Narrative History of England


Narrative History of England
Introduction by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

Naturally, our study will be concerned with the lives of the men and women who contributed to the history of their great nation, for good or for ill. We will look, at the growth of England's political institutions, its Kings, Queens and chief ministers, and its technical and scientific marvels (phenomena) that put Britain ahead of its contemporaries in so many areas and gave the world the industrial and agricultural revolutions that changed peoples' lives forever. We will also discuss the important battles that determined the fate of the English nation.
We will look at the great men of literature who wrote in a language that is now being understood and copied in almost every area of the world. And we mustn't forget those who fought against the establishment in so many different areas, those men (and women) whose revolutionary ideas helped change the face of government, brought down kings and parliaments, and introduced modern democracy. Then there were those who were responsible for advances in medicine, psychology, sanitation, road-building, military reform, shipbuilding -- the list seems endless. Perhaps we should begin our account right at the beginning, long before recorded history began.
Part 1: The Prehistoric Period by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

Pre-Roman Britain

Though the scribes (writers) that accompanied the Roman invaders of Britain gave us the first written history of the land that came to be known as England, its history had already been writ large in its ancient monuments and archeological findings. Present-day Britain is riddled with evidence of its long past, of the past that the Roman writers did not record, but which is etched in the landscape. Looking out on the green and cultivated land, where it is not disfigured by the inevitable cities and towns and villages of later civilizations,  strange bumps and mounds; remains of terraced or plowed fields; irregular slopes that bespeak ancient hill forts; strangely carved designs in the chalk; jagged teeth of upstanding megaliths; stone circles of immense breadth and height and ancient, mysterious wells and springs.
Man lived in what we now call the British Isles long before it broke away from the continent of Europe, long before the great seas covered the land bridge that is now known as the English Channel, that body of water that protected this island for so long, and that by its very nature, was to keep it out of the maelstrom that became medieval Europe. Thus England's peculiar character as an island nation came about through its very isolation. Early man came, settled, farmed and built. His remains tell us much about his lifestyle and his habits. Of course, the land was not then known as England, nor would it be until long after the Romans had departed.
We know of the island's early inhabitants from what they left behind on such sites as Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, and Swanscombe in Kent, gravel pits, the exploration of which opened up a whole new way of seeing our ancient ancestors dating back to the lower Paleolithic (early Stone Age). Here were deposited not only fine tools made of flint, including hand-axes, but also a fossilized skull of a young woman as well as bones of elephants, rhinoceroses, cave-bears, lions, horses, deer, giant oxen, wolves and hares. From the remains, we can assume that man lived at the same time as these animals which have long disappeared from the English landscape.
So we know that a thriving culture existed around 8,000 years ago in the misty, westward islands the Romans were to call Britannia, though some have suggested the occupation was only seasonal, due to the still-cold climate of the glacial period which was slowly coming to an end. As the climate improved, there seems to have been an increase in the number of people moving into Britain from the Continent. They were attracted by its forests, its wild game, abundant rivers and fertile southern plains. An added attraction was its relative isolation, giving protection against the fierce nomadic tribesmen that kept appearing out of the east, forever searching for new hunting grounds and perhaps, people to subjugate and enslave.
The Neolithic Age
The new age of settlement took place around 4,500 BC, in what we now term the Neolithic Age. Though isolated farmhouses seem to be the norm, the remarkable findings at Skara Brae and Rinyo in the Orkneys give evidence of settled, village life. In both sites, local stone was used extensively to make interior walls, beds, boxes, cupboards and hearths. Roofs seem to have been supported by whale bone, more plentiful and more durable than timber. Much farther south, at Carn Brea in Cornwall, another Neolithic village attests to a lifestyle similar to that enjoyed at Skara Brae, except in the more fertile south, agriculture played a much larger part in the lives of the villagers. Animal husbandry was practiced at both sites.
Very early on, farming began to transform the landscape of Britain from virgin forest to ploughed fields. An excavated settlement at Windmill Hill, Wiltshire shows us that its early inhabitants kept cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and dogs. They also cultivated various kinds of wheat and barley, grew flax, gathered fruits and made pottery. They buried their dead in long barrows -- huge elongated mounds of earth raised over a temporary wooden structure in which several bodies were laid. These long barrows are found all over Southern England, where fertile soil allied to a flat, or gently rolling landscape greatly aided settlement.
To clear the forests, it is obvious that stone-axes of a sophisticated design were produced in great numbers. Many of these axes were obtained by trading with other groups or by mining high-quality flint. Both activities seem to have been wide-spread, as stone-axes appear in many areas away from the source of their manufacture. At Grimes Graves, in Norfolk (in the eastern half of Britain), great quantities of flint were mined by miners working deep hollowed-out shafts and galleries in the chalk.
At the same time the Windmill people practiced their way of life and other farming people were introducing decorated pottery and different shaped tools to Britain. The cultures may have combined to produce the striking Megalithic monuments, the burial chambers and the henges. The tombs consisted of passage graves, in which a long narrow passage leads to a burial chamber in the very middle of the mound; and gallery graves, in which the passage is wider, divided by stone partitions making stall-like compartments. Some of these tombs were built of massive blocks of stone standing upright as walls, with other huge blocks laid across horizontally to make a roof. They were then covered with earthen mounds which have in many cases, completely eroded. One of the most impressive of these tombs is New Grange in Ireland. They are the oldest manmade stone structures known, older than the great Pyramids of Egypt.
Sometime in the early to middle Neolithic period, groups of people began to build camps or enclosures in valley bottoms or on hilltops. Perhaps these were originally built to pen cattle and later used for defense, settlement or simply meeting places for trading. Avebury, EnglandPerhaps they were built for religious purposes. Soon, these enclosures began to evolve into more elaborate sites that may have been used for religious ceremonies, perhaps even for studying the night stars so that sowing, planting and harvesting could be done at the most propitious times of the year. Whatever their purpose, we call these sites, most of which are circular or semi-circular in pattern, henges. They include banks and ditches; the most impressive, at Avebury, in Wiltshire, had a ditch 21 metres in width, and 9 metres deep in places.
Many of the timber posts that defined these henges have long disappeared, but many sites still contain circles of pits, central stones, cairns or burials and clearly defined stone or timber entrances. It was not too long before stone circles began to dot the landscape, spanning the period between the late Neolithic and the early Bronze Ages (c 3370 - 2679 BC). Outside these circles were erected the monoliths, huge single standing stones that may have been aligned on the rising or setting sun at midsummer or midwinter. Some of these, such as the groups of circles known as the Calva group in present day Scotland, were also used for burials and burial ceremonies. Henges seem to have been used for multiple purposes, justifying the enormous expenditure of time and energy to construct them.
The arrival of the so-called "Beaker people" named after the shape of their most characteristic pottery vessel, brought the first metal-users to the British Isles. Perhaps they used their beakers to store beer, for they grew barley and knew how to brew beer from it. At the time of their arrival in Britain, they seem to have mingled with another group of Europeans we call the "Battle-axe people," who had domesticated the horse, used wheeled carts and smelted and worked copper. They also buried their dead in single graves, often under round barrows. They also may have introduced a language into Britain derived from Indo-European.
Prehistoric Earthworks and the "Wessex Culture"
Silbury HillThe two groups seem to have blended together to produce the cult in Southern England that we call the 'Wessex Culture.' They were responsible for the enormous earthwork called Silbury Hill, the largest manmade mound in prehistoric Europe. Silbury is 39 metres high and was built as a series of circular platforms; their purpose still unknown. Nearby is the largest henge of all, Avebury, consisting of a vast circular ditch and bank, an outer ring of one hundred standing stones and two smaller inner rings of stones. Outside the monument was a mile-long avenue of standing stones.
StonehengeStonehenge, in the same general area as Silbury and Avebury, is perhaps the most famous, certainly the most visited and photographed of all the prehistoric monuments in Britain. We can only guess at the amount of labor involved in its construction, at the enormous complexity of the task which included transporting the inner blue-stones from the Preseli Hills in Wales and erecting of the great lintelled circle and horseshoe of large sarsen stones, shaped and dressed. The architectural sophistication of the monument bears witness to the tremendous technological advances being made at the time of the arrival of the Bronze Age.
Grave goods also attest to the sophistication of the Wessex culture: These include well-made stone battle axes, but also metal daggers with richly decorated hilts, precious ornaments of gold or amber, as well as gold cups, amulets, even a sceptre with a polished mace-head at one end. To make bronze, tin came from Cornwall; gold came from Wales, and products made from these metals were traded freely both within the British Isles and with peoples on the continent of Europe. Bronze was used to make cauldrons and bowls, shields and helmets, weapons of war, and farming tools. It was at this time that the Celtic peoples arrived in the islands we now call Britain.
The Celts

Before the arrival of the Celts in Britain, iron-working had begun in the Hittite Empire, of Asia Minor. Those who practiced the trade kept it a closely guarded secret, but shortly after 1200 BC, the Hittites were overthrown and knowledge of the miracle metal began to leak out. In Central Europe, a culture known as "Urnfield" developed and prospered. It quickly adapted the iron-working culture known as "Hallstatt," after a site in Austria.
burial chambersOne of the most significant elements in the new culture was the system of burial. Important people were buried along with their most precious possessions in timber built chambers under earthen barrows. The Hallstatt people were highly-skilled craftsmen, who used iron, bronze and gold, and produced fine burnished pottery. At some time they reached the British Isles and their culture began to infiltrate those foggy, wet, but mineral-rich islands off the Continent.
From their contact with Mediterraneans, the Hallstatt people had advanced their technology and culture developing into what is called "La Tene" after a site in Switzerland. The La Tene style, with its production of beautiful, handsomely-made and decorated articles, came into existence around the middle of the fifth century BC. It was produced by the Celts, the first people in the islands of Britain whose culture and language survive in many forms today.
Of the Celtic peoples, Hermann Noelle wrote:
The Celtic culture as a whole, developing very early on about 1000 BC, and reaching its finest expression around 500 BC, is a fundamental part of Europe's past. This is not to underrate the subsequent influence of the Latin and Germanic peoples on this part of Europe. But the Celtic foundation was already present. Thus, European culture is inconceivable without the Celtic contribution. Even when the presence of the Celts in their original territory is no longer obvious, we must acknowledge the fact: they are at the root of the Western European peoples who have made history. (Die Kelten und Ihre Stadt Manching, cited in Cunliffe, 214)
The arrival of people into the British Isles from the Continent probably took place in small successive waves. The Greeks called these people Keltoi, the Romans Celtai. In present-day Yorkshire, "the Arras Culture" with its La Tene chariot burials attests to the presence of a wealthy and flourishing Celtic society in Northeast Britain. In the southwest, cross-Channel influence is seen. Here, a culture developed that was probably highly involved in the mining and trading of tin; it is characterized by a certain type of hill fort that is also found in Britanny.
Hill Forts
Hill Forts from the Iron-Age, the age of the Celts, are found everywhere in the British Isles. Spectacular relics from prehistoric times, hill forts had as many purposes as sites. They varied from shelters for people and livestock in times of danger, purely local settlements of important leaders and their families, to small townships and administrative centers. Long practiced in the art of warfare, the people of these isolated settlements were responsible for some of the finest known artistic achievements. In addition to their beautifully wrought and highly decorated shields, daggers, spears, helmets and sword, they also produced superb mirrors, toilet articles, drinking vessels and personal jewelry of exquisite form and decoration.
DruidThe Celts in Britain used a language derived from a branch of Celtic known as either Brythonic, which gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton; or Goidelic, giving rise to Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx. Along with their languages, the Celts brought their religion to Britain, particularly that of the Druids, the guardians of traditions and learning. The Druids glorified the pursuits of war, feasting and horsemanship. They controlled the calender and the planting of crops and presided over the religious festivals and rituals that honored local deities.
Many of Britain's Celts came from Gaul, driven from their homelands by the Roman armies and Germanic tribes. These were the Belgae, who arrived in great numbers and settled in the southeast around 75 BC. They brought with them a sophisticated plough that revolutionized agriculture in the rich, heavy soils of their new lands. Their society was well-organized in urban settlements, the capitals of the tribal chiefs. Their crafts were highly developed; bronze urns, bowls and torques illustrate their metalworking skills. They also introduced coinage to Britain and conducted a lively export trade with Rome and Gaul, including corn, livestock, metals and slaves.
Of the Celtic lands on the mainland of Britain, Wales and Scotland have received extensive coverage in the pages of Britannia. The largest non-Celtic area, at least linguistically, is now known as England, and it is here that the Roman influence is most strongly felt. It was here that the armies of Rome came to stay, to farm, to mine, to build roads, small cities, and to prosper, but mostly to govern.
Part 2: The Roman Period by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

Changes in Empire and at Home

The first Roman invasion of the lands we now call the British Isles took place in 55 B.C. under war leader Julius Caesar, who returned one year later, but these probings did not lead to any significant or permanent occupation. He had some interesting, if biased comments concerning the natives: "All the Britons," he wrote, "paint themselves with woad, which gives their skin a bluish color and makes them look very dreadful in battle." It was not until a hundred years later that permanent settlement of the grain-rich eastern territories began in earnest.
In the year expedition was ordered against Britain by the Emperor Claudius, who showed he meant business by sending his general, Aulus Plautius, and an army of 40,000 men. Only three months after Plautius's troops landed on Britain's shores, the Emperor Claudius felt it was safe enough to visit his new province. Establishing their bases in what is now Kent, through a series of battles involving greater discipline, a great element of luck, and general lack of co-ordination between the leaders of the various Celtic tribes, the Romans subdued much of Britain in the short space of forty years. They were to remain for nearly 400 years. The great number of prosperous villas that have been excavated in the southeast and southwest testify to the rapidity by which Britain became Romanized, for they functioned as centers of a settled, peaceful and urban life.
The highlands and moorlands of the northern and western regions, present-day Scotland and Wales, were not as easily settled, nor did the Romans particularly wish to settle in these agriculturally poorer, harsh landscapes. They remained the frontier -- areas where military garrisons were strategically placed to guard the extremities of the Empire. The stubborn resistance of tribes in Wales meant that two out of three Roman legions in Britain were stationed on its borders, at Chester and Caerwent.
Major defensive works further north attest to the fierceness of the Pictish and Celtic tribes, Hadrian's Wall in particular reminds us of the need for a peaceful and stable frontier. Built when Hadrian had abandoned his plan of world conquest, settling for a permanent frontier to "divide Rome from the barbarians," the seventy-two mile long wall connecting the Tyne to the Solway was built and rebuilt, garrisoned and re-garrisoned many times, strengthened by stone-built forts as one mile intervals.
For Imperial Rome, the island of Britain was a western breadbasket. Caesar had taken armies there to punish those who were aiding the Gauls on the Continent in their fight to stay free of Roman influence. Claudius invaded to give himself prestige, and his subjugation of eleven British tribes gave him a splendid triumph. Vespasian was a legion commander in Britain before he became Emperor, but it was Agricola who gave us most notice of the heroic struggle of the native Britons through his biographer Tacitus. From him, we get the unforgettable picture of the druids, "ranged in order, with their hands uplifted, invoking the gods and pouring forth horrible imprecations." Agricola also won the decisive victory of Mons Graupius in present-day Scotland in 84 A.D. over Calgacus "the swordsman," that carried Roman arms farther west and north than they had ever before ventured. They called their newly-conquered northern territory Caledonia.
When Rome had to withdraw one of its legions from Britain, the thirty-seven mile long Antonine Wall, connecting the Firths of Forth and Clyde, served temporarily as the northern frontier, beyond which lay Caledonia.. The Caledonians, however were not easily contained; they were quick to master the arts of guerilla warfare against the scattered, home-sick Roman legionaries, including those under their ageing commander Severus. The Romans abandoned the Antonine Wall, withdrawing south of the better-built, more easily defended barrier of Hadrian, but by the end of the fourth century, the last remaining outposts in Caledonia were abandoned.
Further south, however, in what is now England, Roman life prospered. Essentially urban, it was able to integrate the native tribes into a town-based governmental system. Agricola succeeded greatly in his aims to accustom the Britons "to a life of peace and quiet by the provision of amenities. He consequently gave private encouragement and official assistance to the building of temples, public squares and good houses." Many of these were built in former military garrisons that became the coloniae , the Roman chartered towns such as Colchester, Gloucester, Lincoln, and York (where Constantine was declared Emperor by his troops in 306 A.D.). Other towns, called municipia , included such foundations as St. Albans (Verulamium).
Chartered towns were governed to a large extent on that of Rome. They were ruled by an ordo of 100 councillors (decurion ). who had to be local residents and own a certain amount of property. The ordo was run by two magistrates, rotated annually; they were responsible for collecting taxes, administering justice and undertaking public works. Outside the chartered town, the inhabitants were referred to as peregrini , or non-citizens. they were organized into local government areas known as civitates , largely based on pre-existing chiefdom boundaries. Canterbury and Chelmsford were two of the civitas capitals.
In the countryside, away from the towns, with their metalled, properly drained streets, their forums and other public buildings, bath houses, shops and amphitheatres, were the great villas, such as are found at Bignor, Chedworth and Lullingstone. Many of these seem to have been occupied by native Britons who had acquired land and who had adopted Roman culture and customs.. Developing out of the native and relatively crude farmsteads, the villas gradually added features such as stone walls, multiple rooms, hypocausts (heating systems), mosaics and bath houses..The third and fourth centuries saw a golden age of villa building that further increased their numbers of rooms and added a central courtyard. The elaborate surviving mosaics found in some of these villas show a detailed construction and intensity of labor that only the rich could have afforded; their wealth came from the highly lucrative export of grain.
Roman society in Britain was highly classified. At the top were those people associated with the legions, the provincial administration, the government of towns and the wealthy traders and commercial classes who enjoyed legal privileges not generally accorded to the majority of the population. In 2l2 AD, the Emperor Caracalla extended citizenship to all free-born inhabitants of the empire, but social and legal distinctions remained rigidly set between the upper rank of citizens known as honestiores and the masses, known as humiliores. At the lowest end of the scale were the slaves, many of whom were able to gain their freedom, and many of whom might occupy important govermental posts. Women were also rigidly circumscribed, not being allowed to hold any public office, and having severely limited property rights.
One of the greatest achievements of the Roman Empire was its system of roads, in Britain no less than elsewhere. When the legions arrived in a country with virtually no roads at all, as Britain was in the first century A.D., their first task was to build a system to link not only their military headquarters but also their isolated forts. Vital for trade, the roads were also of paramount important in the speedy movement of troops, munitions and supplies from one strategic center to another. They also allowed the movement of agricultural products from farm to market. London was the chief administrative centre, and from it, roads spread out to all parts of the province. They included Ermine Street, to Lincoln; Watling Street, to Wroxeter and then to Chester, all the way in the northwest on the Welsh frontier; and the Fosse Way, from Exeter to Lincoln, the first frontier of the province of Britain.
The Romans built their roads carefully and they built them well. They followed proper surveying, they took account of contours in the land, avoided wherever possible the fen, bog and marsh so typical in much of the land, and stayed clear of the impenetrable forests. They also utilized bridges, an innovation that the Romans introduced to Britain in place of the hazardous fords at many river crossings. An advantage of good roads was that communications with all parts of the country could be effected. They carried the cursus publicus, or imperial post. A road book used by messengers that lists all the main routes in Britain, the principal towns and forts they pass through, and the distances between them has survived: the Antonine Itinerary.. In addition, the same information, in map form, is found in the Peutinger Table. It tells us that mansiones were places at various intervals along the road to change horses and take lodgings.
The Roman armies did not have it all their own way in their battles with the native tribesmen, some of whom, in their inter-tribal squabbles, saw them as deliverers, not conquerors. Heroic and often prolonged resistance came from such leaders as Caratacus of the Ordovices, betrayed to the Romans by the Queen of the Brigantes. And there was Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) of the Iceni, whose revolt nearly succeeded in driving the Romans out of Britain. Her people, incensed by their brutal treatment at the hands of Roman officials, burned Colchester, London, and St. Albans, destroying many armies ranged against them. It took a determined effort and thousands of fresh troops sent from Italy to reinforce governor Suetonius Paulinus in A..D. 6l to defeat the British Queen, who took poison rather than submit.
Apart from the villas and fortified settlements, the great mass of the British people did not seem to have become Romanized. The influence of Roman thought survived in Britain only through the Church. Christianity had thoroughly replaced the old Celtic gods by the close of the 4th Century, as the history of Pelagius and St. Patrick testify, but Romanization was not successful in other areas. For example, the Latin tongue did not replace Brittonic as the language of the general population. Today's visitors to Wales, however, cannot fail to notice some of the Latin words that were borrowed into the British language, such as pysg (fish), braich (arm), caer (fort), foss (ditch), pont (bridge), eglwys (church), llyfr (book), ysgrif (writing), ffenestr (window), pared (wall or partition), and ystafell (room).
The disintegration of Roman Britain began with the revolt of Magnus Maximus in A.D. 383. After living in Britain as military commander for twelve years, he had been hailed as Emperor by his troops. He began his campaigns to dethrone Gratian as Emperor in the West, taking a large part of the Roman garrison in Britain with him to the Continent, and though he succeeded Gratian, he himself was killed by the Emperor Thedosius in 388. Some Welsh historians, and modern political figures, see Magnus Maximus as the father of the Welsh nation, for he opened the way for independent political organizations to develop among the Welsh people by his acknowledgement of the role of the leaders of the Britons in 383 (before departing on his military mission to the Continent) The enigmatic figure has remained a hero to the Welsh as Macsen Wledig, celebrated in poetry and song.
The Roman legions began to withdraw from Britain at the end of the fourth century. Those who stayed behind were to become the Romanized Britons who organized local defences against the onslaught of the Saxon hordes. The famous letter of A.D.410 from the Emperor Honorius told the cities of Britain to look to their own defences from that time on. As part of the east coast defences, a command had been established under the Count of the Saxon Shore, and a fleet had been organized to control the Channel and the North Sea. All this showed a tremendous effort to hold the outlying province of Britain, but eventually, it was decided to abandon the whole project. In any case, the communication from Honorius was a little late: the Saxon influence had already begun in earnest.
Part 3: Arthurian Britain by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

The Dark Ages

From the time that the Romans more or less abandoned Britain, to the arrival of Augustine at Kent to convert the Saxons, the period has been known as the Dark Ages. Written evidence concerning the period is scanty, but we do know that the most significant events were the gradual division of Britain into a Brythonic west, a Teutonic east and a Gaelic north; the formation of the Welsh, English and Scottish nations; and the conversion of much of the west to Christianity.
By 4l0, Britain had become self-governing in three parts, the North (which already included people of mixed British and Angle stock); the West (including Britons, Irish, and Angles); and the South East (mainly Angles). With the departure of the Roman legions, the old enemies began their onslaughts upon the native Britons once more. The Picts and Scots to the north and west (the Scots coming in from Ireland had not yet made their homes in what was to become later known as Scotland), and the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes to the south and east.
The two centuries that followed the collapse of Roman Britain happen to be among the worst recorded times in British history, certainly the most obscure. Three main sources for our knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon permeation of Britain come from the 6th century monk Gildas, the 8th century historian Bede, and the 9th century historian Nennius. From them, and from archeological evidence, it seems that the Anglo-Saxon domination of Britain took place in two distinct phases. I have hesitated to use Bede's term of "Conquest" for sound reasons.
One analogous situation with events in Britain as recorded by its English historians can be found by looking at the history of Israel. Recent archeological discoveries in the troubled land have cast into doubt the veracity of the Biblical accounts of the conquest of Canaan. Let's face it, history is written by the victors anxious to boast of their triumphs, to magnify their successes, and to denigrate the enemy. The Israelite bards and scribes certainly telescoped the events of the gradual subjugation of the Canaanite kingdoms, transforming what modern archaeologists have recognized as a gradual recrystallization of settled life into a great literary epic of conquest.
Referring to Israel, but in general terms, Neil Silberman wrote: "Archeology's real contribution has been, and will continue to be, the recognition that our biblical heritage is drawn from a complex mosaic of cultures, ideologies, and economies, and that some of our most profound spiritual and cultural traditions were forged in the vibrant diversity of the ancient Near Eastern world." As far as British history is concerned, we find English historians, especially Bede, doing the same thing as the biblical scribes. No matter how reliable an historian, Bede's bitter prejudice against the native Britons was honed by his religious beliefs and his praise of the English peoples' successes in colonizing the island of Britain.
Bede (672-735) spent his life at Jarrow, in Northumbria. In many ways a trustworthy historian, he was also a theologian. Acting as a bard of his own tribe in Northumbria, hIs intense hostility made him a partisan witness when he wrote of the British people, for they had retained a form of Roman Christianity which was anathema to him. He called members of the Celtic Church "barbarians," " a rustic, perfidious race," and is thus regarded by many modern historians (but especially Welsh writers) as a "fancy monger" especially for his account of the year of 708 that has been slavishly followed by countless generations of English historians throughout the centuries with nary a question. Nor do Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth escape censure, certainly not the writers of the English Chronicle., all of whom subscribe to the notion that the British people were driven out of their homelands into Wales and Cornwall as a result of a catastrophic event known as "the Anglo-Saxon conquest."
The heritage of the British people cannot simply be called Anglo-Saxon; it is based on such a mixture as took place in the Holy Land, that complex mosaic of cultures, ideologies and economies. The Celts were not driven out of what came to be known as England. More than one modern historian has pointed out that such an extraordinary success as an Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain "by bands of bold adventurers" could hardly have passed without notice by the historians of the Roman Empire, yet only Prosper Tyro and Procopius notice this great event, and only in terms that are not always consistent with the received accounts.
In the Gallic Chronicle of 452, Tyro had written that the Britons in 443 were reduced "in dicionen Saxonum" (under the jurisdiction of the English). He used the Roman term Saxons for all the English-speaking peoples resident in Britain: it comes from the Welsh appellation Saeson ). The Roman historians had been using the term to describe all the continental folk who had been directing their activities towards the eastern and southern coasts of Britain from as early as the 3rd Century. By the mid 6th Century, these peoples were calling themselves Angles and Frisians , and not Saxons.
In the account given by Procopius in the middle of the 6th Century (the Gothic War, Book 1V, cap 20), he writes of the island of Britain being possessed by three very populous nations: the Angili, the Frisians, and the Britons.. "And so numerous are these nations that every year, great numbers . . . migrate thence to the Franks . . ." There is no suggestion here that these peoples existed in a state of warfare or enmity, nor that the British people had been vanquished or made to flee westwards. We have to assume, therefore, that the Gallic Chronicle of 452 refers only to a small part of Britain, and that it does not signify conquest by the Saxons. According to a recent study, the Institute of Molecular Biology, Oxford (reported in Realm, March/April, 1999) has established a common DNA going back to the end of the last Ice Age which is shared by 99 percent from a sample of 6,000 British people, confirming that successive invasions of Saxons, Angles and Jutes (and Danes and Normans) did little to change that make-up.
Thus we have to agree with Professors John Davies and A.W. Wade-Evans that the Saxons did not sweep away the entire population of the areas they overran. The myth was especially promulgated by 19th century historians in their attempts to stress the essential teutonic nature of the English people, and their attempts to disassociate what they considered to be the politically mature, emotionally stable, enlightened English from their unreliable, untrustworthy Welsh, Scottish and Irish neighbors who apparently shared none of the former's redeeming characteristics.
It was not only Bede of course, who contributed to the confusion concerning the momentous events of the years 400 to 600, for the most influential document written during the period was that of the monk Gildas written about 540: De Excidio Britanniae (Concerning the Fall of Britain). Here, in some 25, 000 words, Gildas gives us a sermon that pours scorn on his contemporaries, the kings of Britain. He tells us that the coming of the Saxons was an act of God to punish the native Britons for their sins. As we discover from reading Gildas, there is a great lack of reliable written evidence from the period, and we have to turn to literature to inform ourselves of its important events, literature written before Bede's prejudiced history. Much of this literature was produced in what is now Scotland.
The Britons of the North produced two great poets Taliesin and Aneirin, both of whom lived in the area now known as Strathclyde in Scotland, but whose language is recognizable as Old Welsh Their poems are part of the heroic tradition that praise the warrior king and his brave followers in their constant battles against the Germanic invaders.. They also celebrate honor in defeat. Taliesin's poetry praises the ideal ruler who protects his people by bravery and ferocity in battle but who is mangnanimous and generous in peace. Aneirin is best remembered for Y Gododdin, commemorating the feats of a small band of warriors who fought the Angles at Catraeth and who were willing to die for their overlord. the poem is the first to mention Arthur, described as a paragon of virtue and bravery. In the Annales Cambriae, drawn up at St.David's in Wales around 960, Arthur is recorded as having been victorious at the Battle of Badon in 5l6 against the Saxons.
Another collection of stories collected around 830 that relate the events of the age is the Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons) ascribed to Nennius. Arthur is also mentioned, as is Brutus, described as the ancestor of the Welsh. Perhaps the most authentic of the early Arthurian references is the entry for 537 in the Annales that briefly refers to the Battle of Camlan in which Arthur and Medrawd were killed. Prose accounts of the enigmatic British leader are entirely tales of fancy. It was not until the highly imaginative works of Geoffrey of Monmouth (1090-1155) that the Arthurian romances provided the basis for a whole new and impressive tradition of European literature.
It is the coming of Christianity, however, that overshadows the literary achievements of the age. In most of lowland Britain, Latin had become the language of administration and education, especially since Celtic writing was virtually unknown. Latin was also the language of the Church in Rome. The old Celtic gods had given way to the new ones such as Mithras introduced by the Roman mercenaries; they were again replaced when missionaries from Gaul introduced Christianity to the islands. By 3l4, an organized Christian Church seems to have been established in most of Britain, for in that year British bishops were summoned to the Council of Arles. By the end of the fourth century, a diocesan structure had been set up, many districts having come under the pastoral care of a bishop.
In the meantime, however, missionaries of the Gospel had been active in the south and east of the land that later became known as Scotland (It was not until the late tenth Century that the name Scotia ceased to be applied to Ireland and become transferred to southwestern Scotland) The first of these was Ninian who probably built his first church (Candida Casa: White House ) at Whithorn in Galloway, ministering from there as a traveling bishop and being buried there after his death in 397 A.D. For many centuries his tomb remained a place of pilgrimage, including visits from kings and queens of Scotland.
It was during the time of the Saxon invasions, in that relatively unscathed western peninsular that later took the name Wales, that the first monasteries were established (the words Wales and Welsh were used by the Germanic invaders to refer to Romanized Britons). They spread rapidly to Ireland from where missionaries returned to those parts of Britain that were not under the Roman Bishops' jurisdiction, mainly the Northwest.. Though preceded by St Oran, who established churches in Iona, Mull and Tiree, Columba was the most important of these missionaries, later becoming a popular saint in the history of the Christian Church, but even he built the nave of his first monastery facing west and not east. For his efforts at reforming the Church, he was excommunicated by Rome. His banishment from Ireland became Scotland's gain.
The island of Iona is just off the western coast of Argyll, in present-day Scotland. It is been called the Isle of Dreams or Isle of Druids. It was here that Columba (Columcille '"Dove of the Church" ) with his small band of Irish monks landed in 563 A.D. to spread the faith, and it was here that the missionary saint inaugurated Aidan as king of the new territory of Dalriata (previously settled by men from Columba's own Ulster). Iona was quickly to become the ecclesiastical head of the Celtic Church in the whole of Britain as well as a major political center. After the monastic settlement at Iona gave sanctuary to the exiled Oswald early in the seventh century, the king invited the monks to come to his restored kingdom of Northumbria. It was thus that Aidan, with his twelve disciples, came to Lindisfarne, destined with Iona to become one of the great cultural centers of the early Christian world.
In 574, Columba is believed to have returned to Ireland to plead the cause of the bards, about to be expelled as trouble-makers. According to legend, he sensibly argued that their expulsion would deprive the country of an irreplaceable wealth of folklore and antiquity. He also refused to chop down the ancient, sacred oak trees that symbolized the old druidic religion. Although the bards were allowed to remain, they were forced to give up their special privileges as priests of the old religion (Some modern writers, such as Robert Graves have seen the old traditions underlying much Celtic literature throughout the long. long years since the 6th century).
In this period, the 5th and 6th Centuries, numerous Celtic saints were adopted by the rapidly expanding Church. At the Synod of Whitby in 664, however, the Celtic Church, with its own ideas about the consecration of its Bishops, tonsure of its monks, dates for the celebration of Easter and other differences with Rome, was more or less forced by majority opinion of the British bishops to accept the rule of St.Peter, introduced by Augustine, rather than of St.Columba. From this date on, we can no longer speak of a Celtic Church as distinct from that of Rome. By the end of the seventh century we can also begin to speak of an Anglo-Saxon political entity in the island of Britain, and the formation and growth of various English kingdoms.
Part 4: The Anglo Saxon Period by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

