History of England

Overview of England's History

The landmass of England has been inhabited for at least 500 000 years. Early Stone Age hunters eventually settled down to farm which resulted in a gradual increase in sophistication amongst the tribes. Later, Celtic tribes, mainly from France, migrated to the area and replaced the existing social and civil structures. These tribes were known collectively as Britons.

Due to their support of Gaul during the Gallic Wars, the Romans invaded and subdued the island. The southern portion of the island became a thriving part of the Roman Empire only to be abandoned in the 5th century when legions were taken back to Europe to defend Rome's borders. This meant that Roman Britannia was left defenseless against the Germanic tribes who invaded. Romano-British rule was pushed to the lower western corner of the island. These invaders fell into three main groups - the Jutes, Saxons and Angles. The different groups eventually began to merge and before long, became fairly united under various kings. The biggest legacy left by these Britons is that of the names given to various places - such as London, Dumbarton, Dorchester and Dover to name a few.

It is notable that William the Conqueror did not unify the country. By the time the of the Norman invasion there was already a well-established kingdom which had existed for several centuries. All that William did was give the existing kingdom an Anglo-Norman administration and nobility. Over the years, the distinction between Normans and Saxons became less and less notable. Though most commoners continued to speak Old English, the Normal feudal lords of the time influenced the language with French words and customs until the language evolved in to a hybrid commonly called Middle English.

In time, England often began to have conflicts with Wales and Scotland as it tried to expand Norman power across all of Britain. It eventually gained power of Wales in the 13th century and the country was annexed to England. Control over Scotland strengthened and weakened as time when on - the Scots always managing to maintain a degree of independence.

The United Kingdom was ultimately unified when James I, king of Scotland, succeeded Elizabeth I as ruler of England thus unifying the two countries. This was formally ratified in the Act of Union in 1707, resulting in the current day union of England, Scotland and Wales.


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