John's son, Henry III, was only 9 years old when he became king (1216–1272). He spent much of his reign fighting the barons over Magna Carta and the royal rights, and was eventually forced to call the first "parliament" in 1264. He was also unsuccessful on the continent, where he endeavoured to re-establish English control over Normandy, Anjou, and Aquitaine
Henry III's policies towards Jews began with relative tolerance, but became gradually more restrictive. In 1253 the Statute of Jewry, reinforced physical segregation and demanded a previously notional requirement to wear square white badges. Henry III also backed an accusation of child murder in Lincoln, ordering a Jew Copin to be executed and 91 Jews to be arrested for trial; 18 were killed. Popular superstitious fears were fuelled, and Catholic theological hostility combined with Baronial abuse of loan arrangements, resulting in Simon de Montfort's supporters targeting of Jewish communities in their revolt. This hostility, violence and controversy was the background to the increasingly oppressive measures that followed under Edward I.
Main articles: Edward I of England, Edward II of England, Edward III of England, and Richard II of England
The reign of Edward I (reigned 1272–1307) was rather more successful. Edward enacted numerous laws strengthening the powers of his government, and he summoned the first officially sanctioned Parliaments of England (such as his Model Parliament). He conquered Wales and attempted to use a succession dispute to gain control of the Kingdom of Scotland, though this developed into a costly and drawn-out military campaign.
Edward I is also known for his policies first persecuting Jews, particularly the 1275 Statute of the Jewry. This banned Jews from their previous role in making loans, and demanded that they work as merchants, farmers, craftsmen or soldiers. This was unrealistic, and failed. Edward's solution was to expel Jews from England.
His son, Edward II, proved a disaster. A weak man who preferred to engage in activities like thatching and ditch-digging rather than jousting, hunting, or the usual entertainments of kings, he spent most of his reign trying in vain to control the nobility, who in return showed continual hostility to him. Meanwhile, the Scottish leader Robert Bruce began retaking all the territory conquered by Edward I. In 1314, the English army was disastrously defeated by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn. Edward also showered favours on his companion Piers Gaveston, a knight of humble birth. While it has been widely believed that Edward was a homosexual because of his closeness to Gaveston, there is no concrete evidence of this. The king's enemies, including his cousin Thomas of Lancaster, captured and murdered Gaveston in 1312.
Edward's downfall came in 1326 when his wife, Queen Isabella, travelled to her native France and, with her lover Roger Mortimer, invaded England. Despite their tiny force, they quickly rallied support for their cause. The king fled London, and his companion since Piers Gaveston's death, Hugh Despenser, was publicly tried and executed. Edward was captured, charged with breaking his coronation oath, deposed and imprisoned in Gloucestershire until he was murdered some time in the autumn of 1327, presumably by agents of Isabella and Mortimer.
Millions of people in northern Europe died in the Great Famine of 1315–1317. In England, half a million people died, more than 10 per cent of the population.
Edward III, son of Edward II, was crowned at age 14 after his father was deposed by his mother and her consort Roger Mortimer. At age 17, he led a successful coup against Mortimer, the de facto ruler of the country, and began his personal reign. Edward III reigned 1327–1377, restored royal authority and went on to transform England into the most efficient military power in Europe. His reign saw vital developments in legislature and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament—as well as the ravages of the Black Death. After defeating, but not subjugating, the Kingdom of Scotland, he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1338, but his claim was denied due to the Salic law. This started what would become known as the Hundred Years' War. Following some initial setbacks, the war went exceptionally well for England; victories at Crécy and Poitiers led to the highly favourable Treaty of Brétigny. Edward's later years were marked by international failure and domestic strife, largely as a result of his inactivity and poor health.
For many years, trouble had been brewing with Castile—a Spanish kingdom whose navy had taken to raiding English merchant ships in the Channel. Edward won a major naval victory against a Castilian fleet off Winchelsea in 1350. Although the Castilian crossbowmen killed many of the enemy, the English gradually got the better of the encounter. In spite of Edward's success, however, Winchelsea was only a flash in a conflict that raged between the English and the Spanish for over 200 years, coming to a head with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
In 1373, England signed an alliance with the Kingdom of Portugal, which is claimed to be the oldest alliance in the world still in force.
Edward III died of a stroke on 21 June 1377, and was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson, Richard II. He married Anne of Bohemia, daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor in 1382, and ruled until he was deposed by his first cousin Henry IV in 1399. In 1381, a Peasants' Revolt led by Wat Tyler spread across large parts of England. It was suppressed by Richard II, with the death of 1500 rebels.