Commonly ascribed to the monk Gildas, the "De Excidio Britanniae" (the loss of Britain), was written about 540. As previously mentioned, it is not a good history, for it is most mere polemic. Closely followed by Bede, the account is the first to narrate what has traditionally been regarded as the story of the coming of the Saxons to Britain. Their success, regarded by Gildas as God's vengeance against the Britons for their sins, was a theme repeated by Bede isolated in his monastery in the north. We note, however, that Gildas made the statement that, in his own day, the Saxons were not warring against the Britons. We can be certain that the greater part of the pre-English inhabitants of England survived, and that a great proportion of present-day England is made up of their descendants.
To answer the question how did the small number of invaders come to master the larger part of Britain? John Davies gives us part of the answer: the regions seized by the newcomers were mainly those that had been most thoroughly Romanized, regions where traditions of political and military self-help were at their weakest. Those who chafed at the administration of Rome could only have welcomed the arrival of the English in such areas as Kent and Sussex, in the southeast.
Another compelling reason cited by Davies is the emergence in Britain of the great plague of the sixth century from Egypt that was particularly devastating to the Britons who had been in close contact with peoples of the Mediterranean. Be that as it may, the emergence of England as a nation did not begin as a result of a quick, decisive victory over the native Britons, but a result of hundreds of years of settlement and growth, more settlement and growth, sometimes peaceful, sometimes not. If it is pointed out that the native Celts were constantly warring among themselves, it should also be noted that so were the tribes we now collectively term the English, for different kingdoms developed in England that constantly sought domination through conquest. Even Bede could pick out half a dozen rulers able to impose some kind of authority upon their contemporaries.
So we see the rise and fall of successive English kingdoms during the seventh and eighth centuries: Kent, Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex. Before looking at political developments, however, it is important to notice the religious conversion of the people we commonly call Anglo-Saxons. It began in the late sixth century and created an institution that not only transcended political boundaries, but created a new concept of unity among the various tribal regions that overrode individual loyalties.
In 597, St. Augustine was sent to convert the pagan English by Pope Gregory, who was anxious to spread the Gospel, and enhance papal prestige by reclaiming former territories of Rome. Augustine received a favorable reception in the kingdom of Ethelbert, who had married Bertha, daughter of the Merovingian King and a practicing Christian. Again, it is to Bede that we owe the story of the conversion of England to the new faith (the older Roman Christian Church remained in parts of Britain, notably Wales and Scotland as the Celtic Church). Augustine's success in converting a large number of people led to his consecration as bishop by the end of the year.
Pope Gregory had drawn up a detailed plan for the administration of the Church in England. There were to be two archbishops, London and York (each to have 12 bishops). As the city of London was not under the control of Ethelbert, however, a new See was chosen at Canterbury, in Kent. It was there that Augustine, promoted to archbishop, laid down the beginnings of the ecclesiastical organization of the Church in Britain. It was Gregory's guiding hand, however, that influenced all Augustine's decisions; both Pope and Bishop seemed to know little of the Celtic Church, and made no accommodations with it.
The establishment of the Church at York was not possible until 625; the immense task of converting and then organizing the converted was mostly beyond the limited powers of Augustine, well-trained in monastic rule, but little trained in law and administration. Edwin of Northumbria's wife chose Paulinus as Bishop and the See of York was established, though later attacks from Penda of Mercia meant that only a limited kind of Christian worship took place in the North until around the middle of the eighth century.

In 668 when a vacancy arose at Canterbury, the monk Theodore of Tarsus was appointed as archbishop. His background as a Greek scholar meant that he had to take new vows and be ordained in custom with the Church in the West. He then attacked his work with vigor. Assisted by another Greek scholar Hadrian, he set up the basis of diocesan organization throughout England and carried out the decisions made at Whitby.
When Theodore arrived at Canterbury, there was one bishop south of the River Humber and two in the North: Cedda, a Celtic bishop and Wilfred of Ripon, who had argued successfully for the adoption of the Roman Church at Whitby. Theodore consecrated new bishops at Dulwich, Winchester and Rochester, and set up the Sees of Worcester, Hereford, Oxford and Leicester. Wilfred of Ripon reigned supreme in Northumbria as the exponent of ecclesiastical authority, but when he quarreled with King Ecgfrith, he was sent into exile. Theodore seized his opportunity to break up the North into smaller and more controllable dioceses. Over the next twenty years bishoprics were established at York, Hexham, Ripon and Lindsey. Theodore also re-established the system of ecclesiastical synods that disregarded political boundaries.
One of Theodore's great accomplishments was to create the machinery through which the wealth of the Celtic Church was transferred to the Anglo-Saxon Church. This wealth was particularly responsible for the late seventh century flowering of culture in Northumbria, which benefitted from both Celtic and Roman influences. In that northern outpost of the Catholic Church, a tradition of scholarship began that was to have a profound influence on the literature of Western Europe. It constituted a remarkable outbreak with equally remarkable consequences.
It all began with a Northumbrian nobleman, associated with monastic life, Benedict Biscop, who founded two monasteries, Wearmouth (674) and Jarrow (681). Both were to play important parts in this cultural phenomenon. Biscop made six journeys to Rome, acquiring many valuable manuscripts and beginning what can be termed a golden age in Northumbria. Its greatest scholar was Bede.
Known to posterity as "the Venerable Bede," the monk lived from 673-735. He entered Jarrow at the age of seven. Never traveling further than York, he became the most learned scholar of his time. Working in the library with the manuscripts acquired by Benedict Biscop, he added greatly to its store of knowledge through his voluminous correspondence. His contemporary reputation rested on his biblical writings and commentaries on the Scriptures as well as his chronological works that established a firm system of calculating the date of Easter. Bede's greatest work was his Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.
Bede's audience was a newly-forged nation; the English were anxious to hear of their past accomplishments and of the lives of their great people; Bede provided them with both. His history shows the stages by which the Anglo-Saxon people became Christian. He sifted his evidence carefully, preserving oral traditions where they complemented his written material, and he often indicated his sources. Abounding in anecdotes, guides for memory, his concept of history set a new standard for future writers, though as noted earlier, his prejudices against the Britons (Welsh) mar his work.
Before leaving the Anglo-Saxon religious scene, we must mention the enormous influence the English Church had on the continent. Rulers such as Charles Martel and Pepin III were pursuing aggressive policies against the Germanic tribes, and missionaries from the highly advanced English Church were extensively recruited. Wilfred of Ripon found a new calling after his expulsion from Northumbria, and he and others such as Willibrod carried out their conversions with approval from Rome. The greatest of the missionaries was Boniface, who established many German Sees from his archbishopric at Mainz. From York came Alcuin, one of the period's greatest scholars. All in all, we can say that the Anglo-Saxon Church provided an important impetus for the civilizing of much of the Continent. In particular, it provided the agent for the fusing of Celtic and Roman ideas, and its work in Europe produced events that had repercussions of profound importance.
In the meantime, events were rapidly changing the political face of Anglo-Saxon England. There were separate kingdoms in England, settled by Angles, Saxons and Jutes whose areas, bit by bit, extended into the Celtic regions: Northumbria in the north; Mercia westwards to the River Severn and Wessex into Devon and Cornwall. In the southeast, the kingdoms of Sussex and Kent had achieved early prominence.
Hengist and Horsa had arrived in Kent with a small fleet of ships in around 446 AD to aid the Britons in the defense of their lands. They had been invited by British chief Vortigern to fight the northern barbarians in return for pay and supplies, but more importantly, for land. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dates Hengist's assumption of the kingdom of Kent to 455 AD; and though it also records the flight of the Britons from that kingdom to London, it probably refers to an army, not a people. The invaders, who were Jutes, named the capital of their new kingdom Canterbury, the borough of the people of the Cantii. Only nine years after their arrival, they were in revolt against Vortigern, who awarded them the whole kingdom of the Cantii with Hengist as king to be succeeded by his son Oisc.
Thus the first Anglo-Saxon kingdom in Britain was an Anglo-Celtic kingdom, peopled by Anglo-Celts. The dynasty founded there by Hengist lasted for three centuries. However, with the death of joint kings Aethelbert and Eadberht, it was time for other kingdoms to rise to prominence. Only thirty years after the arrival of Hengist to Britain, another chieftain named Aelle came to settle. The leader of the South Saxons; Aella ruled the kingdom that became Sussex. Other kingdoms were those of the East Saxons (Essex); the Middle Saxons (Middlesex), and the West Saxons, (Wessex) destined to become the most powerful of all and one that eventually brought together all the diverse people of England (named for the Angles) into one single nation.
When Bede was writing his History, he was residing in what had been for over a century the most powerful kingdom in England, for rulers such as Edwin, Oswald and Oswy had made Northumbria politically stable as well as Christian. Edwin, the first Christian king of Northumbria, was defeated by Cadwallon, the only British King to overthrow a Saxon dynasty, who had allied himself to Penda of Mercia, the Middle Kingdom. Oswald restored the Saxon monarchy in 633, and during his reign, missionaries under Aidan completed the conversion of Northumbria (an account of the early Christian Church in the North can be found in my "Brief History of Scotland," Chap. 2).
It was during the reign of Oswy (645-70) that Northumbria began to show signs of order. The growth of institutions guaranteed permanency, so that the continuation of royal government did not depend upon the outcome of a single battle or the death of a king. He also defeated pagan king Penda and brought Mercia under his control, opening up the whole middle kingdom to Celtic missionaries. Then, in 663 under his chairmanship, the great Synod of Whitby took place, at which the Roman Church was accepted as the official branch of the faith in England. It was Oswy's forceful backing that secured the decision for Rome.
Northumbria's dominance began to wane at the beginning of the eighth century. It was hastened by the defeat and death of Ecgfrid in 685. The kingdom had been threatened by the growing power of Mercia, whose king Penda had led the fiercest resistance to the imposition of Christianity. After Penda's defeat, his successor Wulfhere turned south to concentrate his efforts on fighting against Wessex where strong rulers prevented any Mercian domination. However, the situation began to change in the early eighth century with the accession of two strong rulers, Aethelbold and Offa.
Aethelbold (726-57) called himself "King of Britain." Bede tells us that "all these provinces [in the South of England] with their kings, are in subjection to Aethelbald, king of Mercia, even to Humber." Whatever his claims to sovereignty, however, it was his successor Offa (757-96) who could call himself "king of all the English," for though Wessex was growing powerful within itself, Offa seems to have been the senior partner and overlord of Southern Britain. His many letters to Charles the Great (Charlemagne) show that the Mercian king regarded himself as an equal to the Carolingian ruler (his son Ecfrith was the very first king in England to have an official coronation). Offa's correspondence with the Pope also shows roughly the same attitude. It was Offa who inaugurated what later became known as Peter's Pence (those financial contributions that became a bane to later rulers who wished to have more control over their finances and sources of revenue).
Both Aethelbold and Offa insisted on being called by their royal titles; they were very much aware of the concept of unity within the kingdom of Mercia. Offa was the first English ruler to draw a definite frontier with Wales (much of the earthen rampart and ditch created in the middle of the eighth century, still exists). The creation of a metropolitan archbishopric at Lichfield attested to his influence with Rome. Under his reign an effective administration was created (and a good quality distinctive coinage). The little kingdom of Mercia found itself a member of the community of European states. Though Offa's descendants tried to maintain the splendors (and the delusions) of his reign, Mercia's domination ended at the battle of Ellendun in 825 when Egbert of Wessex defeated Beornwulf.
It was time for Wessex to recover the greatness that had begun in the sixth century under Ceawlin. Wessex borders had expanded greatly and Ceawlin had was recognized as supreme ruler in Southern England. A series of insignificant kings followed Ceawlin, all subject to Mercian dominance. The second period of dominance began under kings Cadwalla and Ine. Cadwalla (685-88) was noted for his successful wars against Kent and his conquest of Sussex. Wessex also expanded westward into the Celtic strongholds of Devon and Cornwall. Both Cadwalla and Ine abdicated to go on religious pilgrimages, but their work was well done and they left behind a strong state able to withstand the might of Mercia.
A new phase began in 802 with the accession of Egbert and the establishment of his authority throughout Wessex. The dominance of Mercia was finally broken, the other kingdoms defeated in battle or voluntary submitted to his overlordship, and Egbert was recognized as Bretwalda, Lord of Britain, the first to give reality to the dream of a single government from the borders of Scotland to the English Channel. An ominous entry in the "West Saxon Annals" however, tells us that in the year 834 "The heathen men harried Sheppey." During the centuries of inter-tribal warfare, the Saxons had not thought of defending their coasts. The Norsemen, attracted by the wealth of the religious settlements, often placed near the sea, were free to embark upon their voyages of plunder.
The first recorded visit of the Vikings in the West Saxon Annals had stated that a small raiding party slew those who came to meet them at Dorchester in 789. It was the North, however, at such places as Lindisfarne, the holiest city in England, lavishly endowed with treasures at its monastery and religious settlement, that constituted the main target. Before dealing with the onslaught of the Norsemen, however, it is time to briefly review the accomplishments of the people collectively known as the Anglo-Saxons, especially in the rule of law.
From the Roman historian Tacitus we get a picture of the administration of Saxon law long before they came to settle in Britain. His "Germania" tells us of the deliberation of the chiefs in smaller matters and the deliberation of all in more important ones. "Yet even those matters which are reserved for the general opinion are thoroughly discussed by the chiefs... in the assembly, actions may be brought and capital crimes prosecuted. They make the punishment fit the crime."
It was not long after the conversion of the Saxon peoples to Christianity that written laws began to be enacted in England to provide appropriate penalties for offenses against the Church (and therefore against God). In Kent, King Aethelbert (601-04) was the first to set down the laws of his people in the English language; his laws constitute by far the earliest body of law expressed in any Germanic language. They show no sign of Roman influence but are more in common with the Lex Salica issued by Clovis for the Salian Franks.
The basis of Kentish society in Aethelbert's time was the free-peasant landholder, without any claim to nobility, but subject to no lord below the king himself, an independent person with many rights. Throughout early English history, society seems to have rested on men of this type. As head of a family, he was entitled to compensation for the breaking of his household peace. If he were to be slain, the killer had to compensate his kinfolk and also pay the king. The king's food-rent was the heaviest of the public burdens. Early on, it had consisted of providing a quantity of provisions sufficient to maintain a king and his retinue for 24 hours, due once a year from a particular group of villages. Long after Aethelbert's reign, the king's servants of every degree were still being quartered on the country as they traveled from place to place to carry out their duties.
Other Kentish laws date from the reigns of Hlothhere and Eadric, brother and eldest son of Egbert. These were mainly enlargements of previous laws. They show a somewhat elaborate development of legal procedure, but they also recognized a title to nobility which is derived from birth and not from service to a king. More significant, however, is the fact that the men who direct the pleas in popular assemblies are not ministers of the king, but "the judges of the Kentish people." All in all, the laws show a form of society little affected by the growth of royal power or aristocratic privilege.
Under Wihtraed (695-96), laws were set down mainly to deal with ecclesiastical matters. They were primarily to provide penalties for unlawful marriages, heathen practices, neglect of holy days or fast days, and to define the process under which accused persons might establish their innocence. The Church and its leading ministers were given special privileges, including exemption from taxation. The oath of a bishop, like those of a king, is declared uncontrovertible, and the Church was to receive the same compensation as the king for violence done to dependents. Within 90 years, the Church which Aethelbert had taken under his protection had become a power all but equal with the king himself.
By the early part of the 10th century, the government had begun to regard the kin as legally responsible for the good behavior of its members, though respect for the kin did not mean that the ties of kindred dominated English law. There had been earlier passages which ignored or deliberately weakened this primitive function of kin. For example, a ceorl who wished to clear himself at the altar must produce not a group of his kinsmen, but three men who are merely of his own class. Mere oaths from his own family circle were looked upon with suspicion by the authorities, and thus encroachments upon the power of the kin to protect its own members constituted a rapid advancement of English law even before the end of the seventh century.
From the laws of Ine (688-95), the strongest king in Southern England during his long reign, it is clear that he was a statesman with ideas beyond the grasp of his predecessors. His code is a lengthy document, covering a wide range of human relationships, entering much more fully than any other early code into the details of the agrarian system on which society rested. They were also marked by the definite purpose of advancing Christianity. Not merely a tariff of offenses, it is the result of a serious attempt to bring together a body of rules governing the more complicated questions with which the king and his officers might have to deal. It stands for a new concept of kingship, destined in time to replace the simple motives which had satisfied the men of an earlier age.
Ine's laws point to a complicated social order in which the aristocratic ideal was already important. The free peasant was the independent master of a household. He filled a responsible position in the state and the law protected the honor and peace of his household. He owed personal service in the national militia (the fyrd); and unlawful entry through the hedge around his premises was a grave offense. In disputes concerning land rights, which he farmed in association with his fellows, it was necessasry for the King and his Council to provide settlement. The free peasant was thus responsible to no authority below the king for his breaches of local custom.
By the year 878 there was every possibility that before the end of the year Wessex would have been divided among the Danish army. That this turn of events did not come to pass was due to Alfred. Leaving aside the political events of the period, we can praise his laws as the first selective code of Anglo-Saxon England, though the fundamentals remained unchanged, those who didn't please him, were amended or discarded. They remain comments on the law, mere statements of established custom.
In 896, Alfred occupied London, giving the first indication that the lands which had lately passed under Danish control might be reclaimed. It made him the obvious leader of all those who, in any part of the country, wished for a reversal of the disasters, and it was immediately followed by a general recognition of his lordship. In the words of the Chronicle, "all the English people submitted to Alfred except those who were under the power of the Danes." The occasion marked the achievement of a new stage in the advancement of the English people towards political unity, the acceptance of Alfred's overlordship expressed a feeling that he stood for interests common to the whole English race. Earlier rulers had to rely on the armed forces at their disposal for any such claims.
The Code of Alfred has a significance in English history which is entirely independent of its subject matter, for he gives himself the title of King of the West Saxons, naming previous kings such as Ine, Offa and Aethelberth whose work had influenced his own. The implication is that his code was intended to cover not only the kingdom of Wessex, but also Kent and Mercia. It thus becomes important evidence of the new political unity forced upon the English people by the struggle against the Danes. In addition, it appeared at the end of a century during which no English king had issued any laws. Following Alfred's example, English kings, unlike their counterparts on the Continent, retained their right to exercise legislative powers. As a footnote, Alfred insisted that to clear himself, a man of lower rank than a kings' thegn must produce the oaths of 11 men of his own class and one of the Kings' thegns.
Though much of Alfred's collection of laws came from earlier codes, there were some that were not derived from any known source and may thus be considered original. Showing the religious nature of one who had once depended upon the loyalty of his men for survival, the laws include provisions protecting the weaker members of society against oppression, limiting the ancient custom of the blood-feud and emphasizing the duty of a man to his lord.
It is now time to turn back to the Danish (Viking or Norsemen) invasion of England, and the part Alfred was to play in his country's defense and eventual survival. The West Saxon Annals (utilized as part of the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" that Alfred began around 890), tell us that the Vikings (also known as Norsemen or Danes) came as hostile raiders to the shores of Britain. Their invasions were thus different from those of the earlier Saxons who had originally come to defend the British people and then to settle. Though they did settle eventually in their newly conquered lands, the Vikings were more intent on looting and pillaging; their armies marched inland destroying and burning until half of England had been taken, and it seemed as if there was no one strong enough to stop them. However, just as an earlier British leader, perhaps the one known in legend as Arthur had stopped the Saxon advance into the Western regions at Mount Badon in 496, so a later leader stopped the advance of the Norsemen at Edington in 878. This time, our main source is more reliable; the leader was Alfred of Wessex.
Much of what we know about King Alfred, the only English monarch in all history to have received the appellation "the Great," comes from Life of Alfred by his Bishop Asser. It is a work of incomparable worth in its account of English history. During the reign of Elizabeth I, it was also decided that the Annals of St. Neots were also the work of Asser, and thus an authoritative source was given to many legends concerning the English king that appeared in the Annals. The strength of his Wessex Kingdom made it the ideal center for the resistance of Alfred to the Danish plans of conquest.
Before Alfred, the Danes had been relatively unopposed. They came in a huge fleet to London in 851 to destroy the army of Mercia and capture Canterbury, only to receive their first check at the hands of Aethelstan of Wessex. But this time, instead of sailing home with their booty, the Danish seamen and soldiers stayed the winter on the Isle of Thanet on the Thames where the men of Hengist had come ashore centuries earlier. Like their Saxon predecessors, the Danes showed that they had come to stay.
It was not too long before the Danes had become firmly entrenched seemingly everywhere they chose in England (many of the invaders came from Norway and Sweden as well as Denmark). They had begun their deprivations with the devastation of Lindisfarne in 793, and the next hundred years saw army after army crossing the North Sea, first to find treasure, and then to take over good, productive farm lands upon which to raise their families. Outside Wessex, their ships were able to penetrate far inland; they sailed with impunity up the Dee, Humber, Ribble, Tyne, Medway and Thames, and founded their communities wherever the rivers met the sea.
In the West, Aethelwulf succeeded Egbert continuing his father's role as protector of the English people. He was succeeded by Aethelred, who continued to hold his lands against the ever-increasing host of the Danes, now firmly in control of Northumbria, including York. In 867, the Danes also made incursions into Mercia and had conquered all of East Anglia. Of all the English kingdoms, Wessex now stood almost alone. Armies under Aethelred and the young Alfred fought the Danes to a standstill, neither side claiming complete victory, but the borders of Wessex remained secure.
Alfred was born in 849. He became King of Wessex in 871 the year the Danes defeated a large English force at Reading. The invaders had already shown their strength by splitting their forces in two: one remaining in the North under Halfdene, where they settled down as farmers and the lords of large estates; and the other moving southwards under King Guthrum, anxious to add Wessex to his territories. Before Alfred, the results of battles against the Danes often depended upon chance; there was no standing army in England and response to threats without meant the calling up of the "fyrd" or the local levies. The Danes marched westward without opposition. Not strong enough to offer total resistance, Alfred was forced to pay tribute to buy off the Danish army until he could build up his supporters. Taking refuge on the Isle of Athelney, he conducted a campaign of guerilla warfare against the foreign occupiers of his kingdom; it wasn't long before the men of Wessex were ready to reassert themselves.
The turning point took place in 878. From the Chronicle, we learn of the decisive event that took place at Edington (Ethandune), when Alfred "fought with the whole force of the Danes and put them to flight, and rode after them to their fortifications and besieged them a fortnight. Then the Danes gave him hostages as security, and swore great oaths that they would leave his kingdom; and they promised him that their king should receive baptism. And they carried out their promises..." Wessex had been saved.
Alfred's successes were partly due to his building up the West Saxon navy into a fleet that could not only meet the Danes on equal terms, but defeat them in battle. According to the Chronicle of 896, when the enemy attacked the south coast of Wessex "with the warships which they had built many years before," Alfred "bade build long ships against the Danish warships: they were nearly twice as long as the others: some had sixty oars, some more: they were both swifter and steadier and higher than the others. They were built neither on the Frisian pattern nor on the Danish, but as it seemed to the king that they might be most serviceable." The Chronicle also records one of his victories in 882, though he was later defeated by a large Danish force of the mouth of the River Stour. Alfred also fortified the key English towns.
East Anglia and Southern Mercia remained in Danish hands. In 896, however, Alfred occupied London, giving the first indication that the lands which had lately passed under Danish control might be reclaimed. His success made him the obvious leader of all those who, in any part of the country, wished for a reversal of the disasters, and it was immediately followed by a general recognition of his lordship. In the words of the Chronicle, "all the English people submitted to Alfred except those who were under the power of the Danes." Furthermore, the city of London, on the southeastern edge of Mercia became a national symbol of English defiance. Its capture made Alfred truly the first king of England.
Alfred's greatness lay not so much in his defeat of the Danes but in his other major accomplishments, of which historians write glowingly and are generally listed as four: his uniform code of laws for the good order of the kingdom; his restoration of the monastic life of the Church, which had been severely disrupted by the arrival of the Norsemen; his enthusiastic patronage of the arts and learning; and the respect that he gained on the Continent of Europe for himself and his kingdom.
Alfred's strenuous efforts to rebuild the fabric of the Church also met with great success, as recorded by his biographer, Welsh monk Asser. He filled Church positions with men of intelligence and learning; he increased the number of monasteries and made personal efforts to restore learning to the English nation that are recorded in his own words in a prose preface to the new edition of Pope Gregory's Pastoral Care, which he translated into English. King, warrior, law-giver and scholar, Alfred was also responsible (with other learned men) for the translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History, Orosius' History of the Ancient World, as well as De Consolatione Philosophiae of Boethius. Outside Wessex, however, most of England remained under Dane Law, ruled by Scandinavian kings.
Had Alfred been defeated, all of England would have passed under the rule of the Danish kings; the future identity of the English people as a separate island nation would have been very much in question. As it was, however, the occupation of London by the King of Wessex marked a new stage in the advancement of the English people towards political unity, the acceptance of his overlordship expressed a feeling that he stood for interests common to the whole English race.
The treaty with King Guthrum that followed Alfred's capture of London delineated a frontier between England and Danes, a frontier that even today is reflected in a North-South divide. The phrase "except those who were under the power of the Danes" is very significant, however, for it includes all of England outside Wessex and much of Mercia. Much of the task of winning back these lands passed to Alfred's son Edward the Elder, who became King of Wessex in 899. Before the end of his reign, every Danish colony south of the River Humber had become annexed to Wessex.
The Chronicle reports that the Scottish King and people, all the people of Wales, all the people in Mercia and all those who dwelt in Northumbria submitted to him "whether English, or Danish, or Northmen, or others, the king of the Strathclyde Welsh, and all the Strathclyde Welsh." They all recognized Edward's authority and agreed to respect his territories and to attack his enemies. The creation of this simple bond between Edward and the rulers of every established state in the Island of Britain thus gave to the West Saxon monarchy a new range and dignity which greatly strengthened its claim to sovereignty in England.
During Edward's reign, there were advances made in the administration of law, some of these in the king's favor. For example, some of his measures strengthened royal authority; the Kings' Writ, dating back to the time of Ine, was enforced to punish attacks on the king's dignity and privilege. Wherever the king had enjoined or prohibited a certain course by express orders, failure to obey made the offender liable to pay the heavy fines proscribed. Use of the Writ was responsible for an unparalleled growth of the King's official responsibility for the enforcement of law and order.
Under Edward, the Crown was no longer seen as a remote providence, under which the moots (law courts) worked in independence, but as an institution which had come to intervene, to watch over the workings of the law, and to punish those who rebeled. Edward further ordered that the hundred courts were to meet every four weeks under a king's reeve for the administration of customary law.
Even during the long and protracted Danish Wars, and maybe because of them, trade in England prospered. The foundation of many new boroughs offered traders bases for their operations that were much more secure than the countryside. Towns allowed merchants the means to establish the validity of their transactions by the testimony of responsible persons of their own sort. On their part, rulers were anxious to keep trade restricted to a limited number of recognized centers. One of Edward's laws prohibited trade outside a port, and ordered that all transactions be attested to by the portreeve or by other trusty men.
The significance of the above is clear. By the end of Edward's reign, it is probable that every place of trade which was more than a purely local market was surrounded by at least rudimentary fortifications. The normal "port" of the king's time was also a borough, and the urgency with which Edward commanded traders to resort to it explained its military importance. A derelict "port" was a weak point in the national defenses and the era saw a rapid rise in boroughs that combined military and commercial factors.
Edward the Elder died in 924, to be succeeded by his son Aethelstan, recognized as King in Wessex and probably in Mercia independently of his election in Wessex. He took the important and strategic city of York from the Danes, and thus, under conditions which no one could have foreseen, a king supreme in southern England came to rule in York. He soon extended his influence further, and the western and northern kings of Britain and the Welsh princes came to regard him as their lord. Though Alfred and Edward the Elder had been forced to watch the continental scene from the outside, Aethelstan won prestige and influence in contemporary Europe that resulted from his position as heir to the one western kingdom which had emerged in greater strength from the Danish wars.
At the Battle of Brunanburgh in 937, the site of which has never been satisfactorily determined, Aethelstan won a great victory for his English army over a combined force of Danes, Scots and Irish. At his death, however, new threats faced the new King Edmund. Danish control of the five great boroughs of Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby and Stamford -- all in the Midlands -- created an effective barrier between Northumbria and Wessex. Edmund acted. Taking an army north, he retook the five boroughs for the English and drove out two Danish kings from Northumbria. In the truly Viking city of York, however, Eric Bloodaxe had set himself up as an independent king. Wessex remained the stronghold of the English during the next twenty years of increasing Viking attacks, but when King Edgar was slain by supporters of his brother Ethelred, disaster came to the whole country.
Once again, the Danish fleets and armies seemed unstoppable. They were found in northeastern England, northwestern England, Wales, Devon and Cornwall. Ethelred could only achieve peace by buying off the Danes, a move that backfired for it only led to more raids, more slaughter and more Danish settlement. Following the example of Alfred, Ethelred then managed to get the Danish leader Anlaf baptized at Andover, but only at the enormous cost of the complete depletion of the treasury of England. Anlaf could only laugh at his good fortune. Ethelred's weakness in dealing with the Danish leaders have earned him the title of "the unready," (rede-less) the one who lacked good counsel.
In a sea battle in 1000 AD, Anlaf, now known as Olaf, King of Norway, was defeated by the Danish King Sweyn who continued his rivals raids on England, and who in turn, was offered huge sums by Ethelred. But the Danes refused to stop their raids. Giving command of a great army to his son Cnut, Sweyn marched on and conquered Winchester and Oxford and forced Ethelred to flee to France, only returning to England upon the death of Sweyn in the year 1003. More fighting continued under Edmund, who succeeded his father Ethelred by appointment of the citizens of London, anxious to be led by one who was called Edmund Ironside on account of his great strength. Edmund won many important victories, but the strength of the Danes forced him to make peace with Cnut, and at Alney, it was agreed that Edmund should be King of Wessex and Cnut of Mercia. Upon Edmund's death, that same year, Cnut became king of all England. Formally taking the reins of power in 1017, he married Ethelred's widow that same year.
Meanwhile, there had been important developments in the administration of English law that would have profound effects upon the future legal system. Changing social conditions led to Aethelstan issuing many new laws. He had to deal in legislation with lords who "maintained" their men in defiance of right and justice. Under Edgar, who became King in Wessex in 954, a semblance of order was restored, and England was made secure at least temporarily. It is recorded that eight kings in Britain came to him on a single day to acknowledge his supremacy. He was the first English King to recognize in legislation that the Danish east of England was no longer a conquered province, but an integral part of the English realm.
Legal customs from the Scandinavian North were practiced throughout the eastern counties of England; villages were combined into local divisions for the administration of justice. These divisions were known as wapentakes. The word first appeared when Edgar refered in general terms to the buying and selling of goods in a borough or a wapentake. There seems to have been no essential difference of function between the courts of the wapentake and those of the more familiar hundred. Under Ethelred, the wapentake court appeared as the fundamental unit in the organization of justice throughout the territory of the five boroughs. The authority of a ruler universally regarded as king of England was placed over the local courts.
The most interesting feature of the organization was the aristocratic jury of presentment which initiated the prosecution of suspected persons in the court of the wapentake. In what is known as the Wantage Code of Ethelred, one passage states that the twelve leading thegns in each wapentake were to go out from the court and swear that they would neither accuse the innocent nor protect the guilty. Thus the sworn jury, hitherto unknown to English law, came into being in a most important document in English legal history. The fate of the suspect, however, was still settled by ordeal, not by the judgment of the thegns who presented them.
The strength of the Crown, with the king becoming arbiter of the law continued during the reign of Cnut, the first Viking leader to be admitted into the civilized fraternity of Christian Kings, and one who was determined to rule as the chosen king of the English people as well as King of Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden. It is generally agreed that he turned the part of conquering Viking ruler into one of the best kings ever enjoyed by the English people. Ruler of a united land, he kept the peace, enforced the laws, became a generous patron of the Church and raised the prestige of England to unprecedented levels on the Continent of Europe. Upon his death, he had become part of the national heritage of England, his favorite realm.
Cnut and his successors became heirs to the English laws and traditions of Wessex. At a great assembly in Oxford in 1018, he agreed to follow the laws of Edgar; his Danish compatriots were to adopt the laws of their English neighbors, be content as subjects of a Danish king in an English country. Cnut ruled England as it had long been ruled: he consulted his bishops and his subjects. He even traveled to Rome in 1027 to attend the coronation of the new Holy Roman Emperor but also to consult with the Pope on behalf of all his people, Englishmen and Danes. He made atonement for the atrocities of the past wrought by Danish invaders by visiting the site of the battle with Edmund Ironside at Ashingdon and dedicating a church to the fallen. His eighteen-year rule was indeed a golden one for England, even though it was part of a Scandinavian empire. Cnut died in 1035 and was buried in the traditional resting place of the Saxon Kings, at Winchester.
Chaos and confusion were quick to return to England after Cnut's death, and the ground was prepared for the coming of the Normans, a new set of invaders no less ruthless than those who had come before. Cnut had precipitated problems by leaving his youngest, bastard son Harold, unprovided for. He had intended to give Denmark and England to Hardacnut and Norway to Swein. In 1035, Hardacnut could not come to England from Denmark without leaving Magnus of Norway a free hand in Scandinavia.
. A meeting of the Witan (King's council) met to decide the successor to Cnut. One faction, including the men of London chose Harold Harefoot, but others, led by the powerful Godwin of Wessex chose Hardacnut, whose mother, Emma was to reside at Winchester holding Wessex in her son's name. Emma was a sister to the Duke of Normandy; before marrying Cnut, she had been the wife of Ethelred. When Ethelred's younger son Alfred came to Winchester, Godwin's fears of losing his control of Wessex, had him captured and blinded. The unfortunate Alfred lived out his life as a monk at Ely, unable to claim the throne of Wessex.
Hardacnut arrived in England in 1040 on the death of Harold; he brought a large army with him. He was welcomed in Wessex, where Godwin rained supreme as his representative. Prince Edward, Alfred's older brother, sought protection at Winchester, and when Harthacnut died suddenly, after reigning for only one year, Edward, son of Ethelred, was acclaimed as king. Thus English kings came to rule in England once again. The uniting of the houses of Wessex and Mercia through marriage had produced an English ruler after a quarter of a century of Danish rule. The two peoples had blended to become a single nation.
Although the two hundred years of Danish invasions and settlement had an enormous effect on Britain, bringing over from the continent as many people as had the Anglo-Saxon invasions, the effects on the language and customs of the English were not as catastrophic as the earlier invasions had been on the native British. The Anglo-Saxons were a Germanic race; their homelands had been in northern Europe, many of them coming, if not from Denmark itself, then from lands bordering that little country. They shared many common traditions and customs with the people of Scandinavia, and they spoke a related language.
There are over 1040 place names in England of Scandinavian origin, most occurring in the north and east, the area of settlement known as the Danelaw. The evidence shows extensive peaceable settlement by farmers who intermarried their English cousins, adopted many of their customs and entered into the everyday life of the community. Though the Danes and Norwegians who came to England preserved many of their own customs, they readily adapted to the ways of the English whose language they could understand without too much difficulty. There are more than 600 place names that end with the Scandinavian -by, (farm or town); some three hundred contain the Scandinavian word thorp (village), and the same number with thwaite (an isolated piece of land). Thousands of words of Scandinavian origin remain in the everyday speech of people in the north and east of England.
In administrative matters, too, there were great similarities between Saxon and Scandinavian. First, both were military societies. The Saxon chief's immediate followers and bodyguards were the heorth-werode, the hearth-troop, who followed him in war, resided at his hall and were bound by ties of personal friendship and traditional loyalty. The Scandinavians had a similar system that employed the hus-carles or house-troop (the Danish word carl being close to the Saxon ceorl, a free man). The two people shared the tradition of government by consultation and the reinforcement of loyalty by close collaboration between the leader and his followers. It has been pointed out that though the separate identity and language of at least part of the Britons lives on in Wales, the identity of the Scandinavians is totally lost among the English: the merging of the two people was total.
Under the Saxon kings, the man who held great power under the crown was the alderman, who assisted the king. The Danish leaders were the jarls, who became the English earls, mostly replacing the aldermen. In addition, the old Saxon system of taxation had been inefficient to say the least. The pressure of the Danish invasions, and the need to buy off the invaders in gold and silver meant that the kings' subjects now had to be taxed in terms of real money, rather than the material goods supplied formerly to the King's household. Under Ethelstan, and certainly under Cnut, we had the beginning of the civil service. Clerks and secretaries were employed by both rulers to strengthen and communicate authority and raise and collect taxes efficiently.
There was another very important feature of the Scandinavian settlement which cannot be overlooked. The Saxon people had not maintained contact with their orginal homelands; in England they had become an island race. The Scandinavians, however, kept their contacts with their kinsman on the continent. Under Cnut, England was part of a Scandinavian empire; its people began to extend their outlook and become less insular. The process was hastened by the coming of another host of Norsemen: the Norman Conquest was about to begin.
Part 5: Medieval Britain by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

