United Kingdom (National Flag)
The flag in its current form, known as Union Jack, was officially introduced on 1.1.1801. It combines the Georgian Red Cross and the White Diagonal Andrew Cross, the traditional national flags of England and Scotland, with the St. Patrick’s Red Diagonal Cross, originally a family coat of arms from the 12th century. The first Union flag was introduced in 1606 without the St. Patrick’s Cross, finally ratified in 1707 and in use until the year 1800. When Ireland joined the Union in 1801, the St. Patrick’s Cross was placed on the flag, which thus got its current appearance.
- Countryaah: What does the flag of United Kingdom look like? Follow this link, then you will see the image in PNG format and flag meaning description about this country.
United Kingdom (Prehistory)
The oldest finds are approximately 1/4 million. years old and originates from Kent’s Cavern in Devon from the older Paleolithic culture acheuléen. From the following interglacial and ice ages, many finds of hand wedges from this culture are known. Attached to this is a skull of archaic Homo sapiens from Swanscombe, Kent. Simultaneously with the acheuléen, the culture appeared the clactonia with coarse flint technique. There are also finds from the Middle Paleolithic culture moustérien. Bones from the Neanderthal people originate from the Cotte de St. Brelade, Jersey. From the Mesolithic, settlements from the Maglemose culture are known as Star Carr, Yorkshire. Agriculture was introduced approximately 4000 BC, and in the 4th millennium BC. many megalithic tombs were built in SW England, Wales and Cornwall; the oldest are dolmens, younger burial chambers. The island of Anglesey is rich in megalithic tombs, with the Barclodiad y Gavres burial ground bearing carved motifs associated with Irish megalithic art. In Central and Eastern England, long mounds were built with wooden facades and with wooden chambers. So-called Sarup facilities were built, where rituals were performed within excavated ramparts. Finds from Windmill Hill and Hambledon Hill, Wiltshire testify to human bone rituals. In the later part of the Neolithic, 3rd millennium BC, the impressive ritual, circular hanging monuments with ramparts and tomb enclosing stone circles, circular structures of wooden poles and large round buildings, such as Stonehenge and Avebury.
- AbbreviationFinder: Check three-letter abbreviation for each country in the world, such as GBR which represents the official name of United Kingdom.
According to a2zgov, The Bronze Age began approximately 2000 BC with a marked richness in the southern English Wessex culture, from which are known moats with rich equipment in gold and bronze, testifying to connections to the Mediterranean. The control of metal deposits, tin, in Cornwall, Devon and Wales was the background of the wealth and the distant connections. Small villages with collections of round houses are known. Towards the end of the period some villages were fortified and the first hill-forts arose.
approximately 700 BC the Iron Age began, and in the early Iron Age several hill forts were built; many were extended to large fortifications in 2.-1. century BC as Maiden Castle, Dorset. In SE-England, oppida (see oppidum) arose with crafts, trade and coin making, to which Italian wine was imported. From the Iron Age, a number of rich, ritual deposits of objects are known, which are decorated in Celtic style, such as a bronze helmet with horns and a bronze shield from the Thames in London, gold necklaces (torques) from Snettisham in Norfolk and a larger bog sacrificial site by Llyn Cerrig Bach on Anglesey, Wales.
United Kingdom (History – Period up to 1066)
In the middle of the 1st century. BC the Romans under Caesar tried to conquer present-day England. The attempt failed, and despite further attempts under Emperor Augustus and Emperor Caligula, it was only successful under Emperor Claudius in 43 AD. to complete an actual conquest. The result was the Roman province of Britannia. The consolidation of the new province took time, but after the fortification of the northern border with Hadrian’s Wall, which was completed approximately 128, a quieter period ensued. Britannia, however, remained until 410, when the Romans abandoned the area, a resource-intensive and unstable province.
After the Romans, power was for a period in the hands of Celtic princes. Some of them, like the Romans had done, hired Germanic mercenaries from the continent; in parts of England the Germanic leaders succeeded in seizing power, which attracted even more Germans, mainly Saxons and Angles, but also Frisians and Jews. They established a number of smaller kingdoms, many more than the total of seven kingdoms (the heptarchy), as previously imagined. The following centuries were marked by the attempts of four leading empires to achieve dominance. The kings of Northumbria dominated in the late 600-t., After which it in the 700-t. became Mercias. After KingOffa of Mercia’s death in 796, Wessex’s power grew, but now the Vikings also came, and by the end of the 800’s they had conquered Northumbria, East Anglia and half of Mercia. Wessex survived the Viking attacks and conquered in the 900-t. the rest of England; the land south of the river Humber was subjugated approximately 920, while Northumbria was only definitively occupied after the expulsion of the Norwegian Viking king Erik I Blood Ax in 952/954. Thus England was united.
The Christianization of England was initiated in Kent in 597 by the monk Augustine of Rome. In Northumbria, the Irish missionary Aidan worked; he founded the 635 monastery of Lindisfarne and introduced the Iro-Celtic church form, which gradually spread to the whole of Central England. The dispute between the church forms was settled at the Synod of Whitby 664, after which Northern England also became Roman Catholic. With the Christianization of the Isle of Wights approximately 686 the whole of England was upside down.
Severe internal divisions, which connected with the antagonism between the North and the South of England, led in 978 to the assassination of King Edward the Martyr and strongly influenced the government of his successor, Æthelred II. The thus weakened England had a hard time resisting the Vikings, who now resumed their expeditions. Svend 1. Tveskæg conquered England in 1013; he died the following year, but in 1016 his son Knud II the Great completed the final conquest. At Knud 3. Hardeknud’s death in 1042, Æthelred’s son Edward Bekenderen was brought back from his exile. He died without heirs in 1066, after which his brother-in-law Harald 2. Godwinsontook power. Harald, however, fell the same year in the Battle of Hastings, where William the Conqueror of Normandy conquered England.
Great Britain (History – Period 1066-1485)
Britain was in the early Middle Ages divided into many kingdoms. Between 1066 and 1485 the number of these kingdoms was reduced and they were brought closer together.
The formation of central power
With William the Conqueror’s victory at Hastings in 1066, a process began which strengthened central power not only in England but also in Wales, Ireland and Scotland. This process took place until the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453 in constant opposition and co-operation between the British empires and continental European powers, where the main force was the Anglo-Norman kingdom. The Normans united England and added a number of continental feudal features to the empire, but they also built on strong Anglo – Saxon traditions of central power formation. England became one of Europe’s strongest and most advanced central powers. In 1215, the king, Johan without Land, was forced into a fortification, the Magna Charta. This agreement was the beginning of a constitutional development which, among other things, brought with it that the kingdom already in 1200-t. got a parliament where several population groups were represented. From the end of the century the right to levy taxes lay with this parliament, and in the mid-1300-t. the English central power was actively involved in the regulation of national wage and price formation, labor market conditions, etc. However, the central power was weakened by growing strife over the throne culminating in the Wars of the Roses 1455-85.