Main article: Black Death in England
The Black Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague that spread all over Europe, arrived in England in 1348 and killed as much as a third to half the population. Military conflicts during this period were usually with domestic neighbours such as the Welsh, Irish, and Scots, and included the Hundred Years' War against the French and their Scottish allies. Notable English victories in the Hundred Years' War included Crécy and Agincourt. The final defeat of the uprising led by the Welsh prince, Owain Glyndŵr, in 1412 by Prince Henry (who later became Henry V) represents the last major armed attempt by the Welsh to throw off English rule.
Edward III gave land to powerful noble families, including many people of royal lineage. Because land was equivalent to power, these powerful men could try to claim the crown. When Edward III died in 1376, he was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II. Richard's autocratic and arrogant methods only served to alienate the nobility more, and his forceful dispossession in 1399 by Henry IV increased the turmoil.
Henry spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts.
Rebellions continued throughout the first ten years of Henry's reign, including the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr, who declared himself Prince of Wales in 1400, and the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. The king's success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who later became king (though the son managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410).
Henry V succeeded to the throne in 1413. He renewed hostilities with France and began a set of military campaigns which are considered a new phase of the Hundred Years' War, referred to as the Lancastrian War. He won several notable victories over the French, including the Battle of Agincourt. In the Treaty of Troyes, Henry V was given the power to succeed the current ruler of France, Charles VI of France. The Treaty also provided that he would marry Charles VI's daughter, Catherine of Valois. They married in 1421. Henry died of dysentery in 1422, leaving a number of unfulfilled plans, including his plan to take over as King of France and to lead a crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims.
Henry V's son, Henry VI, became king in 1422 as an infant. His reign was marked by constant turmoil due to his political weaknesses. While he was growing up, England was ruled by the Regency government.
The Regency Council tried to install Henry VI as the King of France, as provided by the Treaty of Troyes signed by his father, and led English forces to take over areas of France. It appeared they might succeed due to the poor political position of the son of Charles VI, who had claimed to be the rightful king as Charles VII of France. However, in 1429, Joan of Arc began a military effort to prevent the English from gaining control of France. The French forces regained control of French territory.
In 1437, Henry VI came of age and began to actively rule as king. To forge peace, he married French noblewoman Margaret of Anjou in 1445, as provided in the Treaty of Tours. Hostilities with France resumed in 1449. When England lost the Hundred Years' War in August 1453, Henry fell into mental breakdown until Christmas 1454.
Henry could not control the feuding nobles, and a series of civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses began, lasting from 1455 to 1485. Although the fighting was very sporadic and small, there was a general breakdown in the power of the Crown. The royal court and Parliament moved to Coventry, in the Lancastrian heartlands, which thus became the capital of England until 1461. Henry's cousin Edward, Duke of York, deposed Henry in 1461 to become Edward IV following a Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross. Edward was later briefly expelled from the throne in 1470–1471 when Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, brought Henry back to power. Six months later, Edward defeated and killed Warwick in battle and reclaimed the throne. Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died there.
Edward died in 1483, only 40 years old, his reign having gone a little way to restoring the power of the Crown. His eldest son and heir Edward V, aged 12, could not succeed him because the king's brother, Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, declared Edward IV's marriage bigamous, making all his children illegitimate. Richard III was then declared king, and Edward V and his 10-year-old brother Richard were imprisoned in the Tower of London. The two were never seen again. It was widely believed that Richard III had them murdered and he was reviled as a treacherous fiend, which limited his ability to govern during his brief reign. In summer 1485, Henry Tudor, the last Lancastrian male, returned from exile in France and landed in Wales. Henry then defeated and killed Richard III at Bosworth Field on 22 August, and was crowned Henry VII.
See also: Black Death in England, English historians in the Middle Ages, List of English chronicles, and Bayeux Tapestry
With Henry VII's accession to the throne in 1485, the Wars of the Roses came to an end, and Tudors would continue to rule England for 118 years. Traditionally, the Battle of Bosworth Field is considered to mark the end of the Middle Ages in England, although Henry did not introduce any new concept of monarchy, and for most of his reign his hold on power was tenuous. He claimed the throne by conquest and God's judgement in battle. Parliament quickly recognized him as king, but the Yorkists were far from defeated. Nonetheless, he married Edward IV's eldest daughter Elizabeth in January 1486, thereby uniting the houses of York and Lancaster.