Norman England
Hardacnut was the last Danish king of England. He died in convulsions at a wedding feast. Edward the Atheling, who succeeded him, was the legitimate heir of Alfred the Great. Known as Edward the Confessor, he was perhaps one of the most misunderstood monarchs in the history of England. Though he took adequate steps to provide for a smooth succession to the throne, events that followed his death have spoiled his reputation as a wise, effective ruler. The circumstances that eventually led to the arrival of William the Norman had been set in place long before 1066.
Ever since Edward's father had married Emma of Normandy in 1002, England had been wide open to Norman influences. Edward's cousin was the father of Duke William. The young Edward himself had been brought up in Normandy. A popular choice as king, he collaborated with the leading earls of the country to dispossess his mother Emma of her wealth at Winchester. A motive was provided by her support of the King of Norway's claim to the English throne, a threat renewed when Harold Hardrada, uncle of Magnus became king of Norway in 1048. But there were more pressing problems for Edward at home.

Godwin of Wessex was the most powerful man in England after the King, whom he supported in the raid on the treasures at Winchester, but who tried his utmost to run the country as family fiefdom. He plotted to have Edward marry his daughter Edith, a union to which the king consented to keep Godwin happy and allied in the face of continued Scandinavian threats. Edward was double Edith's age; the marriage did not produce an heir, for the saintly king had earlier taken a vow of chastity (a hunting accident had left him impotent in any case). Edward wanted his Norman relatives to gain the throne of England. The handing over of power to William became his obsession. But there were other claimants from the house of Earl Godwin that contested the king's wishes.

From 1046 to 1051, Edward was engaged in a power struggle with the Godwins. He was forced to take action. First, he exiled Swein, the ruthless treacherous eldest son who had abducted an abbotress among his other nefarious deeds. He next exiled Godwin and all his sons, two of whom joined their father and Swein in Bruges and two of whom went to join the Vikings in Dublin. Thus temporarily freed from Godwin influence, in the pinnacle of his power, Edward was left alone to appoint Norman bishops to many vacant English Sees. Then Godwin returned.
Civil War was averted only because the King restored Godwin and his sons to their earldoms. Edward was also humiliated by having to purge his Norman bishops. He then was forced to appoint Stigand, Godwin's nominee to Canterbury in place of Robert of Jumieges. Edward shied away from provoking an all-out war with his hated enemy Godwin. He was spared a decision by the death of Godwin on Easter Monday 1053 and the succession of Harold Godwinson as Earl of Wessex. The enmity between the Crown and the House of Godwin continued unabated, especially over the appointing of bishops and the leadership of the armies raised to fight Gruffudd of Wales who had been successful in winning back many border areas previously lost to the English. Harold himself raised an army to punish Gruffudd. But the main problem remained, that of succession. Matters were not helped by the suspicious death of Edward the Atheling, younger son of Edmund Ironside, who had been smuggled out of England as a babe to escape Cnut, and who had returned in 1057. Only the king and the late Athelings' two children remained of the ancient house of Cerdic of Wessex. By his defeat of Gruffudd in Wales, Harold then made himself the premier military leader in England. In 1064, he visited Normandy.
The Bayeux Tapestry, woven after 1066, depicts the events leading up to the Norman invasion of that year as well as the great culminating battle. It shows Harold receiving instructions from King Edward, embarking for Normandy, aiding William in an expedition, saving trapped knights in a river crossing and being knighted by the Norman Duke, to whom he swears an oath of loyalty. Next is shown the death and burial of Edward, the coronation of Harold, the appearance of a comet and the invasion and culminating battle.
It is highly probable that Edward did send Harold to Normandy with the formal promise that the kingdom would pass to William upon Edward's death. Harold would thus act as regent until the Norman leader could arrive to claim his throne. However, before the death of Edward, who had done everything in his power to hold the ambitions of the Godwins in check and to ensure the peaceful transition of power to William, he could not have foreseen the wave of nationalist feeling which greeted Harold's bid for the crown.

The saintly king had completely overlooked English resentment at the ever-growing Norman influences in their island nation. The "Chronicle" went so far as to justify Harold's seizure of power by stating that Edward had entrusted the kingdom to him. On January 6, 1066, the funeral of Edward and the coronation of Harold, henceforth held in contempt by the Normans as an untrustworthy bond-breaker, took place at the newly consecrated Abbey at Westminster.
William of Normandy must have been furious. His people called themselves Franks or Frenchmen. They had come to France centuries before as Viking invaders when their brothers were busy ravaging the coast of England. In many ways, their new homeland was similar to the English Dane-Law, an area also settled by invaders from the North. It had been recognized in 911 at a treaty between Charles, the Simple and Rollo, the Norwegian. Rollo had then converted to Christianity and ruled his territory as a Duke, a subordinate of the French king. In 1002, as we have seen, Emma, sister of Richard Duke of Normandy and a descendant of Rollo, became the second wife of English King Ethelred.

The Norman invasion of England was unlike that involving massive immigrations of people seeking new lands in which to settle and farm as marked by the Anglo-Saxon and Danish invasions. This new phenomenon was practically an overnight affair. William's victories were swift, sudden and self-contained. No new wave of people came to occupy the land, only a small, ruling aristocracy.
It is tempting to surmise the path England would have taken had William's invading force been beaten off. King Harold had taken concrete steps to enforce his rule throughout the country. According to the account of Florence of Worcester, Harold immediately began to abolish unjust laws and make good ones, to patronize churches and monasteries, pay reverence to religious men, to show himself as pious and humble, to treat wrong doers with great severity, to imprison all thieves and to labour for the protection of his people. In order to do all this, however, he first had to reconcile the houses of Godwin of Wessex and Leofric of Mercia.
After dealing with the perfidy of his exiled brother Tostig, who had raised an army to plunder England's coast line Harold then had to deal with far more serious threats. Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, was raising a massive invasion fleet and William of Normandy, was also busy raising his own army of invasion. Hardrada, wishing to surpass even Cnut as the great ruler of a Scandinavian Empire, had failed to conquer Denmark; he mistakenly thought England would be an easier target. He crossed the North Sea to make his landing near York. King Harold then showed his military prowess by marching his army northwards and completely destroying the over-confident forces of Hardrada and Tostig at Stamford Bridge.
There was no rest for the victors. Three days later, William of Normandy, with his huge host of fighting men, landed unopposed in the south, at Pevensey. Harold had to march southwards with his tired, weakened army and did not wait for reinforcements before he awaited the charge of William's mounted knights at Hastings. The resulting Norman triumph depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry shows Harold's death from an arrow, his bodyguard cut down and Duke William triumphant.
The only standing army in England had been defeated in an-all day battle in which the outcome was in doubt until the undisciplined English had broken ranks to pursue the Normans' feigning retreat. The story is too well-known to be repeated here, but when William took his army to London, where young Edgar the Atheling had been proclaimed king in Harold's place, English indecision in gathering together a formidable opposition forced the supporters of Edgar to negotiate for peace. They had no choice. William was duly crowned King of England at Westminster on Christmas Day, 1066.

Had Harold Hardrada won at Stamford Bridge, England would surely have become part of the Scandinavian Empire with all its attendant problems. Had Harold of Wessex won at Hastings, and it was touch and go all day, then the future course of England would have been certainly different. We can only guess at further isolation from the Continent and the making of a truly island nation at this very early date. We do know that William of Normandy won and changed the face of the nation forever. Not only was the land now governed by a foreign king and subjected to a foreign aristocracy, for the next four hundred years it wasted its resources and manpower on futile attempts to keep its French interests alive while, at the same time, becoming part of (and contributing to) the spectacular flowering of European culture.
The Conquest meant a new dynasty for England and a new aristocracy. It brought feudalism and it introduced changes in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, with the attendant change in the relations of Church and State. In the early part of the 11th century, mainly under the Cluniac Order, there had been a tremendous monastic revival in the Dukedom of Normandy. This came about as a result of close cooperation between King and Church in what was basically a feudal society, and one which was transferred to England in 1066 lock, stock and barrel.
William's victory also linked England with France and not Scandinavia from now on. Within six months of his coronation, William felt secure enough to visit Normandy. The sporadic outbreaks at rebellion against his rule had one important repercussion, however: it meant that threats to his security prevented him from undertaking any attempt to cooperate with the native aristocracy in the administration of England.

A rising at York in which the Danes also took part was easily crushed and the land harried unmercifully in revenge. Duke William showed that he meant business; he ruled with ruthless severity. On his absences in Normandy, he left strong, able barons to deal with any rebellions, including powerful church leaders such as Lanfranc of Canterbury. Through attrition, in the futile attempts at resistance, the old Anglo-Saxon aristocracy was severely depleted. The years 1066-1075 were a period of trial and experiment, with serious attempts at cooperation between Saxon and Norman, but these attempts were entirely given up in favor of a thoroughly Norman administration. By 1075, the only Anglo-Saxons to remain in authority were Ecclesiastes. By 1086, other than small-estate holders, there were in the whole of the land only two Englishmen holding estates of any dimension.

By the time of William's death in 1087, English society had been profoundly changed. For one thing, the great Saxon earldoms were split: Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and other ancient kingdoms were abolished forever. The great estates of England were given to Norman and Breton landowners, carefully prevented from building up their estates by having them separated by the holdings of others. In addition, William's insistence that the prime duty of any man holding land from the king was to produce on demand a set quota of mounted knights produced a new ruling class in England, one entirely different from that which had been in place for so long.
This was not the Saxon way of doing things: it constituted a total revolution. The simple rents of ale and barley or work upon the lord's manor were now supplemented by military service of a new kind: one that had been practiced only by and thus familiar to a Norman. In such a system, those at the bottom suffered most, losing all their rights as free men and coming to be regarded as mere property, assets belonging to the manor. In all intents and purposes, they were no more than slaves. In addition, further restrictions and hardship came from William's New Forest laws and his vast extension of new royal forests in which all hunting rights belonged to the king. The peasantry was thus deprived of a valuable food source in times of bad harvests. The most emphatic proof that the old freedoms were gone was the remarkable survey of England known as the "Domesday Book."

Begun in 1080, the unique "Domesday Book" (the book of unalterable judgments), was an attempt to provide the king with every penny to which he was legally entitled. It worked only too well, reckoning the wealth of England "down to the last pig." To determine how the country was occupied and with what sort of people, William sent his men into every shire and had them find out how many hundred hides there were in the shire, what land and cattle the king should have in the country, and what dues he ought to have in twelve months from the shire.
William was also determined to find out how much land was owned by the archbishops, bishops, abbots and earls. "So very narrowly did he have it investigated, that there was no single hide nor virgate of land, nor indeed... one ox nor one cow nor one pig which was left out, and not put down in his record; and all these records were brought to him afterwards." The book names some 13,000 places, many for the first time. A veritable Who's Who of the century, the "Domesday Book" is a remarkable accomplishment indeed, packed with exhaustive detail on every holding in the entire country and its value.

We have briefly noted the efforts to reorganize the Church in Normandy even before the Conquest of England. William had presented his invasion to the Pope as a minor crusade in which the "corrupt" Saxon Church in England would be reformed. Lanfranc was chosen as the instrument of reform, an exceptional man whose work was profound As Archbishop of Canterbury, he infused new life into the Church made moribund under such as Stigand (deposed by William), giving it a tighter organization and discipline.

Lanfranc had been Abbot of Cannes; he was a distinguished scholar and an expert on civil law. He had been prominent in the negotiations leading to William's marriage with the daughter of the Duke of Flanders. A practical administrator, he and the Conqueror seemed to have a close sympathy in aims and ideals. They agreed on the nature of the reforms necessary for the Church in England, especially that the influence and intrusion of the Papacy should be resisted and that real power should lie with the metropolitan dioceses. Asserting his authority and declaring that England was not merely a papal fief, Lanfranc was supported by the king. He held synods regularly, corrected many irregularities, and righted long-standing abuses. His most persistent problem was that of clerical marriage.
In Anglo-Saxon England, the marriage of priests had been recognised. Household functions had taken priority over Church ceremony; such marriages had been defensible from folk-law, if not canon law. Lanfranc as a lawyer familiar with current canon law and Church law as practiced on the Continent, introduced many new rules into England that were copied and followed throughout the land, but they did not include marriage of clerics. One important innovation of Lanfranc was the transfer of the seats of bishops to the new, growing towns and centers of trade. The growing dispute between the powers of the ecclesiastical courts and the secular courts remained a thorn in the Archbishop's side and soon came to a head in the reign of Henry II.
Apart from the cultural and political legacy of the Norman occupation, the effects on architecture and language were also immense. The Anglo-Saxons were not noted for castle-building nor for great cathedrals and churches. Not much remains of their building. But all over the landscape, we see physical reminders of the Norman presence, not only in the military strongholds, which meant a castle in just about every town, but also in the cathedrals, abbeys and monasteries that so effectively symbolize the triumph of the new order. Everywhere in England, a frenzy of church building took place, in which the style we call "Romanesque" dominated. On the borders of Wales and Scotland, in particular, we see that combination of church and castle, abbey and town that demonstrate only too well the genius of this hardy breed of seafarers, explorers, settlers, administrators, law givers and builders who were never more than a tiny majority. But what they built was meant to stay.
Changes in language also became permanent. The new nobility knew no English and probably did little to learn it (in contrast to the situation on the borders of Wales where many Norman lords freely fraternized and married local inhabitants and learned the Welsh language). Though English continued to be spoken by the great majority, it was the language of the common people, not those in power, a situation that wasn't to change until the 14th century.
There was still the matter of how to deal with the Celtic kingdoms of Britain, those beyond the borders, those that were not occupied by the Saxons and where the language and customs remained more or less untouched: Scotland and Wales. William seemed to regard Scotland as an area best left alone. Though he claimed, as king of England, some degree of influence over Scotland and took control of Cumbria in 1092, he did not bother to venture further north. Wales was a different matter.
Various Welsh princes were still vying for power. The last ruler who could truly call himself King of Wales, Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, was killed in 1063. The country was then rent by a series of inter-family squabbles and William seized his opportunity to establish a firm western frontier by giving away lands along the border to some of his most loyal supporters. These so-called border barons or Marcher Lords were left free to add to their territories as they wished. Their castles and fortified manors in all the important border towns attest to their power and influence. The lordships of Chester, Shrewsbury, Hereford and Glamorgan kept a tight grip on any aspirations of Welsh princes to re-assert control of their nation. Yet such was the power of the Welsh longing to be independent and so cleverly had they mastered the art of guerilla warfare from their mountain strongholds, that by the time of the death of William's son, Rufus (King from 1087-1100) that Welsh control had been re-asserted over most of Wales.
Continued Welsh efforts to drive out the Normans from their border territories was of great concern to England's rulers. In 1095, William II started sending royal armies into Wales and the practice was continued by Henry I. The great expense of such adventures meant that an easier way to keep Wales in check was to preserve the territories of the Marcher lordships, which remained in existence for over four hundred years.

In the meantime, in England, Norman Rule not only affected political and social institutions, but the English language itself. A huge body of French words were ultimately to become part of the English vocabulary, many of these continuing side by side with their English equivalent, such as "sacred" and "holy", "legal" and "lawful," "stench" and "aroma," etc. Many French words replaced English ones, so that before the end of the 14th century Chaucer was able to use a vast store of new words such as "courage" in place of "heartness," and so on. English became vastly enriched, more cosmopolitan, sharing its Teutonic and Romance traditions. Norman influence on literature was equally profound, for the developments in French literature, the leading literature of Europe, could now circulate in the English court as it did in France.

In retrospect, William's rule can be seen as harsh, but in some ways just. The king was determined to stay in firm control, and he certainly brought a new degree of political unity to England. Those huge, forbidding Norman castles which even today, in ruin, dominate the skyline of so many towns and cities had the effect of maintaining law and order. Even a Saxon scribe wrote that "a man might walk through the land unmolested," and compared to the lawlessness and abuses which were apparent in the reign of his successor William II, the Conqueror's reign was almost a golden age. Trouble came immediately upon his death.
William II, Rufus (1087-1100)
Despite the cohesion and order brought to England by the Duke of Normandy, the new administrative system outlived him by less than fifty years. Though William respected the elective nature of the English monarch, perfunctorily recognised at his own coronation, on his deathbed in Normandy he handed over the crown to William Rufus, his favorite son, and sent him to England to Archbishop Lanfranc. He reluctantly granted the Duchy of Normandy to Robert, his eldest, and bequeathed a modest sum to Henry Beauclerk, his youngest. There were bound to be problems.
The dominions ruled by William lI, Rufus, were closely knit together by the family. The King of England and the Duke of Normandy had rival claims upon the allegiance of every great land-holder from the Scottish borders to Anjou. And these great land-holders, the Barons and Earls made it their business to provoke and protract quarrels of every kind between their rulers. It was a rotten state of affairs that could only be settled through the English acquisition of Normandy. In addition, Norman lands were surrounded by enemies eager to re-conquer lost territories. One of these foes was the Church of Rome itself, rapidly increasing in power and prestige at the expense of the feudal monarchies. Both William Rufus and his successor Henry l had to deal with problems that eventually lay beyond their capabilities to solve.
The leading Barons acquiesced in the coronation of William Rufus by Lanfranc in September of 1087, taking their lead from the archbishop but also demonstrating the immense power that was accruing to the Church in England. The new king was an illiterate, avaricious, impetuous man, not the sort of ruler the country needed at this or at any other time. According to William of Malmesbury, he had already sunk below the possibility of greatness or of moral reformation. It seems that the only profession he honored was that of war; his court became a Mecca for those practiced in its arts; his retainers lived lavishly off the land and took what they wished from whom they wished. To entertain his retinue, the king had a huge banqueting hall built in Westminster.

An early rebellion was inevitable. Taking place in 1088, it was led by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, an old foe of Lanfranc, who wished to install Robert of Normandy on the throne of England. To meet the threat, Rufus called upon his English subjects. He promised them better laws than they had ever had before; the remission of all novel dues and taxes, the repeal of many aspects of the hated forest laws. He had no intention of fulfilling his promises, but with them he was able to raise an army of the people and defeat the scattered rebel forces. With the tide running against him, Duke Robert quickly lost interest in the affair. Odo's army, penned up at Rochester, petitioned for a truce and the bishop himself was forced to depart for Europe. Lanfranc's death then removed the only person strong enough to protest against Rufus for failing to live up to his promises. The king could now appoint any advisor of his own choosing and accordingly, Ranulf Flambard found himself treasurer of England.
Despite the faults of William ll, England was governed well compared to Normandy, where a constant state of anarchy prevailed and where Duke Robert was unable to control his barons who waged private wars, built castles without license and acted as petty, independent sovereigns. Rufus seized the opportunity to invade the province with a large force in 1090 to take vengeance on Robert's part in the rebellion two years earlier. He was aided by Philip of France, bribed to drop his support of Robert.
A land grab by Malcolm of Scotland in 1092 then forced Rufus back to England where he established a stronghold at Carlisle, on the Scottish border. During the following year, the Scottish king was killed at Malcolm's Cross by Earl Mowbray. Subsequent events in Scotland, in which Donaldbane allied with the Norwegians under Magnus, then created a new threat to William. Affairs in Normandy, however, took his full attention for the next three years.
In Normandy, Duke Robert decided to honor Pope Urban's call for a Crusade to win back the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks to allow free access to pilgrims. To raise the necessary funds, he mortgaged his Duchy to William for 10,000 marks, a sum that could only be raised with difficulty in an England already drained by every method of extortion that could be devised by Flambard. The Church was particularly hit hard. "Have you not gold and silver boxes full of dead men's bones?" asked the king contemptuously when his bishops protested.
Yet the absence of Robert of Normandy on his adventures in the Middle East meant good fortune for the King of England. He was able to depose Donaldbane in Scotland in favor of his vassal Edgar, subdue the rebellious Welsh princes mainly through his sale of the Earldom of Shrewsbury to one of his Norman Barons and begin his campaign to add France to his kingdoms. In August, 1100, however, on a hunting expedition in the New Forest, William was killed. The throne of England now passed to his brother Henry.

Henry I (1100-1135)
Of the three sons of the Conqueror, Henry was the most able. A competent administrator at home, he succeeded in the conquest of Normandy. Though much of the blame for the death of his brother William was attributed to Walter Tyrrell, who fled the country, it is significant that Henry was present in the hunting party. He wasted no time in claiming the throne, riding to seize the treasure at Winchester just ahead of William of Bretueil, a supporter of the claim of Duke Robert of Normandy. His supporters quickly elected Henry King of England and he was crowned by the Bishop of London in the absence of the exiled Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury. Henry ensured the support of his English subjects by issuing a solemn charter promising to redress grievances, especially those involving the selling of vacant benefices to the highest bidder.
That Henry I of England, much in the manner of William Rufus, failed to keep "the law of Edward" as promised, did not seem to matter as much as did his success in keeping the peace. He had the hated Flambard thrown into prison. He brought back Anselm to Canterbury, and thus helped heal the breach between the Church and the Crown, though the big problem of lay investiture remained, as well as Anselm's refusal to honor the appointments made by Henry during his exile. The archbishop did mollify the situation by officiating at the popular marriage of Henry to Edith, a descendant of Edward the Confessor and a most suitable choice as Queen of England. Anselm wisely chose to ignore the fact that Edith had taken holy orders as a nun, preferring to believe that she had only done this to protect herself from importunate suitors rather than to fulfil a desire to enter a convent.
Many of the leading Barons of Normandy who held lands in England came to Henry's court to pay homage, though many of them preferred Robert as their lord and schemed to replace Henry with their choice. They were aided by the ex-treasurer of England, Ranulf Flambard, who had escaped his captors and returned to Normandy to help organize an expedition to capture the English throne. King Henry could count on the support of his English subjects; his leading barons would wait to see which side could benefit them most. Robert duly landed at Portsmouth in 1101 to begin his march on London.

Losing his nerve, the Duke decided to treaty instead of fight, accepting a pension of 3,000 marks and a promise of help to recover his rebellious dependency of Maine. The terms of the Treaty of Alton, needless to say, were never honored by Henry, who immediately began to punish those barons who had sided with Robert. It took all of England's resources to deal with the ensuing rebellion of the powerful house of Montgomery, aided by the Welsh princes. Henry promised South Wales to Lorwerth ap Bleddyn, forcing the Montgomerys to negotiate for peace. Henry was uncompromising, however, and stripped Robert, Arnulf and Roger of all their holdings in England. The king was now supreme in his rule, free from any serious rival. He could now turn his attention to withholding royal authority from the encroachments of the Church in Rome, growing ever more ambitious under a series of able popes.
For the king, the customs of the realm of England took precedence over the claims of the Church. In this, he was aided by Gerard the Archbishop of York, who argued that the Mother of Churches was Jerusalem, not Rome, and that the Papacy was an institution of merely human ordinance. Predating Wycliffe, Gerard argued that the Scriptures alone could give religious instruction; there was no need to have the will of God expounded by a Pope. Kings were ordained by God to rule the Church no less than the State.

The struggle between Anselm and Henry was abetted by the new Pope Paschal; all three were obdurate, with the English archbishop even moving to France unable to satisfy his king. In the meantime, Henry appropriated Church revenues and enacted measures that led the bishops to beg for Anselm's return. Continued trouble with Normandy, however, put the Church-Crown struggle temporarily on hold.
Normandy had become a Mecca for just about all of those opposed Henry of England, who now resolved to dispossess his brother. He started by bribing the Count of Flanders and the King of France to transfer their allegiance. The conquest of Normandy began in the spring of 1105, climaxing in the one-hour battle at Tinchebrai when Robert surrendered. Normandy now belonged to Henry, King of England. Thus the English soldiers, who had formed a large part of Henry's army, could now say that the Battle of Hastings was avenged. Robert was held captive in Cardiff Castle in Wales to spend the remainder of his life a closely-guarded prisoner.
Henry could now introduce into the anarchy that had been Normandy some of the order and economy that he had established in England. His one great mistake was to entrust the infant son of Robert, William the Clito, to the charge of one who would later raise a rebellion against him, and for twenty years, the policies of Henry and his Norman possessions was determined by those who continued to plot against him.
Back in England, the Church-Crown struggle continued; fear of excommunication led the King to finally agree to a compromise with Anselm. Henry renounced the right of investing prelates, but would continue to receive their homage for their temporal possessions and duties. The treaty, nonetheless, did nothing to settle the question of the English Church's longed-for independence from the Crown. But it left Henry at the pinnacle of his power. The death of Anselm meant that the King could appoint a successor more favorable to his own views.
Flambard, restored to Durham, remained too unpopular to cause any trouble for the king. In addition, Henry kept in check the powers and ambitions of the great Barons by judiciously exercising his feudal rights. He prohibited the custom of private war, forbade the building of castles or fortified dwellings without his license and insisted that every under-tenant regard the King as his chief lord. Above all, he insisted on the rule of law.

