Covering English history from 1066 CE until 1689 CE.
After the death of Edward the Confessor, the former king, the Earl of Essex was
appointed as the king. The Duke of Normandy, living in northern France and descendants
of vikings, did not agree with this decisions and claimed to have been promised the
English throne. The Saxon and Norman armies met at the great Battle of Hastings and
eventually, on Christmas in the year 1066 William went from Duke of Normandy to
William the Conqueror and became the King of England. This event is significant
because the modern day monarchs of England are descended from the Normans. Since
the conquest, England has never been successfully invaded. The invasion also set up a
rivalry with France, changed the entire English language and culture, and linked England
with the further regions of Europe.
Commissioned by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London is one of today’s biggest
English landmarks. The building started in 1078 CE and was complete in 1100 CE, with
many additions and renovations taking place through history. The tower first served as a
fortress to protect Norman rule and interests. It was then used as a prison and place of
execution, only the most notable people were executed by axe within the tower. Some
famous people executed included Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Gray, and
Thomas Cromwell. It is now home to the Crown Jewels of England and is a huge part of
England’s history. The construction of the tower was an important representation of the
English monarchy's power.
As a third attempt to recapture the Holy Lands from the Muslims/Turks. This time
however, Richard the First and the Holy Roman Emperor got involved in the crusades.
The crusades are a crucial part of history because they take up funds, troops, and the
focus of countries through history. In September 1191, Richard’s forces defeated those of
Saladin in the battle of Arsuf; it would be the only true battle of the Third Crusade.
Though Richard's victories had re-established a Frankish state in Palestine, many
Christians felt disappointed in the loss of the recapture of Jerusalem. This is an important
event because the cost of England’s involvement in the Crusades was a weak England.
Signed and sealed in 1215 with King John of England, the Magna Carta was an attempt
to place the monarchy’s power at a decreased level. It is one of the most important
documents of the world because it granted people certain rights, natural rights, and bound
the king to certain laws. This had never been done in history before, where the word of a
king could be questioned. A lot of modern day governments are based off of the
foundations of the Magna Carta
The Treaty of York was an agreement between Henry III of England and Alexander II of
Scotland. The treaty set the border between Scotland and England. It made sure Scotland
remained independent of England. As well as determine what lands would go under
English rule, and what lands under Scottish rule. The Treaty of York is an important part
of English history because it starts the battle of certain lands between Scotland and
England. Scotland would eventually become a big part of English affairs.
King Edward I of England put in place a law that banned all Jews from England. The
edict remained in power until 1657 when Oliver Cromwell overturned it. The edict was
the result of over 200 years of growing tensions between Jews and the English. The first
Jews came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. Jews played a key role in the
economy when it came to money lending because Canon Law did not apply to them.
However, Jews were not included in the rights of the Magna Carta in 1215 in England.
After the edict, there was a vacuum in England’s economy because of the lack of Jews.
This edict is a huge part of English history because it displayed the attitudes of English
people towards those who were not Christian. It also represents one of the first major
actions of a government to isolate a group of people.
The Great Famine was one of the first of many disasters to strike Europe in the 1300s.
The famine is often seen as the end of England’s growth and success during the
fourteenth century. The famine started because of bad weather in the spring of 1315.
Crop failures went on until 1317, and England did not fully recover until 1322. There
were high levels of levels of crime, disease, mass death and even cannibalism and
infanticide. The Great Famine is important in history because the life expectancy in
England went down from 35 years to 29 years. This created a lack of economic progress
and growth. This eventually set the perfect conditions of the bubonic plague to kill of one
third of the population. Even the King had trouble eating, there was a time were King
Edward II stopped with his guards and could not even find bread during the famine. The
price of salt increased, because it was the only way to preserve meat which everyone ate
due to a lack of grain because of the crop failures. Mass deaths due to illness came after
the starvation. The Great Famine represents all the bad things of living in England during
the time period.
The Hundred Years’ War was a 116 year long conflict between the ruling families of
England and France at the time. After Charles IV of of France died in 1328 without an
heir, Edward III of England said he had the right to the French throne through his mother,
Edward III was the nephew of Charles IV. Philip VI then said that he should be king
because Isabella was a woman, and women’s sons cannot have claims through their
mothers. The invention of the English Longbow was a big part of certain English
victories. The fighting died down during the Black Death, with England as the winners
and giving away one quarter of France. Eventually England signed a treaty and married
into the French throne, but Joan of Arc brought Charles VII to the throne, despite many
claims that he may have been illegitimate. Eventually a treaty was signed in 1453 with
France which ended the war. The Hundred Years’ War is considered one of the biggest
battles in English history at the time.
