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School memories we all love and miss Ben Johns shares his favourite school memories from British Bulldog to turkey twizzlers. The first historical mention of the region is from the Massaliote Periplus , a sailing manual for merchants thought to date to the 6th century BC, and Pytheas of Massilia wrote of his exploratory voyage to the island around BC.
Both of these texts are now lost; although quoted by later writers, not enough survives to inform the archaeological interpretation to any significant degree.
Contact with the continent was less than in the Bronze Age but still significant. Goods continued to move to England, with a possible hiatus around to BC.
There were a few armed invasions of hordes of migrating Celts. There are two known invasions. Around BC, a group from the Gaulish Parisii tribe apparently took over East Yorkshire, establishing the highly distinctive Arras culture.
And from around — BC, groups of Belgae began to control significant parts of the South. These invasions constituted movements of a few people who established themselves as a warrior elite atop existing native systems, rather than replacing them.
The Belgic invasion was much larger than the Parisian settlement, but the continuity of pottery style shows that the native population remained in place.
Yet, it was accompanied by significant socio-economic change. Proto-urban, or even urban settlements, known as oppida , begin to eclipse the old hillforts, and an elite whose position is based on battle prowess and the ability to manipulate resources re-appears much more distinctly.
In 55 and 54 BC, Julius Caesar , as part of his campaigns in Gaul , invaded Britain and claimed to have scored a number of victories, but he never penetrated further than Hertfordshire and could not establish a province.
However, his invasions mark a turning-point in British history. Control of trade, the flow of resources and prestige goods, became ever more important to the elites of Southern Britain; Rome steadily became the biggest player in all their dealings, as the provider of great wealth and patronage.
A full-scale invasion and annexation was inevitable, in retrospect. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote in his Agricola , completed in AD 98,  that the various groupings of Britons shared physical characteristics with continental peoples.
The Caledonians , inhabitants of what is now Scotland , had red hair and large limbs, indicating a Germanic origin; the Silures , of what is now South Wales , were swarthy with curly hair, indicating a link with the Iberians of the Roman provinces of Hispania , in what is now Portugal and Spain; and the Britons nearest the Gauls of mainland Europe resembled the Gauls.
Some archaeologists and geneticists have challenged the long-held assumption that the invading Anglo-Saxons wiped out the native Britons in England when they invaded, pointing instead to the possibility of a more limited folk movement bringing a new language and culture which the natives gradually assimilated.
Debate continues about the ultimate origins of the people of the British Isles. In and respectively, Bryan Sykes and Stephen Oppenheimer both argued for continuity since the Mesolithic, with much input from the East during the Neolithic.
Ultimately, the genetics have not yet revealed anything new. They landed in Kent and defeated two armies led by the kings of the Catuvellauni tribe, Caratacus and Togodumnus , in battles at the Medway and the Thames.
Togodumnus was killed, and Caratacus fled to Wales. The Roman force, led by Aulus Plautius, waited for Claudius to come and lead the final march on the Catuvellauni capital at Camulodunum modern Colchester , before he returned to Rome for his triumph.
The Catuvellauni held sway over most of the southeastern corner of England; eleven local rulers surrendered, a number of client kingdoms were established, and the rest became a Roman province with Camulodunum as its capital.
By 54 AD the border had been pushed back to the Severn and the Trent, and campaigns were underway to subjugate Northern England and Wales.
But in 60 AD, under the leadership of the warrior-queen Boudicca , the tribes rebelled against the Romans.
At first, the rebels had great success. Albans respectively to the ground. There is some archaeological evidence that the same happened at Winchester.
The Second Legion Augusta, stationed at Exeter , refused to move for fear of revolt among the locals. Paulinus gathered what was left of the Roman army.
In the decisive battle , 10, Romans faced nearly , warriors somewhere along the line of Watling Street , at the end of which Boudicca was utterly defeated.
It was said that 80, rebels were killed, but only Romans. Over the next 20 years, the borders expanded just a little, but the governor Agricola incorporated into the province the last pockets of independence in Wales and Northern England.
He also led a campaign into Scotland which was recalled by Emperor Domitian. The Romans and their culture stayed in charge for years.
Traces of their presence are ubiquitous throughout England. In the wake of the breakdown of Roman rule in Britain from the middle of the fourth century, present day England was progressively settled by Germanic groups.