When Henry first acceded to the throne, there had been different laws for different folks according to where they resided, for example, West Saxons were treated differently from Mercians. But the King's Court, the "Curia Regis" of Henry, refused to recognize these differences. The rule was that the law of the King's Court must stand above all other law and was the same for all. The king's justices travelled into the shires to see that his mandate was carried out. Before Henry died, the most distinctive of the old provincial differences had disappeared.
From all the varying tribes that dwelled in England, with their mutually incomprehensible dialects and varying legal customs and traditions, a new nation was being forged out of the common respect for the King's writ, out of their submission to and increasing attachment to the same principles of law and their trust in the monarchy to protect them against oppression. Henry, the "Lion of Justice" thus propelled his English possessions towards a sense of national unity totally lacking in other lands. However, trouble returned upon the king's death in 1135.
Return to Anarchy: Stephen (1135-1154)
The order of Henry l's reign soon disintegrated under his successor Stephen of Blois. Events had started in 1128 when Geoffrey the Fair, nicknamed Plantagenet on account of a sprig of broom (genet) he wore in his cap, and soon to be the Count of Anjou, married the Empress Matilda, daughter and designated heiress of Henry, King of England and Duke of Normandy. When Henry died and his nephew and favorite Stephen seized the throne and the dukedom, the houses of Anjou and Blois began their long struggle for control of both. Briefly, in this struggle, Matilda concentrated on England and Count Geoffrey on Normandy, where he became Duke in 1144. Events reluctantly forced Stephen to acknowledge Geoffrey in his Dukedom as well as Matilda's son Henry as heir to his English throne.
Stephen gained early notoriety by running away from Antioch during the First Crusade. He later more than made up for this at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 when he fought on foot long after much of his army had fled, wearing out a battle axe and a sword before being captured. His adherence to the code of chivalry led him to give safe conduct to Matilda, entirely at his mercy, to her brother's castle at Bristol, a grievous error. Matilda, as wife of Geoffrey, had a secure base in Anjou and later in Normandy and Stephen was made to pay dearly for his act of benevolence (or stupidity).
In 1126, Stephen, one of the wealthiest of the Anglo-Norman landholders, had taken an oath to accept the succession of Matilda, an oath he quickly forgot when he seized the treasury at Winchester and had himself crowned King. Acceptance of his Dukedom quickly followed from the Norman barons and early in 1136, Stephen's position seemed secure. Even Matilda's half brother, Earl Robert of Gloucester paid him homage at his Easter Court. Then it all unraveled for this good knight who was also, in the words of chronicler Walter Map, a fool. His courtesy and chivalry were not matched by efficacy in governing, and his political blunders were legion. Prominent features of his reign, accordingly, were civil wars and local disturbances.
The war of succession began when Matilda's uncle, David, King of Scotland invaded England on her behalf in 1135. It was under the rule of David, the ninth son of Malcom III, that Norman influence began to percolate through much of southern Scotland. David was also Prince of Cumbria, and through marriage Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon. Brother-in-law to the King of England, he was raised and educated in England by Normans who "polished his manners from the rust of Scottish barbarity." In Scotland, he distributed large estates to his Anglo-Norman cronies who also took over important positions in the Church. Into the Lowlands he introduced a feudal system of land ownership, founded on a new, French-speaking Anglo-Norman aristocracy that remained aloof from the majority of the Gaelic-speaking Celtic population.
It is to David that Scotland's future as an independent kingdom can be traced. When conflict arose between the new (and weak) English King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, David took the opportunity to reassert old territorial claims to the border lands, including Cumbria. At the Treaty of Durham in 1136, he retained Carlisle (which he had earlier seized). His invasion of England took him into Yorkshire. However, fierce resistance, to what has been called his needless, gleeful violence led to his defeat at Northallerton in the "Battle of the Standard." Yet, due mainly to Stephen's troubles, the Scottish king was able to gain practically all of Northumbria at a second treaty of Durham in 1139. At David's death in 1153, the kingdom of Scotland had been extended to include the Modern English counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland, territories that were in future to be held by the kings of Scotland.

In the meantime, Matilda landed at Arundel in 1139 with a large army. Stephen was captured at the battle of Lincoln in 1141, when his Barons deserted him, only to be exchanged for Robert of Gloucester after Matilda had incurred the enmity of the citizens of London, and the Queen had raised an army to defend the city. Despite Matilda's being proclaimed "Domina Anglorum" at Winchester, the civil wars continued intermittently, with Matilda and her supporters firmly entrenched in the West country, normally on the defensive, often desperately close to being defeated, but Stephen ultimately was unable to dislodge them.
The wars of succession in England, caused by Stephen's failure to recognize Matilda as rightful monarch, were not happy times. Both armies relied heavily on foreign mercenaries, anxious to set up their own private fiefdoms in England and on occasion, managing to do so. In contrast to the peace of Henry's reign, the English countryside now suffered the sad consequences of an unremitting struggle with lawless armies on the rampage and barons paying off old scores. Matilda, finally despairing at her failure to dislodge Stephen, left for Normandy, never to return.
A more successful campaign was then carried out by Matilda's son Henry, beginning in 1153. When his eldest son Eustace died the same year, Stephen agreed to a compromise. He was to continue as king so long as he lived and to receive Henry's homage. In turn, Henry was to be recognized as rightful heir. In the meantime, complete anarchy prevailed in which the functions of central government quickly broke down. Fragmentation and decentralization were the order of the day. The situation called out desperately for a strong able ruler. Henry II came along just in time.
Henry II (1154-1189)
Henry had become Duke of Normandy in 1150 and Count of Anjou after his father's death in 1151. When he married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, he ruled her duchy as well, thus becoming more powerful than his lord, King Louis of France. Eleanor had been divorced from Louis VII after her spell of adultery with her Uncle Raymond of Antioch, notwithstanding the efforts of the Pope to keep the marriage whole. She was several years older than Henry, but she was determined on the union and made all the initial overtures. The turbulent marriage of the able, headstrong, ambitious Henry to an older woman, equally ambitious and proud, was famous for its political results.

King Louis, fearful of his loss of influence in France, made war on the couple, joined by Henry's younger brother Geoffrey who claimed the inheritance of Anjou. Their feeble opposition, however, was easily overcome and Henry acquired a vast swathe of territory in France from Normandy through Anjou to Aquitaine. The stage was set for the greatest period in Plantagenet history.
In England, Stephen was unable to garner the support he needed from his Barons, fearful that a victory for either side would be followed by a massive confiscation of lands. He had quarreled with his Archbishop of Canterbury in 1147, and the Church had consequently refused to recognize his son Eustace as his heir. After Eustace's premature death in 1154, when Stephen was forced to meet Henry at Wallingford, the great Barons decided to shift any allegiance away from the King of England to the one he was more or less forced to acknowledge as his successor. Henry was duly crowned with general English acclaim. The problems of succession did not go away, however, for the union of Henry and Eleanor produced four sons, all thirsty for power and not averse to any means whatsoever to get it, even if it meant allying with Louis VII and Philip ll of France against their father.
In the meantime, however, Henry ll was making his mark as one of the most powerful rulers in Europe. His boundless energy was the wonder of his chroniclers; his court had to rush like mad to keep up with his constant travels and hunting expeditions. But he was also a scholar and Churchman, founding and endowing many religious houses, though he was castigated for keeping many bishoprics vacant to enjoy their revenues for himself. To posterity, he left a legacy of shrewd decisions in the effective legal, administrative and financial developments of his thirty-five year reign.
Leaving a greater impress upon the institutions of England than any other king, perhaps Henry's greatest accomplishment was to take the English system of law, much of it rooted in Anglo-Saxon custom, a cumbersome, complex and slow accumulation of procedures, and turn it into an efficient legal system closely presided over by the royal court and the king's justices. Making much use of the itinerant justices to bring criminals to trial, Henry replaced feudal law by a body of royal or common law. A major innovation was the replacement of the older system of a sworn oath or an ordeal to establish truth by the jury of 12 sworn men.
Upon his succession, Henry immediately took steps to reduce the power of the barons, who had built up their estates and consolidated their positions during the anarchy under Stephen. He refused to recognize any land grants made by his predecessor and ruled as if Stephen had not even existed. Any attempts at opposition were suppressed so that by 1158, four years into his reign, he ruled supreme in England.
Henry then turned his attention to the Church, shrewdly relying on his close ally Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury to carry out his religious policies. England began to prosper under its able administrators closely watched and guided by their king. Particularly noticeable were the growth of boroughs, the new towns that were to transform the landscape of the nation during the century and that were ultimately to play such a strong part in its political and economic life.
The growth of towns, the new trading centers, was greatly aided by the stimulation of the First Crusade that revived the commerce of Europe by increased contact with the Mediterranean and especially through the growth of Venice. Improvements in agriculture included the introduction of the wheeled plough and the horse collar, both of which were to have enormous influence on farming methods and transportation. For one thing, the horse collar made it possible to efficiently transport the heavy blocks of stone for the building of the great cathedrals. The drift into towns meant a weakening of serfdom and the Lord's hold upon his demesne; serfs left the land to become traders, peddlers and artisans.

Great changes in Europe also had their effects on the English political system. Motivated by hatred and fear of the Moslems, and stimulated by the Crusades, the Italian city-states grew in influence and prosperity. Sicily had been conquered by the Normans by 1090, opening up the Western Mediterranean to trade. This in turn stimulated the growth of the towns, which soon led to demands for more say in their own government and the inevitable clash with the Church, ever anxious to protect its own areas of interest and those of the merchant classes and rapidly forming guilds. The continuing clash between Church and King was another matter altogether.
There seem to have been three main factors in the quarrel between Archbishop Becket and King Henry: their differing personalities, political implications and the intolerance of the age. As chancellor for eight years from 1154, Becket was a firm friend of the king with whom he had been a boyhood companion. He was energetic, methodical and trustworthy, supporting his king in relations with the Church. There was hardly any indication that the relationship of Church and State would be completely changed upon Becket's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury upon Theodore's death in 1161, a position in which he now displayed the same enthusiasm and energy as before, but now sworn to uphold ecclesiastical prestige against any royal encroachments. Resigning the chancellorship, he began in earnest to work solely in the interests of the Church, opposing the king even on insignificant, trivial matters, but especially over Henry's proposal that people in holy orders found guilty of criminal offences should be handed over to the secular authorities for punishment.
The king was determined to turn unwritten custom into written, thus making Becket liable for punishment, but Henry's insistence that it was illegal for Churchmen to appeal to Rome gave the quarrel a much wider significance. After Henry had presented his proposals at Clarendon in January 1164, Becket refused to submit and his angry confrontation with the king was only defused with his escape to exile in France to wage a war of words. He found very little support from the English bishops who owed their appointments to royal favor and who were heavily involved on the Crown's behalf in legal and administrative matters. They were not willing to give up their powers by supporting the Archbishop, whose intransigence made him, in their eyes, a fool. After six years in exile, however, a compromise was reached and Becket returned to England.

Showing not a sign of his willingness to honor the compromise, Becket immediately excommunicated the Archbishop of York and the other bishops who had assisted at the coronation of Henry's oldest son. When the news reached Henry in Normandy, his anger was uncontrollable and the four knights who sped to Canterbury to murder Becket in his own cathedral thought that this was an act desired by the King. Instead, the whole of Europe was outraged.
The dead archbishop was immensely more powerful than the live one, and more than Henry's abject penance made the murdered Becket the most influential martyr in the history of the English Church. The triangle of Pope, King and Archbishop was broken. Canon law was introduced fully into England, and an important phase in the struggle between Church and State had been won. Henry was forced to give way all along the line; as a way out, he busied himself in Ireland, sending his son John as "Lord of Ireland" to conduct a campaign that was a complete fiasco.
Taking advantage of their father's weakness, his sons now broke out in open rebellion, aided by the Queen, though their lack of cooperation and trust in each other led to Henry eventually being able to defeat them one at a time. For her part, Eleanor was imprisoned for the remainder of the king's life. During her husband's many absences, she had acted as regent of England. Her particular ally against Henry was Richard, heir to the duchy of Aquitaine. During the last three years of Henry's life, his imprisoned queen once more began to plot against him, and upon his death in 1189, she assumed far greater powers than she had enjoyed as his queen.
Under pressure from resistance in Britanny and Aquitaine, and possible rebellion from his sons, aided by their ambitious, scheming mother, Henry had worked out a scheme for the future division of his kingdoms. Henry was to inherit England, Normandy and Anjou; Richard was to gain Poitou and Britanny was to go to Geoffrey. John was to get nothing, but later was promised Chinon, Loudon and Mirebeau as part of a proposed marriage settlement. This decision was strongly contested by Prince Henry and was a leading factor in the warfare that ensued between the King and his sons. It was in Normandy that Henry fell ill; he died after being forced to accept humiliating terms from Philip of France and his son Richard, who succeeded him as King of England in 1189.

Richard l (1189-1199): The Warrior King
Showing but some of his father's administrative capacity, Richard l, the Lionheart, preferred to demonstrate his talents in battle. His ferocious pursuit of the arts of war squandered his vast wealth and devastated the economy of his dominions. On a Crusade to the Holy Land in 1191-2, he was captured while returning to England and ransomed in prison in Germany. But upon his release, he went back to fighting, this time against Philip ll of France. In a minor skirmish in Aquitaine, he was killed. That almost sums up his reign, but not quite.
Philip had been a co-Crusader with Richard, but his friendship turned to hostility when the Lionheart rejected his betrothed, Philip's sister Alice, in favor of Princess Berengaria of Navarre. Unfortunately, this match, consummated for purely political reasons, did not produce an heir and left the way open for the numerous conspiracies hatched by Richard's brother John, Count of Mortain (who had been miserly treated in the dispositions of their father, Henry II). All in all, the reign of one called by a contemporary as the "most remarkable ruler of his times," was anything but remarkable, unless the exploits of this violent and selfish man deserve mention. One of these involves the conquest of Cyprus after Berengaria's ship had sheltered near Limassol and had been threatened by the island's ruler. Richard, in fact, married his plain, but prudent bride, in that Cypriot port.

King Richard spent all of six months in England. To raise the funds for his adventures overseas, however, he appointed able administrators who carried out his plans to sell just about everything he owned: offices, lordships, earldoms, sheriffdoms, castles, towns, and lands. Even his Chancellor William Longchamps, Bishop of Ely, had to pay an enormous sum for his chancellorship. William also taxed the people heavily in the service of his master, making himself extremely unpopular and being removed by a rebellion of the Barons in 1191.
The most able of Richard's ministers, and certainly the most important, was Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justiciar and Chancellor. He helped keep the country more or less stable during the absence of the adventurer king despite being grievously threatened by the townspeople's protests against taxes and the nobles' protests against Richard's plans to establish a standing army. The system that had been developed by Henry ll enabled the country to function quite well, despite the occasional troubles caused by Richard's scheming and ambitious brother John. Though Richard outlawed or excommunicated John's supporters when he returned from overseas, he forgave his brother and promised him the succession.
One favorable legacy that Richard left behind was his patronage of the troubadours, the composers of lyric poetry that were bringing a civilized tone to savage times and whose influence charted the future course that literature in Europe was to take. A sad note is that Richard's preparations for the Third Crusade against the Moslems provoked popular hostility in England towards its Jewish inhabitants (who had been formerly encouraged to come from Normandy). A massacre of the Jewish inhabitants of York took place in March, 1190, and Richard's successor, John placed heavy fines which led to many Jews fleeing back to the continent, a process that continued into the reign of Edward l, when they were expelled from England.
Richard was fortunate to have loyal, experienced men to represent him in England, Normandy, Anjou, Poitou and Gascony, as well as in the duchy of Aquitaine. The successes enjoyed in the Third Crusade against the forces of Saladin, a most formidable foe, were mainly due to the English king's abilities as politician and military leader. But his dominions were constantly threatened by enemies, who included Philip II of France, Raymond of Toulouse and his brother John.
It is a pity that Richard got himself captured in Germany, for he had made ample arrangements for the government of his domains. His ransom was massive; it included his recognition of Henry VI of Germany, son of Frederick Barbarossa, as feudal overlord of England. Nonetheless, thanks to such as Longchamps in England, he was able to raise sufficient funds to recover all that Philip had gained in Normandy and to keep his lands intact. He died in the siege of a minor castle in a foolish attempt at inspecting his troops. John lost very little time in losing everything that his brother had fought so hard to protect.

Disaster under King John (1199-1216)
There are quite a number of ironies connected with the reign of John, for during his reign all the vast Plantagenet possessions in France except Gascony were lost. From now on, the House of Anjou was separated from its links with its homeland, and the Crown of England eventually could concern itself solely with running its own affairs free from Continental intrigue. But that was later. In the meantime, John's mishandling of his responsibilities at home led to increased baronial resistance and to the great concessions of the Magna Carta, hailed as one of the greatest developments in human rights in history and the precursor of the United States Bill of Rights. It was also in John's reign that the first income tax was levied in England; to try to recover his lost lands in France, John introduced his tax of one thirteenth on income from rents and moveable property, to be collected by the sheriffs.
To be fair to the unfortunate John, his English kingdom had been drained of its wealth for Richard's wars in France and the Crusade as well as the exorbitant ransom. His own resources were insufficient to overcome the problems he thus inherited. He also lacked the military abilities of his brother. It has been said that John could win a battle in a sudden display of energy, but then fritter away any advantage gained in a spell of indolence. It is more than one historian who wrote of John as having the mental abilities of a great king, but the inclinations of a petty tyrant.
John alienated his vassals in Aquitaine by divorcing his first wife, Isabella of Gloucester (who had failed to give him a son and heir), and taking as his second wife the teenage daughter of the Count of Angouleme, a political move that brought him no gain. The young woman was already betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan of Poitou, and John was summoned to appear before Philip ll his nominal overlord in France. After all his lands in France were forfeited for his refusal to appear, John seized the initiative, marching to Poitier, and seizing young Arthur (and releasing Eleanor of Aquitaine, held captive). He then threw everything away by releasing the most dangerous of his prisoners, who continued the revolt against him and worse, he had Arthur of Britanny killed.

When Arthur was murdered, it was the end for John's hopes in France. The act alienated just about everybody, and Philip now pressed home his advantage. The King of England's ineptitude and lack of support, despite winning some victories in some provinces, eventually caused him to flee across the Channel, never to return. It was the greatest reverse suffered by the English Crown since the Battle of Hastings in 1066. When John reached England, the only French lands left to him, apart from Gascony, was the Channel Islands (these nine island have remained under the British Crown ever since and were the only part of the United Kingdom occupied by Nazi forces in World War II).
Philip had not been the only one to be upset by John's repudiation of Isabella. The English barons were also indignant. They had begun to lose confidence in their feudal lord. After Richard's death, they had little faith in a victory over the King of France and became weary of fighting John's wars, deserting him in droves. When John began to direct his attention to matters in England, he was unable to gain their confidence. William the Lion of Scotland seized the opportunity to reassert his country's claim to Northumberland and Cumberland, though his age and lack of allies prevented him from achieving his aims. John's greatest problems, apart from the mistrust of his barons, lay not with Scotland, but with the Church of Rome, now under a strong and determined Pope, Innocent III.
Innocent, Pope from 1198 to 1216 was the first to style himself "Vicar of Christ." He proved to be a formidable adversary to the English King. Their major dispute came over the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury at the death of Hubert Walter in 1205. John refused to accept Stephen Langton, an Englishman active in the papal court at Rome. He was punished by the Interdict of 1208, and for the next five years, English priests were forbidden from administering the sacraments, even from burying the dead. Most of the bishops left the country.
York had been without an archbishop since 1207 when John's half brother Geoffrey had fled to the continent after a quarrel over church taxes. In 1209, Innocent excommunicated John, who was eventually forced to submit by accepting Langton as his primary Church leader. Not only that, but he had to place England under the direct overlordship of the papacy, and it was this humiliation that completely destroyed his political credibility. In the meantime, however, John had successfully dealt with the problem of Ireland.

The King had already been in Ireland, sent by his father to try to complete Henry's plans to bring the feuding Irish chiefs and independent Norman lords to order. He had failed miserably, and the behavior of his undisciplined troops quickly led to his ignominious withdrawal from that troubled land. The campaign of 1210 was more successful. Many Anglo-Norman lords had consolidated major landholdings and were in defiance of royal authority. John's efforts to bring them to heel proved to be one of the few successes of his seventeen-year reign. He allied himself with the Irish chiefs, and with their help was able to dispossess the powerful Walter and Hugh de Lacy. He placed the royal Justiciar in charge of Ireland and had castles built at Carrickfergus and Dublin to strengthen English control over the country.
It was time for the king of England to turn back to France. In 1212, John's plans to re-conquer his former French possessions led to the revolt of his barons. His request for money and arms was the flash point. When the northern barons refused to help, John took an army to punish the rebels. Only Langton's intervention effected a reconciliation. The expedition to Poitou then proceeded, but ended in total failure with the defeat by Philip at Bouvines. His continued disregard of feudal law and customs, allied to the disgrace of the defeat in France and loss of lands, were now seized on by the majority of English barons who presented their grievances at Runnymede, on June 15, 1215.
The Magna Carta, the "Great Charter" was something of a compromise, a treaty of peace between John and his rebellious barons, whose chief grievance was that of punishment without trial. Archbishop Langton drew up the grievances into a form of statements that constitute a complex document of 63 clauses. Though John's signature meant that baronial grievances were to be remedied, in later years, the charter became almost a manifesto of royal powers. In fact, for the next 450 years, even though John reluctantly signed the charter, all subsequent rulers of England fundamentally disagreed with its principles. They preferred to see themselves as the source of all laws and thus above the law.

For posterity, however, the two most important clauses were 39, which states that no one should be imprisoned without trial and 40, which states that no one could buy or deny justice. Also of particular interest is the provision that taxes henceforth could not be levied except with the agreement of leading churchmen and barons at a meeting to which 40 days notice was to be given. In addition, restrictions were placed on the powers of the king's local officials to prevent them from abusing their financial, administrative and judicial powers. Weights and measures were regulated, the safety of merchants ensured and the privileges of the citizens of London were confirmed. The most lasting effect of the somewhat vague conditions of the Magna Carta was the upholding of individual rights against arbitrary government.
Baronial rebellion in England was not crushed by the provisions signed at Runnymede. John spent the rest of his reign marching back and forth trying to stamp out opposition that was led by Prince Louis of France, son of Philip ll, but achieving little. One persistent legend is that he lost all his baggage train, including the Crown jewels in the marshy area known as the Wash in the county of Norfolk. The angry and frustrated king died in October 1216. His burial at Worcester, however, showed that the centre of Plantagenet rule was now firmly established in England, and not France (both Henry II and Richard I had been buried in Anjou).
Henry III (1216-1272)
And so it was that John's young heir, Henry lll, came to the throne, to rule for 56 years, most of which were also spent in futile battles with the leading barons of England and his failure to recapture the lost Plantagenet lands in France. Henry also tried to take advantage of the Pope's offer of the kingdom of Sicily by making his youngest son Edmund king of that far-off island. To raise the funds to pay the ever increasing demands of the Bishop of Rome, Henry asked for taxes in a repeat of his revenue-raising efforts that had failed to bring military success in France and a crisis soon erupted. He had to agree to a meeting of "parliament" in which the opposition was led by his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort.
Henry had already alienated his leading barons by marrying Eleanor of Provence, who brought many of her relatives to England to create an anti-foreigner element into the realm's political intrigues and helped solidify baronial resentment and suspicion of the incompetent, but pious king. The Barons showed their power by drawing up the Provisions of Oxford. Henry capitulated; he was forced to acquiesce to the setting up of a Council of Fifteen, with himself as a "first among equals." When the king later tried to reassert his authority, the barons once again rebelled. Under de Montfort, they captured Henry, and set up de Montfort as temporary ruler.
Henry's son Edward, showing much more resolve and military skills than his father, then raised an army, and at the decisive battle of Evesham in 1265, defeated de Montfort to restore Henry, who enjoyed his last few years in peace. He was especially gratified at the completion of Westminster Abbey and the reburial of the remains of Edward the Confessor there.
During Henry III's long reign, great progress was made in the direction of the English Church, not the least of which was the completion of the great cathedrals at Durham, Wells, Ely and Lincoln and the erection of the magnificent edifice at Salisbury with its spire lasting for many centuries as the tallest man-made structure in England. Most notable among many learned clerics of the period was Robert Grosstested, Bishop of Lincoln, who become Oxford University's first chancellor, setting that institution on the road to its eventual greatness and its enormous influence upon the nation's future leaders.

Henry's reign also saw the movement away from the monastic ideal to that of the Church working among the people. The Franciscans and Dominicans were particularly prominent in charitable work in the rapidly growing towns and villages of England. In the country, an important innovation was the introduction of windmills from Holland, which greatly aided in the draining of marshes and the milling of grain.
Though Henry lll in many ways was a weak and vacillating king, his reign produced a great milestone in the history of England, for the opposition of de Montfort and the Barons, though ultimately defeated, had produced a parliament in which commoners sat for the first time, and it was this, much more than the Magna Carta of John, that was to prove of immense significance in the future of democracy in England, and of "government by the people and for the people."
Edward I (1272-1307)
Seen by many historians as the ideal medieval king, Edward l enjoyed warfare and statecraft equally, and was determined to succeed in both. Henry's eldest son, he had conducted the ailing king's affairs in England during the last years of his father's life. Known as Edward Longshanks, he was a man whose immense strength and steely resolve had been ably shown on the crusade he undertook to the Holy Land in 1270. The death of Henry forced his return from Sicily, though it took him two years to return.

When he finally did arrive to claim his throne, King Edward immediately set about restoring order in England and wiping out corruption among the barons and royal officials. His great inquiry to recover royal rights and to re-establish law and justice became the largest official undertaking since the "Domesday Book" of two hundred years earlier. The proceedings took place under the Statute of Gloucester on 1278 and the Statute of Quo Warranto of 1290. The Statute of Mortmain of 1279 had decreed that no more land might be given into the hands to the church without royal license. All these efforts and the great statutes of Westminster of 1275 and 1285 were so successful in reforming and codifying English law that Edward was given the title of the "English Justinian." Of equal importance in the future development of the English civilization was Edward's fostering of the concept of representation in a people's parliament. Knights of the shire and burgesses of the boroughs were called to attend many of the king's parliaments. In 1295, his gathering contained all the elements later associated with the word "parliament," the writs issued to the sheriffs to call the knights and burgesses made it clear that they were to act according to common counsel of their respective local communities.

Ever anxious to raise funds for his never-ending wars, the king also established a long-lasting alliance between the Crown and the merchant classes, giving them protection in return for a grant of export duties on wool and other agricultural products. The wily king even granted foreign merchants freedom of trade in England in return for additional customs revenues. He desperately needed this income to fight his Welsh and Scottish wars.

The Conquest of Wales
Visitors to the Wales of today are sometimes astonished to see the extent of Edward's castle-building campaign. Huge forbidding castles, such as Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech and Beaumaris are listed as World Heritage Sites along with others such as Flint and Rhuddlan. They show the extent to which Edward was determined to crush any Welsh aspirations of independence and to bring the country firmly under royal control.

The stubborn Welsh were a thorn in the side of Edward whose ambition was to rule the whole of Britain. They were a proud people, considering themselves the true Britons. Geoffrey of Monmouth (1090-1155) had claimed that they had come to the island of Britain from Troy under their leader Brutus. He also praised their history, written in the British tongue (Welsh). Another Norman-Welsh author, Giraldus Cambrensis (1146-1243) had this to say about his fellow countrymen:
The English fight for power: the Welsh for liberty; the one to procure, gain, the other to avoid loss. The English hirelings for money; the Welsh patriots for their country.

When the English nation forged some kind of national identity under Alfred of Wessex, the Welsh put aside their constant infighting to create something of a nation themselves under a succession of strong leaders beginning with Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri the Great) who ruled the greater part of Wales by the time of his death in 877. Rhodri's work of unification was then continued by his grandson, Hywel Dda (Howell the Good 904-50), whose codification of Welsh law has been described as among the most splendid creations of the culture of the Welsh.
Hywel was a lawgiver, not a military leader. In order to keep the peace throughout his kingdoms, he had to accept the position of sub-regulus to Athelstan of Wessex. In 1039, however, Gruffudd ap Llywelyn became king of Gwynedd and extended his authority throughout Wales, setting a precedent that was to continue throughout the Norman invasion of Britain. Under Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Wales was forged into a single political unit. In 1204, Llywelyn married King John's daughter Joan and was recognised by Henry III as pre-eminent in his territories. At his death, however, in 1240, fighting between his sons Dafydd and Gruffudd just about destroyed all their father had accomplished, and in 1254, Henry's son Edward was given control of all the Crown lands in Wales that had been ceded at the Treaty of Woodstock in 1247.
The situation was restored by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, recognised as Prince of Wales by Henry in 1267 and ruler of a kingdom set to conduct its own affairs free from English influence. The tide of affairs then undertook a complete reversal with the accession of Edward I to the throne of England in 1272.
Edward's armies were defeated when they first crossed Offas's Dyke into Wales. The English king's determination to crush his opposition, his enormous expenditure on troops and supplies and resistance to Llywelyn from minor Welsh princes who were jealous of his rule, soon meant that the small Welsh forces were forced into their mountain strongholds. At the Treaty of Aberconwy of 1287, Llywelyn was forced to concede much of his territories east of the River Conwy. Edward then began his castle-building campaign, beginning with Flint right on the English border and extending to Builth in mid-Wales.

Llywelyn was not yet finished. When his brother Dafydd rose in rebellion against the harsh repression of his people's laws and customs, Llywelyn took up the cause. According to one chronicler, the Welsh "preferred to be slain in war for their liberty than to suffer themselves to be unrighteously trampled upon by foreigners." Sadly, however, despite initial successes, Llywelyn was slain at Cilmeri, near Builth, when he was separated from his loyal troops, and Edward's troubles with the Welsh were at an end. Their "impetuous rashness" was now severely punished by the English king, intent on ridding himself of these stubborn people once and for all.
At the Statute of Rhuddlan, 1284, Wales was divided up into English counties; the English court pattern set firmly in place, and for all intents and purposes, Wales ceased to exist as a political unit. The situation seemed permanent when Edward followed up his castle building program by his completion of Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech. In 1300, Edward made his son (born at Caernarfon castle, in that mighty fortress overlooking the Menai Straits in Gwynedd) "Prince of Wales." The powerful king could now turn his attention to those other troublemakers, the Scots.
The Scots' Road to Independence
At roughly the same time that the people of Wales were separated from the invading Saxons by the artificial boundary of Offa's Dyke, MacAlpin had been creating a kingdom of Scotland. His successes in part were due to the threat coming from the raids of the Vikings, many of whom became settlers. The seizure of control over all Norway in 872 by Harald Fairhair caused many of the previously independent Jarls to look for new lands to establish themselves. One result of the coming of the Norsemen and Danes with their command of the sea, was that Scotland became surrounded and isolated. The old link with Ireland was broken and the country was now cut off from southern England and the Continent, thus the kingdom of Alba established by MacAlpin was thrown in upon itself and united against a common foe.
In 1018, under MacAlpin's descendant Malcolm II, the Angles were finally defeated in this northerly part of Britain and Lothian came under Scottish rule. The same year saw the death of the British (Celtic) King of Strathclyde who left no heir; his throne going to Malcolm's grandson Duncan. In 1034, Duncan became King of a much-expanded Scotland that included Pict-land, Scotland, Lothian, Cumbria and Strathclyde. It excluded large tracts in the North, the Shetlands, Orkneys and the Western Isles, held by the Scandinavians. There was still no established boundary between Scotland and England.

