9,000 BC: end of the
last Ice Age and beginning of continuous human habitation.
2,700 BC: beginning of the Bronze Age and approximate period
building of the prehistoric monument of
800 BC: beginnning of the Iron Age and arrival
Celtic people known as the Britons who finally inhabited all
of Britain south of the Firth of Forth.
and early Middle-Ages
43 AD: beginning of the conquest
of Britain by the Romans except for Scotland which remained separated
by Hadrian's Wall. They founded London, brought Christianity and
maintained control of their province of Britannia until the
5th century: beginning of the
Anglo-Saxon invasion, which is often considered to be the origin of
England and the
English people. They were a collection of various Germanic peoples (
Jutes, Saxons and Angles). They established
several kingdoms (Northumbria, Mercia, Kent, East Anglia, Essex,
Sussex, Wessex, ...). This is also the period of the legendary King
9th century: frequent raids by the Vikings who took control of
region in the west and the centre of the island, called the Danelaw.
They even ruled the country, alternately with the Anglo-Saxon
of Wessex, under a dynasty of Danish kings, the most famous being King
1066: Norman Conquest of England, which
began with an
invasion by the troops of William, Duke of Normandy,
and his victory at the Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror became
England and ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book, a survey of
the entire population and their lands and property for tax
purposes. The native ruling Anglo-Saxons were replaced by a foreign,
monarchy, aristocracy, and clerical hierarchy. The English Language
adopted many French terms. England became less
connected with Scandinavia and more with continental Europe. There
were further Norman conquests in Wales and Ireland, and
the extensive penetration of the aristocracy of Scotland by
Norman families, with the accompanying spread of continental
institutions and cultural influences.
illustrated on the Bayeux Tapestry
Middle Ages: House
Henry II of England, the
great-grandson of William the Conqueror, founded the House
of Plantagenet which ruled England for most of the
Middle-Ages (from 1154 until 1485). He married Eleanor of
was succeeded by their son Richard I "the Lion Heart".
Richard was succeeded by his
younger brother John Lackland. Apart from entering popular legend as
Robin Hood, King John is perhaps best-known for facing an armed
rebellion of the
English nobility, which forced him to accept in 1215 the Magna
Carta (the Great Charter). This imposed legal limits on the
king's personal powers:
Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned […] but by lawful judgment of his
or by the Law of the land”.
In 1348 , the Black
Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague that spread over the
whole of Europe, arrived in England and killed as much as a
third to half of the population.
From 1337 to 1453,
Years' War was a series of separate wars between the Kings of England
and the French
House of Valois who both claimed the French
throne. The war was a defeat for the Kings of England
after the appearance of Joan of Arc (1412–1431).
John signing Magna Carta
16th century: House of
branches of the House of Plantagenet, the House of Lancaster
and the House of York, clashed in a
civil war known as the Wars of the Roses which ended in 1485 with the
victory of Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII and founded the House of
VIII (1509-47) succeeded his father. He started a conflict with Rome
when he wanted to
divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne
Boleyn. This ultimately led to the separation of the Church
of England from the Roman Catholic Church with the English monarch as
the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Henry VIII is also famous
for his six wives, two of whom were beheaded (among which Anne Boleyn).
He was succeeded by his only
then Catherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary I (1553-58), nicknamed
because of the massacres of Protestants during her reign, and finally
by Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
the daughter of Anne Boleyn. She was sometimes called the Virgin Queen,
as she never married.
Her reign began with the defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588, seen as
one of the greatest
English history. Elizabeth's
known as the Elizabethan era, famous for the Protestant Reformation,
and above all for the flourishing of
drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare.
Philip II of Spain
& Mary I , Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I
17th century: House
In 1603, The
King of Scots, James VI, of the House of Stuart, the closest male
relative of Elisabeth I, became King James I of
England in a Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland.
Several assassination attempts were
made on him, notably, in 1605, the Gunpowder Plot, by a group of
led by Guy Fawkes, which caused more antipathy in England towards the
In 1642, the English Civil War broke out, as a result
of conflicts between James' son, Charles I, and Parliament.