The Battle of Deorham was a critical in establishing Anglo-Saxon rule in The precise nature of these invasions is not fully known; there are doubts about the legitimacy of historical accounts due to a lack of archaeological finds.
Britons invited the Saxons to the island to repel them but after they vanquished the Scots and Picts, the Saxons turned against the Britons. Seven Kingdoms are traditionally identified as being established by these Saxon migrants.
Three were clustered in the South east: Sussex , Kent and Essex. The Midlands were dominated by the kingdoms of Mercia and East Anglia.
To the north was Northumbria which unified two earlier kingdoms, Bernicia and Deira. Eventually, the kingdoms were dominated by Northumbria and Mercia in the 7th century, Mercia in the 8th century and then Wessex in the 9th century.
Northumbria extended its control north into Scotland and west into Wales. It also subdued Mercia whose first powerful King, Penda , was killed by Oswy in Mercian power reached its peak under the rule of Offa , who from had influence over most of Anglo-Saxon England.
Four years later, he received submission and tribute from the Northumbrian king, Eanred. However, the belief that the Saxons wiped or drove out all the native Britons from England has been widely discredited by a number of archaeologists since the s.
Anyway Anglo-Saxons and Saxonified Britons spread into England, by a combination of military conquest and cultural assimilation. By the eighth century, a kind of England had emerged.
Augustine , the first Archbishop of Canterbury , took office in The last pagan Anglo-Saxon king, Penda of Mercia , died in The last pagan Jutish king, Arwald of the Isle of Wight was killed in The Anglo-Saxon mission on the continent took off in the 8th century, leading to the Christianisation of practically all of the Frankish Empire by Throughout the 7th and 8th century power fluctuated between the larger kingdoms.
Bede records Aethelbert of Kent as being dominant at the close of the 6th century, but power seems to have shifted northwards to the kingdom of Northumbria, which was formed from the amalgamation of Bernicia and Deira.
Due to succession crises, Northumbrian hegemony was not constant, and Mercia remained a very powerful kingdom, especially under Penda. Two defeats ended Northumbrian dominance: The so-called "Mercian Supremacy" dominated the 8th century, though it was not constant.
Aethelbald and Offa , the two most powerful kings, achieved high status; indeed, Offa was considered the overlord of south Britain by Charlemagne. However, a rising Wessex, and challenges from smaller kingdoms, kept Mercian power in check, and by the early 9th century the "Mercian Supremacy" was over.
This period has been described as the Heptarchy , though this term has now fallen out of academic use. Other small kingdoms were also politically important across this period: Hwicce , Magonsaete , Lindsey and Middle Anglia.
The first recorded landing of Vikings took place in in Dorsetshire , on the south-west coast. However, by then the Vikings were almost certainly well-established in Orkney and Shetland , and many other non-recorded raids probably occurred before this.
Records do show the first Viking attack on Iona taking place in The arrival of the Vikings in particular the Danish Great Heathen Army upset the political and social geography of Britain and Ireland.
In Northumbria fell to the Danes; East Anglia fell in Though Wessex managed to contain the Vikings by defeating them at Ashdown in , a second invading army landed, leaving the Saxons on a defensive footing.
Alfred was immediately confronted with the task of defending Wessex against the Danes. He spent the first five years of his reign paying the invaders off.
It was only now, with the independence of Wessex hanging by a thread, that Alfred emerged as a great king.
In May he led a force that defeated the Danes at Edington. The victory was so complete that the Danish leader, Guthrum , was forced to accept Christian baptism and withdraw from Mercia.
Alfred then set about strengthening the defences of Wessex, building a new navy—60 vessels strong. These military gains allowed Edward to fully incorporate Mercia into his kingdom and add East Anglia to his conquests.
Edward then set about reinforcing his northern borders against the Danish kingdom of Northumbria. The dominance and independence of England was maintained by the kings that followed.
Two powerful Danish kings Harold Bluetooth and later his son Sweyn both launched devastating invasions of England. Anglo-Saxon forces were resoundingly defeated at Maldon in More Danish attacks followed, and their victories were frequent.
His solution was to pay off the Danes: These payments, known as Danegelds , crippled the English economy.
Then he made a great error: In response, Sweyn began a decade of devastating attacks on England. Northern England, with its sizable Danish population, sided with Sweyn.
