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CONTENTS Basic Facts 4

Lecture 1. Early History

Early Britain 5

The Anglo-Saxon Invasion

The Scandinavian Invasion

The Norman Conquest

Lecture 2. Middle Ages and Early Modern History

England in the Middle Ages

England in the 16* century. The Tudor Monarchy

England in the 17th century. The Stuart Dynasty

Lecture 3. Modern History

Britain in the 18th century

Britain in the 19Ih century

Britain in the first half of the 20th century

Britain in the second half of the 20th century



Official name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Local divisions: England — 387 local authorities; Wales — 22; Scotland — 32; Northern Ireland (Ulster) — 26

Population: Over 59 million (England — 49,8 mln, Scotland — 5 mln, Wales — 2,8 mln, Ireland — 1.5 mln)

Area: 244,035 sq km

Ethnic groups: English 81 %, Scottish 9,6 %, Irish 2,4 %, Welsh 1,9 %, Ulster 1,8 %, West Indian, Pakistani, Indian, others 2,8 %

Principal languages: English, Welsh, Scottish, Gaelic

Chief religions: Anglican, Roman Catholic, other Christian, Muslim

Capital: London

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II (from 1952)

Head of Government: Prime Minister

Type of Government: Constitutional monarchy

National emblems:

National flag: Union Jack is a combination of the banners of England (St George's flag, a red cross with extended horizontals on a white field), Scotland (St Andrew's flag, a white diagonal cross on a blue field) and Ireland (St Patrick's flag, a red diagonal cross on a white field). The Welsh flag (a red dragon on a white and green ground) does not appear on the Union Flag.

Ihe Royal Standard: The personal flag of the Sovereign bears the arms of England quartered with those of Scotland and Ireland.

Ensign: The British ensigns have a white, blue or red field with a Union Jack in the upper corner. The white ensign is worn by the Royal Navy and Royal Yacht Squadron.

The Royal Coat of Arms: The official coat of arms shows four quarters containing two lions of England in the first and fourth quarters, the lion of Scotland in the second and harp of Ireland in the third. The shield is surrounded by a garter and the motto on it "Honi soit qui mal y pense", which means "Evil be to him who Evil thinks". Wales is not represented on the shield.

The royal British lion and the silver Scottish unicorn support the design on either side.

Topping the crown is a small gold lion, also crowned, and facing outward.

Beneath the arms is the royal motto in gold letters on a white scroll: "Dieu et Mon Droit" (God and My Right [Hand]) — the battle call of Richard the Lionhearted.

National anthem: God Save the King (the Queen)

God save our gracious Queen!

Long live our noble Queen!

God save the Queen!

Send her victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long reign over us,

God save the Queen!

Chapter 1


Early britain

Task 1. Answer the following questions.

  1. What do you know about the Celts? Where did they live?

  1. What languages are spoken in Great Britain now? Do the Celtic and Germanic languages have the same origin or not?

  2. Have you ever heard about Stonehenge? What do you think these stones could be used for?

Task 2. Brainstorming. Look at the physical map of Britain. What parts of the country can be easily conquered? Why? What parts are hard to reach and settle? Why? Where is the place closest to Europe?

Prehistoric Britain

In prehistoric times, when Britain was joined to the rest of the continent, the first human inhabitants came there over dry land.

Towards the end of the Ice Age the mighty prehistoric river, which joined the present-day Thames with the Rhine, formed the English Channel. In the period immediately after its formation the Channel was too stormy to cross it by the nearest route from the continent. So the nomadic Stone Age hunters crossed the sea to Britain to the west of the Channel and settled along the western shores.

These people are thought to have arrived in Britain from the region of the Mediterranean and lived there between 3000 and 2000 BC. They are called the Iberians or Megalithic men, because at that time the Iberians inhabited many parts of Europe and today their descendants are still found in the north of Spain (the Iberian Peninsular). They probably formed the basis of the present-day population in Western England, Wales, North and Western Scotland and Ireland.

Soon after 2000 BC a new race of Alpine stock came from the east of Europe. They entered the country from the southeast and east. From the characteristic pottery found in their graves they are known as the Beaker Folk. The race was certainly familiar with the use and working of bronze. The two peoples were closely related in culture and the newcomers spread along the east coast.

Although a certain level of civilisaton was reached in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, it was spread over only a small part of Britain. The ancient people, who gradually merged together, left behind impressive monuments, connected with religious rites at Stonehenge, Avebury and other sites.

Cultural Focus: Stonehenge

Stonehenge was built some time between 3050 and 2300 BC. The name "Stonehenge" comes from the old English "hengan", meaning hanging stones. It is one of the most mysterious archeological sites in the world — scientists still can't say how it was built and what it was used for. The stones were taken from over 200 miles in Wales, which seems impossible with the technology of that time. It seems to have been used by the ancient religious people — Druids to perform ceremonies connected with passing of the seasons. Some scientists think that Stonehenge also served as an ancient observatory.

Celtic Invasions

Soon after 700 BC Britain was invaded by the Celts, who are supposed to have come from Central Europe. A commonly accepted theory of their invasions is that they came in three distinct waves.

The first group was called the Goidels or Gaels. These Celts were driven by later invaders into the less fertile and more mountainous western and northern regions. There they preserved their language and some traditions. These tribes later divided into two — the Picts and the Scots. Their language later formed the original language of Ireland and of northwest Scotland, which is thus called Goidelic Celtic (Gaelic).

The second wave of Celtic tribes, the Brythonic Celts or Brythons arrived in England between 600 and 500 BC and settled in the south of England, in Wales and in northwest England and southwest Scotland. Their language developed into the Celtic language of modern Wales.

A third wave of invaders, Belgae from Northern Gaul, containing many people of Teutonic origin, arrived about 100 BC and occupied the greater part of what are now known as the Home Counties (the central part of Great Britain). They pushed part of Brythons to Wales, taking possessions of the south and east, other Brythons merged with the Belgae. This mixture was called Britons or Britts.

The earliest Celts were in the bronze stage of development, but later Celtic invaders brought with them knowledge of iron working. Trade, industry and agriculture, sheep and cattle raising flourished.

In the Celtic society the tribal form of government prevailed. People lived in clans, the clans were united into large kinship groups, the groups were united into tribes. A tribe was governed by a council of elders, which later were chaired by the so-called kings or queens. The women in the tribe had the rights equal with the men's. As all the tribesmen became warriors in wartime, women could join the fighters also.

The early British and Irish civilisatons were illiterate. The Druid priests, who had immense power over the members of the tribe, advised the whole tribe.

Task 3. Find true and false statements.

  1. The river Thames in prehistoric times was joined to the river Rhine in France.

  2. The first inhabitants of the island formed the basic of the present-day population of eastern England.

  3. The Beaker Folk could produce different cups and pots of clay.

  4. The Beaker Folk merged with the Iberians to develop the first civilization on the British Isles.

  5. Stonehenge was used as a burial place.

  6. The Celts arrived at Britain from the territory of today's France and Belgium.

  7. The later Celtic invaders drove the earlier comers to wilder unsettled territories.

  8. The earliest Celts could produce iron tools.

  9. The Celts lived in large tribal groups united into kingdoms.

10. The Celts learnt iron working before they began to work with bronze.

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