Jordebogen Domesday Book suggests that Vilhelm 1. already approximately 1086 had control of most of the English Empire and that strong fortifications had been established in the border areas with Scotland and Wales. To the north, the starting point was Durham, followed by fortifications in Newcastle and Carlisle. At the Welsh border, earldoms were established, from which the Normans penetrated ever deeper into Wales. In the 1090’s they invaded the south of Wales and established several counties, which together formed a region (The Marches), which in the following centuries was in the hands of Anglo-Norman lords with extensive autonomous powers over the English kings. Opposite this existed in the 1100’s. three Welsh kingdoms, which had to swear allegiance to the English king. After more than half a century of internal power struggles in these kingdoms, in 1267, with the help of the English monarchy, they were merged with parts of The Marches. This created the Principality of Wales, whose regent, Llewelyn (d. 1282), in 1277 came to war with England. In this connection, Edward I had a number of fortifications built and populated them with English settlers. After his victory in 1283, the Welsh princes were loyal to the English crown until the revolt in the early 1400’s, after which Wales was practically annexed.
The English kingdom also had a significant influence on the strengthening of the Scottish monarchy. David 1.sgovernment 1124-53 was English-inspired; the king was English married and by virtue of this one of England’s greatest landowners. Under him and his successors, Anglo-Norman families came to Scotland. Despite constant mutual “raids” on the borderland between Scotland and England and the English kings’ demands for supremacy over Scotland, the relationship between the two kingdoms was relatively friendly until the 1290’s, when Edward I became involved in a Scottish throne battle. After decades of wars, during which the anti-English Scottish party allied with France, in 1328 the English had to recognize the independence of the Scottish kingdom. But it did not create peace, either between Scotland and England or internally in Scotland, where strife with English intervention ravaged until the 1360’s. As in England and certain other European countries, the Scottish monarchy stood in the 1400’s. rather weak against the aristocracy. For example, it did not succeed James 1. to carry out a parliamentary reform following the English pattern.
By the middle of the 1100-t. Ireland was invaded by Anglo-Normans. In 1171, the English king, Henry II, took control of the conquests, and in the following years the Anglo – Norman sphere of power in Ireland was expanded. The Irish kings were subject to the supremacy of the English crown except in the north-west of the island, and new Anglo-Norman counties were established at Ulster and Munster. In 1205, Ulster became an Anglo-Norman earldom. The rest of Ireland remained in the 1200’s. for administrative reasons divided into counties, and an English-style parliament was established.
Social and economic change
In the social and economic spheres, the British Isles underwent profound changes. Agriculture was in the late 1400’s. continued the dominant industry, but urban industries and a very early industrialization were on the rise. In the Middle Ages, the British Isles can be divided into agricultural zones and uncultivated areas. Agriculture was particularly prevalent in the south-eastern and central English countryside, while livestock farming was important in the more mountainous northern and western parts of England, Scotland and Wales. While the settlements in the uncultivated areas were characterized by detached farms, the agricultural areas were covered by villages, which were the social, economic and legal framework for the majority of the population’s life.
The farm was the most important economic unit, but the land property was already in 1000-t. highly concentrated. Domesday Bookshows that England was divided into estates owned by the crown and the Anglo-Norman aristocracy, and that some of the largest estate complexes were in the hands of England’s old and well-established monasteries and dioceses. Part of the agricultural production was therefore organized as a large-scale operation with farmers and farmers working as laborers. But the bulk of the Crown’s and aristocracy’s estates consisted of farms that were attached away or rented out to unfree and free peasants. I 1200-t. were about a third of England’s peasants personally unfree, serfs subsistence farmers, but from the middle of the century there was a gradual liquidation of both this institution and of the manor. In practice, the serfdom disappeared during the 1400’s. Contributing to this was probably both the black death, which 1348-49 reduced the population by approximately 1/4 – 1/3, Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 and the radical and religious currents of the time, which among others was linked to John Wycliffe and his followers, lollarderne.
Sheep breeding formed from 1100-t. background to an increasing export of wool and sheepskin to the Netherlands. Some of the pioneers of English sheep breeding were the immigrant French Cistercian monks of Yorkshire. Fishing and the extraction of coal, iron, tin and lead also helped to strengthen trade between the British kingdoms and between them and the rest of the world. During the Middle Ages, a network of markets and cities emerged with crafts and early industrial production. The number of cities grew and the population of the cities increased. Increasingly large quantities of wool were processed in the British Isles under increasingly industrialized forms. The early woolen manufactory was particularly associated with the eastern and central landscapes and towns such as Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich, Lincoln and York. Later, the wool manufactory was strengthened to the west, i.a.
Great Britain (History – Period 1485-1660)
Tudor dynasty took power the beginning of a long period of prosperity.
Economic progress and the break with the Pope
The prosperous bourgeoisie of the many cities was trade and export oriented; especially the export of wool and later of processed cloth to the continent mattered. As a result, agriculture was in many places transformed from grain farming to sheep farming, just as the farming community was increasingly replaced by individual ownership and operation (enclosure), all with social polarization as a result. The presence of a strong urban bourgeoisie helped to balance the position of the nobility politically and socially, and the estate-owned nobility, ie. both the nobility (aristocracy) and the numerically larger land nobility (gentry), were thus commercially oriented rather than feudally.
Although Henry VII initially had to fight against claimants to the throne and power-conscious nobles, he succeeded in strengthening the monarchy in cooperation with Parliament and creating political stability, enabling England to resume an active foreign policy on the continent. This line continued and intensified under Henry VIII, who from 1529 gradually liberated the Church of England from the authority of the pope because the pope refused to declare his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.invalid. In 1534 the king became the new head of the church, and in 1536 his power was strengthened by the confiscation of the monastery estates. A cohesive Protestant church doctrine, however, was long overdue. At the same time, the incorporation of Wales was completed, and the emergence of a composite state was also reflected in the assumption of the title of King of Ireland by Henry VIII in 1541. The period after the death of Henry VIII in 1547 was marked by ecclesiastical divisions, both the struggle of the Protestants among themselves (Puritans and supporters of the Anglican State Church) and the struggle for recatolization.
The Elizabethan Age
The accession of Elizabeth I to the throne in 1558 ushered in a period of stability and prosperity, a spacious church system was created in 1559, and by this time trade flourished on foreign continents, and the first overseas territories were taken into English possession. But the period was also marked by foreign policy problems, as the Catholic powers did not recognize Elizabeth’s right to the throne, but held on to the Scottish Queen, Mary II Stuart. This was all the more serious as Scotland was on several occasions allied with England’s enemies and thus could be used as a springboard during an invasion of England. This explains why Maria Stuart was imprisoned and executed in 1587. But after the Spanish Armada1588 had suffered defeat, Elizabeth’s position was secured both at home and abroad. However, rebellion broke out in Ireland in 1594, whose indigenous people had maintained Catholicism. The revolt was only finally put down in 1608 and followed by a massive English immigration (see Plantation System).
Staff union with Scotland and the English Civil War
At Elizabeth’s death in 1603, England’s throne passed to the nearest heir, James VI. Stuart of Scotland (in England James I), and thus England and Scotland were united in a staff union. The British Isles were thus all under control from London. The state was thus an island kingdom without land borders, and this meant that, thanks to a substantial navy, it was not in immediate danger of hostile invasion. It gave the country greater profits for overseas exposures. The first colony in North America, Virginia, was thus founded in 1607. The founding of the East India Company in 1600 marked the beginning of an intense English trade and later colonial presence in Asia (see British Empire).