Most of the European rulers did not believe Henry would survive long, and were thus willing to shelter claimants against him. The first plot against him was the Stafford and Lovell rebellion of 1486, which presented no serious threat. But Richard III's nephew John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, hatched another attempt the following year. Using a peasant boy named Lambert Simnel, who posed as Edward, Earl of Warwick (the real Warwick was locked up in the Tower of London), he led an army of 2,000 German mercenaries paid for by Margaret of Burgundy into England. They were defeated and de la Pole was killed at the difficult Battle of Stoke, where the loyalty of some of the royal troops to Henry was questionable. The king, realizing that Simnel was a dupe, employed him in the royal kitchen.
A more serious threat was Perkin Warbeck, a Flemish youth who posed as Edward IV's son Richard. Again with support from Margaret of Burgundy, he invaded England four times from 1495 to 1497 before he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Both Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick were dangerous even in captivity, and Henry executed them in 1499 before Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain would allow their daughter Catherine to come to England and marry his son Arthur.
In 1497, Henry defeated Cornish rebels marching on London. The rest of his reign was relatively peaceful, despite worries about succession after the death of his wife Elizabeth of York in 1503.
Henry VII's foreign policy was peaceful. He had made an alliance with Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, but in 1493, when they went to war with France, England was dragged into the conflict. Impoverished and his hold on power insecure, Henry had no desire for war. He quickly reached an understanding with the French and renounced all claims to their territory except the port of Calais, realizing also that he could not stop them from incorporating the Duchy of Brittany. In return, the French agreed to recognize him as king and stop sheltering pretenders. Shortly afterwards, they became preoccupied with adventures in Italy. Henry also reached an understanding with Scotland, agreeing to marry his daughter Margaret to that country's king James IV.
Upon becoming king, Henry inherited a government severely weakened and degraded by the Wars of the Roses. The treasury was empty, having been drained by Edward IV's Woodville in-laws after his death. Through a tight fiscal policy and sometimes ruthless tax collection and confiscations, Henry refilled the treasury by the time of his death. He also effectively rebuilt the machinery of government.
In 1501, the king's son Arthur, having married Catherine of Aragon, died of illness at age 15, leaving his younger brother Henry, Duke of York as heir. When the king himself died in 1509, the position of the Tudors was secure at last, and his son succeeded him unopposed.
Henry VIII began his reign with much optimism. The handsome, athletic young king stood in sharp contrast to his wary, miserly father. Henry's lavish court quickly drained the treasury of the fortune he inherited. He married the widowed Catherine of Aragon, and they had several children, but none survived infancy except a daughter, Mary.
In 1512, the young king started a war in France. Although England was an ally of Spain, one of France's principal enemies, the war was mostly about Henry's desire for personal glory, despite his sister Mary being married to the French king Louis XII. The war accomplished little. The English army suffered badly from disease, and Henry was not even present at the one notable victory, the Battle of the Spurs. Meanwhile, James IV of Scotland (despite being Henry's other brother-in-law), activated his alliance with the French and declared war on England. While Henry was dallying in France, Catherine, who was serving as regent in his absence, and his advisers were left to deal with this threat. At the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513, the Scots were completely defeated. James and most of the Scottish nobles were killed. When Henry returned from France, he was given credit for the victory.
Eventually, Catherine was no longer able to have any more children. The king became increasingly nervous about the possibility of his daughter Mary inheriting the throne, as England's one experience with a female sovereign, Matilda in the 12th century, had been a catastrophe. He eventually decided that it was necessary to divorce Catherine and find a new queen. To persuade the Church to allow this, Henry cited the passage in the Book of Leviticus: "If a man taketh his brother's wife, he hath committed adultery; they shall be childless". However, Catherine insisted that she and Arthur never consummated their brief marriage and that the prohibition did not apply here. The timing of Henry's case was very unfortunate; it was 1527 and the Pope had been imprisoned by emperor Charles V, Catherine's nephew and the most powerful man in Europe, for siding with his archenemy Francis I of France. Because he could not divorce in these circumstances, Henry seceded from the Church, in what became known as the English Reformation.
The newly established Church of England amounted to little more than the existing Catholic Church, but led by the king rather than the Pope. It took a number of years for the separation from Rome to be completed, and many were executed for resisting the king's religious policies.