The defeat of the
Royalist army by the Army of Parliament led to the capture
and trial of Charles resulting in his beheading
in 1649 in London and making England a republican
Commonwealth. Oliver Cromwell, a commander of the Army of the
Parliament was given
the title Lord Protector in 1653, until his death in 1658. The
monarchy was restored in 1660, with King Charles I's son, King Charles
II, returning to
In 1679, the Habeas
Corpus Act was passed by the Parliament of England to define and
strengthen the ancient
prerogative writ of habeas corpus, whereby persons unlawfully detained
be ordered to be prosecuted before a court of law. After the death of
in 1685, his
Catholic brother King James II was crowned. Due to widespread
serving as the King of England, there
were various factions pressing for the Dutch Protestant Prince William
Orange and his wife, Mary, King James's daughter, to replace the latter
in what became known as the
In 1688, William landed in
England with an invading force, was
crowned king and finally defeated James at the Battle of the
18th century: a growing
In 1701, Britain
took part in the War of the Spanish Succession against Spain and France
which saw the defeat of the latter in 1714. At the concluding peace
Treaty of Utrecht, the British Empire was territorially enlarged: from
France, Britain gained Newfoundland and Acadia, and from Spain,
In 1707, the Acts of
Union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were
passed by both parliaments, and dissolved them in
order to form a Kingdom of Great Britain governed by a unified
Great Britain according to the Treaty of Union.
of Hanover succeeded the House of Stuart as monarchs of Great
Britain and Ireland and held that office until the death of Victoria in
1740s and 1750s, during
the Carnatic Wars in India, the British East India Company struggled
the French as
the Mughal Empire declined in power, and the British finally defeated
the French and their Indian
allies, leaving the Company in control of Bengal and a major military
and political power in India.
In 1763, the signing of the Treaty of Paris putting an end to the Seven
Years' War was the result of a major British victory over France. In
North America, France ceded its territories in Canada to Britain. Spain
ceded Florida to Britain. It therefore left Britain as the world's
dominant colonial power.
In 1775, the American War of Independence began. In 1776, the colonists
declared the independence of the United States and with economical and
naval assistance from France, they won the war in 1783, depriving
Britain of its most populous colony.
In 1770, James Cook discovered the eastern coast of Australia
during a scientific voyage to the South Pacific. In 1778, Joseph Banks,
Cook's botanist on the voyage, presented evidence to the government on
the suitability of Botany Bay for the establishment of a penal
settlement, and in 1788 the first convicts arrived in Australia.
In 1801, the Act of
Union created a new state called the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland, which united the Kingdom of Great Britain with the
of Ireland to form a single political entity. The English capital of
adopted as the capital of the Union.
1803, war was declared against France as a consequence of the
advent of Napoleon in France and Europe who threatened to invade
Britain. In 1805, the
won a decisive victory over the French fleet, under the command of
Admiral Nelson, at Trafalgar. The Napoleonic Wars were however a period
of great sufferance in Britain largely because of the naval blockade
imposed by the Emperor on the island. They ended following Napoleon's
final defeat against a coalition led by the Duke of Wellington at
Waterloo in 1815.
1837, Queen Victoria began a 63-year-long reign which would see Britain
reach the zenith of its economic and political power. Exciting new
technologies such as steam ships, railroads, photography, and
telegraphs appeared, making the world much faster-paced.
1846-49, 'The Irish Potato Famine' as known in Britain and in
Ireland as 'The Great Hunger' left much of the Irish rural population
without food. About one million Irish people died and another million
emigrated, mostly to America.
1899-1902, the Boer War took place in South Africa between
Britain and the Dutch settlers (Boers) there, with a final victory for
In 1914, the United Kingdom entered World War I, as part of the
Triple Entente with France and Russia against the German and the
Austrian-Hungarian Empires. The UK sent the British Expeditionary Force
to the Western Front in northern France and Flanders, which fought
alongside the French army, and from 1917 the American army. The victory
over Germany in 1918 left almost three million casualties,
as the "lost generation".
In 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty, after the victory of Irish
nationalists in the 1919-20 Irish War of Independence established the
Irish Free State in the Catholic south of Ireland, while predominantly
Protestant Northern Ireland, or Ulster, remained part
of the United Kingdom.
In 1939, The UK declared war on Nazi
Germany, thus entering World War II. With the victory of Germany in the
Battle of France in 1940, Churchill
became Prime Minister to lead Britain to victory, first by resisting
bombings during the Battle of Britain,
then by stopping the German army at the
Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in 1942 and finally in 1944 , with a
American help, by invading Normandy, to liberate France and invade
until the final victory in 1945.
In 1947, India gained independence from British rule, but at the same
the Muslim-majority areas were partitioned to form a separate state of
In 1973, the United Kingdom joined the European Economic