The position as islanders also meant that it was not necessary to maintain such large standing armies, print such large taxes and centralize power as much in an absolutist direction as was otherwise experienced on the European continent in the 1600’s. in land states that were in immediate danger of hostile invasion. This explains the following development in which Parliament was able to prevent the king’s attempt to introduce absolutism. Karl 1.let 1629 dissolve Parliament because it refused to grant him taxes, and then ruled autocratically and with Catholic sympathies. It was not until 1640 that he was compelled to convene Parliament, having appropriated taxes to raise an army to quell a revolt in Scotland. Parliament’s dissatisfaction with the king’s arbitrariness was allowed to run free here, and after the king tried to have some members of parliament arrested, the conflict culminated in a civil war 1642-49 (English Civil War).
In addition to constitutional, this war also had economic and religious causes. The tendency was that the king’s supporters, the royalists (“cavaliers”), had their strongholds in the areas where agricultural modernization was least advanced, while the parliamentary party (“roundheads”) stood strong where enclosure had been carried out. The balance of power was seriously reversed in Parliament’s favor when the Scottish Parliament in 1643 decided to intervene on the side of the English Parliament (see Solemn League and Covenant).
The defeat of the Royalists was sealed in 1646, but attempts to find an arrangement with the king dragged on; Scotland chose to side with the royalists, and the parliamentary party was divided between moderate supporters of peace and irreconcilable, radical Puritans (Independents). The former faction was brutally purged, and in 1648 Parliament finally prevailed in England; the king was taken prisoner and in 1649 executed for high treason. Ireland was bloodily subjugated in 1649, Scotland in 1651.
The island was now declared a republic. In 1651, the Navigation Acts were enacted, favoring English shipping at the expense of other colonial powers. In 1653, Civil War General Oliver Cromwell became head of state with the title of Lord Protector. He introduced a unicameral parliament, and the regime was puritanical but marked by religious tolerance. Cromwell, however, became increasingly at odds with Parliament, gaining more and more personal power. At Cromwell’s death in 1658, this rule collapsed, and a subsequent chaos ended with Parliament in 1660 handing over the throne to Charles II (son of Charles I); the monarchy was thereby restored.
Great Britain (History – Period 1660-1783)
Restoration period (1660-88) was marked by bitter power struggles between king and Parliament and by religious contradictions; some between different Protestant denominations, but primarily between Protestants and Catholics (see the Declaration of Indulgence, The Popish Plot, and the 1673 Test Act). Real or alleged Catholic conspiracies were revealed, and Charles II nurtured at all hidden Catholic sympathies.
The Restoration and The Glorious Revolution
The widespread aversion to Catholicism was due to the fact that adherents of this faith, sometimes rightly, were suspected of having their loyalty to foreign Catholic powers, primarily France, and that Catholicism was considered synonymous with absolutism. Parliament was divided into two factions: Whigger and Tories. The Whiggers were outspokenly Protestant and anti-Catholic and wanted narrower limits to the king’s power, while the Tories, without being Catholics and adherents of absolutism, held to a greater extent the teachings of the state church and a strong monarchy.
Charles II was succeeded in 1685 by his brother James II (James VII of Scotland), who was declared a Catholic. His pro-Catholic policy, which, however, also entailed increased tolerance towards other denominations, aroused strong dissatisfaction. Therefore, when a male Catholic heir to the throne was born in 1688, Parliament decided to convene the governor of the Netherlands, William of Orange, who was married to Jacob II’s Protestant daughter Mary (2nd) (1662-94), as the new king. James II fled to France. After William and Mary had acceded to a constitutional declaration in 1689, the Declaration of Rights, which established the position of Parliament, they were crowned co-regents. The events of 1688-89 are called The Glorious Revolution, but was in fact a restoration of the constitutional system of earlier times, which James II had brought of low.
In England the revolution proceeded peacefully, but not in Ireland. In the native Catholic population, James II received great support when he went ashore in 1689 with a French-backed army. This led in 1690 defeat to a government army, and in 1691 the Irish revolt was finally crushed. Then a criminal policy was launched against the Catholic people in Ireland with property confiscations. The Irish offshoot of the Revolution has to this day cast heavy shadows over British-Irish and Protestant-Catholic relations (see Ireland (history)).
Real union with Scotland and oligarchy
In foreign policy, the revolution meant a change of course. While the kings during the restoration had strived for an anti-Dutch and French-friendly course, William from now on allowed himself to be fully engaged in the alliances against Louis XIV with greatly increasing military expenditure and taxes as a result (see The Palatinate Succession War and the Spanish Succession War). By the Act of Settlement 1701, Parliament cut off the Catholic branch of the Stuart family from the throne. In Scotland, the Stuart family, originally from here, enjoyed widespread sympathy, and for security policy reasons, closer integration of this country was deemed necessary.
By the Act of Union of 1707, the staff union between England (including Wales) and Scotland was therefore changed to a real union under the name Great Britain, as the Scottish Parliament decided to abolish itself, in exchange for Scotland being given seats in the English. Scotland, moreover, retained its ecclesiastical order and its special administrative structures. On the death of Queen Anne Stuart in 1714, the throne passed to Elector Georg Ludwig (George I) of Hanover, Protestant and great-grandson of James I. George I, however, was primarily interested in his German Electorate. When he suspected the Tories of sympathizing with the Catholic branch of the Stuart family, who in 1715-16 actively participated in the revolt in Scotland (see Jacobite), he relied on the whiggers. As George I lacked interest in British domestic policy, Parliament’s position was strengthened and a Prime Minister’s office was established. However, the position of the members of the government still depended on the authority of the king, the right to vote in the parliament was very limited, the constituency division was skewed (see rat boroughs), and constituencies are often controlled by local landowners. The Whiggers and Tories were not yet parties in the modern sense, but both were dominated by landowners, and Parliament was not representatively composed of a public opinion; the system was an oligarchy. After a new Scottish revolt in 1745-46 had been crushed, and Scotland then brutally subdued, the danger from the Stuarts was over; the Scots then became increasingly integrated into a British community.
In the first part of his long reign, George III sought to strengthen the monarchy vis-à-vis Parliament and relied on the Tories. But at the same time, the growing and well-consolidated middle class demanded more civil rights and reforms of the political system. Society was marked by deep social divides and tensions, not least as a result of the enclosure movement that culminated in the mid-1700’s.
Towards world power status
In general, however, there was growth and prosperity, just as significant improvements in infrastructure (roads and canals) took place. The number of overseas possessions increased, while the country was actively engaged in the period’s wars on the continent for the sake of the balance of power, thereby preventing one European continental power from becoming too strong and dominant over the others (see Austrian Succession War). The island really experienced a strong population growth during the 1700’s; the population could no longer feed itself, but was dependent on grain imports from the continent. For supply policy reasons, Britain therefore had vital interests on the continent. The Seven Years’ War(1756-63) ended as a triumph for Britain both in Europe and overseas; thus ceased all French military presence in North America.
Defeat to America
As there was thus no threat from the French side, the colonists in North America became increasingly reluctant to accept that the British Parliament, in which they were not represented, imposed taxes on them. However, when the king and government took a steep stance, in 1775 it came to a break with the North American colonies declaring independence. In the ensuing American Revolutionary War (see The American Revolution), European states intervened on the American side, Britain was isolated and had to recognize the United States at the Peace of Paris in 1783.
Great Britain (History – Period 1783-1880)
During this period Britain after long conflicts defeated the European arch-rival, France. It paved the way for the establishment of the British Empire in the 1800’s.
