The Saxons | Roman Britain | The Iron Age | Viking Britain | Norman Conquest | The Domesday Book | Medieval Britain | The Crusades | Magna Carta | Hundred Years War | The Wars of the Roses | Britains first Printing Press | Tudor Britain | The Elizabethans | The Spanish Armada | Publication of King James Bible | The Puritans | Voyage of the Mayflower | The Civil Wars | The Restoration | Foundation of the Royal Society | Georgian Britain | The Highland Clearances | The Jacobite Rebellions | Industrial Revolution | American War Of Independence | Abolition of Slavery | Regency Britain | Battle of Waterloo | Battle of Trafalgar | Tolpuddle Martyrs | The Victorian Era | The Potato Famine | The Crimean War | The Boer War | Edwardian Britain | World War One | Between the Wars | World War II | Battle of Britain | The Blitz | The Fifties | The Sixties | Britain in the 1970s | The Troubles | Thatchers Britain in the 80s | Britain in the Nineties | New Labour | The Noughties
British Sport Histories: History of Cricket | History of English Football | History of Rugby League | History of Rugby Union | Hockey through History | The History of Hockey in the British Isles | The History of British Boxing | A History of British Rowing | A History of Tennis | History of Golf
Though many textbooks would like history to be in neat packages with clearly defined dates, this is rarely the case. Thus, though conventionally the Roman period in Britain is said to end in 410 when the Emperor Honorius told the Britons they had to defend themselves, the Saxons had ... more
555 ... more
555 ... more
What the Romans did for us
Long before Julius Caesar invaded Britain the Romans had traded with these islands: Welsh gold and Cornish tin were valuable commodities in the ancient world, as were British pearls and jet, and Britain had surplus agricultural produce to export too, including wool. Hunting dogs from Britain were sought after in ... more
The Iron Age
Contrary to the situation which applies with precisely dated reigns or elected governments, providing start and end points for the Iron Age in Britain is not possible: there was naturally an overlapping of the final phase of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age; and when the ... more
555 ... more
There seems to be almost a folk-memory of the Vikings in Britain, the word itself conjuring images of hairy warriors wielding giant axes as they storm ashore from dragon boats. Rape and pillage are the words that spring to mind about the Norsemen, but they settled and farmed as well ... more
Although that date every schoolchild knows, 1066, was indeed the date of the Norman Conquest, the influence on England of the Normans predated the Battle of Hastings. Edward the Confessor was brought up in Normandy, and his Saxon courtiers were at times eclipsed by Normans, just as the church ... more
The Domesday Book
Though it has left us an invaluable source of information for historians, geographers and linguists, the Domesday Book for all its detail leaves many mysteries about itself.
We know that William the Conqueror , over the Christmas of 1085 that he and his court spent at Gloucester , decided ... more
Peering back through the claret stained annals of history, was it not always so that England was at war with the French? Napoleonic expansionism in a post-Revolution France expelled plenty of energy, killing thousands whilst bringing British sovereignty under genuine threat.
But this Anglo-French rivalry dates back centuries, to the ... more
The Crusades managed to leave their mark on Britain, in spite of the fact that only one king, Richard I, actually took up the cross.
From 1095 when Urban II called for the First Crusade, to the late 15th century when the crusading age fizzled out, Britons took part in the ... more
Magna Carta has become an important part of the British psyche, significant too even beyond our shores Ė it is still cited occasionally in American courts.
King John had managed to alienate those beneath him in the pyramid of medieval power: the Barons and the Church. In a row ... more
Hundred Years War
The Hundred Years War is the useful (if numerically inaccurate) label given to the series of conflicts between England and France between 1337 and 1453 that had huge consequences at that time, and for the world-view of both peoples thereafter. A century of battle, famine, banditry and disease cut the ... more
The Wars of the Roses
Those attempting to reach an understanding of the Wars of the Roses face a herculean task. Firstly, it is not even agreed by historians when they began and when they ended. Secondly, though it is relatively easy to grasp the outcomes of various battles, the machinations away from the battlefield ... more
Britains first Printing Press
In any list evaluating major events in the long march of our history, the establishment by William Caxton of the first printing press in this country has to be given enormous significance.
