This article is about the state that existed from the 10th century to 1707. For the country in its current form and generally, see England
. For the current sovereign state, see United Kingdom
Following the conquest of England, the Normans gradually sought to extend their conquests both to the remainder of the British Isles and additional lands on the Continent, particularly in modern-day France. Over time, this would evolve into a long-standing policy of expansionism pursued intermittently with steadily increasing levels of aggression by successive English dynasties. Beginning in the 12th century, the Normans began making serious incursions into Ireland. The completion of the conquest of Wales by Edward I
in 1284 put Wales under the control of the English crown, although Edward's attempts to completely subjugate Ireland met with very limited success while the initial success of his conquest of Scotland was undone by English military defeat under his son, Edward II. Edward III (reigned 1327–1377) transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe; his reign also saw vital developments in legislation and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament
. From the 1340s the kings of England also laid claim
to the crown of France
, but after the Hundred Years' War
the English lost all their land on the continent, except for Calais
. The subsequent outbreak of the Wars of the Roses
in 1455 would ensure the English were never again in a position to seriously pursue their French claims.
After the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses, the Tudor dynasty
ruled during the English Renaissance
and again extended English monarchical power beyond England proper, in particular achieving the full union of England and the Principality of Wales in 1542
. The Tudors also secured English control of Ireland, although it would continue to be ruled as a separate kingdom
in personal union
with England for centuries. Henry VIII
triggered the English Reformation
by breaking communion between the Church of England
and the Roman Catholic Church
, although the doctrinal aspects of the Reformation which established the English Church as being recognizably Protestant would not be pursued in earnest until the brief reign of his young son Edward VI
. Following a return to Catholicism under the similarly brief reign of Henry's eldest daughter Mary I
, Mary's half-sister Elizabeth I
(reigned 1558–1603) re-established Protestantism under the terms of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement
, meanwhile establishing England as a great power
and laying the foundations of the British Empire
by claiming possessions in the New World
. While Henry also pursued an aggressive foreign policy north of the border in an attempt to subjugate Scotland, Elizabeth adopted a much more conciliatory position especially in light of developments such as Scotland's own Reformation and the eventual certainty that the Scottish monarch would succeed Elizabeth.
The Anglo-Saxons referred to themselves as the Engle
or the Angelcynn
, originally names of the Angles
. They called their land Engla land
, meaning "land of the English", by Æthelweard
, from an original Anglia vetus
, the purported homeland of the Angles (called Angulus
The name Engla land
during the Middle English
name was Anglia
or Anglorum terra
, the Old French
By the 14th century, England
was also used in reference to the entire island of Great Britain.
The standard title for monarchs from Æthelstan
was Rex Anglorum
("King of the English"). Canute the Great
, a Dane, was the first to call himself "King of England". In the Norman period Rex Anglorum
remained standard, with occasional use of Rex Anglie
("King of England"). From John's reign onwards all other titles were eschewed in favour of Rex
or Regina Anglie
. In 1604 James I
, who had inherited the English throne the previous year, adopted the title (now usually rendered in English rather than Latin) King of Great Britain
. The English and Scottish parliaments, however, did not recognise this title until the Acts of Union of 1707.
During the Heptarchy, the most powerful king among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms might become acknowledged as Bretwalda
, a high king
over the other kings. The decline of Mercia allowed Wessex to become more powerful. It absorbed the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex in 825. The kings of Wessex
became increasingly dominant over the other kingdoms of England during the 9th century. In 827, Northumbria submitted to Egbert of Wessex
, briefly making Egbert the first king to reign over a united England.
In 886, Alfred the Great
retook London, which he apparently regarded as a turning point in his reign. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
says that "all of the English people (all Angelcyn
) not subject to the Danes
submitted themselves to King Alfred."
Asser added that "Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, restored the city of London
splendidly ... and made it habitable once more."
Alfred's "restoration" entailed reoccupying and refurbishing the nearly deserted Roman walled city, building quays
along the Thames
, and laying a new city street plan.
It is probably at this point that Alfred assumed the new royal style 'King of the Anglo-Saxons.'