In 1530, Catherine was banished from court and spent the rest of her life (until her death in 1536) alone in an isolated manor home, barred from contact with Mary. Secret correspondence continued thanks to her ladies-in-waiting. Their marriage was declared invalid, making Mary an illegitimate child. Henry married Anne Boleyn secretly in January 1533, just as his divorce from Catherine was finalised. They had a second, public wedding. Anne soon became pregnant and may have already been when they wed. But on 7 September 1533, she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. The king was devastated at his failure to obtain a son after all the effort it had taken to remarry. Gradually, he came to develop a disliking of his new queen for her strange behaviour. In 1536, when Anne was pregnant again, Henry was badly injured in a jousting accident. Shaken by this, the queen gave birth prematurely to a stillborn boy. By now, the king was convinced that his marriage was hexed, and having already found a new queen, Jane Seymour, he put Anne in the Tower of London on charges of witchcraft. Afterwards, she was beheaded along with five men (her brother included) accused of adultery with her. The marriage was then declared invalid, so that Elizabeth, just like her half sister, became a b*****d.
Henry immediately married Jane Seymour, who became pregnant almost as quickly. On 12 October 1537, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Edward, which was greeted with huge celebrations. However, the queen died of puerperal sepsis ten days later. Henry genuinely mourned her death, and at his own passing nine years later, he was buried next to her.
The king married a fourth time in 1540, to the German Anne of Cleves for a political alliance with her Protestant brother, the Duke of Cleves. He also hoped to obtain another son in case something should happen to Edward. Anne proved a dull, unattractive woman and Henry did not consummate the marriage. He quickly divorced her, and she remained in England as a kind of adopted sister to him. He married again, to a 19-year-old named Catherine Howard. But when it became known that she was neither a virgin at the wedding, nor a faithful wife afterwards, she ended up on the scaffold and the marriage declared invalid. His sixth and last marriage was to Catherine Parr, who was more his nursemaid than anything else, as his health was failing since his jousting accident in 1536.
In 1542, the king started a new campaign in France, but unlike in 1512, he only managed with great difficulty. He only conquered the city of Boulogne, which France retook in 1549. Scotland also declared war and at Solway Moss was again totally defeated.
Henry's paranoia and suspicion worsened in his last years. The number of executions during his 38-year reign numbered tens of thousands. His domestic policies had strengthened royal authority to the detriment of the aristocracy, and led to a safer realm, but his foreign policy adventures did not increase England's prestige abroad and wrecked royal finances and the national economy, and embittered the Irish. He died in January 1547 at age 55 and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI.
Although he showed piety and intelligence, Edward VI was only nine years old when he became king in 1547. His uncle, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset tampered with Henry VIII's will and obtained letters patent giving him much of the power of a monarch by March 1547. He took the title of Protector. While some see him as a high-minded idealist, his stay in power culminated in a crisis in 1549 when many counties of the realm were up in protest. Kett's Rebellion in Norfolk and the Prayer Book Rebellion in Devon and Cornwall simultaneously created a crisis while invasion from Scotland and France were feared. Somerset, disliked by the Regency Council for being autocratic, was removed from power by John Dudley, who is known as Lord President Northumberland. Northumberland proceeded to adopt the power for himself, but he was more conciliatory and the Council accepted him. During Edward's reign England changed from being a Catholic nation to a Protestant one, in schism from Rome.
Edward showed great promise but fell violently ill of tuberculosis in 1553 and died that August, two months before his 16th birthday.
Northumberland made plans to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne and marry her to his son, so that he could remain the power behind the throne. His plot failed in a matter of days, Jane Grey was beheaded, and Mary I (1516–155 cool took the throne amidst popular demonstration in her favour in London, which contemporaries described as the largest show of affection for a Tudor monarch. Mary had never been expected to hold the throne, at least not since Edward was born. She was a devoted Catholic who believed that she could reverse the Reformation.
Returning England to Catholicism led to the burnings of 274 Protestants, which are recorded especially in John Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Mary then married her cousin Philip, son of Emperor Charles V, and King of Spain when Charles abdicated in 1556. The union was difficult because Mary was already in her late 30s and Philip was a Catholic and a foreigner, and so not very welcome in England. This wedding also provoked hostility from France, already at war with Spain and now fearing being encircled by the Habsburgs. Calais, the last English outpost on the Continent, was then taken by France. King Philip (1527–159 cool had very little power, although he did protect Elizabeth. He was not popular in England, and spent little time there. Mary eventually became pregnant, or at least believed herself to be. In reality, she may have had uterine cancer. Her death in November 1558 was greeted with huge celebrations in the streets of London.