Caxton, born in Kent but apprenticed to a great London cloth merchant in his teens, spent ... more
The rather less than romantic Tudor dynasty had its roots in a most romantic liaison, the marriage in 1428 of an unknown young Welsh servant, Owen Tudor, to his mistress Catherine of Valois, widow of Henry V . This was a most unsettled era, and Owen was to be ... more
or the golden age
Elizabeth I ís was the longest reign since that of Edward III : she came to the throne on November 17 1558 and left it with her death on March 24 1603. The sheer length of her reign is doubtless important in cementing her place as one of ... more
The Spanish Armada
Philip II reasons for sending his ĎInvincible Armadaí against England are clear: primarily he - like the Pope - deemed it a crusade against English heretics; the English too aided his protestant enemies in Flanders; Philip felt his marriage to Mary gave him some claim to Elizabeth ís ... more
Publication of King James Bible
The publication of the King James Bible in 1611 was the culmination of seven years of scholarly work by 46 Church of England clerics plus Sir Henry Savile , Provost of Eton and Warden of Merton College Oxford, a noted Greek scholar. But the publication was far more than ... more
To their opponents in the Anglican Church, the Puritans were dissidents and non-conformists. Arising from the doctrinal untidiness of the English Reformation, the Puritans regarded themselves as godly. Godís word was sovereign to their heart. They believed that God had supreme authority over matters on Earth. The Puritan ideals withheld ... more
Voyage of the Mayflower
The voyage of the Mayflower is one of the foundations of the USAís view of itself, but it is significant in British history too Ė not least because for more than 150 years after the voyage New England remained a British colony.
England was plagued by religious strife throughout the more
The Civil Wars
Though it is usual to refer to the English Civil War in the singular, it is more useful to consider the era as a series of conflicts - Civil Wars plural. The topic can seem overly complex, with endless lists of battles and generals. But it is still of significance ... more
On a typically brisk winterís day, 30th January 1649 , King Charles I wore an extra layer of clothing not out of concern for his comfort, but his image. It would not have looked good for him to be shaking; people may have interpreted this as timidity, as ... more
Foundation of the Royal Society
Founded in 1660 and still going strong with 120 employees, The Royal Society is a pillar of the scientific community. Its inception was shrouded in secrecy, and dates back to the 1640s, a time when Puritans like Oliver Cromwell were coming to power and new ideas were forced underground ... more
After the amorphous turmoil of the previous century, with its civil war, Regicide and Reformation, the Georgian era was a magical time for Britain. British society was dragged into modernity as agriculture and industry were revolutionised, and the iron foundations of Empire were erected.
Culture blossomed as literary giants such ... more
The Highland Clearances
During the 18th and 19th Centuries, as Britainís pastoral heritage was augmented by the Industrial Revolution ís steam, steal and bluster, the Scottish Highlands witnessed emigration en masse as its population sought economic refuge in Lowland Scotland, England and North America. What was happening in the Highlands echoed ... more
The Jacobite Rebellions
When English nobility conspired against their king and invited William Of Orange to England, the date was more than ironic.
5th November 1605 , Guy Fawkes hatched an audacious plot to kill King James Stuart I of England; 73 years later King James Stuart II was ... more
In the early 18th Century, Britain was about to make an evolutionary leap that would lay the foundations of a modern economy, transforming a largely agricultural nation into an industrial superpower. This was a febrile time in history for forward thinkers, for modernisers. New ideas would take root that would ... more
American War Of Independence
The American War Of Independence was an unusual beast. What was seeded as a rebellion against the manner of British colonial rule, mutated into a civil conflict, augmented by international intervention and centuries-old European rivalry.
There were warning signs that all was not well in the thirteen colonies. In 1773, ... more
Abolition of Slavery
Britainís role in the slave trade was shameful. There was and is no hiding place for the British Empireís participatory role in the trading of slaves. The sugar and textiles trade was built on the back of it, and at its height, half of the trans-Atlantic slave trade was British. ... more
King George III was not fit to rule. Not anymore. The monarch that had presided over Britain for 50 years and watched his Empire grow, finally succumbed to mental illness.
The consensus argues that George III suffered from Porphyria. Whatever was causing his bouts of insanity, condemning him to his ... more
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle Of Waterloo was the final engagement in the Napoleonic Wars. Victory made a hero of the Duke Of Wellington and saw an end to the French Empireís era of expansionism.
For 26 years, Napoleon Bonaparte , destabilised Europe. He was the bÍte noire noir of the early 19th ... more
Battle of Trafalgar
The importance of Trafalgar should never be underplayed. This was the battle that saved our bacon and sired the ultimate hero in Admiral Horatio Nelson . Dying during battle, Nelson preserved Britainís sovereignty in the face of an expansive and all-conquering French Empire.
The early 19th Century was a precarious ... more
In the 1830s, six men from Tolpuddle , Dorset , became heroes of the people, inspiring a nascent trade unionist movement thought long dead by the factory and landowning middle classes. The story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs marks a watershed for industrial relations in Britain.