During the following years Northumbria repeatedly changed hands between the English kings and the Norwegian invaders, but was definitively brought under English control by Eadred
in 954, completing the unification of England. At about this time, Lothian
, bordering the northern portion of Northumbria (Bernicia
), was ceded to the Kingdom of Scotland
. On 12 July 927 the monarchs of Britain gathered at Eamont
in Cumbria to recognise Æthelstan as king of the English. This can be considered England's 'foundation date', although the process of unification had taken almost 100 years.
England has remained in political unity ever since. During the reign of Æthelred the Unready
(978–1016), a new wave of Danish invasions was orchestrated by Sweyn I of Denmark
, culminating after a quarter-century of warfare in the Danish conquest of England in 1013. But Sweyn died on 2 February 1014, and Æthelred was restored to the throne. In 1015, Sweyn's son Cnut the Great
(commonly known as Canute) launched a new invasion. The ensuing war ended with an agreement in 1016 between Canute and Æthelred's successor, Edmund Ironside
, to divide England between them, but Edmund's death on 30 November of that year left England united under Danish rule. This continued for 26 years until the death of Harthacnut
in June 1042. He was the son of Canute and Emma of Normandy
(the widow of Æthelred the Unready) and had no heirs of his own; he was succeeded by his half-brother, Æthelred's son, Edward the Confessor
. The Kingdom of England was once again independent.
The peace lasted until the death of the childless Edward in January 1066. His brother-in-law was crowned King Harold
, but his cousin William the Conqueror
, Duke of Normandy, immediately claimed the throne for himself. William launched an invasion of England and landed in Sussex
on 28 September 1066. Harold and his army were in York
following their victory against the Norwegians at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
(25 September 1066) when the news reached him. He decided to set out without delay and confront the Norman army in Sussex so marched southwards at once, despite the army not being properly rested following the battle with the Norwegians. The armies of Harold and William faced each other at the Battle of Hastings
(14 October 1066), in which the English army, or Fyrd
, was defeated, Harold and his two brothers were slain, and William emerged as victor. William was then able to conquer England with little further opposition. He was not, however, planning to absorb the Kingdom into the Duchy of Normandy
. As a mere duke, William owed allegiance to Philip I of France
, whereas in the independent Kingdom of England he could rule without interference. He was crowned on 25 December 1066 in Westminster Abbey
High Middle Ages
In 1092, William II
led an invasion of Strathclyde
, a Celtic
kingdom in what is now southwest Scotland and Cumbria. In doing so, he annexed what is now the county of Cumbria
to England. In 1124, Henry I
ceded what is now southeast Scotland (called Lothian
) to the Kingdom of Scotland
, in return for the King of Scotland's loyalty. This final cession established what would become the traditional borders
of England which have remained largely unchanged since then (except for occasional and temporary changes). This area of land had previously been a part of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria
. Lothian contained what later became the Scottish capital, Edinburgh
. This arrangement was later finalized in 1237 by the Treaty of York
King John signs Magna Carta
in 1215, surrounded by his baronage. Illustration from Cassell's History of England
Conquest of Wales
Up until the Norman conquest of England, Wales had remained for the most part independent of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
, although some Welsh kings did sometimes acknowledge the Bretwalda
. Soon after the Norman conquest of England
, however, some Norman lords began to attack Wales. They conquered and ruled parts of it, acknowledging the overlordship of the Norman kings of England but with considerable local independence. Over many years these "Marcher Lords
" conquered more and more of Wales, against considerable resistance led by various Welsh princes, who also often acknowledged the overlordship of the Norman kings of England.
defeated Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
, and so effectively conquered Wales, in 1282. He created the title Prince of Wales
for his heir, the future Edward II
, in 1301. Edward I's conquest was brutal and the subsequent repression considerable, as the magnificent Welsh castles
such as Conwy
, and Caernarfon
attest; but this event re-united under a single ruler the lands of Roman Britain
for the first time since the establishment of the Kingdom of the Jutes
in the 5th century, some 700 years before. Accordingly, this was a highly significant moment in the history of medieval England, as it re-established links with the pre-Saxon past. These links were exploited for political purposes to unite the peoples of the kingdom, including the Anglo-Normans, by popularising Welsh legends
The Welsh language
—derived from the British language
, continued to be spoken by the majority of the population of Wales for at least another 500 years, and is still a majority language in parts of the country.