Main article: Elizabethan era
After Mary I died in 1558, Elizabeth I came to the throne. Her reign restored a sort of order to the realm after the turbulent reigns of Edward VI and Mary I. The religious issue which had divided the country since Henry VIII was in a way put to rest by the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, which re-established the Church of England. Much of Elizabeth's success was in balancing the interests of the Puritans and Catholics; historian Robert Bucholz paraphrasing historian Conrad Russell, suggested that the genius of the Church of England was that it "thinks Protestant but looks Catholic." She managed to offend neither to a large extent, although she clamped down on Catholics towards the end of her reign as war with Catholic Spain loomed.
Despite the need for an heir, Elizabeth declined to marry, despite offers from a number of suitors across Europe, including the Swedish king Erik XIV. This created endless worries over her succession, especially in the 1560s when she nearly died of smallpox. It has been often rumoured that she had a number of lovers (including Francis Drake), but there is no hard evidence.
Elizabeth maintained relative government stability. Apart from the Revolt of the Northern Earls in 1569, she was effective in reducing the power of the old nobility and expanding the power of her government. Elizabeth's government did much to consolidate the work begun under Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII, that is, expanding the role of the government and effecting common law and administration throughout England. During the reign of Elizabeth and shortly afterwards, the population grew significantly: from three million in 1564 to nearly five million in 1616.
The queen ran afoul of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, who was a devoted Catholic and so was forced to abdicate her throne (Scotland had recently become Protestant). She fled to England, where Elizabeth immediately had her arrested. Mary spent the next 19 years in confinement, but proved too dangerous to keep alive, as the Catholic powers in Europe considered her the legitimate ruler of England. She was eventually tried for treason, sentenced to death, and beheaded in February 1587.
The Procession Picture, c. 1600, showing Elizabeth I borne along by her courtiers
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. The symbol of Britannia was first used in 1572 and often thereafter to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over the hated Spanish foe. In terms of the entire century, the historian John Guy (198 cool argues that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors" than at any time in a thousand years.
This "golden age" represented the apogee of the English Renaissance and saw the flowering of poetry, music and literature. The era is most famous for theatre, as William Shakespeare and many others composed plays that broke free of England's past style of theatre. It was an age of exploration and expansion abroad, while back at home, the Protestant Reformation became more acceptable to the people, most certainly after the Spanish Armada was repulsed. It was also the end of the period when England was a separate realm before its royal union with Scotland.
The Elizabethan Age is viewed so highly largely because of the periods before and after. It was a brief period of largely internal peace after the horrible violence and disorder of the Wars of the Roses, and battles between Catholics and Protestants during the English Reformation; and it preceded the violent turmoil of the English Civil War and battles between parliament and the monarchy during the 17th century. The Protestant/Catholic divide was settled, for a time, by the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, and parliament was not yet strong enough to challenge royal absolutism.
England was also well off compared to the other nations of Europe. The Italian Renaissance had ended due to foreign domination of the peninsula. France was embroiled in religious battles until the Edict of Nantes in 1598. Also, the English had been expelled from their last outposts on the continent. Due to these reasons, the centuries long conflict with France was largely suspended for most of Elizabeth's reign. England during this period had a centralised, organised and effective government, largely due to the reforms of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Economically, the country began to benefit greatly from the new era of trans-Atlantic trade.
Sir Francis Drake's voyage 1585–86
In 1585 worsening relations between Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth erupted into war. Elizabeth signed the Treaty of Nonsuch with the Dutch and permitted Francis Drake to maraud in response to a Spanish embargo. Drake surprised Vigo, Spain, in October, then proceeded to the Caribbean and sacked Santo Domingo (the capital of Spain's American empire and the present-day capital of the Dominican Republic) and Cartagena (a large and wealthy port on the north coast of Colombia that was the centre of the silver trade). Philip II tried to invade England with the Spanish Armada in 1588 but was famously defeated.
The Armada was not just a naval campaign. The build-up of land forces to resist a Spanish invasion has been described as an administrative feat of massive scope. A survey taken in November and December 1587 showed 130,000 men in the militia, of whom 44,000 were members of the trained bands, being drilled and led by experienced captains and sergeants. By May 1588 the London bands were drilling weekly. To give warning of the enemy's approach, beacons were built, manned twenty-four hours a day by four men. Once the beacons were lit, 72,000 men could be mobilised on the south coast, with another 46,000 protecting London. For the many Englishmen caught up in the Armada the experience must have been very profound and frightening. Some shared the intimacy of beacon watching, hoping for the best, but ready to light their warning fires in case of the worst. Deloney, a London silkweaver, played on their fears in his "New Ballet [Ballad] on the strange whippes which the Spanyards had prepared to whippe English men" (158 cool .The political philosopher Thomas Hobbes recalled that his mother was so frightened that she prematurely gave birth to twins, of whom he was one. All were terrified about what might happen if the Spanish invaded. Stories of the Sack of Antwerp in 1576, in which the Spanish led by Sancho d'Avila raped, tortured and murdered as many as 17,000 civilians, were grist for playwrights and pamphleteers such as George Gascoigne and Shakespeare.The former remembered seeing civilians at Antwerp drowned, burned, or with guts hanging out as if they had been used for an anatomy lesson. Few Englishmen, women and children doubted they faced similar fates had the Armada landed.
