From the Britons to the Tudor Line
An abstract of England (and more generally Britain)’s history.
The Britons (Iron age-55 b.C)
Since the Iron Age, a group of people with a Celtic culture and language inhabited England : the Britons. They came from central Europe and their religion was Druidism; they lived quietly till the Romans, led by Julius Caesar, came to Britain for punishing the people that helped the Gauls in previous battles.
The Romans( 55 b.C- 410 A.D)
The Romans, then, conquered it, so Britain became a Roman province. This is a very prosperous and flourishing time for the country, because the Romans spread culture introducing Christianity, laws, art and language and they also created a urban civilization: in fact they built new roads, forts and founded many towns, like London, York, Gloucester and so on; in 410 they left Britain to defend Rome from an assault.
Not much time later, the Germanic tribes of Jutes, Angles and Saxons came to Britain. Then, around the eighth century, the island was reached by Scandinavian peoples, Vikings and Danes(who conquered mainly the northern England and Scotland) but all Britain was united by the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great, who took care of the country, spreading wealth and culture.
1066: the Normans
The Battle of Hastings (1066 A.D) played a crucial role in English history, since after that many things changed, slowly but radically; led by William the Conqueror, the Normans, a tribe that some years before had settled in the region of French today known as “Normandy”, won the battle and took over the kingdom. This date signs the beginning of the Middle English Period, that we remember for two main aspects:
-the social classes used to speak different languages: the nobility and the court French, the clergy and those who were member of a legal professions Latin, while the ordinary people spoke English. During these years, anyway, those idioms merged to create what we call “middle English”
-the Normans introduced the feudal system, as it was practiced on the continent. It basically assigned to the king all the land, but this was held and run by others in change of service and goods.
From the struggle with the Church to the Tudor Line
Whilst Britain grew under the wise king William, there was another rising institution: the Church; it had by now a lot of money, land and men and wanted to take the control. The conflict whit the kingdom was inevitable and reached its climax with the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a’ Becket.
Some years later, others problems affected the king; the barons and the monarchy wanted more power on taking decisions, and they also demanded a reduction of the heavy taxation that the king had imposed them. That’s why, in 1215, he issued the “Magna Charta”, who limited the power of the king.
When the Normans landed to Britain, the hadn’t lost the possessions of some French territories and they also have relatives in the succession for the throne of France; that’s why on 1337, claiming the crown, the English invaded France, starting what’s called The Hundred Years War, who lasted till 1453, when the English definitely lost every land of the continental territory.
Moreover, during that years a terrible outburst of plague, known as The Black Death, swept across England and killing a huge number of people, that over the time meant the reduction of manpower and the ruin of the economy.
In 1381, discontent grew among the farmers, who took advantage from the weakening of lordship and the cheapness of the land: we have the Peasant Revolt; those whose led this battle had been captured and killed, but slowly the peasants began to win freedom and gain better wages.
In 1455, a bloody civil war broke out between the supporter of the House of Lancaster and the House of York; this clash is called the War of the Roses because the two families had respectively a white and a red rose as emblems. The conflict lasted until 1485, whit the union of the two families and the starting of the Tudor Line. During this period, the society was classified according to a social scale, which depended on birth, professions and other factors such as the marital status. At the top of the scale, there were the nobles, followed by the knights; then there were traders, craftsmen, common people. Last, farmers with no liberty.