By , London, Oxford, and Winchester had fallen to the Danes. Cnut seized the throne, crowning himself King of England.
Alfred of Wessex died in and was succeeded by his son Edward the Elder. The titles attributed to him in charters and on coins suggest a still more widespread dominance.
His expansion aroused ill-feeling among the other kingdoms of Britain, and he defeated a combined Scottish-Viking army at the Battle of Brunanburh.
However, the unification of England was not a certainty. Nevertheless, Edgar , who ruled the same expanse as Athelstan, consolidated the kingdom, which remained united thereafter.
There were renewed Scandinavian attacks on England at the end of the 10th century. Under his rule the kingdom became the centre of government for the North Sea empire which included Denmark and Norway.
Cnut was succeeded by his sons, but in the native dynasty was restored with the accession of Edward the Confessor.
Harold Godwinson became king, probably appointed by Edward on his deathbed and endorsed by the Witan. For five years, he faced a series of rebellions in various parts of England and a half-hearted Danish invasion, but he subdued them and established an enduring regime.
The Norman Conquest led to a profound change in the history of the English state. William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book , a survey of the entire population and their lands and property for tax purposes, which reveals that within 20 years of the conquest the English ruling class had been almost entirely dispossessed and replaced by Norman landholders, who monopolised all senior positions in the government and the Church.
William and his nobles spoke and conducted court in Norman French , in both Normandy and England. The use of the Anglo-Norman language by the aristocracy endured for centuries and left an indelible mark in the development of modern English.
Upon being crowned, on Christmas Day , William immediately began consolidating his power. By , he faced revolts on all sides and spent four years crushing them.
He then imposed his superiority over Scotland and Wales, forcing them to recognise him as overlord. The English Middle Ages were characterised by civil war , international war, occasional insurrection, and widespread political intrigue among the aristocratic and monarchic elite.
England was more than self-sufficient in cereals, dairy products, beef and mutton. Its international economy was based on wool trade , in which wool from the sheepwalks of northern England was exported to the textile cities of Flanders , where it was worked into cloth.
Medieval foreign policy was as much shaped by relations with the Flemish textile industry as it was by dynastic adventures in western France.
An English textile industry was established in the 15th century, providing the basis for rapid English capital accumulation. Henry was also known as "Henry Beauclerc" because he received a formal education, unlike his older brother and heir apparent William who got practical training to be king.
Henry worked hard to reform and stabilise the country and smooth the differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman societies.
The loss of his son, William Adelin , in the wreck of the White Ship in November , undermined his reforms. This problem regarding succession cast a long shadow over English history.
England was far less than enthusiastic to accept an outsider, and a woman, as their ruler. There is some evidence that Henry was unsure of his own hopes and the oath to make Matilda his heir.
Probably Henry hoped Matilda would have a son and step aside as Queen Mother. On 22 December , Stephen was anointed king with implicit support by the church and nation.
Matilda and her own son waited in France until she sparked the civil war from — known as the Anarchy. In the autumn of , she invaded England with her illegitimate half-brother Robert of Gloucester.
Her husband, Geoffroy V of Anjou , conquered Normandy but did not cross the channel to help his wife. During this breakdown of central authority, nobles built adulterine castles i.
Stephen was captured, and his government fell. Matilda was proclaimed queen but was soon at odds with her subjects and was expelled from London.
The war continued until , when Matilda returned to France. Stephen reigned unopposed until his death in , although his hold on the throne was uneasy.
As soon as he regained power, he began to demolish the adulterine castles, but kept a few castles standing, which put him at odds with his heir.
His contested reign, civil war and lawlessness broke out saw a major swing in power towards feudal barons. In trying to appease Scottish and Welsh raiders, he handed over large tracts of land.
The union was retrospectively named the Angevin Empire. Henry II destroyed the remaining adulterine castles and expanded his power through various means and to different levels into Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Flanders, Nantes, Brittany, Quercy, Toulouse, Bourges and Auvergne.
The reign of Henry II represents a reversion in power from the barony to the monarchical state in England; it was also to see a similar redistribution of legislative power from the Church, again to the monarchical state.
This period also presaged a properly constituted legislation and a radical shift away from feudalism. In his reign, new Anglo-Angevin and Anglo-Aquitanian aristocracies developed, though not to the same degree as the Anglo-Norman once did, and the Norman nobles interacted with their French peers.