The showdown with France
With the support of moderate forces from both parties, Whig and Tory, William Pitt joined the government in 1783 and ruled Britain until 1801. Pitt got the state’s economy back on track, concluded a trade treaty with France in 1786, implemented the Irish Parliament’s abolition in 1800, but withdrew from more in-depth reforms. The French Revolution mobilized political opinion, with Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man(1791-92) were expressions of resp. conservative and radical views. In 1793, France’s invasion of Belgium forced Pitt to intervene, and he was behind the first coalition facing revolutionary France (see Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars). British warfare on land was initially unsuccessful, but they generally fought successfully against France and its allies, the Netherlands and Spain, at sea.
In 1802, peace was made with France; but already the following year France resumed the war. Pitt became the organizer of a renewed coalition against France, in which Britain ruled the seas (Trafalgar 1805), while Napoleon seemed invincible on the continent. Through the Continental System, France sought from 1806 to break Britain economically, which in turn attacked Denmark in 1807 and 1808 settled on the Iberian Peninsula, where Wellington in 1813 finally expelled the French occupying forces. Britain, which in 1812-14 fought a draw with the United States (see The American-English War), stood after Napoleon’s final defeat as one of the absolute victors.
After the Napoleonic Wars, most of the overseas conquests were abandoned, but Britain was now the world’s indisputably leading navy, which could appear anywhere, for example in the Mediterranean, where Malta was acquired, and assert British political and economic interests. For most of a century, British foreign policy was based on fundamental independence from alliances, backed by the mighty navy. British rule over India was finally established in the early 1800’s.
The industrial revolution
The time around and just after 1800 was marked by a very strong economic development. Agriculture was modernized and production increased sharply. With a number of technical innovations such as the steam engine, the spinning machine and the mechanical loom and a strong development of the infrastructure with extensive canal constructions as well as rich deposits of raw materials such as coal and iron, Britain became the home of the industrial revolution.. A revolution that really took off approximately 1750 with the textile industry, and as in its second phase from the Napoleonic Wars until approximately 1840 positioned the nation as the economic locomotive of the world economy and the “workshop of the world.” London replaced Amsterdam as Europe’s financial metropolis, and Britain became the world’s leading trading power. Railways soon spanned most of the kingdom, and the Industrial Revolution led to strong growth in northern and central England as well as southern Scotland, while agricultural areas such as Ireland and southern England were relatively weakened. New cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham and in Scotland Glasgow emerged, and with industrialism an extensive working class and a political radicalization that was harshly opposed by the government (cf. Peterlooin 1819). A new middle class became the bearer of reform demands in relation to both the political system and the protectionist economic policy dictated by the interests of the landowners.
Britain became the world’s economic leading power, from which the modern impulses in all areas of culture and social life extended to the rest of the world, and London became one of the world’s metropolises, economically and culturally. To the outside world, Britain was synonymous with the pioneering country itself, just as it was here that, like Marx and Engels, one could observe the population and social consequences of industrialism.
Reforms and reform movements
From the 1820’s, Britain increasingly distanced itself from the reactionary continental powers, supported liberal and national freedom movements, and embarked on an incipient reform policy. Trade unions were allowed in 1824, and in 1829 were Catholics the right to represent Ireland in Parliament, where the Irish were given seat from 1801. Under Charles Gray was conducted in 1832 a comprehensive electoral reform, The Reform Act that doubled select the number from 1/2to 1 million. and transferred a number of mandates from the agrarian South of England to the growing industrial centers of the North of England. Significant parts of the new middle class, but not the working class, thereby achieved political co-determination. Other important reforms were the abolition of slavery in 1833 and the same year an incipient labor protection law, an improved poverty law 1834 and a law on local government 1835. Of crucial political importance was also that the Tory Party (by Robert Peel) in 1835 recognized the lower house majority as parliamentary basis of governmental power. In 1837, William IV died, and Queen Victoria ascended the throne, dissolving the staff union with Hanover.
The electoral reform of 1832 did not satisfy the radical forces that from 1838 agitated for universal suffrage and other political reforms, formulated in The People’s Charter. The chartist movement achieved significant support approximately 1840, but was quickly split and lost influence. However, it had seriously aroused the political consciousness of the working population. Robert Peel, who again formed the government in 1841, reformulated the conservative policy in a moderately reform-friendly spirit and could, among other things, under the impression of the famine in Ireland, had the grain law abolished in 1846 with the support of the Whiggers (see Anti-Corn-Law League).
The political events in Europe in 1848 had only a modest effect on Britain. The nation experienced strong economic growth, which further underlined its leadership position in trade, industry and shipping, as evidenced by the first World’s Fair in London in 1851. At the same time, Britain’s absolute leadership position culminated, although from now on both the United States and Germany increasingly emerged as competitors in the world market.
The leitmotif of these decades’ foreign policy was the principle of free trade, which opened up the world market to British trade and industry, linked to the awareness of making a civilizational-Christian effort in the world community. The central figure in foreign policy was the Whig Party’s Lord Palmerston, Foreign Minister 1830-41 and 1846-51 and Prime Minister 1855-58 and 1859-65. Domestically, Palmerston was conservative, but in foreign policy he hailed the liberal principles as those that best served British political and economic interests. They approached France, with whom they participated in the Crimean War against Russia in 1854-56. Rebellion in India 1857-58 led to a stronger government grip on this area, and in Asia British trade interests were supported by wars against China, the Opium War 1839-42 and again 1859-60. The American Civil War recognized from the British side the Southern States, to which the textile industry in northern England had close links. In narrower European politics, Britain usually kept its distance from direct engagement.
Domestically, a moderate reform policy was continued by shifting governments, which in the 1850’s consisted of coalitions between whiggers and supporters of Peel’s moderate-conservative line (peelites), while the Tory party had since Peel been divided.
Two parties, two statesmen
By 1860, the question of a suffrage reform had been raised but not implemented. In 1867, Benjamin Disraeli proposed a significant extension of the right to vote, which would include the general urban working population; the intention was to unite the aristocracy and the working class against the middle class, where the Whiggers had their support. At the same time, Disraeli created a truly conservative party organization. The right to vote was expanded, and the number of voters again doubled, with all owners of a housing in the cities being given the right to vote. In 1868 it gave the Conservatives government power for a short time. 1874-80, they regained power, and it was a period marked by extensive reform legislation.
Disraeli’s opponent was William Gladstone, who was prime minister 1868-74, 1880-85, 1886 and last time 1892-94. Under Gladstone’s leadership, the Whig Party was finally transformed into the Liberal Party, which stood as the Conservatives’ opponent. The British electoral system with elections in single-member constituencies promoted the two-party system, which with the conservatives and liberals as actors was decisive until the time after the First World War and for a long time prevented the labor movement from asserting itself in parliament. The Gladstone Liberal Party pursued a more restrained policy in foreign policy than the Conservatives. In domestic politics, the emphasis was on the continued democratization and modernization of British society, for example in the judiciary and education, as well as in the legal position of trade unions and women.
The two parties could behave quite similarly in several domestic political contexts. The conservatives, however, were characterized by greater respect for handed down institutions such as the monarchy, the upper house and the state church, and by a more pragmatic approach to reform. The liberals under Gladstone more principledly advocated the basic democratic ideas and the prevailing ideas of the 1800’s about the liberties of the individual and the nations. The opposition between the two parties and their leaders lay first and foremost at the foreign policy level.