Late Middle Ages
Fifteenth-century miniature depicting the English victory over France at the Battle of Agincourt
During the Hundred Years' War an English identity
began to develop in place of the previous division between the Norman lords and their Anglo-Saxon
subjects. This was a consequence of sustained hostility to the increasingly nationalist French, whose kings and other leaders (notably the charismatic Joan of Arc
) used a developing sense of French identity to help draw people to their cause. The Anglo-Normans
became separate from their cousins who held lands mainly in France and mocked the former for their archaic and bastardised spoken French. English
also became the language of the law courts during this period.
The kingdom had little time to recover before entering the Wars of the Roses
(1455–1487), a series of civil wars over possession of the throne between the House of Lancaster
(whose heraldic symbol was the red rose) and the House of York
(whose symbol was the white rose), each led by different branches of the descendants of Edward III. The end of these wars found the throne held by the descendant of an initially illegitimate member of the House of Lancaster, married to the eldest daughter of the House of York: Henry VII
and Elizabeth of York
. They were the founders of the Tudor dynasty
, which ruled the kingdom from 1485 to 1603.
Portrait of Elizabeth I made to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada
(1588), depicted in the background. Elizabeth's international power is symbolised by the hand resting on the globe.
During the 1530s, Henry VIII overthrew the power of the Roman Catholic Church within the kingdom, replacing the pope as head of the English Church and seizing the Church's lands, thereby facilitating the creation of a variation of Catholicism that became more Protestant over time. This had the effect of aligning England with Scotland, which also gradually adopted a Protestant religion, whereas the most important continental powers, France and Spain, remained Roman Catholic.
, the last remaining continental possession of the Kingdom, was lost in 1558, during the reign of Philip
and Mary I
. Their successor, Elizabeth I
, consolidated the new and increasingly Protestant Church of England
. She also began to build up the kingdom's naval strength, on the foundations Henry VIII had laid down. By 1588, her new navy was strong enough to defeat the Spanish Armada
, which had sought to invade England to put a Catholic monarch on the throne in her place.
Early modern history
The House of Tudor ended with the death of Elizabeth I on 24 March 1603. James I
ascended the throne of England and brought it into personal union with the Kingdom of Scotland. Despite the Union of the Crowns
, the kingdoms remained separate and independent states: a state of affairs which lasted for more than a century.
Civil War and Interregnum
The Stuart kings overestimated the power of the English monarchy, and were cast down by Parliament in 1645 and 1688. In the first instance, Charles I
's introduction of new forms of taxation in defiance of Parliament led to the English Civil War
(1641–45), in which the king was defeated, and to the abolition of the monarchy under Oliver Cromwell
during the Interregnum
of 1649–1660. Henceforth, the monarch could reign only at the will of Parliament.
In April 1653 Cromwell and the other Grandees
of the New Model Army
, frustrated with the members of the Rump Parliament
who would not pass legislation to dissolve the Rump and to allow a new more representative parliament to be elected, stopped the Rump's session by force of arms and declared the Rump dissolved.
After an experiment with a Nominated Assembly (Barebone's Parliament
), the Grandees in the Army, through the Council of State imposed a new constitutional arrangement under a written constitution called the Instrument of Government
. Under the Instrument of Government executive power lay with a Lord Protector
(an office to be held for the life of the incumbent) and there were to be triennial Parliaments, with each sitting for at least five months. Article 23 of the Instrument of Government stated that Oliver Cromwell was to be the first Lord Protector. The Instrument of Government
was replaced by a second constitution (the Humble Petition and Advice
) under which the Lord Protector could nominate his successor. Cromwell nominated his son Richard
who became Lord Protector on the death of Oliver on 3 September 1658.