It was under the rule of David l, the ninth son of Malcom III, that Norman influence began to percolate through much of southern Scotland. David, King of Scotland, was also Prince of Cumbria, and through marriage, Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon. Brother-in-law to the King of England, he was raised and educated in England by Normans who "polished his manners from the rust of Scottish barbarity." In Scotland, he distributed large estates to his Anglo-Norman cronies who also took over important positions in the Church. In the Scottish Lowlands he introduced a feudal system of land ownership, founded on a new, French-speaking Anglo-Norman aristocracy that remained aloof from the majority of the Gaelic-speaking Celtic population.
At David's death in 1153, the kingdom of Scotland had been extended to include the Modern English counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland, territories that were in future to be held by the kings of Scotland. Alas, the accession of Henry II to the English throne in 1154 had changed everything.
David had been succeeded by his grandson, Malcolm IV an eleven-year old boy He was no match for the powerful new King of England. At the Treaty of Chester, 1157 Henry's strength, "the authority of his might," forced Malcolm to give up the northern counties solely in return for the confirmation of his rights as Earl of Huntingdon. The Scottish border was considerably shifted northwards. And there it remained until the rash adventures of William, Malcolms' brother and successor, got him captured at Alnwich, imprisoned at Falaise in Normandy, and forced to acknowledge Henry's feudal superiority over himself and his Scottish kingdom. In addition, to add insult to injury, the strategic castles of edinburgh, Stirling, Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Berwick were to be held by England with English garrisons at Scottish expense.
Henry II's successor was Richard I, whose main concern was the Third Crusade. Desperately needing money to finance his overseas adventures, Richard freed William from all "compacts" extorted by Henry and restored the castles of Berwick and Roxburgh for a sum of 10,00 marks of silver. Thus the humiliation of the Falaise agreement was cancelled. Richard showed little interest in running his English kingdom, less interested in Scotland and departed for the crusade in 1189. Once again, Scotland was a free and independent country.
A new struggle for control of Scotland had begun at the death of Alexander III in 1286, leaving as heir his grandchild Margaret, the infant daughter of the King of Norway. English King Edward, with his eye on the complete subjugation of his northern neighbors, suggested that Margaret should marry his son, a desire consummated at a treaty signed and sealed at Birgham. Under the terms, Scotland was to remain a separate and independent kingdom, though Edward wished to keep English garrisons in a number of Scottish castles. On her way to Scotland, somewhere in the Orkney, the young Norwegian princess died, unable to enjoy the consignment of sweetmeats and raisins sent by the English King. The succession was now open to many claimants, the strongest of whom were John Balliol and Robert Bruce.
John Balliol was supported by King Edward, who believed him to be the weaker and more compliant of the two Scottish claimants. At a meeting of 104 auditors, with Edward as judge, the decision went in favor of Balliol, who was duly declared the rightful king in November, 1292. The English king's plans for a peaceful relationship with his northern neighbor now took a different turn. In exchange for his support, he demanded feudal superiority over Scotland, including homage from Balliol, judicial authority over the Scottish king in any disputes brought against him by his own subjects and defrayment of costs for the defence of England as well as active support in the war against France.

Even Balliol rebelled at these outrageous demands. Showing a hitherto unshown courage, in front of the English king he declared that he was the King of Scotland and should answer only to his own people and refused to supply military service to Edward. Overestimating his strength, he then concluded a treaty with France prior to planning an invasion of England.
Edward was ready. He went north to receive homage from a great number of Scottish nobles as their feudal lord, among them none other than Robert Bruce, who owned estates in England. Balliol immediately punished this treachery by seizing Bruce's lands in Scotland and giving them to his own brother-in-law, John Comyn. Yet within a few months, the Scottish king was to disappear from the scene. His army was defeated by Edward at Dunbar in April 1296. Soon after at Brechin, on 10 July, he surrendered his Scottish throne to the English king, who took into his possession the stone of Scone, "the coronation stone" of the Scottish kings. At a parliament which he summoned at Berwick, the English king received homage and the oath of fealty from over two thousand Scots. He seemed secure in Scotland.
Flushed with this success, Edward had gone too far. The rising tide of nationalist fervor in the face of the arrival of the English armies north of the border created the need for new Scottish leaders. With the killing of an English sheriff following a brawl with English soldiers in the marketplace at Lanark, a young Scottish knight, William Wallace found himself at the head of a fast-spreading movement of national resistance. At Stirling Bridge, a Scottish force led by Wallace, won an astonishing victory when it completely annihilated a large, lavishly-equipped English army under the command of Surrey, Edward l viceroy.
We can imagine the shock to the over-confident Edward and the extent to which he sought his revenge. At Falkirk, his re-organized army crushed the over-confident Scottish followers of Wallace, who was now finished as an effective leader and forced into hiding. Following the battle, a campaign began to ruthlessly suppress all attempts at reasserting Scottish independence. It was time for Robert Bruce to free himself from his fealty to Edward and lead the fight for Scotland.

At a meeting between the two surviving claimants for the Scottish throne in Greyfriar's Kirk at Dumfries, Robert Bruce murdered John Comyn, thus earning the enmity of the many powerful supporters of the Comyn family, but also excommunication from the Church. His answer was to strike out boldly, raising the Royal Standard at Scone and, on March 27, 1306, declaring himself King of Scots. Edward's reply was predictable; he sent a large army north, defeated Bruce at the battle of Methven, executed many of his supporters and forced the Scottish king to become a hunted outlaw.
The indefatigable Scottish leader bided his time. After a year of demoralization and widespread English terror let loose in Scotland, during which two of his brothers were killed, Bruce came out of hiding. Aided mightily by his Chief Lieutenant, Sir James Douglas, "the Black Douglas," he won his first victory on Palm Sunday, 1307. From all over Scotland, the clans answered the call and Bruce's forces gathered in strength to fight the English invaders, winning many encounters against cavalry with his spearmen.

The aging Edward, the so-called "hammer of the Scots," marched north at the head of a large army to punish the Scots' impudence; but the now weak and sick king was ineffectual as a military leader. He could only wish that after his death his bones would be carried at the head of his army until Scotland had been crushed. It was left to his son Edward to try to carry out his father's dying wish. He was no man for the task.

Edward ll was crowned King of England in 1307. Faced by too many problems at home and completely lacking the ruthfulness and resourcefulness of his father, the young king had no wish to get embroiled in the affairs of Scotland. Bruce was left alone to consolidate his gains and to punish those who opposed him. In 1311 he drove out the English garrisons in all their Scottish strongholds except Stirling and invaded northern England. King Edward finally, begrudgingly, bestirred himself from his dalliances at Court to respond and took a large army north.
On Mid-Summer's Day, the 24th of June, 1314 occurred one of the most momentous battles in British history. The armies of Robert Bruce, heavily outnumbered by their English rivals, but employing tactics that prevented the English army from effectively employing its strength, won a decisive victory at Bannockburn. Scotland was wrenched from English control, its armies free to invade and harass northern England. Such was Bruce's military successes that he was able to invade Ireland, where his brother Edward had been crowned King by the exuberant Irish. A second expedition carried out by Edward II north of the border was driven back and the English king was forced to seek for peace.
The Declaration of Arboath of 1320 stated that since ancient times the Scots had been free to choose their own kings, a freedom that was a gift from God. If Robert Bruce were to prove weak enough to acknowledge Edward as overlord, then he would be dismissed in favor of someone else. Though English kings still continued to call themselves rulers of Scotland, just as they called themselves rulers of France for centuries after being booted out of the continent, Scotland remained fully independent until 1603 (when James Stuart succeeded Elizabeth I).
Misrule in England under Edward II (1307-27)
Edward II's miserable failure in Scotland was matched by equal ignominy at home. Quite simply, as one chronicler put it: "He did not realize his father's ambition." One problem was the resurgence of baronial opposition. It didn't help much that the king was overly fond of his male companions, especially enjoying a passionate relationship with the French Piers Gaveston, whom he made Earl of Cornwall. The disaster at Bannockburn added to the king's ever-plummeting reputation for incompetence and opposition gathered under the Earl of Lancaster.
Meanwhile, Edward's wife Isabella and their young son had gone to the French court to start their own revolt against the profligate, homosexual king. She took as her lover the powerful Mortimer, and in 1326 their combined forces landed in England to begin active resistance to Edward. The unfortunate king, without any support, was forced to surrender his crown in favor of his young son. His gruesome death in prison need not be recounted here, but it received dramatic attention at the hands of the gifted Marlowe (1564-1593).

England Revives Under Edward III (1327-77)
The murdered king's successor, Edward III began his reign at the age of fourteen. He ruled for fifty years, years marked by the king's restoration of royal prestige, the beginnings of what is known as "The Hundred Years War" with France, the growth of parliamentary privilege in England and the devastating results of the plague known as the Black Death.
The Hundred Years War began when Edward took up arms against his overlord, Philip IV. It began over the duchy of Gascony, the only fragment left to the Angevin kings of England (apart from the Channel Islands) of their French possessions. Gascony was held by the king, however, as a vassal of his powerful overlord, the King of France. It was an extremely valuable asset, for its chief port Bordeaux shipped huge quantities of wine that provided a much needed source of income for the English Crown in customs revenues. It was to avoid confiscation of the duchy by the French king that Edward decided to invade. Edward also re-enforced his claim to the French crown by assuming the title of King of France, a move that would also help to provide sanction for his French supporters (the title was only given up by the British monarchy in 1802).
Briefly, Edward's policy of launching lightning raids deep into France was initially successful, and his tactic of using men-at-arms and longbowmen produced the outstanding victories at Crecy in 1346 and at Poitiers in 1356. At Crecy, Edward's son, the Prince of Wales, known as The Black Prince," for the color of his armor, gained his motto "Ich Dien" (I serve), used as part of the insignia of the present Prince of Wales.

Edward was also successful in capturing Calais in 1347 which was to remain in English hands for over two hundred years. In 1360, the English king made a peace settlement by which he received southwest France in full sovereignty. Charles V of France had other ideas, however, and brought his full military might to repudiate the settlement. By 1375, following a costly war of attrition, Edward had lost most of his gains. Edward had no control over the outbreak of the Black Death that devastated most of Europe by bringing bubonic plague, carried by the black rat and transmitted to humans by fleas and the pneumonia that inevitably followed. It arrived in England in 1348, quickly spreading inland from its port of entry and within one year had affected all of Britain. Perhaps as many as one half of the country's population died before the scourge suddenly came to an end in 1350. It left behind a greatly depleted population, made laborers scarce and thus drove up wages, creating a situation in which many workers could offer their services to the highest bidder. A floating population of traveling workers came into being.

The third major phenomenon, the growth of Parliament, came about as a result of Edward's constant need for finances to support his continental adventures. The assembly of nobles and administrators who offered advice to the king had begun to insist that they had a right to be summoned. A crisis occurred in 1341-43 over Edward's finances. Parliament took action to curtail many royal perquisites; many statutes were passed to increase the powers of the nobles, but the Commons, also depended upon for revenue, also increased its influence at the expense of the king. The earlier conflict of 1321 between Edward II and his barons had led to the Statute of York one year later that clearly limited the king's powers. It had been the combined assembly of prelates, knights and burgesses, in fact, that had shown their own increasing power by demanding the abdication of Edward in 1326.
The Magna Carta had been primarily a concern of the barons to protect their interests against the king. Since then, however, the so-called gentry, the middle class landholders in the various counties were also taking part in the political debate. From 1299 on, they had been summoned by the king and parliament to authorize taxes to pay for the military. When Edward I also imposed heavy taxes on the clergy and offered special favors to the merchants, both these classes then expected some recognition in return. It was apparent that a new political society had been brewing ever so gradually but ever so strongly in England; its kings had to come to terms with it, as Edward II learned of his peril and ultimate death. The beginning of rule by consensus was firmly established by the time of Edward III's death.
Another important phenomenon taking place in England in the 14th century must not be overlooked. In 1362, Parliament passed an act to make English the official language of pleadings in the law courts, rather than French. Resistance from the lawyers prevented its full implementation, but the English language continued to be used in parliamentary rolls and statutes and ultimately replaced French to become the official language of the country. Because Latin was a spoken language among clerics and men of learning, an enormous number of borrowings came into English at this time from Latin. This, too, was the age of Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Barbour, Sir John Mandevill, and John Wycliffe, all of whom wrote in the English language. By the end of the 14th century, the vast variety of Middle English dialects notwithstanding, a standard form of written English had come into being.
The last ten years of the glorious reign of Edward lll, highly praised by his contemporaries as a period without parallel in the history of England for its "beneficent, merciful and august rule," was marred by constitutional crises. That the king himself was in his dotage hardly helped matters. Edward the heir to the throne was painfully ill and dying. The gradual disintegration of royal authority brought about by diplomatic and military failures produced the serious confrontation of the so-called Good Parliament of 1376.

There were many grievances to be dealt with by the Good Parliament and a committee was set up of leading prelates and nobles to deal with them. A speaker was appointed to act as the Commons' chairman and representative, and the first use of the judicial procedure known as impeachment took place. The principal grievance was that Edward's councillors and servants "were not loyal or profitable to him or the kingdom." The resulting dismissal of some of the king's advisors and financiers meant that it was the commons, not the barons, who had now taken the initiative in ousting royal favorites.

The Good Parliament had also seen one of the most serious attacks on the Crown during the whole later Middle Ages. Though King Edward, through his powerful Councillor John of Gaunt, sought some measure of revenge by nullifying almost everything the parliament had sought to put in place, in summing up his long reign, we can praise his remarkable ability to accommodate the interests of so many of his subjects. No wonder a cult of Edward lll as a wise and benevolent king quickly grew in England. It was a cult that made it very difficult for his successors.
A King is Deposed: Richard II (1377-99)
One sorrowful day in August, 1399, King Richard stood on the ramparts of Flint Castle, in its lonely position on the Dee estuary in Northeast Wales, watching the soldiers of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, advance from the direction of Chester. Flint townspeople still relate that the king's ever-present companion, his greyhound Math, betrayed his master that day by running to greet the triumphant Henry. Richard had already been betrayed by the Earls of Northumberland and Arundel who had persuaded him to leave the safety of Conwy Castle to journey to Flint. Math's ghost is now said to howl nightly in the ruins of the ancient castle.
Poor Richard! He certainly had delusions of grandeur, but many of his attempts to establish a realm of royal absolutism were to come to fruition only in the reign of his successor. His own reign saw the unleashing of forces completely beyond his control. Great economic and political developments were changing the face of Europe forever. The king's own lack of judgement only precipitated his eventual abdication, enforced after a rule of 22 years of great social unrest and baronial discontent. His reign also coincided with the period of the French Wars, that ate away at his treasury and caused constitutional crises at home.
Richard had become king at the age of ten. England, still held shackled by great war debts, was governed by a powerful council of nobles, supervised by the Richard's uncle, John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster by virtue of his first marriage, to Blanche of Lancaster. The Duke's second marriage was to Constanza of Castile, a union that forced a great deal of his attention to acquiring the throne of that Spanish kingdom.
Four years after Richard acceded to the throne, he was faced with the mass popular uprising known as the Peasants' Revolt. To raise funds for the French war, a poll tax was adopted by the government the unfair distribution of which caused massive resistance (much like the one initiated by the government of Margaret Thatcher many hundreds of years later). An outbreak of rioting followed attempts to collect the tax from the poorer classes.

The rebels marched on and occupied London. Richard and his advisors hastily promised charters of emancipation and redress of grievances to the rebel leaders, promises, it turned out, that they had no intention of keeping. The young king pacified the angry mob when their leader Wat Tylor was killed; he then showed he meant business by having their leaders executed. Perhaps scared for the safety of his Crown, he then squandered the support of his lords in Parliament by going too far. His despotic measures, in an attempt to reassert royal prerogative, alienated the barons, who sided with Duke Henry of Lancaster.

Richard's major problem was that he had high ideas of his own dignity and of the power of the divine right of kings. This not only brought him into conflict with his barons, leading to his ultimate deposition, but also with the powerful English Church, whose leaders could always appeal to Rome against any royal encroachment on their privileges. Richard devoted all his energies to the establishing of a despotism that was out of place in the England of his time. Neither the time nor the place was right for the establishment of an absolute monarchy.
The nobles had grown too powerful and Richard's insistence that he was the sole source of English law, not bound by custom, did not sit too highly with those who thought otherwise. The kings' tampering with the will of Parliament, nullifying measures passed by both Lords and Commons, coupled with his attempts to create a written constitution that would serve the rights of the crown for ever, and his assertion that it was high treason to try to repeal his statutes, his appeals to the Pope to obtain confirmation of his measures all combined to force the barons to acquiesce in his deposition. The last straw was Richard's attempt to make Parliament the instrument of destruction of its own liberties (a political move carried out with much greater success by Henry VIII many generations later).

It did not help Richard, who introduced the handkerchief to England, that his nobles had regarded with loathing his patronage of the arts, his extravagant tastes, his choice of favorites and his effeminate ways. In 1386, the king had given the title of Marquis of Dublin to Robert de Vere, a greedy, arrogant man. A group of nobles known as the Lords Appellant, including the Dukes of Lancaster and Norfolk demanded trial for Richard's friends, including de Vere. When de Vere raised an army, he was defeated, and the "Merciless Parliament of 1388 tried an executed many of Richard's followers. Richard was outraged, but in 1389, coming of age, began his majority by dispensing with a council altogether.
Richard regarded his coronation as giving him the right to keep royalty from being dishonored by any concessions to anyone, from the Pope himself, through the leading barons, down to the poorest of is subjects. His will directed that he be given a royal funeral. It seems that his ideas, originally formed into a system of defence against the papacy (growing increasingly powerful in the affairs of Europe) were formulated into a doctrine of absolute monarchy. He was repudiated by his nation.
When he found a pretence to banish both Bolingbroke and Mowbray (Dukes of Lancaster and Norfolk), Richard believed he had a free hand to begin his aim of ruling by absolute fiat. He raised a private army, imposed additional taxes, lavished gifts upon his favorites and spent huge sums of money on extravagant court feasts. He also incurred the enmity of the citizens of London, without whose support no king of England could now successfully govern.
The great revolution of 1399 was an assertion of the rights of Englishmen to constitutional government, thus it bears an uncanny resemblance to the great revolt of the American Colonies some centuries later. The principal grievances were the same. The articles of deposition setting forth the charges against the king were just as uncompromising as his own absolute doctrine. Richard had greatly overreached his powers by appropriating the lands of the Duchy of Lancaster after the death of John of Gaunt in 1399. This was the ultimate blunder that led directly to its downfall. If the great house of Lancaster could lose its property to the king, then no man's land was safe in England. The future Henry IV was thus acting as the champion of property rights when he met Richard at Flint Castle.
By elevating Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, son of John of Gaunt and grandson of Edward lll to the throne, the nobles passed over Richard's nearest heir. They thus asserted the right of Parliament to elect the fittest person from within the royal family. For a short time at least, constitutionalism triumphed in England. Unfortunately for the future of the kingdom, the passing over of the elder branch of the royal house in favor of the House of Lancaster meant the eventual reasserting of the claims of the House of York and the consequent Wars of the Roses with their attendant anarchy.
England Triumphant: Henry IV (1399-1413)
Henry of Bolingbroke was renowned as a fighting man. He had travelled extensively in Europe and the Mediterranean before overthrowing the unpopular Richard (who died a mysterious death, probably due to starvation while in prison). One problem with Henry's usurpation of the throne was the setting of a dangerous precedent: a rightful king, properly anointed and recognized by the Church, had been deposed (a theme that provided Shakespeare with so much material in his "Richard II"). It was thus up to Henry to consolidate the powers of the monarchy, and it was to his advantage to utilize Parliament to bolster his position and counter the ever-present threats to his throne and challenges to his position as chief lawgiver. Through this alliance, as troubled as it was by constant wrangling over the king's expenses, he was able to overcome most of the troubles that were a legacy from Richard.
Of the serious threats he had to deal with, Henry was most troubled by the revolt of the Welsh under Owain Glyndwr. Social unrest and racial tension underlay much of the resentment of the Welsh people, ever mindful that they were the true Britons, descendants of Brutus and rightful heirs to the kingdom. Uncertainty as to the future of Wales and the repressive measures of successive English kings following Edward IÍs conquest of their nation found expression in the general uprising under Owain, at first successful in reclaiming much Welsh territory and capturing English strongholds on and within the borders.
A tripartite alliance among Owain, the Earl of Northumberland and Henry Mortimer looked as if it would succeed in dismembering England, ridding its people of its usurper monarch. Military aid was promised from the king of France. Glyndwr (Owen Glendower) had himself crowned Prince of Wales and called a parliament at Machynlleth. Then it all unraveled for the conspirators. Henry Percy of Northumberland (Hotspur) was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury, Louis of Orleans was assassinated and the promise of French aid was not fulfilled. Owain's other ally, the King of Scotland was taken prisoner by the armies of England, commanded by the ever resourceful, ever able military strength of young Prince Henry, later Henry V.
Owain's fight for Welsh independence was betrayed by fellow Welshman David Gam, fighting for the English, and his cause was lost. Wales had to wait almost 600 years for its next people's assembly. King Henry then quickly dealt with other rebellions, including one led by Archbishop of York, Richard Scrope, who was executed for his audacity. Thus Henry succeeded in keeping his shaky throne intact. He died after a long illness in 1413, leaving the throne to the charismatic warrior, King Henry V.
Henry V (1413-22)
The reign of Lancastrian hero Henry V was not a long one. It could have been a glorious one, certainly if we think of him solely as a warrior-king, fearless in leading his troops into battle and winning his military victories against seemingly-impossible odds. His conquest of Normandy and his acquisition of the throne of France made him a legend in his own time. Who can find fault with his dream of ultimately uniting all of Christian Europe against the infidel?
Henry's brief reign, however, did not get off to a good start at home. Two rebellions had to be dealt with: one led by Sir John Oldcastle, of a prominent Welsh border family, who was disgruntled by his excommunication and imprisonment for heresy; the other led by Richard, Earl of Cambridge, husband of Anne Mortimer, sister of Edmund Mortimer the nearest legitimate claimant to the throne by descent from Edward lll, and younger brother of the Duke of York. The first one owed a great deal to the earlier attempts of English monarchs to make their country more independent of Rome; the second to the continuing claims of the heirs of Richard ll to the Crown of England.
The Catholic Church had been steadily increasing its demands upon the English treasury, but it had been meeting with increasing resistance. During the reign of Edward lll, reformer John Wycliffe, had declared that the Bible, and not the Church, was the true guide to faith. The English king could welcome this novel idea as long as it didn't lead to attacks on his own prerogative. After all, it needed a representative of Rome at Canterbury to sanction the accession to power of the English monarch.

There was also the matter of the Papal Schism, with rival popes in Rome and Avignon. This was hardly a situation that created confidence in the Holy Catholic Church. Wycliffe went so far as having the Bible translated into English, making it accessible to all who could read, and not just the classically educated clergy. His ideas were then preached with great zeal by the Lollards, all of who condemned many practices of the established Church. Their demands were premature, for religious dissent also constituted a grave threat to the stability of the realm, and King Henry IV, with the able assistance of ultra-conservative Archbishop Arundel had undertaken stern measures to combat their ideas, including burning Lollards at the stake.
Oldcastle, a boyhood friend of Henry V, after escaping from the Tower of London, was accused of organizing a Lollard rebellion. After years in hiding, he was eventually betrayed, captured and executed and his followers dispersed. The rebellion of Richard, Earl of Cambridge, against the Royal House of Lancaster, also suffered the same fate. Both plots were foiled by the decisive action of the king's supporters and Henry, supported by an effective, disciplined royal council, was thus free to embark on his French adventures.
Contemporary events in France greatly favored the implementation of Henry's claims in that country, especially the incompetence of Charles V's son and heir Charles VI, who also suffered from bouts of insanity. Bitter rivalries tore asunder the French Court, one headed by the king's younger brother, Louis of Orleans and the other by the king's uncle, Philip of Burgundy. The latter had designs on complete control of the government of France, a cause aided by the assassination of Orleans in 1407. The resulting outbreak of civil war paralyzed France for a generation. In the meantime, the King of England took immediate advantage and took his army across the Channel.
Forgetting anything or everything they had learned at Crecy in the previous century, the French army attacked the motley crew that made up the English forces at Agincourt using the same tactics that failed them in the earlier slaughter. The result was an even bigger disaster for the over-confident French with appalling losses among their heavily armed, mounted knights completely unable to maneuver in the marshy lands and cut down by the skill of Henry's mercenary archers, many recruited in Wales.
Following Agincourt, the way was open for Henry to take possession of Normandy. The Dauphin fled Paris, leaving Queen Isabella (during one of her husband fits of insanity) to come to term with the victorious English king. The powerful Duke of Burgundy, whose support had been crucial for Henry, was fatally stabbed by a former supporter of the murdered Orleans while arranging the negotiations, but the English king had no serious rivals in France to thwart his ambition.
By the Treaty of Troyes of 1420, it was declared that on the death of Charles VI his throne should be given to "his only true son," Henry V of England, now married to the Princess Catherine. We can only surmise what the political future of both France and England might have been had Henry not died during one of his French campaigns in 1422, leaving the Duke of Gloucester as regent in England and the Duke of Bedford as regent in France. The heir to the English throne was less than one year old. Queen Catherine, remaining in England, took as her next husband Owen Tudor of Wales, with consequences we shall deal with later.
Henry VI (1422-71)
In a reign lasting almost fifty years, Henry VI lost two kingdoms, his only son and on many occasions, his reason. Perhaps we can blame bad luck for the king's misfortunes, certainly his bad judgement, but Henry was never a ruler in his own person. He had come to the throne as an infant, the country being governed by a regency dominated first by his uncles of the House of Lancaster and later by the Beauforts. In addition to being dominated by the Duke of Suffolk, he was also controlled by his wife Margaret of Anjou. During bouts of mental illness, England was ruled by Richard, Duke of York as protector. In marked contrast to the good order of his father, the complete fiasco of the reign of Henry Vl ultimately led to that sad period in English history known as "The Wars of the Roses."

In France, despite a few desultory successes after the death of Henry V, things went from bad to worse for the English occupiers. Under the inspired leadership of a peasant girl from Domremy, known as Joan of Arc, French resistance was revitalized, Orleans relieved and the Dauphin crowned at Reims as Charles VII. Joan was eventually captured by the ever-treacherous Burgundians and sentenced to death for heresy by a Church court, becoming a national martyr after she had nobly perished in the bonfire at Rouen in 1431.

The fires that burned Joan also ignited the latent forces of French nationalism. After 1435 and the death of the Duke of Bedford, the English armies found themselves virtually leaderless in the face of increasing French strength. During the long years of attrition that followed, they were gradually forced to give up all they had gained under Henry V except the single port of Calais. Agincourt might as well not have happened.
In England, at the same time, despite the avowed saintliness of the king, the monarchy was rapidly losing its prestige. Though he was interested in education, and both Eton College and Kings College, Cambridge were founded during his reign, Henry's employment of ambitious, self-serving courtiers and advisors only hastened the onset of civil war. In particular, the constant feuds of the kings' relatives, descended from Edward lll, created a situation bordering on anarchy. Richard of York, heir to the son of Richard II, the boy whose rights had been passed over by parliament in 1399, led the anti-Lancastrian party. The Wars of the Roses began in 1453, when the birth of a son to King Henry precluded the possibility of a peaceful succession.
Richard of York, whose family had adopted its emblem a white rose as a Yorkist badge, raised the standard of revolt to begin the thirty-year period of civil war that wracked the whole nation. Never really involving more than armed clashes between small bands of noblemen with their private retainers, the bloody conflict nevertheless managed to exterminate most of the English aristocracy as its fortunes swung back and forth between the two sides.
King Henry and Margaret had adopted the red rose as the symbol of the House of Lancaster. They managed to force Richard of York into exile, but when Henry was later captured at the Battle of Northampton, Richard returned to claim the throne for himself. A compromise was then effected that would allow him to reign after Henry's death, but York was killed at Wakefield when Margaret led an army against him in 1460. His son Edward was then supported in his claims by the formidable Earl of Warwick (Warwick the kingmaker). Henry had been recaptured by his "manly queen, used to rule..." but he was driven into exile one year later when Warwick had the Yorkist prince crowned as Edward lV.
There were now two kings ruling England, and thus a battle was necessary to try to settle the matter. It duly took place in 1461 at Towton, the bloodiest engagement of the whole war and a disaster for the House of Lancaster. Henry and Margaret had to flee to Scotland. When his wife left to drum up support in France, Henry stayed behind as fugitive, only to be imprisoned once more. Warwick then switched his allegiance to Margaret and their joint invasion forced King Edward to flee to the Continent. They released the poor, bewildered Henry from the Tower of London to be recognized as king again.

No wonder Henry had fits of insanity. His joy at being restored to the throne was short-lived, for Edward was not finished. He returned to England in 1471, with aid from Charles the Bold of Burgundy and at Barnet in 1471, he defeated and killed Warwick. At the battle of Tewkesbury, he then defeated Queen Margaret and killed her husband's son Edward. Henry found himself back in prison at the Tower where he was executed. Later chroniclers praised his good qualities and Henry VII even sought his canonization, but the former Henry had completely failed as a ruler. His reign had not only seen civil war, but also had to deal with the serious revolt of the middle classes led by Jack Cade, seeking to redress government abuses and the lack of input into the arbitrary decisions of the king and council. Though the rebellion failed, it showed only too clearly that arbitrary decisions by those in power could be strongly protested by those without.

Edward lV (1461-83)
Edward began his reign in 1461 and ruled for eight years before Henry's brief return. His reign is marked by two distinct periods, the first in which he was chiefly engaged in suppressing the opposition to his throne, and the second in which he enjoyed a period of relative peace and security. Both periods were marked also by his extreme licentiousness; it is said that his sexual excesses were the cause of his death (it may have been typhoid), but he was praised highly for his military skills and his charming personality. When Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner of great beauty, but regarded as an unfit bride for a king, even Warwick turned against him. We can understand Warwick's switch to Margaret and to Edward's young brother, the Duke of Clarence, when we learn that he had hoped the king would marry one of his own daughters.
Clarence continued his activities against his brother during the second phase of Edward's reign; his involvement in a plot to depose the king got him banished to the Tower where he mysteriously died (drowned in his bath). Edward had meanwhile set up a council with extensive judicial and military powers to deal with Wales and to govern the Marches. His brother, the Duke of Gloucester headed a council in the north. He levied few subsidies, invested his own considerable fortune in improving trade; freed himself from involvement in France by accepting a pension from the French King; and all in all, remained a popular monarch. He left two sons, Edward and Richard, in the protection of Richard of Gloucester, with the results that have forever blackened their guardian's name in English history.
Richard III (1483-85)
Richard of Gloucester had grown rich and powerful during the reign of his brother Edward IV, who had rewarded his loyalty with many northern estates bordering the city of York. Edward had allowed Richard to govern that part of the country, where he was known as "Lord of the North." The new king was a minor and England was divided over whether Richard should govern as Protector or merely as chief member of a Council. There were also fears that he may use his influence to avenge the death of his brother Clarence at the hands of the Queen's supporters. And Richard was supported by the powerful Duke of Buckingham, who had married into the Woodville family against his will.