Great Britain (History – Period 1880-1914)
In the second half of the 1800’s. developed imperialism as an essential component of British politics, in which Britain’s cash political and economic interests and the notion of a civilizational mission, “The White Man’s Burden”, were included with other elements in the belief in the world historical significance of the British Empire.
In Africa, the race with France led to the conquest of large areas, and especially in Sudan and South Africa, protracted wars were waged against the indigenous states. In Asia, rule over India was extended to Burma in the 1880’s, while repeated wars were waged in Afghanistan, including to stem the Russian expansion in Asia. To strengthen the notion of the cohesion of the empire, Disraeli had Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India in 1876, and at the Berlin Congress of 1878, when Britain wanted to curb the Russian offensive in the Balkans, Cyprus was acquired from Turkey.
British expansion efforts in South Africa led to the Boer War of 1899-1902 against the two independent states of Oranje and Transvaal, which were only defeated after several years of fighting and revealed shortcomings in British army command. By 1867, Canada had gained internal self-government, which was introduced in Australia in 1901, New Zealand in 1907 and South Africa in 1910 with the designation dominion as opposed to the actual colonies, ie. of non-white populations dominated (see British Empire).
The Irish question
Due to the special nature of Irish society, the incorporation of Ireland into the United Kingdom in 1800 posed a latent threat to the Union. The Irish issue was linked, at the first level, to the demand for reform of rural conditions and, at the second level, to the issue of the introduction (and scope) of Irish Home Rule., questions that were to become decisive for British politics from around 1880 until the First World War. Both major parties were willing to implement agrarian reforms that would both improve the legal position of tenants and promote the transition to self-ownership. The Irish opposition became more militant from the 1880’s and caused increasing division in Ireland itself between the Catholic majority and the Protestant minority in Ulster. William Gladstone proposed Irish Home Rule in 1886 and in 1893, but it was rejected both times and led to a split of the Liberal Party.
The Home Rule for Ireland was a source of constant conflict in British politics from the 1880’s, and when the Irish gained decisive influence over the Ministry of Asquith in 1912, a Home Rule Act was passed in 1913, which, however, raised the province of Ulster in opposition. World War I in August 1914 postponed the introduction of home rule and initially halted the incipient civil war in Ireland.
Reorientation in domestic and foreign policy
A conservative period of government 1895-1905 was replaced by a liberal era that initiated an active reform policy in the social field. The government’s tax legislation met with massive opposition from the Upper House, which led to the revocation of the Upper House’s veto in 1911. The workers’ increased organization led to unrest in the labor market with labor struggles, which the government sought to stem with expanded social legislation. The experience of heightened social contradictions was a constant challenge in the years leading up to World War II. The Labor Party was formed in 1900 and in 1906 29 candidates were elected to the House of Commons. The struggle for women’s suffrage, which began in earnest after 1900, took on a very militant form in Britain with the suffragettes (see Pankhurst).
In foreign policy, Britain abandoned its isolated position. The country approached France in 1904, in 1905 concluded alliances with Japan and made agreements with Russia in 1902 in an attempt to stem Germany, whose naval rearmament from around 1900 had turned against Britain’s hitherto dominant position on the world’s oceans. In the following years there was a race between the two states over the building of larger and stronger fleets, and the Royal Navy, which had hitherto been spread over all seas, was now concentrated around the British Isles, prepared against the German adversary.
The Boer War had been a memento, for example for the author Rudyard Kipling, and Britain’s previously undisputed leadership as an industrial power was now threatened in several areas, while still leading as a trading and maritime nation. The British Empire was still in 1914 the empire, “over which the Sun never set”.
Great Britain (History – Period 1914-45)
On August 4, 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany and was thus involved in what was to become World War I. Officially, the declaration of war was justified by the fact that Britain was contractually obliged to protect Belgium’s neutrality, but the underlying background was that a German victory in a European war would upset the balance of power on the continent contrary to British interests. It was expected that the war would be short-lived and that the main British effort would be for the British navy to block the enemies’ trade routes.
The big war
Instead, the war came to last over four years, and the British main effort took place on land. Britain did not have conscription at the outbreak of the war, but a mixture of nationalism, adventurism and social pressure meant that approximately 4.5 million men from Britain and dominions volunteered. Volunteering, however, could not in the long run cover the army’s need for men for the bloody mass battles on the Western Front, and in 1916 conscription was introduced.
On the home front, the slogan “business as usual” during 1915-16 was replaced by government control, where transport, raw materials, energy and food were distributed and rationed. There was special control over the armaments industry, where in 1918 the state itself ran more than 200 companies. While women in 1911 made up 30% of the labor force, in 1918 their share was 47%.
The Great War had far-reaching consequences. The national enthusiasm for war did not survive the war. On the contrary, the memory of the war as a senseless murder was an important background for British foreign policy in the interwar period, including the policy of indulgence, appeasement, towards Germany. 723,000 men were killed, and approximately 1.2 million disabled in the war and there was hardly a British family who was not affected. Economically, the war had been costly, and although both taxes and duties had been drastically raised, the war was financed primarily through loans, and domestic government debt increased tenfold in 1914-19.
The Irish question
The need for a solution to the Irish question became urgent when the Irish nationalists from Sinn Féin, who had been greatly strengthened during the war years, unilaterally declared the formation of an Irish republic after their election victory in 1918. The British government did not accept that. It, in turn, implemented a law that divided Ireland into two parts of home rule, which Sinn Féin, for its part, found unacceptable. The result was an 18-month war between the IRA and British forces. In 1921, a peace treaty was signed giving Southern Ireland dominion under the name of the Irish Free State. At the same time, Northern Ireland maintained its status as part of the United Kingdom with home rule. This special status was used by the unionist and Protestant majority of the population to build a local government,Ireland (history)).
The interwar period
Britain The economic crisis of the 1930’s hit northern England particularly hard. In the mining and industrial city of Jarrow, the unemployment rate thus reached almost 70. Jarrow named a number of so-called hunger marches and crusades, demonstration trains, which departed from the north with targets in London. Photograph from 1936, published in Illustrated London News 31/10.
The Liberal Party came out of the war severely weakened. This was not least due to the fact that in 1916 Lloyd George had formally couped the post of Prime Minister with Conservative support, and it split the party decisively, but the weakening was also due to the fact that the war had strengthened the labor movement. The trade union movement’s membership had almost doubled, and in the 1918 election Labor took on the role of the country’s second largest party vis-à-vis the Conservative-Liberal coalition, which won a solid election victory under Lloyd George’s leadership. It was the Conservatives who dominated Lloyd George’s coalition, and it was the Conservatives who came to dominate the politics of the interwar period. Only for two short periods, in 1924 and 1929-31, could Labor under Ramsay MacDonaldform a government. A coalition government from 1931 formally had MacDonald as leader until 1935, but in reality the Conservatives ruled under first Stanley Baldwin, then Neville Chamberlain.
In the election campaign of 1918, Lloyd George had promised “a land for heroes.” Major reforms had to be implemented. The first step had already been taken with a suffrage law that introduced universal suffrage for men and gave suffrage to women over the age of 30 (only in 1928 were women fully equal to men). In 1919-20, significant social reforms were also implemented, e.g. improved unemployment benefits and public housing. But then the reforms dried up, as the economic crisis and the heavy debt burden meant that the state had to curtail its economic activities.