The Bubonic Plague started off from the Silk Road and Mongol Conquests. The plague
spread through rats and fleas on ships and eventually made its way to England. After
being infected, dark black growths grew on a person which coined the term Black Death.
One third of Europe was wiped out. The plague however came and went through Europe
until the 1700s. In England, the social structure was changed. Suddenly the labor of
peasants and the working class was worth a lot more because there were less people to do
it. The people who had survived looked at life very differently, and felt the need to bring
England back to its former glory. Many minorities living in England suffered at the hand
of the Black Death. This period of history is considered a huge shift in European history.
The Peasants’ Revolt, also called Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, was one of the first large scale
rebellions about the rights of peasants. In England there were two types of peasants, Serfs
and Free Peasants. Both groups lived in harsh conditions, “The serfs, especially, had
many difficulties. The serfs were farmers. These peasants had barely anything to live on,
and did not get paid very well. The free peasants had less than all of the other social
classes, except for the serfs. The free peasants had to pay rent to live "free", and also had
to pay for most things (such as getting married, or collecting water). Even though they
were "free" they still were controlled by the higher classes. The majority of peasants lived
in houses which also housed the animals of the village.” The revolt had a heavy impact
on the Hundred Years’ War because it made parliament think twice before raising taxes
for the military efforts in France. It is also used in a lot of socialist thinkers justification
of socialism. Socially the peasants gained little more standing, but they benefited
economically when it came to heavy taxes.
These were a series of civil battles for the throne of England between the House of York
and the House of Lancaster. After the Hundred Years’ War, and Henry VI’s weak rule,
the English throne was put into turmoil. Richard who was the Duke of York brought his
claim to the throne. The Duke of York’s son, Edward IV, became king and had two sons
(Edward V and Richard) who were in line for the throne. However, they were deemed
illegitimate and Edward IV’s younger brother became King Richard III and locked his
nephews in the Tower of London. Eventually, after the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry
VII won the throne and married Elizabeth of York to unite both houses and started the
Tudor monarchy. This is an important part of English history because the Tudor
Monarchy ruled until 1603 and created many changes in England.
Despite the Renaissance starting in Italy over 100 years ago, the height of the English
Renaissance was not reached until the start of the Tudor Monarchy and through the 16th
century in England. The English use of the printing press contributed to this, and an
increase in the literacy rates in England. The arts, music, food, and fashion all rose and
became major parts of the English identity. As well as science and different religious
ideas coming into play. A great example of the progress of England creatively would be
William Shakespeare, who became a symbol of English literature through Europe and
still is to this day. Portraits became a big staple of English art, including the invention of
the miniature portrait in England. The progress of science, music, religious, literature,
food, clothing, and even political ideologies proved this to be a major part of the
transformation of England.
Henry VIII, the second Tudor king, remains one of the biggest figures in English history.
He created the Church of England and split England away from the Roman Catholic
Church, and most importantly the Pope. His reign was also filled with scandal, he
married six times and had two of his wives executed. The reason Henry VIII went from
supporting Catholicism to starting the Protestant Reformation in England was due to his
first wife’s inability to produce a male heir. Henry VIII appointed himself the head of the
Church of England and married a protestant, Anne Boleyn. He also dissolved monasteries
all cross England. Henry VIII also also brought back power to the monarchy, and insisted
on the divine right of kings. He also warred frequently, and threw England into economic
troubles. He invaded Scotland twice, France and Italy as well. He was bent on making
England the most powerful nation in the world. Henry VIII left behind heirs who would
also come to be major figures in English history.
Mary I was the Queen of England and Ireland and the eldest daughter of Henry VII. Her
reign was five years long, but with enough violence to have earned the nickname Bloody
Mary. Her reign is an important part of English history because Mary I attempted to bring
the Roman Catholic Church back to England. She was a devout Catholic and married
Philip II of Spain, a notable Catholic land. On her path of the Catholic Reformation of
England, Mary I had over 300 protestants burnt at the stake for being heretics. She is an
important figure of English history because she was the first female queen on the throne.