Richard's competence and military ability was a threat to the throne and the legitimate heir Edward V. After a series of skirmishes with the forces of the widowed queen, anxious to restore her influence in the north, Richard had the young prince of Wales placed in the Tower. He was never seen again though his uncle kept up the pretence that Edward would be safely guarded until his upcoming coronation. The queen herself took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, but Richard had her brother and father killed.

Edward's coronation was set for June, 1483. Richard planned his coup. First he divided the ruling Council, convincing his own followers of the need to have Lord Hastings executed for treason. (It had been Hastings who had informed him of the late King's death and the ambitions of the Queen's party). He then had his other young nephew Richard join Edward in the Tower. One day after that set for Edward's coronation, Richard was able to pressure the assembled Lords and Commons in Parliament to petition him to assume the kingship. After his immediate acceptance, he then rode to Westminster and was duly crowned as Richard III. His rivals had been defeated and the prospects for a long, stable reign looked promising. Then it all unraveled for the treacherous King.

It is one thing to kill a rival in battle but it is another matter to have your brother's children put to death. By being suspected of this evil deed, Richard condemned himself. Though the new king busied himself granting amnesty and largesse to all and sundry, he could never cleanse himself of the suspicion surrounding the murder of the young princes. He had his own son Edward invested as Prince of Wales, and thus heir to his throne, but revulsion soon set in to destroy what, for all intents and purposes, could have been a well-managed, competent royal administration.
It didn't help Richard much that even before he took the throne he had denounced the Queen "and her blood adherents," impugned the legitimacy of his own brother and his young nephews and stigmatized Henry Tudor's royal blood as bastard. The rebellion against him started with the defection of the Duke of Buckingham whose open support of the Lancastrian claimant overseas, Henry Tudor, transformed a situation which had previously favored Richard.
The king was defeated and killed at Bosworth Field in 1485, a battle that was as momentous for the future of England as had been Hastings in 1066. The battle ended the Wars of the Roses, and for all intents and purposes, the victory of Henry Tudor and his accession to the throne conveniently marks the end of the medieval and the beginning of England's modern period.
Part 6: From Reformation to Restoration
by Peter N. Williams, Ph. D.

Henry VII (1485-1509)
The victor at Bosworth Field was Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. Though his claim to the throne was tenuous and few in England could even hope that stability had at last come to that troubled land, he was to begin a dynasty that lasted 118 years. At the beginning of Henry VII's reign the Wars of the Roses were still pitting the Houses of York and Lancaster against each other for the throne. By the end of t Elizabeth IÍs reign, the last of the Tudors, the kingdom of Britain had become a great sea-power, enjoyed an unparalleled growth in literature and drama, experienced vast economic and social change and suffered (and more or less settled) the tumultuous problems of the great European Reformation. Little England had become unrecognizable in its unswerving path toward world domination in so many different areas.
Henry had a lot to think about when he defeated Richard. His victory was due as much to the king's allies deserting him on the field of battle as much as it was to Henry's own determination and courage, and in the face of his weak claim to be the legitimate ruler, a desperate gamble. After all, on his mother's side, he was descended from the offspring of John of Gaunt and his mistress, specifically barred from the succession. His grandfather, Welshman Owen Tudor, had been a household clerk of Catherine of Valois, whom he married after the death of her husband Henry V. Their son Edmund was granted the title of Earl of Richmond, and Henry himself, brought up in France, had the good sense to marry Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward lV, thus bringing together the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster.
It was not easy going for the new king. He effectively dealt with the early Yorkist threat to the throne when he defeated a conglomeration of rebels under Lambert Simnel, pushed forward to claim the throne as the supposed Earl of Warwick, nephew of Edward lV and Richard III. Henry's victory at Stoke, in 1487 marked the last battle of the Wars of the Roses. Then he dealt with Perkin Warbeck, who posed as the younger of the princes who had been murdered in the Tower. Along with the support of the King of Scotland, James VI, Warbeck foolishly led an army composed mostly of Cornishmen against Henry but was defeated and beheaded. The problem of Wales was more easily settled.

Henry had landed in West Wales to begin his march that culminated at Bosworth, in the English Midlands. The people of Wales showed little interest one way or the other, after all, the problem of the succession was an English one, but when Henry assumed the throne, it was generally felt in the principality that a Welsh ruler had now come to the land. Much of Wales, especially the gentry, now rejoiced in Henry's victory. They identified with the new ruler, a quarter Welsh (a quarter French and half English), who seemed proud of his Welsh lineage and showed that he recognized it. Consequently, Wales and the Marches were quite content to be ruled by the King's Council. It certainly helped that Henry named his son and heir Arthur, a name of great historical significance to the people of Wales, ever conscious of their long history as true Britons and heirs of the illustrious King Arthur.
The king could now concentrate on his governmental reforms, cementing in place not only the combined power of monarch and Parliament, centred in Westminster, but also reinvigorating the administration of law on both the national and local level. At Westminster, he revived the Court of the Star Chamber to deal with problems that mostly involved the nobility, and he reinvigorated the system of Justices of the Peace to keep tight control of the towns and parishes and ensure respect for the Crown. Henry also took control of the government's finances; his use of statutes to raise money raised some hackles, but he always had the excuse of needing extra cash to fight the French (who, in any case, paid him handsomely to stay away).
Henry secured his position as king by firm and effective government, soundly supported by adequate finances and backed by a strong legal system. The country was at peace and able to enjoy a great increase in trade with the Continent. John Cabot's voyages put the English flag on the shores of North America, the great mariner-explorer was supported by the king's grants of money and ships. Henry was also interested in books and learning. It was Henry who introduced the Yeomen of the Guard, the colorful "beefeaters" still to be seen at the Tower. His prudence, caution and wisdom were praised by historian Polydor Vergil as best suited to his age; they were qualities highly sought in a king.

All seemed well, but it was not. The premature death of Prince Arthur, who had married Catherine of Aragon when both were in their teens, had unforeseen consequences. The marriage may not have been consummated, but the subsequent remarriage of the Spanish Princess to Arthur's younger brother (who later became Henry VIII) created a major problem with the Catholic Church, which was having problems of its own trying to remain independent from the growing power of European monarchies. In one way, the repercussions of Arthur's premature death can be said to have led to the later success of the Reformation in England. It also meant the eventual unification of the Scottish and English Crowns, for Henry's daughter Margaret married King James IV of Scotland. But all this was later.
Henry VIII (1509-1547)
After the reign of the avaricious, duplicitous Henry Tudor, it was a welcome relief when he was succeeded by the amiable, athletic Henry VIII. He was a man who loved music, the military arts, and was interested in building England's navy. Considered by his contemporaries as a true renaissance prince, Henry proved just as ruthless as his father, a man who brooked no opposition, real or imagined. Right away he began his policy of "dynastic extermination," showing his bent by getting rid of the Duke of Buckingham, the Countess of Salisbury (sister to the Earl of Warwick) and in 1546, the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, the grandson of Buckingham.
In understanding the spate of executions and the ridding of even those with the slightest of claims to the throne, we have to remember the infertility of the Tudors, a curse that was to haunt them. All male children born to Catherine and Henry had died. Henry had no heir of his own other than Princess Mary; it was unthinkable at the time that a woman should rule England. As Henry had married his brother's widow, the solution seemed simple enough: he would have to get his marriage annulled and marry the young, attractive, willing and it was to be hoped, fertile Anne Boleyn. But the king had not reckoned on the obstinacy of Charles V, the most powerful monarch in Europe, the nephew of Catherine and, more importantly, the virtual keeper of the Pope. Henry was just as obstinate, and those who failed to support his efforts to have the marriage annulled were quickly to feel his wrath.
Cardinal Pole, son of the Countess of Salisbury led the opposition to the king; thus his family was chosen for elimination. Pole had earlier gone to Paris in 1529 to seek a favorable opinion of Henry's claims in the matter of the divorce. He later sided with Charles V against the king, becoming elected cardinal for his spirited attack on the English monarch. He then appeared as a legate at the Council of Trent and played no significant part in English affairs until the accession of Mary. In the meanwhile, the son of an Ipswich butcher began his rapid rise to some of the highest offices in the land.

Thomas Wolsey joined the king's council in 1509, the first year of Henry's long reign. As the king enjoyed other pursuits, he left much of the administration in Wolsey's able hands, appointing him Lord Chancellor in 1515. The ambitious Wolsey then acquired other offices in rapid succession, including those of Archbishop of York, Cardinal and Papal Legate, in the words of a Venetian ambassador, "ruling the kingdom." It was in Henry's own interest to give free reign to his chief minister, but only so far.

Wolsey, like so many others in the kingdom, was completely undone by his failure to get Henry his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Again, it was the Emperor Charles V that presented the biggest obstacle, for he had just defeated his major European rival Francis l and taken Pope Clement VII prisoner. To be fair to Charles, he was more interested in Italy than what happened to his aunt, but Henry had been given the title "Defender of the Faith" by Pope Clement for his efforts to keep the forces of Protestantism at bay in England. Charles was not the only one who obviously felt that monarchs should live up to their titles, however earned.
In his passion for the beautiful Anne and his desire for a male heir, Henry made it quite plain that he wished for a quick divorce. Because of Wolsey's failure in the matter he was banished from court and eventually summoned to trial on a charge of treason. He died on his way to face the king. All his acquisitions of wealth and power had come to nought to the king's benefit, however, Wolsey had greatly increased the work of the Court of Chancery and the Star Chamber, a court by which the nobility was kept in check. On two occasions, he tried to get himself elected Pope, but the dilemma of the royal divorce ultimately proved too much for him. He was thus discarded when he was no longer useful to the king. His dismissal and the charges against him also point out only too well the declining influence of the universal Church in politics. The growth of nation-states independent from Rome would be a recurring theme of Europe for the next few hundred years.

Perhaps the break away of England was inevitable. The medieval church was moribund, in a fossilized state, out of touch with the vast changes that had been taking place in economics, politics and social conditions. We have already had an inkling of what was to come when John Wycliffe, during the reign of Edward III, had preached his revolutionary idea that grace could come from a reading of the Bible and not from the benefit of Church and clergy. Dissenters known as the Lollards were also increasing their attacks on the malpractices of the Catholic bishops, and William Tyndale was busy translating the New Testament into English. Now, with Henry at variance with the imprisoned and demoralized Pope, and the Catholic Church in disarray, with the teachings of Martin Luther reaching into all corners of Europe, the floodgates of the Reformation were let loose.

Henry obtained his divorce regardless of Charles V and the Pope. He simply used the authority of the state and the so-named Reformation Parliament that was first called in 1529 and that, for the next seven years, effectively destroyed the medieval church in England. In 1533, Henry married the pregnant Anne Boleyn and upon the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed Thomas Cranmer to do his bidding in that office. The official break with Rome came in April 1533 with the passing of the Act of Restraint of Appeals that decreed "this realm of England is an empire." One month later Archbishop Cranmer declared that the Kings' marriage to Catherine of Aragon was null and void. Ann Boleyn was duly crowned Queen, giving birth to Elizabeth but three months later. The Pope duly excommunicated both Cranmer and Henry.

After 1534, events moved even more rapidly. The Act of Supremacy of that year declared that the king was the Supreme Head of the Church of England and the Pope officially designated merely as the Bishop of Rome. There was no Catholic uprising in Britain; Henry still considered himself a staunch Catholic, retaining his title of "Defender of the Faith" and obviously proud of such an appellation. There was no break with Rome on matters of dogma, the king himself had no great desire for a complete separation, but matters came to a head with the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, considered by many to be the architect of the English Reformation.
Cromwell was ruthless in carrying out the policies of Henry, but it is safe to say he probably sneaked in many of his own. Though Sir Thomas Moore, a man initially beloved of the king and Bishop Fisher were executed for refusing to acknowledge Henry's claim as Head of the Church in England, twenty-two other Englishmen were also burned at the stake for refusing to accept Catholicism. Then, when fears arose of an expected invasion from France, the dissolution of the monasteries in Britain proceeded at a rapid pace, for they were an easy target to satisfy Henry's need for vast amounts of money for coastal defenses and for the strengthening the navy. Wolsey himself had begun the matter, mainly for ready cash to found chanceries and schools, but the work was willingly carried to a rapid fruition by Cromwell.
The picturesque ecclesiastic ruins found all over the English landscape can give but little hint of the former grandeur and wealth of the great monasteries. Perhaps they had owned as much as one quarter of the arable land of the nation, and the amount of jewels, church plate, relics and gold artifacts they also possessed must have been enormous, to say nothing of their vast herds and flocks and huge swathes of the best arable land in the country. Henry was determined to have it all, thus the monasteries were destroyed and their lands taken over by the Crown. In three years, two acts of dissolution brought to an end hundreds of years of monastic influence in the island of Britain. A feeble protest from Catholics in the North, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace was easily suppressed.

An orgy of iconoclasm now took place in the land. In 1538, the same year that the last monasteries were dissolved, Henry's chief minister and architect of the Reformation in England issued injunctions stating that every parish church should have an English bible and shrines were to be destroyed. Thomas Cromwell relished his new duties in seeing that the crown replaced the pope as the arbiter of religious affairs throughout England. The destruction of so much that was a priceless heritage of an ancient nation is to be lamented. The value of so much art, books and architecture meant nothing to those who carried out Cromwell's work and the smashing of holy places even included the shrine of Thomas Becket, perhaps the holiest place of pilgrimage in all of Britain.

Many beside the king and his nobles were happy to see the monasteries disappear and the power of the Church diminished. Abbots lived like princes; their dwellings were more like baronial palaces than religious houses. Piety seemed notably absent from their magnificent edifices and vast land holdings. The bishop's house at St. David's rivaled the cathedral itself in grandeur. It wasn't only the great scholar Erasmus who decried the obscene wealth of the great religious houses in England, writing of them, in his well-read "Enchiridion" (1504), that "the monastic life should not be equated with the virtuous life "and that the monasteries themselves were "a backward-looking anachronism, out of date, out of sympathy, and ripe to fall." And fall they did. Their vast land-holdings were now sold off to those who could afford them and a new, rich landed aristocracy was set in place to dominate England's rural scene for centuries.
As the long period of monasticism ended in England, the nation of Wales also lost any hopes of regaining its independence. An expression that describes a Welshman who pretends to have forgotten his Welsh or who affects the loss of his national identity in order to succeed in English society or who wishes to be thought well of among his friends is "Dic-Sion-Dafydd." The term was unknown in 16th century Wales but, owing to the harsh penal legislation imposed upon its inhabitants, after the revolt of Owain Glyndwr in the previous century, it had become necessary for many Welshmen to petition Parliament to be "made English" so that they could enjoy privileges restricted to Englishmen, including the right to buy and hold land according to English law.
Such petitions may have been distasteful to the patriotic Welsh, but for the ambitious and socially mobile gentry rapidly emerging in Wales and on the Marches, they were a necessary step for any chance of advancement. In the military, of course, Welsh mercenaries, no longer fighting under Glyndwr for an independent Wales, had been highly sought after by Henry V for his campaigns in France, and the skills of the Welsh archers in such battles as Agincourt are legendary. Such examples of allegiance to their commander, the English sovereign, went a long way in dispelling any latent thoughts of independence and helped paved the way for the overwhelming Welsh allegiance to the Tudors.

When Henry Tudor ascended the throne as Henry VII, the foundations of the great Welsh landed-estates had been laid and much of the day-to-day affairs of the nation were controlled by its landed squires, many of whom had descended from English families and intermarried with their Welsh counterparts. Their loyalties were with the Crown or Parliament or both, but not with their native country; they came to associate the latter with loyalty to the Tudor sovereigns. Either the Welsh realized the hopelessness of their position; or their leaders, in true "Dic-Sion-Dafydd" style, were too busy enjoying the fruits of cooperation with London. The year 1536 produced no great trauma for the Welsh; all the ingredients for its acceptance had been put in place long before.

The so-called "Act of Union" of that year, and its corrected version of 1543 seemed inevitable. More than one historian has pointed out that union with England had really been achieved by the "Statute of Rhuddlan" in 1284. The new legislation was welcomed by many in Wales, by the gentry, commercial interests and religious reformers alike, and why not? Didn't it state that "Persons born or to be born in the said Principality ... of Wales shall have and enjoy and inherit all and singular Freedoms, Liberties, Rights, Privileges and Laws ... as other the King's subjects have, enjoy or inherit."

By the Act, "finally and for all time" the principality of Wales was incorporated into the kingdom of England. A major part of this decision was to abolish any legal distinction between the people on either side of the new border. From henceforth, English law would be the only law recognised by the courts of Wales. In addition, for the placing of the administration of Wales in the hands of the Welsh gentry, it was necessary to create a Welsh ruling class not only fluent in English, but who would use it in all legal and civil matters.

Thus inevitably, the Welsh ruling class would be divorced from the language of their country. But, as pointed out earlier, their eyes were focused on what London or other large cities of England had to offer, not upon what remained as crumbs to be scavenged in Wales itself. The Welsh people were without a government of their own, a capital city, or even a town large enough to attract an opportunistic urban middle class, and saddled with a language "nothing like nor consonant to the natural mother tongue used within this realm." A language that persistently refused to die.
The rise of the Welsh middle classes was mirrored in England, where the political privileges of the old nobility were being drastically curtailed and a new class was rising rapidly. Through his chief ministers, Henry continued to increase the powers of the Star Chamber at the national level, and saw to it that the Justices of the Peace, recruited from the gentry, carried out the king's commands at the local level. The king's foreign intrigues meant that he was forced to sell off most of his newly acquired monastic possessions. The landed gentry were the beneficiaries in more ways than one; for the king's repeated demands upon them for cash, and their repeated insistence on the granting of privileges in return, led only to an increase in the powers of parliament at the expense of the Crown. In 1544, the name "The House of Lords" first appeared, an indication of the rapid rise of the other, lower house "The House of Commons," which from now on was always ready to challenge the Lords' power (as well as the King's).
Much of Henry's need for money came from his wars in Scotland during the years 1542 and 1546 and with Scotland's ally, France. In 1488 in Scotland, James IV had come to the throne at the age of fifteen, with Earl Douglas acting as Regent. The EarlÍs cronies and conspirators received rich rewards for their services. One of these was the minor Laird Hepburn of Hailes, who became Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral. We shall read more about the Bothwell later.
James IV had grand ambitions. His country enjoyed enormous prestige holding the balance of power between constantly warring England and France. He believed that Scotland could lead the way in the glorious cause of freeing Constantinople from the Turks. Accordingly, as a start, he had a large fleet built, including the mighty warship the Great Michael. He thus began a Scottish ship building industry that would become the envy of the world in a later era. In order to carry out his grandiose schemes in Eastern Europe, James first had to establish peaceable relations with England, his powerful neighbor to the south.
In 1501, James was twenty-eight years old. It was time to marry. He chose Margaret Tudor, the fourteen year-old daughter of Henry VII, following an agreement signed between the two monarchs that promised to be a treaty of perpetual peace. The Pope undertook to excommunicate whoever broke his pledged word. The ceremony took place at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, attended by many dignitaries from England. All seemed well.

James continued to use his kingdom as peacemaker between England and France. His efforts gave him the title "Rex Pacificator." When the Pope, the King of Spain and the Doge of Venice formed a Holy League against France, it was joined by Henry VII of England, the father-in-law of the King of Scotland. James did not join the league, however; he was convinced that the survival of France was essential to the stability of Europe. Thus he renewed the Auld Alliance that had begun in 1422 under the Regency of Albany. When France appealed to Scotland for help, as it had done when Buchan responded so magnificently in an earlier time, James unwisely sent an ultimatum to the English king.
Henry's response, though typical of the English monarch, must have startled James and the whole of Scotland. He declared himself to be "the verie owner of Scotland," a kingdom held by the Scottish king only "by homage." This was too much for a proud Scot to bear, and it was answered by James's march on England at the head of a large army in September 1513. So much for the peace treaty that was "to endure forever." The result was Flodden, one of the most disastrous battles in Scottish history.

James' own natural son, Alexander, thousands of the best and brightest young men, many of its bravest and strongest Highland chiefs, great Church leaders, and many Earls and Lords lost their lives in the calamitous battle at Flodden. Though no one knows what happened to James's body, a legend quickly developed in Scotland to match those in Wales concerning Arthur and Glyndwr, he was not dead, but one day James would return to lead his country again. Thus a typical Celtic myth grew out of what people saw as the refusal of a Welsh King (Henry VIII) to secure a proper burial for the body of a Scottish king (James IV).
Scotland now had no king and no army. As James V was still a baby, Queen Margaret assumed the Regency. However, in 1514, in a move that brought a surprising change of fortune for the country for which she showed little affection, she married the Earl of Angus and was succeeded as Regent by the French-educated Duke of Albany, the nephew of James III. Albany (who headed the National or French Party), continued the alliance with France, a country that had somehow extricated itself from its previous grave danger by the failure of its enemies to formulate a united front. After a series of plots against Albany by Margaret and her husband were foiled, the miserable, unfortunate Queen was forced to flee to England (the couple had planned to kidnap the young James V). This gave Margaret's brother Henry one more excuse to continue his policies of interfering in Scottish affairs. In 1524, Albany returned to France.
Chaos returned to Scotland. A series of battles between the Douglases and the Hamiltons, including one fought in the streets of Edinburgh, had left the mighty Douglas clan in control of the young king and thus of Scotland. James, however, who had declared himself ready to rule at the age of fourteen, escaped his captors and arrived at Stirling. He vowed vengeance against Angus Douglas whom he drove out of Scotland to seek refuge with the English king. James V could now begin to restore order to his suffering nation. He started by wisely agreeing to a truce with England.
In the meantime the effects of the Reformation were beginning to have their serious and long-lasting effects upon Scotland. In the struggle of Protestantism versus Catholicism, there was a mad scramble for a marriage alliance with the Scottish king. Keeping the idea of the Auld Alliance in mind, he elected for Madeleine, the daughter of the French King Francois I and when she died six months later, he took as his bride another French princess, Marie de Guise-Lorraine. Sadly for future Scottish history, she bore him no sons.

Henry VIII of England had the same seeming misfortune in lacking a male heir. He became more and more aggressive in his policies toward Scotland. By 1534 he had broken with Rome, was getting ready to totally absorb Wales into the English realm and had plans to turn Scotland against France by making it into a Protestant nation. When James was offered the crown of Ireland in 1542, Henry took an army north and proclaimed himself Lord Superior of Scotland. He met with and defeated the small, dispirited army of James at Solway Moss.
From his retreat at Falkland, the sad King James heard the news that his longed for heir was not to be; his wife had given him a daughter. Upon his consequent death, the young girl was proclaimed Queen of Scotland. So in 1542, Mary, Queen of Scots entered the world in much the same sad circumstances as she was to leave it forty-five years later. After James' death, Mary's mother, Marie de Guise, was determined to rule with a strong hand, but by her attempts to stamp out Protestantism in Scotland, she only invited further English activities in her country. Marie failed, for though an invading English army arrived too late to rescue a Protestant garrison holed up at St. Andrew's, it crushed the Royal Scottish army at Pinkie, near Edinburgh. Further hostilities were ended in 1549 by the Treaty of Boulogne between England and France that also effected the withdrawal of English troops from Scotland.
By that time, Henry VIII had been dead for two years. Jane Seymour had died soon after giving birth to Edward and Henry had remarried three times. Thomas Cromwell then chose Anne of Cleves as a bride for Henry, a bad choice for the Lord Chancellor and for the king, who despised his plain "Flanders Mare." The marriage was never consummated and quickly annulled by Parliament. Cromwell lost his head over the affair, but he had done his work for his master the king. The Reformation had been firmly established in England and the power of the Catholic Church irrevocably broken. The aging, gout-ridden, obese Henry had then married Catherine Howard, soon to be beheaded for adultery and Catherine Parr, his last wife, who outlived him
Edward VI (1547-1553)
Another great "if" for English history was presented by the early death of Edward. At the time, no one could possibly see that the greatest Tudor monarch of them all would turn out to be Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the ill-fated Ann Boleyn. English hopes for a strong monarchy centered on Edward's survival. During his minority, despite Henry's wish that a council of ministers should govern, the Duke of Somerset (Edward's uncle) made himself Lord Protector. He continued the late king's policy of religious changes, furthering the Protestant reforms. Cranmer's "Book of Common Prayer" was made compulsory in all churches and the Latin mass abolished. These acts that were strenuously resisted in many Catholic areas of the country, not to mention Ireland, forever faithful to Rome, and because of this, Ireland was forever suspect in English eyes as a center of rebellion.
In England, attempts to impose the new Prayer book led to a serious revolt in Cornwall and Devon. This was joined by another uprising in Norfolk against rising prices and social injustices. To add to Somerset's woes, he embroiled England in a war with Scotland, as ever allied to France, and got himself defeated in battle and deposed and executed at home. Of the state of affairs, Sir Thomas Moore regarded the fight for influence and spoils between the great families of England as nothing more than "a conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of a commonwealth."

After Somerset's death, however, the country was then run by a much more able administrator, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. He extricated his country from the disastrous war with Scotland, returned Boulogne to France and re-established social order in England. Protestantism now became official with the new Prayer book of 1552 and a new Act of Uniformity passed. But sickly Edward was dying.

To Northumberland's great chagrin, the rightful heir to the throne was Mary, Henry's only surviving child by Catherine of Aragon and a committed Catholic. He thus persuaded Edward to declare Mary illegitimate and to name Lady Jane Grey as heir (the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister and married to his son Dudley). Poor Lady Jane, shy and unsuited for her role, was not supported by the country, who rallied to Mary, a Tudor and thus rightful sovereign. Mary arrived in London to great acclaim to take her throne.

Mary Tudor (1553-1558)
Mary took her throne with high hopes of restoring England to Catholicism. It has been said that she took her religion too seriously. In any case, she was too late, the Reformation had taken firm root throughout Northern Europe and in much of England, where her sacred duty to return the country to the Catholic fold was sure to be violently opposed. There were not too many in England who wished to return to a church that, as late as 1514, had condemned a dead man for heresy. To further her aims, Mary, already middle-aged, married Philip of Spain, the son of Charles V, who had defended her mother Catherine's marital rights. To most Englishmen, this act presaged an inevitable submission of their country to foreign rule. It was not a popular marriage.
Pious Mary then set about having Parliament repeal the Act of Supremacy, reinstate heresy laws and petition for reunion with Rome; the Latin Mass was restored and Catholic bishops reinstated. Rebellion was inevitable, and though easily crushed, the peasant uprising of Thomas Wyatt convinced the Queen that obedience to the throne had to be established by fire and sword. The orgy of burnings of heretics began.

The fires that Mary ordered to be lit at Smithfield put to death such Protestant leaders and men of influence as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and Hooper, but also hundreds of lesser men who refused to adopt the Catholic faith. The entire country became enraged and fearful. Mary's failure as Queen was ensured. Her marriage to Philip only made matters worse for it intensified the English hatred of foreigners, and by this time, of Catholicism in general. Parliament was rushed to declare that should Mary die without an heir, Philip would have no claim to the English throne. The Hapsburg Philip himself spent as little time in "obstinate" England as possible, got himself all involved in war with France in which Calais, England's last continental outpost, was lost forever. Calais hadn't been much of a possession but its loss was a grievous insult to the English nation. When "Bloody Mary" died in November, 1558, it seemed as if the whole country rejoiced.

The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth l (1558-1603)
Elizabeth became Queen of England at the age of twenty-five determined to show that it was neither unholy nor unnatural for "a woman to reign and have empire above men." She had many problems to settle, for the whole nation had gone through a period of social discord, political shenanigans and international failures, and was still in a state of revulsion over the Smithfield martyrs. Fortunately, the determined, charismatic and reasoned woman was adequately equipped for the enormous tasks ahead of her. Furthermore, though insistent on restoring royal supremacy and severing the ties with Rome, she was also willing to compromise on certain religious issues, putting her in another league from the late unmourned Mary.
The new queen was astute enough to realize that she needed the support of the common people, the majority of whom were overwhelmingly Protestant and anti-Rome. Her own feelings had to be put aside, though she did allow some of the ceremonies associated with Catholicism to remain. The communion service could be a Mass for those who wished. The religious settlement may have not satisfied everyone, but it satisfied most; above all, there was to be no return to the great distress and acrimony of Queen Mary's unfortunate reign. Even the rebellion of the Catholic nobility in the North created no great trauma for the Queen, for her nobles were better Englishmen than Catholics. Loyalty to England, expressed through her Queen, was stronger than loyalty to Rome. Those who bucked the trend, such as the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland paid for their insolence with their heads.
Elizabeth was served well by loyal citizens. One of her greatest assets was her ability to choose the right people to carry out her policies. In this, she had the luck of her father Henry, but unlike him, she was also able to have such men serve her loyally and efficiently for life, rather than carry out their own self-serving policies. She was particularly fortunate in finding William Cecil, who served first as her principal secretary and later as her lord treasurer. He was a man of amazing talents and industry; quite simply, he made governing into an honored profession. It has been astutely pointed out that, unlike Lords Leicester and Essex and the others who flattered the Queen, Cecil was no court ornament. His ability to compromise in matters of religion also stood him in good stead, and put him, like Elizabeth herself, slightly ahead of his time.
It was obvious to Elizabeth that in order to govern effectively, she needed to find a middle way between the extremes of Geneva and Rome. As Queen, she insisted on the retention of royal privilege. Her anti-Catholicism was heavily influenced by her desire to keep her country free from domination by Spain, rather than by any personal dictates of conscience. She thus chose the middle way of the Anglican Church, rather than accept the harsh doctrines of such men as Calvin and Knox, who would destroy much that was precious and holy in men's minds.
John Knox had arrived back in Scotland in 1544 carrying his huge two-handed sword along with his Bible. From the teachings and intractability of such men, the Reformation in Scotland had taken a much different path than it was to take in England after Mary, for Elizabeth was no Calvinist. Remaining the head of the Church, she promised not to "make windows into men's souls," and her Supremacy Bill and the Uniformity Bills of 1559, that made the Church of England law, substituted fines and penalties for disobedience, not the usual burnings and banishment.
One irritating and persistent problem that Elizabeth had to face was that of Mary, Queen of Scots. We have noted the success of John Knox in Scotland, and when the Protestant Nobles attacked the French-backed government forces of Mary, Elizabeth was naturally delighted when the French were driven out of Scotland. Queen Mary was not so happy. In 1548, the Auld Alliance had been immeasurably strengthened when as little Princess Mary, she had ended her period of moving from place to place for safety by going to France as future bride of the Dauphin. "France and Scotland," stated the French King, (reportedly leaping 'for blitheness') are now one country."
Catholic Mary returned to Scotland as Queen in August 1561. Widowed at age eighteen, she was no longer Queen of France, but thoroughly French in outlook and education. Scotland had undergone a major transformation in her absence. Knox had done his work well. The Queen's sprightly, impulsive (and apparently highly-sexed) nature quickly put her at odds with the austere, Puritan divines who wished to keep a tight hold on the hearts and minds of the newly-converted majority of Scottish people.
Edward VI protestant reforms book of common prayer catholic sir thomas moore john dudley lady jane grey mary tudor act of supremacy bloody mary virgin queen Elizabeth I smithfield martyrs william cecil john knox church of england auld alliance mary queen of scots In 1565, Mary's complete lack of foresight caused her to marry her younger cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, who had practically nothing to commend him either as husband or king. It wasn't only Protestants who were furious. When Darnley, immature and seemingly completely lacking in wisdom and intelligence, stabbed to death Mary's Italian secretary Riccio in a fit of teenage jealousy, the fires were lit for a never-ending saga of intrigue and misfortune. In 1567, Darnley's body was found in the wreckage of his house at Kirk o Field which had been destroyed in a mysterious explosion. He had been strangled to death.
Heavily implicated in the murder was a "bold, reckless Protestant of considerable charm" James Hepburn, fourth Earl of Bothwell, Lord High Admiral of Scotland. Mary then made her second grievous error: she married Bothwell. Now it was the turn of Mary's Catholic subjects to be furious. The young Queen, upon whom so many hopes had depended, had managed to alienate everybody. A Protestant army was raised to force Mary to abdicate and at age twenty-four, after she had been led in humiliation through the streets of Edinburgh, Mary Queen of Scots gave up her throne in favor of her baby son, who was immediately crowned as James VI. Bothwell's life was saved only by his escape to Norway. The Earl of Moray, Mary's half-brother James Stewart, now became Regent.