The image of a crisis-stricken economy, permanently high unemployment, labor market problems with the great general strike of 1926 as the culmination and weak governments dominated the perception of the British interwar period for a long time. Recent research, however, has nuanced the picture. Sure, there was a high unemployment rate of between 10 and 22% in 1921-38, but it was concentrated in the old industrial areas, where the classical industries were in deep crisis. On the other hand, there was growth in the South of England, where new consumer goods industries broke through. During the interwar period, the consumer society also prevailed in large parts of the country. The period was marked by considerable political stability, with neither communists nor fascists succeeding in gaining decisive foothold. It was the mixture of crisis and stability that in 1941 got the socialist George Orwell to characterize the country as a family, marked by great social and economic contradictions, “but after all a family”.
The notion of national unity was greatly strengthened by World War II. Rationing, conscription for both men and women, German bombing of British cities and a successful propaganda created the notion of a “people’s war”. From May 1940, Winston Churchill was a popular and unifying prime minister, but while Churchill was waging war, it was his government ministers from Labor, most notably Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin., who spearheaded the organization of British society for effective warfare. This gave the Labor leaders government competence, and – just as importantly – became known and respected by the population, which is an important part of the explanation why Labor in 1945 won a landslide victory over the war hero Churchill’s conservatives. But Labor’s victory was also due to the fact that the party promised that “the people’s war” would be followed by a “people’s peace”. How to do this could be read in the Liberal economist William Beveridge’s report on the welfare state, which was published in 1942 and became the subject of colossal attention (see the Beveridge report). Beveridge argued that one should not only but also be able to abolish social distress through a comprehensive modernization of the welfare state that the liberal governments had laid the foundation for before 1914.
The war meant a serious weakening of foreign policy. The defeats of the Japanese in Asia helped pave the way for decolonization after the war. Measured in human life, the cost was less than in World War I: 356,000 dead and 45,000 missing. However, the economic costs were high and made the country dependent on American aid for reconstruction after 1945. The country’s days as a dominant world power were numbered, although it took its time before it went up for politicians and people.
Great Britain (History – The period from 1945)
Great Britain (History – The Period from 1945), Labor, Reconstruction and austerity 1945-51
After World War II, two crucial processes took place: the dismantling of the empire and the building of a welfare state.
In the July 1945 election, British voters left it to Labor to rebuild the economy and post-war society. The new government implemented a tight economic policy with rationing and import restrictions, and at the same time the modern welfare state was founded. In 1946, a comprehensive health and unemployment insurance was established together with a national health service with free treatment for all. Other landmark reforms were the nationalisations of the Bank of England and companies such as aviation, railways, gasworks, coal mines and the steel industry. However, the government did not go further in the socialist direction: the planned economy of the war was abolished, and elite institutions such as the private schools (Eton, Harrow, etc.) and the House of Lordswas not touched. Labor had created a balance between state and citizen, which largely existed until the late 1970’s.
Prime Ministers *
|Period||P prime minister *|
|1721-42||Robert Walpole (w)|
|1742-43||Spencer Compton Wilmington (w)|
|1743-54||Henry Pelham (w)|
|1754-56||Thomas Pelham-Holles Newcastle (w)|
|1756-57||William Cavendish Devonshire (w)|
|1757-62||Thomas Pelham-Holles Newcastle (w)|
|1762-63||John Stuart Bute|
|1765-66||Charles Wentworth Rockingham (w)|
|1766-68||William Pitt d.æ.|
|1768-70||Augustus Henry Fitzroy Grafton|
|1770-82||Frederick North (t)|
|1782||Charles Wentworth Rockingham (w)|
|1782-83||William Petty Lansdowne|
|1783||William Cavendish Bentinck Portland (w)|
|1783-1801||William Pitt dy (t)|
|1801-04||Henry Addington Sidmouth (t)|
|1804-06||William Pitt dy (t)|
|1806-07||William Wyndham Grenville|
|1807-09||Henry Cavendish Bentinck Portland (w)|
|1809-12||Spencer Perceval (t)|
|1812-27||Robert Banks Jenkinson Liverpool (t)|
|1827||George Canning (t)|
|1827-28||Frederick John Robinson Goderich (t)|
|1828-30||Arthur Wellesley Wellington (t)|
|1830-34||Charles Gray (w)|
|1834||William Lamb Melbourne (w)|
|1834||Arthur Wellesley Wellington (t)|
|1834-35||Robert Peel (c)|
|1835-41||William Lamb Melbourne (w)|
|1841-46||Robert Peel (c)|
|1846-52||John Russell (w)|
|1852||Edward Stanley Derby (c)|
|1852-55||George Hamilton-Gordon Aberdeen|
|1855-58||Henry John Temple Palmerston (l)|
|1858-59||Edward Stanley Derby (c)|
|1859-65||Henry John Temple Palmerston (l)|
|1865-66||John Russell (l)|
|1866-68||Edward Stanley Derby (c)|
|1868||Benjamin Disraeli (c)|
|1868-74||William Gladstone (l)|
|1874-80||Benjamin Disraeli (c)|
|1880-85||William Gladstone (l)|
|1885-86||Robert Cecil Salisbury (c)|
|1886||William Gladstone (l)|
|1886-92||Robert Cecil Salisbury (c)|
|1892-94||William Gladstone (l)|
|1894-95||Archibald Philip Primrose Rosebery (l)|
|1895-1902||Robert Cecil Salisbury (c)|
|1902-05||Arthur James Balfour (c)|
|1905-08||Henry Campbell-Bannerman (l)|
|1908-16||HH Asquith (l)|
|1916-22||David Lloyd George (l)|
|1922-23||Bonar Law (c)|
|1923-24||Stanley Baldwin (c)|
|1924||Ramsay MacDonald (lab)|
|1924-29||Stanley Baldwin (c)|
|1929-35||Ramsay MacDonald (lab)|
|1935-37||Stanley Baldwin (c)|
|1937-40||Neville Chamberlain (c)|
|1940-45||Winston Churchill (c)|
|1945-51||Clement Attlee (lab)|
|1951-55||Winston Churchill (c)|
|1955-57||Anthony Eden (c)|
|1957-63||Harold Macmillan (c)|
|1963-64||Alec Douglas-Home (c)|
|1964-70||Harold Wilson (lab)|
|1970-74||Edward Heath (c)|
|1974-76||Harold Wilson (lab)|
|1976-79||James Callaghan (lab)|
|1979-90||Margaret Thatcher (c)|
|1990-97||John Major (c)|
|1997-2007||Tony Blair (lab)|
|2007-10||Gordon Brown (lab)|
|2010-16||David Cameron (c)|
|2016-||Theresa May (c)|
abbreviations: c: Conservative Party, l: Liberal Party, lab: Labor Party, t: tory, w: whig
* the title of Prime Minister was used under Queen Anne Stuart (1702-14), but first became the official name for the Prime Minister from 1905
Large resources were spent on maintaining military preparedness and cooperation with the United States against the Soviet Union, at the same time as the government decided to develop an independent British nuclear weapons program. Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin took an active part in building the OEEC (1947) and NATO (1949). However, it proved impossible to maintain British colonial rule anywhere. India and Pakistan became independent in 1947, and the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948.