His successor, his younger brother John , lost much of those territories including Normandy following the disastrous Battle of Bouvines in , despite having in made the Kingdom of England a tribute-paying vassal of the Holy See , which it remained until the 14th century when the Kingdom rejected the overlordship of the Holy See and re-established its sovereignty.
From onwards, John had a constant policy of maintaining close relations with the Pope, which partially explains how he persuaded the Pope to reject the legitimacy of the Magna Carta.
Over the course of his reign, a combination of higher taxes, unsuccessful wars and conflict with the Pope made King John unpopular with his barons.
In , some of the most important barons rebelled against him. But as soon as hostilities ceased, John received approval from the Pope to break his word because he had made it under duress.
John travelled around the country to oppose the rebel forces, directing, among other operations, a two-month siege of the rebel-held Rochester Castle.
He spent much of his reign fighting the barons over the Magna Carta  and the royal rights, and was eventually forced to call the first " parliament " in He was also unsuccessful on the Continent, where he endeavoured to re-establish English control over Normandy , Anjou , and Aquitaine.
One of these rebellions—led by a disaffected courtier, Simon de Montfort —was notable for its assembly of one of the earliest precursors to Parliament.
In the Statute of Jewry , reinforced physical segregation and demanded a previously notional requirement to wear square white badges.
This hostility, violence and controversy was the background to the increasingly oppressive measures that followed under Edward I. The reign of Edward I reigned — was rather more successful.
Edward enacted numerous laws strengthening the powers of his government, and he summoned the first officially sanctioned Parliaments of England such as his Model Parliament.
He conquered Wales and attempted to use a succession dispute to gain control of the Kingdom of Scotland , though this developed into a costly and drawn-out military campaign.
Edward I is also known for his policies first persecuting Jews, particularly the Statute of the Jewry. This banned Jews from their previous role in making loans, and demanded that they work as merchants, farmers, craftsmen or soldiers.
This was unrealistic, and failed. His son, Edward II , proved a disaster. A weak man who preferred to engage in activities like thatching and ditch-digging [ citation needed ] rather than jousting, hunting, or the usual entertainments of kings, he spent most of his reign trying in vain to control the nobility, who in return showed continual hostility to him.
In , the English army was disastrously defeated by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn. Edward also showered favours on his companion Piers Gaveston , a knight of humble birth.
While it has been widely believed that Edward was a homosexual because of his closeness to Gaveston, there is no concrete evidence of this. Despite their tiny force, they quickly rallied support for their cause.
Edward was captured, charged with breaking his coronation oath, deposed and imprisoned in Gloucestershire until he was murdered some time in the autumn of , presumably by agents of Isabella and Mortimer.
Millions of people in northern Europe died in the Great Famine of — At age 17, he led a successful coup against Mortimer, the de facto ruler of the country, and began his personal reign.
Edward III reigned —, restored royal authority and went on to transform England into the most efficient military power in Europe. His reign saw vital developments in legislature and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament—as well as the ravages of the Black Death.
After defeating, but not subjugating, the Kingdom of Scotland , he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in , but his claim was denied due to the Salic law.
For many years, trouble had been brewing with Castile —a Spanish kingdom whose navy had taken to raiding English merchant ships in the Channel.
Edward won a major naval victory against a Castilian fleet off Winchelsea in Although the Castilian crossbowmen killed many of the enemy,  the English gradually got the better of the encounter.
In , England signed an alliance with the Kingdom of Portugal , which is claimed to be the oldest alliance in the world still in force.
It was suppressed by Richard II , with the death of rebels. The Black Death , an epidemic of bubonic plague that spread all over Europe, arrived in England in and killed as much as a third to half the population.
Edward III gave land to powerful noble families, including many people of royal lineage. Because land was equivalent to power, these powerful men could try to claim the crown.
The autocratic and arrogant methods of Richard II only served to alienate the nobility more, and his forceful dispossession in by Henry IV increased the turmoil.
Henry spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts. Henry V succeeded to the throne in He won several notable victories over the French, including at the Battle of Agincourt.
They married in Henry died of dysentery in , leaving a number of unfulfilled plans, including his plan to take over as King of France and to lead a crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims.
His reign was marked by constant turmoil due to his political weaknesses. While he was growing up, England was ruled by the Regency government.
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