves
18th c. Small black community in Britain (freed slaves, servants, seafarers)
Abolitionist movement, First bill rejected in 1791, 1807 Abolition in British Empire
Gustavus Vassa (Equiano): a prominent African in London, a freed slave who supported the British movement to end the slave trade. His autobiography, published in 1789 and attracting wide attention,

Act of Settlement


An Act of the Parliament that was passed to settle the succession to the English and Irish crowns and thrones on the Electress Sophia of Hanover (a granddaughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England) and her non-Roman Catholic heirs.

Treaty of Union


The name given to the agreement that led to the creation of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England (which already included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland.

House of Hanover

1714 - 1901

Act of Settlement
House of Hanover installed, Jacobite risings
Georgian era (George I – II –II - IV)
Age of Reason and Enlightenment
Commercial expansion and slavery

Note: William IV and Victoria also belonged to House of Hanover
In 1901 the House of Hanover changed to the House of Saxe-Coburg / Gotha

Spirit of Rebellion

1789 - 1819

French revolution, Irish rebellion,American war, Peterloo massacre in Manchester
Revolutionary and reactionary spirit in Britain: Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791), Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Man (1790) / Woman (1791)

War with France

1793 - 1815

Britain joined coalition against the French, Napoleon invaded Egypt (Suez), Napoleon plans British invasion, Admiral Nelson: Battle of Trafalgar (a naval engagement fought by the Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies), Duke of Wellington: Battle of Waterloo

Social problems

1815 - 1942

Industrialization, increased population, public health issues
Protectionist Corn Laws: restrictions and tariffs on imported grain to keep grain prices high
Poor Law Amendment Act: workhouses ( a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment, children were separated from their parents and sent to Australia)
Trade Unions, national health system, reform programmes for welfare state, Beveridge report (an influential document in the founding of the welfare state)

The Great Reform Act


revision of the constituencies (rotten/pocket boroughs: a constituency which had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain unrepresentative influence within the House of Commons)

extension of the franchise (1/6 of the men)

Victoria I and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha


2nd Reform Act / Representation of the People Act


further revision of constituencies
franchise for all male householders who lived in boroughs (urban constituencies)

introduction of the secret vote


3rd Reform Act / Representation of the People Act


franchise extended to all male householders in counties (county / rural constituencies, £10 norm)

Plural voting


University graduates could vote in their home constituencies and in their university constituency
Property holders could vote in every constituency they owned property in.

The Edwardian Age

1901 - 1910

King Edward VII, House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, mixture of tradition and modernity, Suffragette movement, rise of the Labour party
1911 social reforms: pensions and national insurance
New inventions: telephones, the London Underground, motorcars, trams, buses, cinema, …
Bloomsbury Group, Modernism, Psychoanalysis

House of Windsor

1910 - Present day

George V (1910-1936)
Edward VIII (1936)
George VI (1936-1952)
Elizabeth II (1952-)
Heirs to the the throne: Charles, William, George

World War I

1914 - 1918

Battle of Gallipoli (1915), Somme offensive (1916), trench warfare, submarine attacks, first voluntary service, 1916 conscription, Zeppelin bombing raids on London, Armstice remembrance and “Buddy Poppies”
Aftermath: election reforms and Spanish flu


1918 - 1939

Depression, social unrest and union strikes, first Labour government, general strike, London Crash, Commonwealth, abdication of Edward VIII
Popular entertainment and radio

world war II

1939 - 1945

Winston Churchill prime minister
1940 Battle of Britain and bombing raids
1942 Desert War with General Montgomery
6 June 1944 D-Day
8 May 1945 German surrender

Postwar reforms

1942 - 1965

Beveridge report on social welfare, Butler Education Act ( raised the school leaving age to 15), New Labour government, nationalization, NHS, Comprehensive schools introduced


1947 - 1968

1931 British Commonwealth of Nations
1940s Independence for India and Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma
Increased de-colonization after Suez Crisis
1960s Cyprus, African colonies and West Indies
Immigration from former colonies
Today: Commonwealth with 53 independent states
Remaining foreign territory: Falklands and Gibraltar

Margaret Thatcher

1979 - 1990

Conservative prime minister, curbs on unionism, mass privatization, exploitation of oil fields, right-to-buy policy in housing, consumerism, Falklands War (1982) and IRA bombings, Nationalism and anti-European

The Falklands War


A ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British overseas territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.