Recovery and prosperity
The Conservatives and Winston Churchill won the 1951 election over a divided Labor Party. Churchill’s health forced him to leave in 1955, but the Conservatives retained power until 1964. The steel industry was privatized again (1953), but apart from that, Labor’s reforms were not scrapped; one speaks of a time of consensus between the two major parties on the balance between the public and the private. The Conservatives were helped by the general recovery of the European economy in the 1950’s; restrictions and rationing were abolished, housing was built, and the standard of living increased. The Americanized consumer culture also took hold in Britain, where new youth cultures and pop idols such as The Beatles in the 1960’s came to signal a showdown with traditional middle-class norms.
In relation to the outside world, Harold Macmillan confirmed the defense cooperation with the United States, but also made it clear that Britain’s days as a colonial power in Africa were numbered. He also overcame the British skepticism of the 1950’s towards the European Communities. The British leaders realized that the process on the continent could not be stopped and that Britain’s economic and political interests made it difficult to keep the country out. In 1960, the seven countries outside the EC, including Denmark, merged into EFTA; but as early as 1961 Britain applied for membership of the Community.
The Conservatives’ status as bearers of Britain’s great power position and of high social morale was weakened by the Suez Crisis in 1956, a series of spy scandals, the Profumo affair in 1963 and the French no the same year for British membership of the EC. Labor leader Harold Wilson was able to win the 1964 election on promises of modernization and technological revolution.
1964-79 – Decline debate and political upheaval
During this period, the Labor Party was in power 1964-70 and 1974-79. However, the promised recovery of the economy did not materialize. Rising oil prices in 1973-74 exacerbated the crisis; Conversely, the large oil and gas discoveries in the North Sea benefited the economy from around 1975. The societal debate was marked by concern about the low economic growth in Britain compared to other Western European countries and the crisis of the traditional manufacturing industries. As reasons for this relative decline(‘decline’) mentioned factors such as the dominance of the financial sector in the economy and the consequent excessive consideration of the sterling exchange rate, the free rules of the game in the labor market, which led to harmful labor struggles, and the inadequate and class-divided education system. Labor governments sought to co-operate with the trade union movement on an anti-inflationary income policy, set up economic planning bodies, reformed the school system with the introduction of unitary schools, and expanded access to higher education. Edward Heath’s Conservative government of 1970-74 sought in vain to establish a more disciplining labor law system. Both his and James Callaghan’s last months as prime ministers in resp. 1974 and 1978-79, however, were marked by violent conflicts in the labor market.
Also in Britain, a number of traditional norms were broken down in the 1960’s. The death penalty was abolished in 1965, homosexuality was made impunity in 1967, and access to abortion was introduced the same year. The women’s movement re-emerged, and legislation on equality and equal pay came into force in 1975. Finally, ethnic equality was put on the agenda, as the big cities in particular were characterized by immigration from Commonwealth countries, e.g. The Caribbean and India. The political dominance of the Labor Party and the Conservatives was challenged during the period by increased support for the Liberals and for the nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland.. In order to meet local wishes and prevent total secession, in 1979 the Labor government set up self-government schemes for referendums in the two areas. None of them got the required majority, but the demands for decentralization of power in the United Kingdom did not disappear. In Northern Ireland, in 1968-69, clashes broke out between Catholic-nationalist civil rights activists and Protestant Unionists. The London government sent troops to the province in 1969 and in 1972 dissolved the autonomy of Northern Ireland.
The dismantling of British colonial rule in Africa and Asia was completed in the early 1970’s. The exception was Hong Kong, which was first handed over to China in 1997. In European politics, a decisive breakthrough took place. A new application for membership of the Community in 1967 was rejected by France; but negotiations resumed in 1970, and Edward Heath signed the Accession Document in 1972.
Neoliberalism, New Labor and Coalition
The Conservatives elected Margaret Thatcher party leader in 1975, and after the party’s election victory in 1979, she became Britain’s first female prime minister. Thatcher’s government would halt Britain’s downturn by breaking with the consensus line and pursuing clear neoliberal policies with an emphasis on market forces and individual accountability.
In the following years, the private sector was strengthened by extensive privatizations of public enterprises. Taxes were reduced, not least for the highest incomes. A series of labor laws from 1980-84 limited the unions’ opportunities for action, and the government won the great showdown with striking coal miners 1984-85. Municipally owned homes were sold in large numbers to the residents. The welfare system was not abolished, but the conditions for development assistance were tightened.
The effects of government policy were initially disappointing. Both inflation and unemployment rose dramatically in the early 1980’s, and violent riots in a number of major cities in 1981 and 1985 were reminiscent of great social tensions and the poor relationship between immigrant communities and the police. From the mid-1980’s, economic indicators improved. Productivity and consumption increased, while the gap between rich and poor widened. Margaret Thatcher was strengthened by Britain’s victory over Argentina in the Falklands War of 1982, she worked closely with the United States on security policy issues, and in European politics she opposed further political integration. This led to confrontations with other European countries and with several ministers. In 1990, she was pressured to resign and was followed byJohn Major. Major surprisingly won the election in 1992. Domestically, the line from the Thatcher era continued. Privatization, open market economy, free choice and personal responsibility were key words. Major, however, was increasingly weakened due to bribery allegations against conservative politicians and bitter disagreement within the government over European policy. Although he persuaded a majority of the Conservatives to approve the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, in which Britain made reservations about participating in the single currency, the party’s “Eurosceptics” in the party continued to raise concerns about Britain’s position on the EU.
The 1997 election was a major victory for Tony Blair’s New Labor Party. Its modernization program for Britain involved, in some respects, a continuation of previous policies. Privatizations and most conservative labor market reforms were maintained. Public economic policy remained tight and emphasis was placed on making the UK competitive in a free, global economy, for example through a quality boost in education, rather than on leveling income disparities in the UK itself. Social policy called for the activation of the unemployed and equal emphasis on rights and duties. In the constitutional field, the government quickly implemented major reforms: the Good Friday Agreementon Northern Ireland 1998 proposed new framework for the province’s relations with Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 1999, Wales and especially Scotland gained increased autonomy through new, elected assemblies. That same year, the aristocracy lost its hereditary seats in the House of Lords, just as the government put forward proposals for a longer-term change of the British electoral system.
The economic-social problems in New Labor’s Britain continued to revolve around widespread poverty, especially in the former industrial areas to the north, and the lack of competitiveness in parts of the manufacturing industry. The areas of strength continued to be the finance and service sectors and a number of creative fields where the global dominance of the English language provides good export opportunities. Since 1997, the government has emphasized, on the one hand, that Britain must play an active role in the EU and in the longer term join EMU, and, on the other, that the country continues to have a special position as a global power with close ties to the United States.
The Tony Blair government maintained its popularity with the electorate and extended its mandate in the 2001 election. Labor again gained an absolute majority in the House of Commons. The poor performance of the Conservative Party led to a change of leadership from William Hague to Iain Duncan Smith. Labor’s center-right policy, however, gave the major opposition party difficult terms.