In foreign policy, Elizabeth played against each other the major powers France and Spain, as well as the papacy and Scotland. These were all Catholic and each wanted to end Protestantism in England. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs and only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France and Ireland. She risked war with Spain by supporting the "Sea Dogs", such as Walter Raleigh, John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake, who preyed on Spanish merchant ships carrying gold and silver from the New World. Drake himself became a hero—being the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world between 1577 and 1580, having plundered Spanish settlements and treasure ships. The major war came with Spain, 1585–1603. When Spain tried to invade and conquer England it was a fiasco, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth's name with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history. Her enemies failed to combine and Elizabeth's foreign policy successfully navigated all the dangers.
End of Tudor era
In all, the Tudor period is seen as a decisive one which set up many important questions which would have to be answered in the next century and during the English Civil War. These were questions of the relative power of the monarch and Parliament and to what extent one should control the other. Some historians think that Thomas Cromwell affected a "Tudor Revolution" in government, and it is certain that Parliament became more important during his chancellorship. Other historians argue that the "Tudor Revolution" extended to the end of Elizabeth's reign, when the work was all consolidated. Although the Privy Council declined after Elizabeth's death, it was very effective while she was alive.
When Elizabeth died, her closest male Protestant relative was the King of Scots, James VI, of the House of Stuart, who became King James I of England in a Union of the Crowns, called James I and VI. He was the first monarch to rule the entire island of Britain, but the countries remained separate politically. Upon taking power, James made peace with Spain, and for the first half of the 17th century, England remained largely inactive in European politics. Several assassination attempts were made on James, notably the Main Plot and Bye Plots of 1603, and most famously, on 5 November 1605, the Gunpowder Plot, by a group of Catholic conspirators, led by Robert Catesby, which caused more antipathy in England towards Catholicism.
Further information: English overseas possessions
In 1607 England built an establishment at Jamestown. This was the beginning of colonialism by England in North America. Many English settled then in North America for religious or economic reasons. Approximately 70% of English immigrants to North America who came between 1630 and 1660 were indentured servants. By 1700, Chesapeake planters transported about 100,000 indentured servants, who accounted for more than 75% of all European immigrants to Virginia and Maryland.
King Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649
The First English Civil War broke out in 1642, largely due to ongoing conflicts between James' son, Charles I, and Parliament. The defeat of the Royalist army by the New Model Army of Parliament at the Battle of Naseby in June 1645 effectively destroyed the king's forces. Charles surrendered to the Scottish army at Newark. He was eventually handed over to the English Parliament in early 1647. He escaped, and the Second English Civil War began, but the New Model Army quickly secured the country. The capture and trial of Charles led to the execution of Charles I in January 1649 at Whitehall Gate in London, making England a republic. This shocked the rest of Europe. The king argued to the end that only God could judge him.
The New Model Army, commanded by Oliver Cromwell, then scored decisive victories against Royalist armies in Ireland and Scotland. Cromwell was given the title Lord Protector in 1653, making him 'king in all but name' to his critics. After he died in 1658, his son Richard Cromwell succeeded him in the office but he was forced to abdicate within a year. For a while it seemed as if a new civil war would begin as the New Model Army split into factions. Troops stationed in Scotland under the command of George Monck eventually marched on London to restore order.
According to Derek Hirst, outside of politics and religion, the 1640s and 1650s saw a revived economy characterized by growth in manufacturing, the elaboration of financial and credit instruments, and the commercialization of communication. The gentry found time for leisure activities, such as horse racing and bowling. In the high culture important innovations included the development of a mass market for music, increased scientific research, and an expansion of publishing. All the trends were discussed in depth at the newly established coffee houses.
Restoration of the monarchy
King Charles II
The Great Fire London, 1666.