Restoration and Glorious Revolution
Richard proved to be ineffectual and was unable to maintain his rule. He resigned his title and retired into obscurity. The Rump Parliament was recalled and there was a second period where the executive power lay with the Council of state. But this restoration of Commonwealth rule, similar to that before the Protectorate, proved to be unstable, and the exiled claimant, Charles II
, was restored
to the throne in 1660.
Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, an attempt by James II
to reintroduce Roman Catholicism—a century after its suppression by the Tudors—led to the Glorious Revolution
of 1688, in which he was deposed by Parliament. The Crown was then offered by Parliament to James II's Protestant daughter and son-in-law/nephew, William III
and Mary II
Union with Scotland
In the Scottish case, the attractions were partly financial and partly to do with removing English trade sanctions put in place through the Alien Act 1705
. The English were more anxious about the royal succession. The death of William III
in 1702 had led to the accession of his sister-in-law Anne
to the thrones of England and Scotland, but her only surviving child had died in 1700, and the English Act of Settlement 1701
had given the succession to the English crown to the Protestant House of Hanover
. Securing the same succession in Scotland became the primary object of English strategic thinking towards Scotland. By 1704, the Union of the Crowns
was in crisis, with the Scottish Act of Security
allowing for the Scottish Parliament to choose a different monarch, which could in turn lead to an independent foreign policy during a major European war. The English establishment did not wish to risk a Stuart
on the Scottish throne, nor the possibility of a Scottish military alliance with another power.
Unlike the partly self-governing boroughs
that covered urban areas, the counties of medieval England existed primarily as a means of enforcing central government power, enabling monarchs to exercise control over local areas through their chosen representatives – originally sheriffs
and later the lord-lieutenants
– and their subordinate justices of the peace
Counties were used initially for the administration of justice
, collection of taxes and organisation of the military, and later for local government and electing parliamentary representation.
Some outlying counties were from time to time accorded palatine
status with some military and central government functions vested in a local noble or bishop. The last such, the County Palatine of Durham
, did not lose this special status until the 19th century.
Although all of England was divided into shires by the time of the Norman conquest, some counties were formed considerably later, up to the 16th century. Because of their differing origins the counties varied considerably in size
. The county boundaries were fairly static between the 16th century Laws in Wales acts
and the Local Government Act 1888
Each shire was responsible for gathering taxes for the central government; for local defence; and for justice, through assize courts
The power of the feudal barons
to control their landholding was considerably weakened in 1290 by the statute of Quia Emptores
. Feudal baronies became perhaps obsolete (but not extinct) on the abolition of feudal tenure during the Civil War
, as confirmed by the Tenures Abolition Act 1660
passed under the Restoration
which took away knight-service and other legal rights. Tenure by knight-service
was abolished and discharged and the lands covered by such tenures, including once-feudal baronies, were henceforth held by socage
, in exchange for monetary rents). The English Fitzwalter Case
in 1670 ruled that barony by tenure had been discontinued for many years and any claims to a peerage
on such basis, meaning a right to sit in the House of Lords
, were not to be revived, nor any right of succession based on them.
- ^ Widely used for administrative and liturgical purposes.
- ^ The Constitution of the United Kingdom, with the reservation that it is "uncodified", is taken[by whom?] to be based in the Bill of Rights 1689.
- ^ "The Royal Coat of Arms". Retrieved 19 November 2018.
- ^ London, 800–1216: The Shaping of a City, "...rivalry between City and government, between a commercial capital in the City and the political capital of quite a different empire in Westminster.", accessed November 2013.
- ^ Acts of Union 1707 parliament.uk, accessed 27 January 2011
- ^ Making the Act of Union 1707 scottish.parliament.uk, accessed 27 January 2011 Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Stephen Harris, Race and Ethnicity in Anglo-Saxon Literature, Studies in Medieval History and Culture, Routledge, 2004, 139f.
- ^ A. L. Mayhew and Walter W. Skeat, A Concise Dictionary of Middle English From A.D. 1150 To 1580 (1888)
- ^ " Anglia " (par L. Favre, 1883–1887), dans du Cange, et al., Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, éd. augm., Niort : L. Favre, 1883‑1887, t. 1, col. 251c.