In foreign policy, the British government supported the United States in the “war on terror” following the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, while at the same time seeking to shape the EU’s enlargement and constitutional discussions, without clarifying the country’s relationship with the euro. The balance between the US and the EU was seriously put to the test when the government in March 2003 chose to take part in the US attack on Iraq. Tony Blair’s commitment led to a crisis in relations with Germany and France. On the home front, the Liberal Democrats and parts of Labor’s left were opposed to British war participation. The Iraq Warbecame in the following years an increasing burden on Blair and his leadership position. A series of commission investigations acquitted the government of having led the public astray, but Blair’s leadership style and judgment were questioned. In November 2003, the Conservative opposition party replaced its leader, Iain Duncan Smith, with the more experienced and effective Michael Howard.; but Blair weathered the storm in the May 2005 election. Here, as the first Labor Party leader in history, he won his third consecutive election victory, even though the government’s majority in the House of Commons was cut. Blair had announced at the time that he would step down as leader during the upcoming term. On 7.7.2005, a terrorist attack on the London Underground cost 56 lives. Blair’s handling of the crisis created a transitional backing behind him, but in the autumn of 2005, opposition in the party to the government’s line grew, for example in relation to anti-terrorism legislation and school and health policy, where Blair proposed greater freedom of choice and more market mechanisms in public services. From December 2005, the party was further challenged by a new, young and apparently more center-right leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron. Demands for Blair to step down in favor of Treasury Secretary Gordon Brown became stronger, and in practice, from the beginning of 2006, the government was led by the two jointly. In May 2007, Blair finally announced that he would resign in the following month. Brown proved to be the only candidate for the leadership post, and on 27/6 he took over the leadership of the Labor Party and the Prime Minister post.
Upon his departure, Blair could look back on a period of government in which the British economy had become strong, unemployment was low, and where there had been growth in public spending on social and educational purposes. Power in Britain had been decentralized with autonomy to Scotland and Wales; a new political agreement had on 8 May 2007 reintroduced autonomy in Northern Ireland and the hereditary element of the Upper House had been abolished. However, poverty was still widespread in parts of British society, and the perception of Britain as an open society where different cultures and religions could live sensibly together had come under pressure after the 2005 terrorist bombings and subsequent security austerity measures.
Britain’s relationship with the EU was also unresolved. The British opposition to deepening cooperation in Europe and to EU interference in, for example, tax and social policy is still strong. In the field of foreign policy, Brown inherited considerable popular skepticism about engagements in Iraq and the bond with the United States. Blair promised in the fall of 2006 to begin a British withdrawal from Iraq. Brown joined that line based his foreign policy on broad rather than narrow coalitions, but he too wanted close ties with the United States and had no plans to make the EU central to Britain’s international position. Brown had as prime minister at first had quite a large popular popularity, but after he chose not to print elections in the fall of 2007 he was seen as indecisive and weakened. As Britain became embroiled in the international financial crisis of 2008, the government stepped in with comprehensive aid packages to financial institutions. House prices, which had risen sharply in the previous period, fell slightly, unemployment rose and growth was short-lived negative, but the violent crisis that had been feared largely did not materialize. By contrast, the government had taken out large loans, and public debt became Britain’s dominant economic problem.
In the May 2010 election, neither party won an absolute majority. However, the Labor government had to resign as it failed to negotiate a coalition in place with the Liberal Democrats. Conservative leader David Cameroncould form a government with the participation of the Liberal Democrats, the first coalition government in Britain since 1945. The government’s biggest challenge is the economic situation, but also the war in Afghanistan, which has cost numerous British soldiers their lives and is increasingly unpopular with the population, will pose a problem. Relations with the EU became a tough one for the co-operation between the two governing parties: the Conservative Party moved towards an ever stronger EU skepticism, while the Liberal Democrats were the most pro-European of the British parties. In addition, the Conservatives were pressured from the right by the EU- and immigration- critical party UKIP. To stem the turmoil in his party, Cameron promised in 2013 to call a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU if he continued as head of government after the 2015 election.
The economy came to define the first year of the coalition government. The Conservative Party went through a long series of very far-reaching cuts. It came to wear on the relationship with the liberal coalition partners, who, however, proved loyal in government cooperation. However, Prime Minister Cameron also had to give in and make certain course changes following popular criticism of some of the austerity measures. The cuts were heavily criticized by the opposition, which accused the government of slowing growth with its measures. Economic growth almost came to a halt, but there has been disagreement as to whether it was due to the policies pursued or external crises, not least the debt crises in the eurozone and in the United States. In the summer of 2011, a scandal focused on the very close relationship between politicians and the tabloid press – not least thatRupert Murdoch – owned part of the press – as well as between the aforementioned press and the police. The scandal led to the closure of the Sunday newspaper News of the World and to several senior police officers having to retire. Cameron himself was criticized for hiring a former News of the World editor as his press secretary.
In August 2011, there were violent riots in London and several other major cities. Large groups of mostly young people and sometimes also children fought battles against the police, looted shops and set fire to buildings. The riots, which were triggered after police killed a suspected gang member, got behind the authorities and led to a focus on an underclass that had increasingly been isolated from the rest of society.
Relations between Scotland and the rest of Britain also came to play a major role. In a referendum in Scotland in 2014 on Scottish independence, the Unionists succeeded in pulling home a victory, but only after promising the Scots further rights.
Despite tensions between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party, the government managed to end its election period. In the 2015 election, the Conservative Party surprisingly won an absolute majority, after which Cameron could continue as prime minister, now for a purely conservative government. The Liberal Democrats suffered a violent defeat, and Labor also had to be beaten, not least due to the sharp decline of the Scottish National Party in Scotland.
After negotiating some adjustments to Britain’s relations with the EU, Cameron called a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU. The vote, which was held on 23.6.2016, gave a surprising majority for British withdrawal from the EU. The country was immediately plunged into a violent political crisis; Confidence in the British economy was shaken, and a constitutional crisis ensued, with the Scottish Government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, once again talking about a Scottish withdrawal from Britain once Scotland had voted in favor of continued British membership of the EU. Following the vote, Cameron resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by Theresa May.
United Kingdom (History – Regents)
Here is a list of British rulers from the early Middle Ages to the present day.
|Anglo-Saxon kings of Mercia Sort|
|Anglo-Saxon kings of Wessex|
|871-899||Alfred the Great|
|899-924||Edward the Elder|
|Anglo-Saxon kings of England|
|1016||Edmund 2. Iron side|
|Danish kings of England|
|1013-14||Svend 1. Tveskæg|
|1016-35||Knud 2. the Great|
|1035-40||Harald 1. Harefod; Harald first became king of all England in 1037 after the showdown with Knud III’s party|
|1040-42||Knud 3. Hardknud|
|1066||Harald 2. Godwinson|
|1066-87||Wilhelm 1. The Conqueror|
|1087-1100||William 2. Rufus|
|1135-54||Stefan of Blois|
|The house Plantagenet|
|1189-99||Richard 1. Lionheart|
|1199-1216||Johan without Land|
|1399-1413||Henry 4. (Lancaster)|
|1413-22||Henry 5. (Lancaster)|
|1422-61||Henry 6. (Lancaster)|
|1461-70||Edward 4. (York)|
|1470-71||Henry 6. (Lancaster)|
|1471-83||Edward 4. (York)|
|1483||Edward 5. (York)|
|1483-85||Richard 3. (York)|
|The House of Tudor|
|1553-58||Mary 1. the Bloody|
|The Stuart House|
|1653-58||Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector)|
|1658-59||Richard Cromwell (Lord Protector)|
|The Stuart House|
|1689-1702||William III of Orange and Mary II Mary II reigned until her death in 1694|
|The house Hannover|
|The house Saxony-Coburg-Gotha (from 1917 Windsor)|