When the Tolpuddle Martyrs ... more
The Victorian Era
Charles Dickens was ostensibly writing about the French Revolution when he penned ĎA Tale Of Two Citiesí in 1859. But the serial-turned-novelís iconic opening gambit was very much an observation of life in the Victorian Era.
On the 20th June 1837, when Alexandrina Victoria was informed that her uncle, ... more
The Potato Famine
In five years of crop failure and famine, Ireland lost an estimated one million of her population to starvation and disease. A further two million fled her shores, cramming themselves onto ships set sail for America and mainland Britain.
This was a pivotal moment in Irelandís history. The Irish Potato ... more
The Crimean War
A forceful collision of newly industrialised empires, the Crimean War pitted the expansive Russians against a alliance of Britain, France, Sardinia and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomanís atrophying economic and political influence played a key role in the preamble to a war that became regarded by military historians ... more
The Boer War
The Boer Wars brought bloodshed to South Africa in two gory chapters of uprising and oppression, pitting the British Empire against the Boers, Dutch and Huguenot descendants who settled in South Africa as farmers. The first war was brief; a four-month rebellion resulting in the Pretoria Convention granting the Boers ... more
While the 20th Century ended in paranoia, with fears that planes would fall from the sky as the millennium bug crippled technology, it began with a more robust sense of optimism.
For Britain, this was the dawn of a new era, one with a reinvigorating new sense of self inspired ... more
World War One
With an estimated 10 million people falling during the First World War, one of the greatest tragedies of the conflict was that it precipitated an even more protracted and deadlier war just decades later.
The bloody trench warfare, the mustard gas, the stolid defence of allied lines under attack from ... more
Between the Wars
After more than four years of bitter conflict the guns fell silent over Europe, an uneasy peace descended over the continent. At Paris, the recriminations continued in the negotiations for a peacetime settlement.
When it arrived, The Treaty Of Versailles was met with condemnation from Germany and criticism from the allies. ... more
World War II
After the dust had settled on the First World War , with 800,000 British soldiers failing to come home to their families, the country was understandably worried about the continued and accelerated militarisation of Central Europe.
Britain had no appetite for another war as Adolf Hitlerís rearmament of Germany ... more
Battle of Britain
When the Western Front began to collapse, with Paris under the control of the Nazi war machine and the allies having made a desperate strategic retreat from the shell-ridden beaches of Dunkirk, Britainís long-held invasion fears became a profound concern.
By the summer of 1940, The Second World War ... more
With tales of sing-songs in dark air-raid shelters and close-knit communities rallying together, you would be forgiven for dismissing the Blitz of the 1940s as a minor inconvenience.
Such are the candid recollections of a generation who joked about the number of years they went before seeing a packet of ... more
1950s Britain was still pockmarked by bombsites and wearing the heavy features of a nation rebuilding after the Second World War . But how could a decade which witnessed Edmund Hillary 's scaling of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, and the decommissioning of the rationing book be ... more
Unless you were in a psychedelic rock band or ensconced in the hedonistic cultural vortex that was the hippy movement, the Swinging Sixties were memorable. Even for those poor drug-addled souls, whose recreational bingeing on free love and LSD rinsed their brains of the decade, the sixties meant something. They ... more
Britain in the 1970s
We found oil in the North Sea at the start of the 1970s. This should have been the eureka moment that the British economy needed, a fillip to the nation's purse and the guarantor of an era of prosperity. But it didn't quite work out like that. Compared to ... more
Northern Irelandís Troubles were seeded long before two members of the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), sent petrol bombs flying through the window of 77-year-old Matilda Gouldís flat, burning her to death on the 7th May 1966. But from that moment forward, Northern Ireland descended into ... more
Thatchers Britain in the 80s
Every decade sires its own tumult, positing leaders as both heroes and villains. Margaret Thatcherís tenure as British prime minister, from 4th May 1979 to 22 November 1990 , was no different.
After assuming leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975, Baroness Thatcher became Britainís first female prime ... more
Britain in the Nineties
It was a very different sort of tension that waved goodbye to the 1990s than that which ushered the decade in with quarrel and disorder. 1999 was the year where pre-millennium anxieties seemed like a quaintly held sci-fi irrationality rather than a bold, capitalised pronouncement of the Apocalypse. And that ... more
When the May 1 1997 General Election swept the Conservative Party of John Major from power and brought Tony Blairís New Labour into government much of the nation, even many natural Tory voters, heaved a collective sigh of relief. Some 13 years later it was the same effect, different party. ... more
What can you say about a decade which became coquettishly named 'The Noughties'? This was a decade of buzzwords and technology, an age where the tyranny of information had never been so absolute. By the time it was through, the decade had levelled the cognitive playing field between goldfish and ... more