The monarchy was restored in 1660, with King Charles II returning to London. However, the power of the crown was less than before the Civil War. By the 18th century, England rivaled the Netherlands as one of the freest countries in Europe.In 1665, London was swept by the plague, and in 1666 by the Great Fire for 5 days which destroyed about 15,000 buildings.Glorious Revolution
In 1680, the Exclusion Crisis consisted of attempts to prevent accession of James, heir to Charles II, because he was Catholic. After Charles II died in 1685 and his younger brother, James II and VII was crowned, various factions pressed for his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband Prince William III of Orange to replace him in what became known as the Glorious Revolution.
In November 1688, William invaded England and succeeded in being crowned. James tried to retake the throne in the Williamite War, but was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
In December 1689, one of the most important constitutional documents in English history, the Bill of Rights, was passed.The Bill, which restated and confirmed many provisions of the earlier Declaration of Right, established restrictions on the royal prerogative. For example, the Sovereign could not suspend laws passed by Parliament, levy taxes without parliamentary consent, infringe the right to petition, raise a standing army during peacetime without parliamentary consent, deny the right to bear arms to Protestant subjects, unduly interfere with parliamentary elections, punish members of either House of Parliament for anything said during debates, require excessive bail or inflict cruel and unusual punishments. William was opposed to such constraints, but chose to avoid conflict with Parliament and agreed to the statute.
In parts of Scotland and Ireland, Catholics loyal to James remained determined to see him restored to the throne, and staged a series of bloody uprisings. As a result, any failure to pledge loyalty to the victorious King William was severely dealt with. The most infamous example of this policy was the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. Jacobite rebellions continued into the mid-18th century until the son of the last Catholic claimant to the throne, James III and VIII, mounted a final campaign in 1745. The Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" of legend, were defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.Formation of Great Britain and the United Kingdom
The Acts of Union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were a pair of Parliamentary Acts passed by both parliaments in 1707, which dissolved them in order to form a Kingdom of Great Britain governed by a unified Parliament of Great Britain according to the Treaty of Union. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate independent states, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch, starting with James I of England (also James VI of Scotland)) into a single kingdom.The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his double first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I. Although described as a Union of Crowns, until 1707 there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head. There had been three attempts in 1606, 1667, and 1689 to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early 18th century that the idea had the will of both political establishments behind them, albeit for rather different reasons.
The Acts took effect on 1 May 1707. On this date, the Scots Parliament and the English Parliament united to form the Parliament of Great Britain, based in the Palace of Westminster in London, the home of the English Parliament. Hence, the Acts are referred to as the Union of the Parliaments. On the Union, historian Simon Schama said "What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world ... it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history.
In 1714 ended the reign of Queen Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuart. She was succeeded by her second cousin, George I, of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, daughter of James VI & I. A series of Jacobite rebellions broke out in an attempt to restore the Stuart monarchy, but failed. Several planned French invasions were attempted, also with the intention of placing the Stuarts on the throne.The first general laws against child labour, the Factory Acts, were passed in Britain in the first half of the 19th century. Children younger than nine were not allowed to work and the work day of youth under the age of 18 was limited to twelve hours.
The Act of Union of 1800 formally assimilated Ireland within the British political process and from 1 January 1801 created a new state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which united Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland to form a single political entity. The English parliament at Westminster became the parliament of the Union.
Modern England, 18th–19th centuries
Main article: History of the United Kingdom
Further information: English society and History of local government in England § The evolution of modern local government (1832–1974)
Following the formation of Great Britain, the history of England is no longer the history of a sovereign nation, but rather the history of one of the countries of the United Kingdom.
Main article: Economic history of the United Kingdom
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, technological advances and mechanization resulted in the Industrial Revolution which transformed a largely agrarian society and caused considerable social upheaval. Economies of scale and increased output per worker allowed steam-based factories to undercut production of traditional cottage industries. Much of the agricultural workforce was uprooted from the countryside and moved into large urban centres of production. The consequent overcrowding into areas with little supporting infrastructure saw dramatic increases in mortality, crime, and social deprivation. (Many Sunday schools for pre-working-age children (5 or 6) had funeral clubs to pay for each other's funeral arrangements.) The process of industrialization threatened many livelihoods, which prompted some to sabotage factories. These saboteurs were known as "Luddites".