Mary, who had been held prisoner by the Scottish lords, made her escape from Lochleven Castle, but the small army she managed to raise was defeated by Moray. She then made another grievous error when she fled to England to seek refuge with the proud and easily jealous Queen Elizabeth who promptly imprisoned her unfortunate cousin. Mary should have gone to France, for as long as she lived, her own claim to the English throne made her a potentially deadly rival to Elizabeth l. Her endless schemes to recover the Scottish throne and to depose Elizabeth, including the Ridolfi Plot that got the unwise Duke of Norfolk executed for complicity, and the Throgmorton Plot, in which Pope Gregory XIII may have been involved, finally ensured her execution in 1587.
Elizabeth had far less trouble with Wales, peaceably incorporated into the realm of England by the Acts of Union under Henry VIII. Welsh men were found in strategic positions in court, specially favored by the Queen. Welshman William Cecil and others were included in the partnership that was forming a new and imperial British identity. In the expansion of England overseas, Welshman John Dee played an important part, for his accounts of Prince Madoc's supposed voyages to the New World were eagerly seized by Elizabeth's Court officials as justification for their war against Spain and proof of their legitimacy of their involvement in the Americas. Dee claimed that Elizabeth was rightful sovereign of the Atlantic Empire.
Welsh people were proud of their contributions to the nation. They were also people of "the Book," having received the Holy Bible in their own language and any attempts to make the Counter-Reformation productive in Wales failed miserably. William Salesbury had published his translation of the main texts of the Prayer Book into Welsh in 1551. When John Penry pleaded with the Queen and her Parliament to have the whole Bible translated, he found a sympathetic audience, for by this method, Protestantism could be firmly established in Wales, a country that formed a natural bulwark between England and the ever-rebellious Ireland.
Wales got her Bible in 1588, the brilliant achievement of Bishop William Morgan eleven years after Jesus College had been founded at Oxford to channel the flood of Welsh scholars flocking to the universities. With its own Bible and its language secure, there was little need for the Welsh to join in the fight to try to restore England to Catholicism. Besides, in the Tudors, they had members of their own national clan in firm charge of the whole nation.
The difficulties with Wales and Scotland were smoothed out. Ireland remained a problem. It was a far different country, almost a different world, one in which time had stood still for centuries. Fiercely tribal, loyal to the Catholic Church, it was a country that resisted all attempts to impose Protestantism. It was a country that England did not know how to govern, for it was a country that did not know how to govern itself. Yet, England's war with Spain meant that Ireland had to be controlled somehow, and it was somehow that Elizabeth extended her authority over a wide area of her Western neighbor. Sorrowfully, the Elizabethan dream of creating a loyal, modernized state of Ireland, perhaps in the Welsh model, completely failed despite the well-intended efforts of some of her most able men.
The great Irish chieftains were courted by Elizabeth in the hope that they could be used to bridge the gap between the native Irish and those that were sent from England on their "civilizing" mission. One of them, Hugh O'Neill, the second Earl of Tyrone (who was a personal friend of Sir Philip Sydney), in return for his loyalty to the Crown, demanded that chieftain rule be preserved and that the Irish people should be allowed freedom of worship as Roman Catholics. Elizabeth's refusal forced Tyrone to appeal to Philip of Spain for help.
Though the armada sent by Philip was turned back by storms, it encouraged the Irish to rebellion, driving out the English from all their lands except the Pale, a small strip along the east coast. The Queen's response to this threat of an independent Ireland under Spanish patronage was to send the Earl of Essex at the head of a large army. He failed miserably and returned to England in disgrace. It was left to Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, to restore the situation, and his successful attempts at pacification and the surrender of Tyrone in 1603 completed the Elizabethan subjugation of Ireland. The best we can say about the whole sorry adventure is that those who were busy trying to bring civil order to Ireland used the experience in their planting and colonizing of the New World, where they found a population far less able to withstand these ventures.

Alongside that of the ever-troublesome, unsolvable Irish question, how to deal with Mary, Queen of Scots, and the problem of the religious settlement, Elizabeth also had the task of defending the realm. This meant a twenty-year war against Spain, the most powerful nation in Europe. Again, the Queen of England was lucky, for Philip II of Spain had proved his incompetence as a ruler time and time again. He had practically ruined Spain in material resources, despite the bounty of wealth streaming in from South and Central America.
The theocracy that was Spain, decadent and moribund, despite its large armies and uncountable wealth, would prove no match for the vibrant, economically self-sufficient, fiercely proud and loyal island nation that was England under Elizabeth. Her navy, grown modern and efficient under Henry VIII was able to run rings around the cumbersome, ill-led, poorly trained forces put out by Philip in his attempt to conquer England. In 1588, the defeat of the seemingly-invincible Armada, though aided by the intolerable English weather, was inevitable. Its defeat also sealed the fate of any Catholic revival in England; from now on, a return to Rome would be out of the question. (A lesson that the later Catholic Stuarts were slow to learn).
It was thus that England was saved from domination by foreign powers, be they that of Rome or that of Spain (or a combination of both) or even Scotland. Elizabeth's long reign also saw her country undergo a remarkable economic growth, and a complete sea-change from the financial and political chaos (in addition to the religious quagmire) that had been the norm when she first took the Crown. Industry and trade prospered under the guidance of men such as Secretary Cecil (later Lord Burghley), one of the most efficient administrators that England was ever privileged to enjoy. His son Robert was one of the chief ministers responsible for carrying out the policies of James l. And in an interesting note, one of the same family, Lord Cranborne, a senior hereditary peer in the House of Lords, was dismissed from the shadow cabinet of that august body by Tory leader William Hague in December, 1998 for agreeing to a compromise deal with Labour leader Tony Blair over the reform of the House.
Remarkably free from corruption, Cecil became rich and prosperous in the service of the Crown and his loyalty was assured. It didn't do his economic policies any harm either, when the Duke of Alva began his reign of terror in the Netherlands, for the bankers and capitalists of Antwerp flocked to London to find a new and more secure international money and credit market. Only a year after the Northern Rising, Thomas Gresham had opened his new institution in London, the Royal Exchange, later to make the city the financial capital of the world. Cecil also encouraged the fishing industry, the source of England's navy and backbone of its sea power. Compulsory weekly fish days were increased from two to three "so the sea coast should be strong with men and habitations and the fleet flourish."
With such encouragement, English sailors began their mastery of the world's oceans. If William Cecil can be regarded as the great conservator of the Queen's strength, her seamen can be seen as its great expanders. It can be safely said that whatever Cecil did as pilot of the ship of state was made possible through English sailors. Though little more than pirates, these seamen laid the foundations of their nation's naval superiority which was to last, with few exceptions, for centuries and which later led to the acquisition of Britain's vast overseas empire. One of them, Sir John Hawkins, from the Plymouth family of sailor adventurers, was the first to show that English mariners could outmatch those of Spain, and it was not too long before the so-called Spanish monopoly in the New World was successfully challenged. The papal grant of 1493 that had divided newly-discovered lands and oceans between Spain and Portugal was conveniently ignored by Englishmen, and not just for religious reasons.
Hawkins was no John Cabot, who had discovered Newfoundland in 1497 in search of a Northwest Passage; he was no more than a slave trader, in search of riches. But so was Martin Frobisher, who made a series of voyages to Canada in the 1570's. So were those intrepid sailors and merchants who braved the Baltic to establish the Muscovy Company in 1555 to trade with Russia. On one of his voyages of plunder, some of Hawkins' ships had been captured in the Gulf of Mexico by the Spanish viceroy. Only two ships escaped, but one of them had young Francis Drake aboard.
A Spanish embargo then had the effect of the English rag-tag navy playing havoc with Spanish merchandise and shipping in the English Channel. Drake, now an experienced mariner grown bold, and others of his ilk then turned their attentions to disrupt the Spanish treasure fleets returning from South America. There followed a veritable explosion of English maritime achievements. For example, Drake's search for treasures led to his circumnavigating the globe (1577-78), Sir Humphrey Gilbert took settlers to Newfoundland in 1583; Sir Walter Raleigh organized his expedition to Virginia four years later, John Davis travelled into the northern regions of the world, John Cavendish emulated Drake's epic voyage by sailing around the world, the East India Company was founded and English culture and ideas spread east and west.
In the midst of all these successes, in which England thought of herself as divinely favored, perhaps we should also point out, that the passage of the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 showed only too well that in the midst of prosperity and the rise of a wealthy middle class, poverty was everywhere rearing its ugly head in the land. The transition of the English landscape by the enclosures of land (mainly to aid the wool industry) had thrown the traditional life of the yeoman farmer into turmoil.
The large market for English cloth on the Continent, brought in through Antwerp, increased the speed of land enclosures. The acquisition of vast land holding became a commercial venture and unemployment became rife. Thousands of landless peasants were now thronging into the cities and towns looking for handouts. It is astonishing that the Queen and her Council were able to ride out the climate in which a major revolt seemed inevitable. Fear of foreign intervention played its part in keeping England internally peaceful. It had also experienced a remarkable artistic renaissance, perhaps made possible by the growth of a large, new lawyer and gentry class.
Young Henry VIII had been considered a "Renaissance Prince," skilled in the military arts, deeply interested in music, theology and learning. Under Elizabeth, herself skilled in music and master of more than a few languages, courtiers became patrons of the arts, inviting great European artists such as Holbein and Hillard to paint their portraits. Traditional medieval music gave way to new forms of composition and performance under the skilled guidance of William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons. Great houses such as Longleat, Hatfield, Hardwick Hall followed Wolsey's magnificent palace at Hampton Court, in which to show off the new paintings, decorative arts and advances in architectural technique. There were great achievements in literature and drama.

Poetry was led by Edmund Spenser (1552-99) whose masterpiece The Faerie Queen was inspired by Elizabeth herself, and in which she is portrayed as a symbol of the English nation. In addition to producing Spenser, her reign was the age of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Raleigh, Sir Philip Sydney, Francis Bacon and John Donnne, to mention a few of those who would have been great in any age. In the midst of this outpouring of talent, the Virgin Queen found herself replacing the Virgin Mary as an object of devotion among many of her English subjects.
A Golden Age indeed, yet at the time of Elizabeth's death in 1603, it was possible to see the end of the Tudor system of government. The high costs of wars, years of depression brought on by high taxes, bad harvests, soaring prices, peasant unrest and the resulting growth of parliamentary influence and prestige in becoming the instrument by which the will of the landed classes could not only be heard but carried out against the royal prerogative meant that great political changes were afoot in the land. The Stuarts were to suffer from the increase in Parliamentary power and the diminution of the royal prerogative.
James VI (1603-1625)
Elizabeth's reign finally came to an end. The mighty Queen was laid to rest in March 1603 with James of Scotland declared as rightful heir. James journeyed to London to claim what he had longed for all his life, the throne of England. He greatly favored a union of the two kingdoms and the new national flag, the Union Jack, bore the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George. But though the Estates passed an Act of Union in 1607, it was a hundred years before a treaty was signed. After the glorious successes enjoyed under Elizabeth, marred by the failure to bring Ireland into her fold, there were many in England who had no wish to merge their identity with what they considered to be yet another inferior nation, let alone one that had been allied with Spain and France for such long periods in its history.
Whatever the English thought of their northern neighbors, the Scottish king had taken the throne of England without rancor. James VI was perfectly happy in the seat of power at Whitehall. His troubles with the Scottish Presbyterians, however, were nowhere near at an end. James' attempt to impose the Five Articles on the Scots, dealing with matters of worship and religious observances was met with strong opposition. He went ahead anyway, and pushed through his reforms at a in 1618. Typically, they were systematically ignored throughout Scotland.
It is important to remember that during the reign of James as King of both Scotland and England, the two nations retained their separate parliaments and privy councils. They passed their own laws and enjoyed their own law courts, had their own national church, their own ways of levying taxes and regulating trade and to a certain extent, they could pursue their own foreign policies. Scotland itself was practically two distinct nations. There was a huge division between Highland and Lowland. JamesÍ attempts to persuade the clan chiefs to adopt the Protestant faith was a failure. They clung to the military habits of their ancestors and continued the Gaelic tongue when most of Scotland had abandoned it in favor of English.
Despite such setbacks, James' twenty-year experience as the King of Scotland should have put him in good stead as monarch in London. But England was not Scotland; its government had progressed along different lines. In particular, the concept of the divine right of kings was not a major belief of those who held power at Westminster. There, it was king and Parliament that was the source of all laws, not the king alone. There was also the continuing religious problem, with both Catholic and Protestant factions vying for his support. James called an early conference at Hampton Court to listen to their arguments.

In Scotland, James had insisted that his powers were divinely bestowed as one way of counteracting the demands of both Presbyterians and Catholics. He carried this idea with him when he came south. He did not wish to have the English state made subordinate to any Church, whatever its religious preference. The example of Scottish Presbytery still rankled and the English Puritans' demand for a "reduced episcopacy" made him suspicious of their desires. James stated emphatically, "No bishop, no king."

Accordingly, the convocation of the clergy insisted on excommunicating anyone who impugned the royal authority, the Anglican prayer books, or the Thirty-Nine Articles that had been confirmed by statute in 1571 during Elizabeth's reign. For the age, these were moderate demands indeed. What was more important was the decision to issue a new translation of the Bible, and in 1611 the world received that most magnificent of all its holy books, the so-called King James Bible, the Authorized Version.
Moderate as James considered himself in matters of religion, he still promised to harry the Puritans out of the land. The consequent flight of many so-called Pilgrims to the Netherlands, and in 1630 their voyage from there to the New World, along with many of their compatriots from England, led to the establishment of the New England colonies. But more of this later. In the meanwhile, the Catholics in England were not as accommodating. When James reintroduced the recusancy laws that meted out penalties for not attending Church of England services, a group of Catholics took action. Their failure, in the notorious Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when they tried to blow up king and Parliament did more than merely ensure the commemoration by burning Guy Fawkes in effigy every November 5th, but also led to the demands for an oath of allegiance from Catholic recusants. This was a severe setback to their cause and an increase in the hatred of the Catholic religion in England and those who continued to practice it.

It is to James that we can attribute much of the sorry mess in Ireland that also continues to divide Catholics and Protestants, Nationalists and Loyalists. Anxious to expand Scotland's influence overseas, as well as to try to establish some sense of order in a country not willing to join Wales and Scotland as part of the British nation, the king unwisely encouraged the plantation of Ulster, beginning in 1610. Thousands of Scots settled on lands that rightly belonged to the native Catholic population. Their influence gave Ulster that staunchly Presbyterian character that so strongly resists attempts at Irish reunification today. James also encouraged Scottish emigration to Arcadia, one of the maritime provinces of Canada, part of which became Nova Scotia (New Scotland).

It wasn't only the matter of a religion, nor the vexing problem of what to do with Ireland which James had to deal. It was during his reign that the House of Commons first began to question the rights of the monarchy on matters of privilege. Elizabeth had replied most forcibly to the Common's interference on matters touching her prerogative and yet by the end of James' reign, the situation had changed altogether. The House of Commons now not merely being a legislative body performing this task for the monarch, or giving advice, or granting such taxes as he needed, but possessing remarkable administrative and legislative powers of its own. The change had come about gradually but the writing on the wall was set firmly in place even at the very beginning of James' reign in the matter of "Goodwin v. Fortescue."
Goodwin had been denied his place in the Commons by the Court of Chancery. When the Commons vigorously protested, James had to back down from his position that the whole institution of Parliament was dependent upon the royal powers. Following the Goodwin case and one concerning another Member of the Commons, Sir Thomas Shirley, the Commons were led to state what they considered to be their privileges in "The Form of Apology and Satisfaction." In it, they stated that James, as a foreign king, did not understand their rights which they enjoyed by precedent and not by royal favor. It was a sign of things to come in the long struggle between king and parliament that came to a head in the reign of Charles l.
Most of the troubles that beset James in his fight with Parliament, apart from his sexual preferences for men such as George Villiers, whom he appointed to many high offices, concerned the raising of money. The king's extravagance became legendary and the costs of running the Court and the war with Spain, which James at least had the foresight to end in 1604, led to the levying of additional customs duties. The matter of John Bate, a merchant who had refused to pay an imposition caused a deep split between those who believed that impositions were part or the king's absolute power and those who considered them to be a parliamentary privilege.
In the dispute, Chief Justice Edward Coke thought that the judges should mediate between king and parliament. His insistence on "a higher law background," that is the preference of common law (common right and reason) over an act of Parliament, had an enormous effect on the future direction of law both in England and in the American Colonies, where a supreme court could annul legislation or executive acts as contrary to a constitution. The king could dissolve parliament, or call it "addled," but it had to be recalled when the need arose once more to finance England's entry into the snares of the great European conflict.
James tried hard to keep the peace in Europe. His daughter Princess Elizabeth married Frederick the Elector Palatine of the Rhine. He also wished to marry his surviving son Charles, to the Spanish princess Donna Maria, but the German Catholic League, supported by Spain, drove the Protestant Frederick out of his lands. The Commons wanted a war with Spain, and a new dispute arose as to the exercise of free speech in Parliament when James resisted their efforts to discuss foreign policy.

To avoid war, Prince Charles visited Madrid to court the Infanta but returned humiliated along with Villiers, now Duke of Buckingham, who urged immediate war. James then turned to France to arrange a marriage between Charles and the French Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria (James' oldest son, Prince Henry, had died in 1612). The Thirty Years' War began with England's disastrous attempt to recover the Palatinate for Frederick and Elizabeth. The scholarly and intelligent James, the most learned of all who sat on the throne of England, so full of promise when he came to the throne, and so disappointed by so many failures at the end of his reign, died in 1625. The failures on the Continent, and in the struggle with Parliament continued in the reign of Charles l. The success of The Authorized Version , however, remained a magnificent legacy of the James l, the unfortunate monarch.
Charles I (1625-1649)
At the death of James, the throne passed to Charles l, who had only himself to blame for the troubles that would later befall him. His support of Buckingham, who continued his disastrous attempts at making war against France and Spain, as well as his own marriage to a Catholic princess, did not stand him in good stead with Parliament, who refused to grant him money until he got rid of Buckingham. The king dismissed his Parliament to save his friend, using the Crown's emergency powers to raise his revenues until expenses grew too great and Parliament had to be recalled. Its members promptly drew up a Petition of Right to emphasize the ancient rights of the English people, to assert that no man could be imprisoned without trial and other clauses that later became the foundation of the United States Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Charles despaired of enforcing his rule on Parliament and from 1629 until 1630, he tried to rule without it. He ended the wars with France and Spain. But as so often in history, politics were dominated by economics, and poor harvests in England, coupled with a serious decline in the cloth trade with the Netherlands, led to Charles's attempts to enforce the collection of Ship Money over the whole country. He won his case against Charles Hampton, who had refused to pay, but alienated many of the country gentry without the support of whom his later fight with Parliament was doomed. Charles also increased the power of the clergy, and when, under Archbishop Laud, they began to renew persecution of the ever-growing Puritan sect, including the torture of William Prynne and other divines, a further exodus to New England took place in the 1630's that became known as the Great Migration.
Attempts to bring the Scottish Presbyterians into line spelled the beginning of the end for Charles, ironically at the height of his powers in 1637 with an efficient administration, more-or-less financially secure and doing quite nicely without Parliament. Although born a Scot, the Stuart Charles had very little understanding of Scottish affairs and even less of prevailing Scottish opinion. Of the Highlands, he knew nothing at all: of the Lowlands, not enough. A devout Episcopalian, he distrusted the Kirk and Presbyterians and greatly mistrusted democratic assemblies, religious or not. He completely failed to try to understand his Scottish subjects; nor did he wish to. As one who ruled by Divine right, he believed he had the sacred duty to bring the Scottish Kirk in line with the Church of England. It was an obligation that eventually was to cost him dearly.
The Act of Revocation, decreed by Charles in 1625, restored the lands and titles to the Church which had been distributed among the Scottish nobles during the upheavals of the Reformation. It did nothing to endure the king to those who could have given him support in Scotland. Neither did his outright, and to the Scots, outrageous demand of 1629 that religious practice in Scotland conform to the English model. It was as if Charles were deliberately setting out to antagonize everyone north of the border. His elaborate coronation as King of Scotland at St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1633 was sufficiently "high church" to smack of popery to the assembled congregation. It was the wrong time to raise the question of the liturgy. Charles and Archbishop Laud went ahead anyway.
In July, 1637, the first reading of the Revised Prayer Book for Scotland was met with nothing more than a riot. Even the Privy Council had to seek refuge from the angry mob in Holyroodhouse. The Bishop of Brechin was able to conduct only with the aid of a pair of loaded pistols aimed at the congregation. Charles' answer was simply to demand punishment for those who refused to obey his orders concerning the use of the new Prayer Book. All petitioners against the Book were to be dispersed, and all the nobles who had resisted its use were to submit to the King's Will. The unwise and ill-advised King of England and Scotland had not reckoned with the strength of his opposition.

In Edinburgh, the National Covenant was drawn up by a committee made up of representatives from the clergy, the nobles, the gentry and the Scottish burghs. It was known as the Tables. Briefly, the document, signed on what was called "the great marriage day of this nation with God," pledged to maintain the True religion." Copies of the Covenant were carried throughout the country; its theological implications often lost. Though it had been signed "with His Majesty's Authority," it served almost as a declaration of independence from English rule, and let it be known that it was not Charles' representative in Scotland who made decisions, but the Lords of the Tables.

In November 1638, Charles met with the General Assembly in Glasgow. He didn't know what he was in for. The Assembly deposed or excommunicated all bishops, abolished the Prayer Book as "heathenish, Popish, Jewish and Armenian." Completely unwilling to compromise his position on the Church, Charles once again showed his naivete by brusquely informing the Assembly that all their decisions were invalid. To enforce his commands, he decided on war. By this further example of rashness, he sealed his fate.

In contrast to the poorly prepared, poorly led and poorly motivated armies of the English king in the early summer of 1639, the Scots had great numbers of experienced soldiers returning from overseas campaigns. And they had a worthy general, Alexander Leslie, who had commanded the army of the Swedes after the death of Gustavus Adolphus. The First Bishop's War, as it was called, was settled, most unwillingly by Charles (who had no other choice), by the Pacification of Berwick, by which the King agreed to refer all disputed questions to the General Assembly or Parliament.
The Scottish Parliament wasted no time in abolishing episcopacy and freeing itself from the King's control. When it took measures to weaken the Committee of Articles by which Charles had tried to control it, the king again foolishly took up arms, and the Second Bishops' War began. Without an effective army, Charles was forced to summon the English Parliament to beg for funds. When it met, it did nothing to please the King: the famous Long Parliament impeached and executed two of his chief supporters, Strafford and Laud. It also guaranteed its own existence against periods of personal rule by the monarch, for it stated that no more than three years could pass between Parliaments. More important, however, it stated that the present Parliament could not be adjourned without its own consent. With this further whittling away of royal prerogative, civil war threatened in England.
Off to Scotland again went Charles to try to gain support against his own Parliament. In the land that he had hitherto so blatantly antagonized, he distributed titles freely and reluctantly agreed to accept the decisions of the General Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. He had no choice. In England, where he had more support from the landed gentry, his obstinacy in resisting the Long Parliament and his stubborn insistence on Divine Right created the conditions for the actual outbreak of war in 1642. The Grand Remonstrance presented by Parliament had contained a long list of political and religious grievances. Charles had the audacity to try to arrest five members of Parliament but his attempts to locate them, and the speaker of the Houses' refusal to disclose their hiding place marked the beginning of the Speaker's independence from the crown, another landmark in the growth of Parliament.
At first, Scotland had no wish to get involved. The desires of the Covenanters were theological, not political. There was also a split developing between the extremists, who viewed practically anything at all of piety as "popery," and the moderates, led by Montrose, who reaffirmed both his belief in the Covenant, but also his loyalty to the King. Meanwhile, Charles had gathered enough supporters to gain many early victories against the forces of Parliament, mainly untrained levies from the shires. Scotland was again seen as a source of aid, but this time, it was the English Parliament, and not the king, who made the request.
Because the Covenanters wanted to establish presbytery in Ireland and England, as well as in Scotland, the offer from the English Parliament was too good to refuse. The agreement known as the Solemn League and Covenant, was signed in the autumn of 1643, the Scottish army was to attack the forces of Charles in England. In return, they would receive not only 30,000 pounds a month, but also the agreement that there would be "a reformation of religion in the Kingdoms of England and Ireland in doctrine, worship, and government." (Wales was considered as part of England). One term of the agreement was that popery and prelacy were to be completely extirpated from the whole realm.

The conditions of the agreement now had to be imposed upon the English Church. Accordingly, the Westminster Assembly was summoned to establish uniformity of worship in Scotland, England (and Wales) and Ireland. The task was much easier in Scotland, where even to this day, the Westminster Confession of Faith continues to serve as the basis for Presbyterian worship. It was not as easy to implement in England and almost impossible in Ireland. A good beginning, however, was the heavy defeat of the Royalist forces at Marston Moor by the Parliamentary army under an up-and-coming cavalry officer named Oliver Cromwell, that had been greatly augmented by a large force of disciplined and well-armed Scotsmen.
Then an about face took place. Montrose had been greatly disturbed by the forces of extremism. The ancient theory of Divine Right of Kings was being severely tested. And in the Highlands of Scotland, Presbytery did not run deep. The powerful Lord accordingly, aided by many in Ireland and a few loyalists from the Lowlands, raised an army of Highlanders to win Scotland for the King. The nationalist spirit was still beating in some Scottish hearts after all, and Montrose's army, without cavalry and with no artillery, managed to completely rout an army of Covenanters led by Lord Elcho at Tippermuir. He then occupied Glasgow.
The Royalists in England were not faring as well. Cromwell's rag-tag armies had now become the well-trained, well-armed New Model Army (nicknamed "the Roundheads). Following their success at Marston Moor, they won a second smashing victory over Charles at Naseby. They then turned towards Scotland and stopped the string of successes of Montrose and his Highlanders at Philiphaugh. Then, in May 1646, news came of the King's surrender to the Scottish forces at Newark. There was little left for Montrose but to take ship for Norway and his followers went back to their homes. The victorious Scots army, after having turned Charles over to the English Parliamentary Commissioners, also returned north of the border. Everything seemed settled.
Despite their military successes, the Covenanters were not happy with the situation. There was little likelihood that Cromwell would establish Presbytery in England. Perhaps Charles would have been their best chance after all. So at the end of 1647, an agreement was made between the Scottish Parliament and the king, whereby he would give Presbyterianism a three-year trial in England in return for an army to help him against the Parliamentarians. Charles' joy at this unexpected help soon turned to grief. The Scots army, led by the Duke of Hamilton duly came south. It was utterly defeated by Cromwell at Preston, its leader executed and its followers dispersed. Cromwell and his officers, even before the battle, had decided that it was their duty to call Charles Stuart to account for the blood he had shed and the mischief he had done against the Lord's cause. There was to be no room for the king in the post-war settlement.
After Preston, the Commons passed the final ordinance establishing Presbyterianism. A purge of the moderates in Parliament, however, left the radical elements in the so-called "Rump Parliament" that created a High Court of Justice to bring Charles to trial for high treason. His execution, held in public before a saddened crowd at Charles' own banqueting hall in Westminster, whose only reaction was a loud and mournful groan, was a foregone conclusion. The Rump then proclaimed a republican form of government. First called the "Commonwealth and Free-State," and later the "Protectorate," it lasted only eleven years.
Republican Government in England (1649-1660)
Charles I sincerely believed that he died in the cause of law and the Church. His death may have been thought of by Cromwell as a political necessity, but it created an atmosphere that was to haunt his own efforts to build a new godly society. When his Parliament, the Rump, abolished the monarchy, on the grounds that it was unnecessary, burdensome and dangerous, and then meted out the same fate to the House of Lords, for being useless as well as dangerous, it was destroying more than a thousand years of English history. Yet for many, even these measures had not gone far enough; the so-called Levellers wanted more, wishing for biennial parliaments with strictly limited powers, a vast increase in the electorate and no established church or doctrine.

The demands of the Levellers put them way ahead of their time. Cromwell was determined to crush them in a show of force. Determined to bring in an era of firm government, he quickly and forcibly suppressed any revolts and attempts at challenging his authority. He also had to deal with the Scots, seething with anger at the execution of their King whom he had promised to preserve and defend by the Solemn League and Covenant of 1644.
Cromwell had come to Edinburgh to receive a hero's welcome, but the news of the unprecedented execution of Charles, a few days later, sent a tidal wave of dismay over much of Scotland. After all, the unfortunate man had been king of their country, too. And regicide was still an act against God. Taking immediate action, Argyll continued the strange alliance of King and Convenanter and had the 18 year-old Prince Charles proclaimed King at Edinburgh.
In 1650, Charles II duly arrived in Scotland to claim his Kingdom. Eventhough, in an opportune "conversion," he had allowed himself to be crowned by the more powerful Presbyterian faction, this was totally unacceptable to Oliver Cromwell, who had assumed the title of Lord Protector. Cromwell invaded Scotland, defeated the Scots under General Leslie at Dunbar and marched on Edinburgh. The Covenanters, no doubt trusting that God would preserve their cause, would not admit defeat and on New Year's Day, 1651 they crowned Charles II at Scone and raised a sizeable army to defend him. Mainly composed of Highlanders, it was utterly defeated by the more disciplined, better trained Roundheads at Inverkeithing.
Cromwell now occupied all of Scotland south of the Firth of Forth. He then departed to deal with the Scottish army that had been looking for support in England, leaving General Monck in charge. Cromwell caught up with the Scottish army at Worcester on September 3, 1651. He destroyed it. A few days earlier, Monck had captured the Committee of the Estates (the remnant of the Scottish Parliament and had occupied Dundee). The continent now became a refuge for yet another Scottish monarch, as Charles II fled to France in the time-honored fashion of so many Scots rulers. He was to return after nine years in exile. It is interesting to note that General George Monck is on record as being "the first professional soldier of the unique school which believes that the military arm should be subordinate to the civil" a doctrine followed by non other than General Dwight D. Eisenhower during his presidency of the United States some three hundred years later.