She paved a road for powerful female monarchs in England, but her policies were
attacked by men like John Knox. Mary’s rule may have been terrible, but it did help set
up the Golden Age of England with her half-sister Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth I was the last monarch of the Tudor family, and passed away in 1603 without
issue, ending the Tudor family tree. Her 44 year long reign became known as the
Elizabethan Era, often seen as a Golden Age for England that helped boost the pride of
Englishmen and women. Unlike Mary I, when she started her Protestant Reformation
Elizabeth focused on religious tolerance. She could not lose out on a relationship with
Catholic Noblemen. She kept major Catholic symbols and traditions within her Protestant
church, like the crucifix. She also became a large symbol of female purity, because she
never married and became known as the Virgin Queen, something that had not happened
before in history. She proved that women could be independent and strong leaders, not
needing a husband or an heir to legitimize their rule. She was also a big supporter of
English drama and supported many playwrights. She defeated the Spanish Armada during
her reign and earned England the title of one of the strongest navies in the world. She
kept good relations with France, Russia, and the Barbary States. After her death,
Elizabeth became a major symbol for England.
Elizabeth I gave a Royal Charter in 1600 CE to start the East India Company in order to
gain trade of cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, spices, tea and opium. The East India Company
also started British India, which would increase England’s wealth well into the 20th
century. The first 15 years of the EIC were under a Royal Charter that gave it monopoly
rights. The company also played a major role in gunpowder trade. It also faced
competition from the Dutch East India Company trade. By avoiding the spice monopoly
of the Dutch and taking on cotton and silk the East India Company proved to be a huge
player in international trade. England had risen to the top of the Atlantic and Indian
Ocean Trade through the establishment of the East India Company. This also ensures
England’s future as a colonizing superpower later on in history.
The English Civil War included three main conflicts between Parliament and the King
over the governing of England. England had been established as a protestant country, and
when Charles I married a French Catholic princess and attempted to reintroduce Catholic
traditions, Parliament felt uneasy. The King then ruled for eleven years without the help
of Parliament and when he attempted to tax the entire country for ship building,
Parliament came back together. Eventually, Parliament rose an army against King
Charles I and he was forced to move to Oxford. King Charles I is executed shortly after.
The war raged on through to Scotland as well. Oliver Cromwell eventually becomes Lord
Protector, but when his son fails as a ruler, Charles II of England comes and reverts
England back to a monarchy. This is a large turning point in English history because after
Charles I of England the monarchy never truly recovers. The power of the King
diminishes and becomes shared equally with Parliament.
The Royal Society is an old organization dedicating to creating progress in science.
Founded in 1660 with a charter from King Charles II the organization is the oldest and
perhaps only of its kind left. The fellows, or members, all believe that scientific progress
can only be achieved through experiment. Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle,
Benjamin Franklin, and Francis Bacon are all notable members of the Royal Society. All
major scientists have been fellows of the Royal Society. This is an important fact because
it shows England’s dedication to science and shows a unique way of honoring that
On September 2nd, 1666 a small fire started on Pudding Lane at a bakery that grew out of
control and raged through West London. The method of destroying buildings to create
firebreaks was not implemented quick enough. So the fire destroyed up to 80,000 homes
and killed many people. The fire is shown to have been as hot at 1250 degrees Celsius.
The fire also sparked fear among people because many believed that foreigners were
starting fires as attacks. Social and economic unrest grew to an all time high because of
the fire. King Charles II recommended people even move out of London. Despite the fire,
London was eventually rebuilt with the same exact street plan. However many new
regulations were placed. After the fire, a fire court was established to legally deal with all
damages of the fire. Next, modern firefighting codes were placed. All buildings were to
be made of brick and stone, rather than wood. As well as having a direct route to the river
with no houses in between. Lastly wider streets were a major concern and part of the
rebuilding. The fire is important because it created a new London, a better one. The fire
also helped prevent the spread of the plague which had already killed more than 50,000
people by burning the unsanitary areas of London and killing the fleas and rats. The fire
also displayed the difficulty of reconstructing a city when there was little labor available.
The Glorious Revolution took place in 1688 and was a bloodless conflict between King
James II of England, English Parliament, and the King’s daughter Mary II of England and
her husband William of Orange. The result was a diminished monarchy and the English
Bill of Rights. This revolution is regarded as one of the most important events in England
because it ended all attempts at a Catholic King, absolute monarchy, and brought a
balance of Parliament and Royal power. The current royal family are the descendent of
William III and Mary II of England. Since 1689, there has been a constitutional
monarchy in England, and now in the United Kingdom. Since then, Parliament's power
has steadily increased while the Crown's has steadily declined. This important event ends
the timeline because politically very little has changed in England since 1689.