The Local Government Act 1888 was the first systematic attempt to impose a standardised system of local government in England. The system was based on the existing counties (today known as the historic counties, since the major boundary changes of 1974). Later, the Local Government Act 1894 created a second tier of local government. All administrative counties and county boroughs were divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration.During the 1800s, the need for local administration greatly increased, prompting piecemeal adjustments. The sanitary districts and parish councils had legal status, but were not part of the mechanism of government. They were run by volunteers; often no-one could be held responsible for the failure to undertake the required duties. Furthermore, the increased "county business" could not be handled by the quarter sessions, nor was this appropriate. Finally, there was a desire to see local administration performed by elected officials, as in the reformed municipal boroughs. By 1888, these shortcomings were clear, and the Local Government Act was the first systematic attempt to create a standardised system of local government in England.The system was based on the existing counties (now known as the historic counties, since the major boundary changes of 1974). The counties themselves had had some boundary changes in the preceding 50 years, mainly to remove enclaves and exclaves. The act called for the creation of statutory counties, based on the ancient/historic counties, but completely corrected for enclaves and exclaves, and adjusted so that each settlement was completely within one county. These statutory counties were to be used for non-administrative functions: "sheriff, lieutenant, custos rotulorum, justices, militia, coroner, or other". With the advent of elected councils, the offices of lord lieutenant and sheriff became largely ceremonial.The statutory counties formed the basis for the so-called 'administrative counties'. However, it was felt that large cities and primarily rural areas in the same county could not be well administered by the same body. Thus, 59 "counties in themselves", or 'county boroughs', were created to administer the urban centres of England. These were part of the statutory counties, but not part of the administrative counties.In 1894, the Local Government Act created a second tier of local government. Henceforth, all administrative counties and county boroughs would be divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration. The municipal boroughs reformed after 1835 were brought into this system as special cases of urban districts. The urban and rural districts were based on, and incorporated the sanitary districts which created in 1875 (with adjustments, so that districts did not overlap two counties). The Act also provided for the establishment of civil parishes. The 1894 Act formed an official system of civil parishes, separated from the ecclesiastical parishes, to carry on some of these responsibilities (others being transferred to the district/county councils). However, the civil parishes were not a complete third tier of local government. Instead, they were 'community councils' for smaller, rural settlements, which did not have a local government district to themselves. Where urban parish councils had previously existed, they were absorbed into the new urban districts.
Main articles: Social history of Postwar Britain (1945–1979) and Political history of the United Kingdom (1979–present)
A prolonged agricultural depression in Britain at the end of the 19th century, together with the introduction in the 20th century of increasingly heavy levels of taxation on inherited wealth, put an end to agricultural land as the primary source of wealth for the upper classes. Many estates were sold or broken up, and this trend was accelerated by the introduction of protection for agricultural tenancies, encouraging outright sales, from the mid-20th century.Victory in Europe Day celebrations in London, 8 May 1945.Following years of political and military agitation for 'Home Rule' for Ireland, the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 established the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland) as a separate state, leaving Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. The country's official name thus became "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".England, as part of the UK, joined the European Economic Community in 1973, which became the European Union in 1993. The UK left the EU in 2020.There is a movement in England to create a devolved English Parliament. This would give England a local Parliament like those already functioning for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This issue is referred to as the West Lothian question.Further information: History of local government in Englan.A Local Government Commission was wound up in 1966, and replaced with a Royal Commission (known as the Redcliffe-Maud commission). In 1969 it recommended a system of single-tier unitary authorities for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of Merseyside, Selnec (Greater Manchester) and West Midlands (Birmingham and the Black Country), which were to have both a metropolitan council and district councils. This report was accepted by the Labour Party government of the time despite considerable opposition, but the Conservative Party won the June 1970 general election, and on a manifesto that committed them to a two-tier structure.The reforms arising from the Local Government Act of 1972 resulted in the most uniform and simplified system of local government which has been used in England. They effectively wiped away everything that had gone before, and built an administrative system from scratch. All previous administrative districts—statutory counties, administrative counties, county boroughs, municipal boroughs, counties corporate, civil parishes—were abolished.The aim of the act was to establish a uniform two tier system across the country. Onto the blank canvas, new counties were created to cover the entire country; many of these were obviously based on the historic counties, but there were some major changes, especially in the north.This uniform two-tier system lasted only 12 years. In 1986, the metropolitan county councils and Greater London were abolished. This restored autonomy (in effect the old county borough status) to the metropolitan and London boroughs. The Local Government Act (1992) established a commission (Local Government Commission for England) to examine the issues, and make recommendations on where unitary authorities should be established. It was considered too expensive to make the system entirely unitary, and also there would doubtlessly be cases where the two-tier system functioned well. The commission
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