- ^ The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Freely licensed version at Gutenberg Project. Note: This electronic edition is a collation of material from nine diverse extant versions of the Chronicle. It contains primarily the translation of Rev. James Ingram, as published in the Everyman edition.
- ^ Asser's Life of King Alfred, ch. 83, trans. Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred & Other Contemporary Sources (Penguin Classics) (1984), pp. 97–98.
- ^ Vince, Alan, Saxon London: An Archaeological Investigation, The Archaeology of London series (1990).
- ^ Vision of Britain – Type details for ancient county. Retrieved 19 October 2006.
- ^ Youngs, Frederic A, Jr. (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. pp. xii–xiii. ISBN 978-0-901050-67-0. Ancient County: Counties are geographic entities whose origins reach back into the pre-Conquest period. They were derived either from Anglo-Saxon kingdoms whose size made them suitable administrative units when England was unified in the tenth century, or as artificial creations formed from larger kingdoms. The number of 'shires' (the Anglo-Saxon term) or 'counties' (Norman term) varied in the medieval period, particularly in the north of England.
- ^ Chandler, J. A. (2007). "Local government before 1832". Explaining Local Government: Local Government in Britain Since 1800. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0719067068.
- ^ Hackwood, Frederick William (1920). The Story of the Shire, being the Lore, History and Evolution of English County Institutions (PDF). London: Heath Cranton Limited.
- ^ Byrne, Tony (1994). Local Government in Britain. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-017663-6.
- ^ Vision of Britain – Census Geographies. Retrieved 19 October 2006.
- ^ Winchester, Angus J L (1990). Discovering Parish Boundaries. Oxford: Shire Publications. ISBN 978-0-7478-0060-6.
- ^ William Searle Holdsworth, "A History of English Law," Little, Brown, and Company, 1912, p. 502
- Bartlett, Robert. England under the Norman and Angevin kings: 1075–1225 (Oxford UP, 2002), major scholarly survey.
- Black, J.R. The Reign of Elizabeth, 1558–1603 (1959), scholarly survey.
- Borman, Tracy. Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant (2015) popular biography.
- Elton, G. R., England under the Tudors (London: Methuen, 1955), scholarly survey
- Ellis, Steven G. Ireland in the age of the Tudors, 1447–1603: English expansion and the end of Gaelic rule (Routledge, 2014).
- Guy, John. The Tudors: a very short introduction (Oxford UP, 2013).
- Harriss, G.L. Shaping the nation: England 1360–1461 (Oxford UP, 2005), scholarly survey.
- Jacob, E.F. The Fifteenth Century, 1399–1485 (Oxford History of England, 1961)), scholarly survey.
- Jenkins, Elizabeth. Elizabeth the Great (Time Incorporated, 1964). popular well-illustrated biography.
- Jones, J. Gwynfor. Wales and the Tudor state: government, religious change and the social order, 1534–1603 (U of Wales Press, 1989).
- Levin, Carole. The heart and stomach of a king: Elizabeth I and the politics of sex and power (U of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).
- Loades, David Michael. Politics and nation: England 1450–1660 (Wiley-Blackwell, 1999).
- Loades, David Michael. Power in Tudor England (1997).
- McCaffrey, Wallace. Elizabeth I, a major scholarly biography
- McKisack, May. The Fourteenth Century, 1307–1399 (Oxford History of England, 1959).
- Neale, J.E. Queen Elizabeth I: a biography (1957) old scholarly biography; very well written.
- Penn, Thomas. Winter king: Henry VII and the dawn of Tudor England (2012).
- Powicke, Maurice. The Thirteenth Century, 1216–1307 (Oxford History of England, 1962) scholarly survey
- Ridley, Jasper G. Henry VIII (1985), biography.
- Roberts, Clayton, F. David Roberts, and Douglas Bisson. A History of England, Volume 1: Prehistory to 1714 (Routledge, 2016). university textbook.
- Thomson, John A.F. The Transformation of Medieval England 1370–1529 (Routledge, 2014).
- Williams, Penry. The Later Tudors: England, 1547–1603 (Oxford UP, 1995), major scholarly survey..
Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 15:22
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