While the king in exile "went on his travels," as he put it, Cromwell was busy setting up an efficient system of government in both kingdoms. He saw that a Treaty of Union in 1652 united Scotland with England and made it part of the Commonwealth. At the beginning of his "reign," sanctioned by the Rump Parliament, he had dealt severely with insurrection in Ireland, where his cruelty and butchery in reducing the towns of Drogheda and Wexford made his name so hated that it is spoken in a dreaded whisper even today.

Cromwell was determined to prevent any of the Stuarts from gaining a foothold in Ireland. Through his ruthless campaigning, he forced it to accept the authority of the rulers of England. Following the precedent set by James l's land grants at the expense of the native Irish, many more English landowners were able to take advantage of the confiscation and sale of sizable Irish properties, a situation that was later to lead to the blight known as "Absentee Landlordism." One result, however was that his military successes made it possible to integrate Scottish, Welsh, English and Irish MP's into a truly British Parliament, a remarkable achievement that lasted until the first quarter of the 20th century.
Under Cromwell, England was also able to strengthen its position abroad. As the signs of civil strife became apparent, Charles l had married his daughter Mary, to William, Prince of Orange, perhaps to show his commitment to Protestantism. Like the Scots, the Dutch people were horrified at the news of the king's execution. To propose a union between the two republics, the Rump Parliament sent envoys to Holland who were deliberately insulted and thus the opportunity and the excuse was presented for English commercial interests to engage in a trade war.
Consequently, the Rump passed a Navigation Act in 1654 designed to cripple Dutch trade. The resulting war brought forth one of England's great military leaders, Admiral Blake, who blockaded the Dutch ports and defeated and killed Admiral van Tromp in a sea battle before peace came in 1654. War with Spain a year later resulted in the British capture of Jamaica and the destruction of a large Spanish fleet at Tenerife.

In retrospect, Cromwell has been seen as an evil genius, at odds with the other impression that saw him as a godly man, interested in the establishment of a lasting democracy that practiced tolerance. He was certainly a man caught between opposing forces. He had gained his power through the army, yet he wished to rule through a much less radical parliament. He truly found himself "sitting on bayonets," as one historian has remarked. In 1653, unable to satisfy the demands of both factions, in true monarchical fashion, he even dissolved Parliament, but after the lack of progress of the interim "Barebones" Parliament, he resumed his power as head of the government of a nation that consisted of England and Scotland, Ireland and Wales. On 12 December, 1653, after he had refused an offer of the Crown, "Old Noll" Cromwell, virtual dictator of England, received the title of Lord Protector. He instigated a period of government remarkable for its religious tolerance to all except Roman Catholics, still regarded as enemies of the realm. Under his protectorate, Jews were allowed back into England for the first time since their expulsion under Edward I. Many Jewish families were to do much to support later English governments financially. The Society of Friends or Quakers, began to flourish under the inspired leadership of George Fox. Perhaps more remarkable was the permission granted to congregations to choose their own form of worship, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer was replaced by the Directory of Worship.
Even these measures were not enough to satisfy everyone. In 1655, a Royalist uprising forced Cromwell to divide England into eleven military districts to keep down insurrection and to rigidly enforce the laws of the Commonwealth. Many of these leaders were responsible for the so-called "blue laws" creating a land of joyless conformity, where not only drinking, swearing and gambling became punishable offences, but in some districts, even going for a walk on Sundays. The unpopularity of these puritanical justices, mostly army colonels, led to their dismissal in 1657.
The same year saw Parliament nominate Cromwell's son Richard as his successor, an unfortunate choice, for the young man, nicknamed "Tumbledown Dick," didn’t have the experience nor the desire to govern the nation. When he retired to his farm in the country, a period of great confusion between the various political factions and indecisive government resulted in the decision of General Monck to intervene. Always a Cavalier at heart "Old George" Monck brought his army from Scotland to London, where he quickly assembled a parliament and invited Charles ll to take over the reigns of the kingdom. The Republic of Great Britain and Ireland came to an abrupt end.
Charles ll (1660-1685)
Though a London mob had thrown down a statue of Charles l outside the Royal Exchange and placed the words "Exit Tyrannus" over the empty space, the same mob was to lustily cheer "God Bless King Charles ll" at the arrival of General Monck's army. The people had never been happy at the interregnum. The great diarist Samuel Pepys has adequately described the rejoicing when the monarchy, "laid aside at the expense of so much blood, returned without the shedding of one drop." Charles must have thought that the tumultuous welcome accorded him gave him carte blanche to govern as he thought fit; it did not. There was still Parliament.
The king got off to a good start. England was tired of being without a king, such an integral part of their history and a source of great national pride when things went well. Charles was crowned in April 1660 and within the same year married Catherine, the daughter of the King of Portugal, an act, nevertheless, which did nothing to diminish his reputation as a philanderer. Sadly enough, though he sired at least fourteen illegitimate children, but he was not able to produce a legitimate heir. A cynic in morals and a pragmatist in politics, he was shrewd enough to change his beliefs when he saw an advantage. In his earlier attempts at winning the throne, he had courted the Scots Presbyterians, but in later life, he reverted to his Catholic preferences.
Charles could not, of course, claim to rule by divine right. That era in English history had gone forever. The Crown could not enforce taxes without the consent of Parliament, nor could it arbitrarily arrest M.P.'s as Charles l had attempted. The two houses of Parliament, Lords and Commons were restored, as was the Church of England and the bishoprics. Many of those who had plotted against Charles l, known as "regicides" were executed, but there was no orgy of revenge and many prominent anti-Royalists, such as the poet John Milton, were allowed to escape punishment. The restoration of the supremacy of the Anglican Church, however, meant the upswelling of resistance from those outside its embrace.
Protestants were grouped together under many names. There were Baptists, Congregationalists and Quakers, all of who resisted strenuous efforts to get them to toe the line by conforming to the Act of Uniformity of 1662. Action against them came in the form of the Clarendon Code, a collection of different restrictive measures completed during 1664-5, that cut off the dissenters from professional advancement in all the professions, except business. Perhaps this may have led to the close alliance of Dissent and the world of Business that so characterized later England and has been seen as the foundation for its commercial success. In any case, it only strengthened the desire of the new and various Protestant sects to worship in the way they pleased.

Unlicensed preachers became a thorn in the side of government who regarded them as something akin to traitors. In 1660, John Bunyan, who preached, as he stated so emphatically, by invitation of God, and not of any bishop, went to prison for twelve years. The result was first, "Grace Abounding" and then "Pilgrim's Progress" completed in 1675. The pious, humble Quakers were particularly singled out for ridicule and harsh treatment. But the worst fears, and most severe recriminations were reserved for the Catholics.

During the period known as Carolingian England, after Charles had made his triumphant return from the Continent, it seems that there was no end to the anti-papal processions in London, the burning of the pope and cardinals in effigy, the hunting down of Catholic priests, the closing of their schools and search for their secret meeting places. Great Catholic families had been particularly loyal to Charles l; they had become anathema during the inter-regnum, and there was little that Charles II could do to restore their former dignity and favor. Catholic priests went into hiding, in constant peril of death or were forced to fall to the Continent.
After 1668, Charles began to turn more and more toward the Catholic religion. He concluded treaties with Louis XIV of France and agreed to reconcile himself with the "Church of Rome." In 1672, he issued a Declaration of Indulgence allowing freedom of religion for Catholics as well as non-conformists (Dissenters). He then joined the French king in a war against the Dutch, who flooded their lands successfully and resisted invasion. The failure caused a return of English resentment of Catholics and the passing of the Test Act of 1673 compelling public office holders to take the sacrament of the Church of England.
In 1678, when Protestant Clergyman Titus Oates, known as an habitual liar, heard rumors of the possible conversion of England to Catholicism by an invasion of French troops, he whipped up public feeling to frenzied heights by graphically embellishing the false tale. (Note: in World War II, the author as a small boy remembers the rumors being put about of an invasion of German paratroopers who had, it was said, already landed in Scotland: it was probably started when Nazi leader Hess parachuted into Scotland to give himself up to British authorities). Panic swept the land.
In the orgy created by rumors of plots to kill Charles and burn down Parliament, Catholics were hunted down and killed, and the legitimate heir, James Duke of York, was excluded from the throne by Parliament because he was a Catholic. Those who supported him were called "Tories" after Catholic outlaws in Ireland. Those who opposed James were the "Whigs" after Whiggamores, fiercely Protestant Scottish drovers. The Whigs supported the claim of The Protestant Duke of Monmouth, one of Charles' illegitimate sons. Another civil war seemed imminent before anti-Catholic feelings managed to die down in the absence of the "threatened" invasion. Yet even then, Charles continued his secret intrigues with the King of France.
Fortunately for the profligate, but Machiavellian English King, when a Whig plot to murder him and James, he had a reason to execute his opponents. Popular opinion then allowed him to bring back James to England where he regained his earlier position as Lord High Admiral. Charles was then able to live out the rest of his reign in peace mainly free from the political and religious struggles that had occupied so much of his reign.

These struggles, mostly involving the degree to which Protestantism had taken hold in Britain, had been particularly manifest in England's relations with Scotland. Alas, like his father, the new king had little interest in Scotland, preferring to govern it through a Privy Council situated in Edinburgh and a Secretary at London. Despite his early support by the Scots Presbyterians, he considered Presbytery as "not a religion for gentlemen." It is a constant source of astonishment to the modern reader how little Charles knew about how deep the roots of Presbyterianism had been planted in Scotland and how strongly the Covenanters would fight all attempts to return Scotland to episcopacy. His years in exile had taught him very little.
As King of Scotland, Charles had signed two Covenants in 1649 merely to secure his own coronation. When he restored James VI's method of choosing the Committee of Articles, he had the intention, not only of strengthening his position in relation to Parliament, but also of bringing back the bishops and restoring the system of patronage that chose ministers. All ministers chosen since 1649 were required to resign and to reapply for their posts from the bishops and lairds. One third of all Scottish ministers refused and held services in defiance of the law. Troops were sent to enforce the regulations but made the Calvinist Covenanters even more eager to serve God in their own way. In 1679, claiming to be obeying a command from on high, they murdered Archbishop Sharp.
The government decided to intervene to bring the rebels to heel. An army was sent to deal with them under the command of James, Duke of Monmouth. He defeated the Covenanters at Bothwell Brig and the survivors were dealt with severely. The reaction and counter-reactions that followed gave the period of the 1680's the title of "The Killing Time." The troubles continued when Charles died in 1685 to be succeeded by his brother James VIl (James ll of England) an openly-avowed Catholic who was welcomed in the Highlands, ever true to the legitimate monarch. And thus the seeds were sown for the Jacobite opposition that blossomed under the next king, the Dutchman, William of Orange.

Before the accession of James II, however, we have to mention the three great disasters that befell the England of Charles: plague, fire and war, all of which took place in three consecutive years, and all of which were recorded in graphic detail by diarist Pepys. The great outbreak of plague began in 1665, bringing London to a standstill and causing panic at the numbers of dead and the lack of any knowledge as to how to deal with the terrible scourge. Those who could afford to, simply packed up and went to live in the country.

The Great Fire of London, catastrophic as it was to the city, may have helped destroy the dwelling places of the brown rat, the carrier of the deadly fleas and thus brought the plague to an end. Though it destroyed the massive St. Paul's cathedral, it gave a chance for architects such as Christopher Wren to rebuild, transforming the old, unhealthy medieval, infested warrens into a city worthy of being a nation's capital, with fine, wide streets, memorable public buildings and above all, its magnificent new churches, including the present St. Paul's.
The third catastrophe was the continuation of the war against Holland. This time, with the Royal Navy mutinous over poor pay and atrocious conditions aboard its ships, the Dutch navy was able to sail with impunity into the Medway at the mouth of the Thames and burn many of the English ships moored at idle anchor. After the triumphs of Admiral Blake in the First Dutch War (1652-4), the Second Dutch War (1665-7) was a national disgrace.

Charles II died in February 1685 of a heart attack no doubt brought on by a life style that today' medical men (and religious leaders) would style nothing less than debauched. Of his reign, and that of his successor, more than one historian has seen all the political struggles, culminating in the Revolution of 1688 and the triumph of Parliament over the Crown, as springing partly from their attempts to grant to Catholics a greater degree of tolerance than would be countenanced by their other English subjects. They came to a head during the reign of James II.
James ll (1685-1688)
James was yet another of those who have only themselves to blame for their downfall. His reign lasted only three years. He too, had learned nothing from his predecessors, for his attempts to re-introduce Catholicism into a country that had become a bastion of Protestantism meant with disaster far worse than any plague or fire or minor skirmishes on the Continent. Unlike Charles II, who could modify his beliefs to suit the occasion and ride the swells of political change, James could not; his morality, some say his high-handedness, prevented him. In his own words, he admitted that had he kept his religion private, he could have been one of the most powerful kings ever to reign in England, but he would think of nothing "but the propagation of the Catholic religion."
Things went well at first. He was able to get Parliament to grant him adequate finances. He recognized the Church of England as the established church and defeated a rebellion led by James, the Duke of Monmouth who had foolishly landed on the southern coast of England and declared himself king. Though many of the people of the southwest came to his support, Monmouth's rag-tag army was defeated at Sedgemoor and soon came to suffer the reprisals handed out by the infamous "Bloody " Judge Jeffries who had hundreds executed and hundreds more transported overseas as convicts, mainly to the New World.
King James was misled by his early success. He began to implement policies that not only gave religious toleration to nonconformists, but also, and especially to, Catholics. Enlightened as this policy seems to us, James had chosen the wrong time and the wrong country. By replacing Protestants as heads of universities, military leaders and in important offices of state, the king dug his own grave. He ignored all Protestant pleas for concessions. One of the last straws was his 1687 Declaration of Indulgence which aimed at complete religious toleration. This too, was an act far ahead of its time; it only furthered the resentment of, and increased the fears of, the nation's Protestant majority. Non conformists and Anglicans reformed their alliance against the religious policies of the king. He had learned nothing from Charles II, who had done his best to keep this alliance alive; thus ensuring that his last years were peaceful ones.
James, on the other hand, was too anxious to foment change; he did not take into account the anti-Catholic sentiments of much of the British nation; constant wars with continental powers, i.e. Catholic, had built a strong, nationalistic British (and Protestant) state. James' plans for equal civil and religious rights for Catholics were out of the question; his efforts to win widespread support for his policies were totally unsuccessful.
On the continent, the Protestant ruler, the Dutch King William III of Orange was engaged in a duel with the French King Louis XIV for military success and diplomatic influence in Western Europe. Charles II of England had fought against the Dutch in a series of skirmishes for commercial hegemony, but a rapprochement followed the marriage of William and his first cousin Mary, James's eldest daughter in 1677. William made his decision to intervene in England in early 1688, hoping to be seen as a liberator, not as a conqueror; but his first invasion attempt in mid-October was easily defeated, mainly by the English weather which destroyed most of his ships and supplies.
Yet it was precisely this weather, and the strong northeasterly wind, that later prevented the British fleet from intercepting the Dutch armies of William landing at Brixham on 5 November, 1688. King James, despite having numerical strength in soldiers was forced on the defensive. His weak resolve, poor judgment, ill health and probably poor advice, caused him to retreat to London instead of attacking William's vulnerable army.

In the meantime, a series of provincial uprisings did nothing to bolster the morale of James' forces; Derby, Nottingham, York, Hull and Durham declared for William whose army marched towards London. Showing a complete failure of nerve, James fled to France in mid-December; his forces, twice the size of those of William, rapidly disintegrated. It was widely believed that William allowed James to escape, not wishing to make the King another English martyr. In what historians have called the "Glorious Revolution" William and Mary, in a joint monarchy, became rulers of Britain. James II and his baby son were debarred from the succession, as were all Catholics.
Part 7: The Age of Empire
Preparation for Empire Building: The Growth of the Commons
In 1690 John Locke published his highly influential "Two Treatises of Civil Government;" its theory of limited monarchy had vast appeal to the majority of Englishmen, but especially to Parliament, always anxious to increase its own powers and give special favors to its members. According to Locke, "The liberty of man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth, nor under the domination of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it."
Prior to the great electoral reforms of the later 19th century, the legislative in England was restricted to a very limited class. But it was a powerful class indeed that came to dominate the House of Commons, and it was the House of Commons that made the Empire, for it was an empire based on trade. While England's great rival, the kingdom of Spain may have had mixed motives in its overseas conquests, the lure of gold perhaps as equally important as the saving of souls, those who governed Britain did not disguise their motives.
The power of the Commons, and its control by the business and trade oriented middle-class, aided and abetted by a rapidly growing stratum of lawyers, had been building steadily; it looked for opportunities in whatever part of the world they could be found (and exploited). They were aided by the constitutional crisis that occurred when James II fled to France in 1688.
A Convention Parliament offered the throne to William and Mary (elder daughter of James II) as joint sovereigns; hereditary succession was replaced by parliamentary succession. A Bill of Rights was drawn up that guaranteed free speech, free elections and frequent meetings of Parliament, the consent of which was made necessary to raise taxes, keep a standing army and proscribe ecclesiastical commissions or courts, and royally suspend and dispense power. In short, the Bill re-affirmed the will of the English people (or at least of those who represented them in Parliament) against the arbitrary powers of the monarchy.
One of the most important milestones in English law had already taken place. The "Habeas Corpus Act" of 1679 had obliged judges to issue upon request a writ of habeas corpus directing a gaoler (jailer) to produce the body of any prisoner and to show cause for his imprisonment. The Act went on to state that a prisoner should be indicted in the first term of his commitment, be tried no later than the second term and once set free by order of the court, should not be imprisoned again for the same offense. Thus at a single stroke, hundreds of years of abuse of the prisoner by the authorities, often capricious and vengeful, came to an end. The Act remains an integral part of the Commonwealth's legal system today and has been widely copied in many other countries including the United States.

Also of considerable interest and lasting importance was the creation of a fixed Civil List for both the Crown's household and administrative expenditures, a novelty which the monarchs may have chafed at ever since, but which was made necessary to keep their expenditures under parliamentary control. Parliament had come a long way since the days of Henry VII. It is worth while to take a brief look at what had been taking place in the winning of the initiative by the House of Commons.
In the reign of Henry VIII Parliament had become increasingly important in the scheme of government for it gave confirmation and authority to the royal wishes when needed. If the King wished to go slow on his promises of treaties, it gave him a convenient way of retreat; in the struggle with foreign and domestic interests, it strengthened his hands. Much more than a formality of government and a mere income-generating body, Parliament began to be recognized as the voice of public opinion, a voice that the Tudors may not always have liked, but one which they wisely never wholly failed to heed.

The Tudors had encountered some opposition from the Commons, but during most Parliamentary sessions it had not been enough to cause any great anxiety to the Crown or the Council. There were simply too many members in the Lower House who regarded opposition to the Crown as disloyal. In any case, Henry VIII was ruthless in dealing with those who opposed him. Yet the Members in Commons could become vociferous, especially when the Crown asked for money. Privileges began to be exchanged for promises of ready cash: once granted, it was hard for future monarchs to refuse them.

The Upper House, as expected, was a firm ally of the Council. The leaders of the House of Lords were usually landed magnates who had often helped the Council in formulating Crown policy. The Lords seldom resisted the wishes of the Council, and much legislation was put first through the Upper House; then brought to the Commons, who dutifully followed along, for their seats often depended upon the support of local magnates. It was during the troublesome reign of Mary Tudor that the Commons became more contentious. Her determination to reverse the trend of events in religion brought her into conflict with her Parliaments, where something like a Protestant Party began to form to voice its opposition. Members began to speak out, and Mary had to go out of her way to dragoon them into acquiescence with her unpopular policies. In Elizabeth's long reign, the House of Commons grew in leadership, though the whip hand remained firmly in the hands of the Queen and Council. It was in matters where the Queen expressed no opinion that the House was subtly, but surely, able to gain in power. The Puritan element in Parliament began to exert more and more influence; it was especially alarmed at Elizabeth's middle-of-the road religious policies. For the time being, however, under the strong hand of the Privy Council, and especially during the time of the Cecils, the Commons remained quiet, duly supportive of Royal legislation, kept firmly in control by the carefully groomed Speaker. Yet even his power had declined by the end of Elizabeth's reign with the dramatic increase in the use of the committee system.
By the time of the early Stuarts, essential changes had taken place in the growth of the English Constitution, changes in the day to day business and in the way of doing things. Between the time of Elizabeth I and the Long Parliament of Charles I, a great change had taken place in the relation of the Royal Council to the Commons. Almost unnoticed, Privy Councillors had ceased to guide the Lower House, in which there came into power a group of leaders who had no official connection with the government. It was this leadership that established the real initiative in legislation. The Commons had become a dominant force in government; its dynamic, forceful leaders had made the institution almost unrecognizable from the old, acquiescent body that had been afraid to cross the Tudors.

Parliament had further grown in strength when James I failed to keep a sufficient number of his own men in the Commons, which became increasingly vociferous in expressing its grievances. James himself was seen as a meddler; unlike Elizabeth, he was not content with staying in the background, and his constant interference meant that his words lost their weight, and royal prerogative began to be sneered at openly. Resentment led to opposition. The King's penchant for elevating his supporters to the House of Lords also left him with inexperienced, untried members to speak for him in the Commons.

The leadership exercised by Elizabeth's able Councillors was wholly absent during James' reign. The Commons could only benefit from the hiatus; its members were no longer subservient to the Royal Will; many were lawyers who brought new initiatives along with their legal skills into the committee system. Their presence ensured that the Commons no longer served as a recruiting ground for the service of the Crown, but was seen as a dignified profession for wealthy and powerful country gentlemen. Their allegiance was primarily to common law, not to the whims of their monarch.
A new interest in precedent also searched for ways to establish the privileges, rights and powers of the Commons on a firm basis, rapidly changing it from a mere ratifying body to one that formulated and passed laws. The Commons eventually showed that it not only could decide who could sit on the throne of England, it could even dispense with the monarchy altogether. It also had to deal with Scotland.
The Jacobites in Scotland and Ireland
It was all-too-soon apparent that William's success in England did nothing to ensure the compliance of Scotland and Ireland. The cause of the exiled Stuarts became known as Jacobitism, from the Latin for James, Jacobus. Though King James and his supporters controlled parts of Britain including most of Ireland, they failed miserably in their cause. In a series of strategically-sound campaigns, William succeeded in driving them from their bases in both Ireland and Scotland, thus forcing them to become reliant on foreign support. The campaigns against William's rule in overwhelmingly-Catholic Ireland began the period of close cooperation of that country with France, both military and political. It continued right up the '45 rebellion.
The first battle against the new King William of England was fought in Scotland. In July, 1689, at Killiecrankie, the most active of James' supporters, Viscount Dundee, defeated a much larger royal army led by General Mackay. "Bonnie Dundee" was killed in the battle, but the Highlanders' success led the hitherto hesitant clans to flock to James' standard. It was a success that gave them false hopes; without Dundee in command, they were unable to exploit their initial victory.
The decisive battles involving the Jacobite cause were not fought in Scotland, but in Ireland, more accessible to French naval power, and thus to troops and supplies. In a desperate attempt to regain his throne, James II left France for Ireland in March 1689. His armies soon won most of the country, but a prolonged resistance was put up by the people of Derry, where the Protestant apprentice boys had slammed the city gates shut against the Catholic army. Starving Derry (Londonderry) was eventually relieved by an English fleet in July 1689, a day still celebrated with much pomp and pageantry in Northern Ireland. In August, mainly as a consequence of the resistance of Derry and Enniskillen, William's army, mostly Danish and Dutch mercenaries, occupied Belfast.

In June 1690 William marched on Dublin. His way was blocked by the Jacobite forces on the banks of the River Boyne, which became the site of the battle so vividly remembered and celebrated by Ulster's Protestant majority. James' outnumbered forces were cast aside. Once more showing a failure of nerve, in time-honored fashion for a Scottish ruler, he fled to France, and William easily took Dublin. Other successes were enjoyed by John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough, aided by the Dutch General Ginkel with Hugh Mackay as his second-in-command. At Limerick, what was left of the Jacobite cause suffered another catastrophic defeat; all their forces in Ireland consequently surrendered, with about 11,000 Irishmen, the so-called Wild Geese, going to France to continue the fight for James.

James had not given up hope of regaining his kingdom. He still enjoyed the strong support of Louis XIV, and in June 1690, his hopes were raised when a large French naval force managed to defeat an Anglo-Dutch fleet. As so often in the past, however, the Jacobite victory was not followed up. French control of the Channel was not exploited and the initiative was soon lost. When Louis finally decided to invade England in May 1692, it was too late; his fleet was sent packing. One result of the hostilities was entirely unexpected but had an enormous result on subsequent world history.

In 1694, the costs of the war led to the formation of the Bank of England, a Whig joint-stock company that raised funds from the public and loaned it to the government in exchange for the right to issue bank notes and to discount bills. The loan did not have to be repaid as long as the interest was raised by imports duties. Thus a funded national debt came into being. The method of borrowing money at interest, instead of taking it by taxation for nothing was established as a normal practice. It took a while to catch on in other countries, but catch on it did, as soon as respective governments saw the advantages. The foundation of a society to write marine insurance formed by merchants and sea captains at Lloyd's Coffee House in 1688 was also of enormous importance; the practice of underwriting enormous expenditures in overseas ventures and shipping, dates from this time.
Another revolutionary idea was the granting of monopolies in trade by Parliament, and not by the time-honored system of royal dispensation to favorite courtiers. The 1698 Parliament showed its strength by announcing that such grants could no longer be granted as a general rule by royal charter but only though an act of Parliament. The new East India Company came about as one of the first results of these acts, seen by many as the greatest event in the organization of British foreign trade. This company, together with the newly-formed Bank of England, showed only too well the growing power of the British traders and financiers over the state government.
For many, the resolution of May 26, 1698 was as important as the "Magna Carta" of 1215, for it gave the granting of powers and privileges for carrying on the East India trade to Parliament. And if the trading classes could control Parliament, they could make their own terms, which is precisely what happened over and over again in subsequent British history. It became one of the ever-increasing problems for the country's government: the interference of trade with legislation and administration was to become an inevitable part of the future. Yet it was the desire for trade and overseas markets that led to the expansion of the Empire.
On the Continent, French King Louis, having enough of the war against the stubborn Dutch and their allies, made peace at Rijswijk in 1697, recognizing William as King of England and his sister-in-law Anne as heiress presumptive. A period of peace between France and England, however, came to an end with Louis's recognition of the prince born in 1688 as the future King James III, an act regarded by historian Arthur Bryant as one of "megalomaniac folly." Prospects for the Jacobites, however, were not helped by the War of the Spanish Succession which tied up Catholic forces in the Netherlands and forced France to withdraw to its own borders.
As important as William's victories were in Scotland and Ireland, he was more concerned with the fate of the Spanish Netherlands that looked likely to fall to France upon the death of the childless Charles II of Spain. After Louis agreed that his grandson Phillip V would rule the Spanish Empire, William formed his Grand Alliance against France in 1701. We have to remember that William's main purpose in taking on the throne of England was to utilize its resources and military forces to defend his beloved Netherlands against the French King. When William died in 1702 after falling from his horse (young Queen Mary had died of small pox in 1694), Princess Anne succeeded him; the war in France continued.
Queen Anne (1702-14) The Foundations of Empire
It was evident during the reign of dull, gouty Anne that Britain was also fast becoming a nation thoroughly Protestant, though the inevitable differences in worship continued. Anne was an Anglican, a member of the Established Church of England. King James had been forced to make a number of concessions to the Nonconformists (or Dissenters) in order to win political support. Though the times were not yet ripe for complete religious toleration, the Toleration Act of 1689 had broken the monopoly of English Protestantism hitherto enjoyed by the Established Church.
The rise of the Dissenters and the spread of Unitarianism accompanied the so-called Scientific Revolution in England associated with the upsetting (to Churchmen) discoveries of such men as Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle. The Established Church no longer played a major role in national politics. The accession of William, a Dutch Calvinist, had been instrumental in helping sever that special relationship long enjoyed between Church and Crown.
Though the quarrels within and without the Church continued, in an age noted for the prolific rise in pamphleteering and electioneering chicanery, the time of Daniel Defoe and Dean Swift and the intense and bitter political between Whigs and Tories, it was the war with France that dominated Queen Anne's reign. William's accession had meant that the island nation of England had become inextricably part of the Continent. The war brought forth one of England's great military leaders, John Churchill, the husband of Queen Anne's close friend Sarah.
Churchill succeeded King William as leader of the English and Dutch forces in the Grand Alliance. Under his leadership as the Duke of Marlborough, England became the leading military power in Europe for the first time since the Hundred Years' War. Though the Dutch feared an invasion by France, Marlborough went ahead and attacked the French army at Blenheim, a name that is remembered in England as one of the greatest victories in its long history.
The annihilation of the French army at Blenheim was followed by the English capture of Gibralter in 1704; another smashing victory at Ramillies was then followed by additional successes at Oudenarde and Malplaquet. A grateful nation built Blenheim Palace for the Duke (a sumptuous residence in which Winston Churchill, a direct descendant of John Churchill, was born in 1874). The victorious Wellington was satirized by Scot John Arbuthnot in his "The History of John Bull" (1712) that introduced the name John Bull as a symbol of England.
England and the New World: An Expanding Empire
In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht firmly established England's commercial and colonial supremacy, for it gave her new possessions in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Minorca as well as Gibralter and the sole right to supply slaves to Spanish colonies. Britain's interests in the New World had begun early. An indication of its eventual triumph in Virginia had been the founding of the College of William and Mary in 1693.

Success in colonizing North America had not come without its terrible costs, yet in retrospect it seemed extremely rapid. It is a sobering fact that the first voyage of Christopher Columbus took place only 20 years after Scotland had finally acquired the Orkneys and Shetlands from Norway. Columbus had visited England in 1477 to try to obtain backing for a voyage to discover a new route to the Indies but had been turned down (his brother Bartholomew was also rejected by the English Court in 1485). Yet only five years after Columbus had landed in the Bahamas, John Cabot reached Labrador aboard the Matthew. His 35 day voyage marks the beginning of British domination of North America.
In 1496, John and Sebastian Cabot, sailing from Bristol, took their little fleet along the coasts of what were later called Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Some English scholars maintain that the name America comes from Richard Amerik, a Bristol merchant and Customs officer, who helped finance the Cabot voyages. The elder Cabot recorded the vast fishing grounds later known as the Grand Banks.
Interest in finding new lands may have been initiated by the publication of "Utopia" by Thomas More in 1515, that described the benefits of a new land. It must certainly have been influenced by the Spanish discoveries of maize, tobacco and the potato, all of which they introduced in Europe, along with oranges from the Orient. Another deciding factor was the planting of the French flag in the Gaspe Peninsular, Canada and on lands along the St. Lawrence River, by Jacques Cartier in 1534. Much of Britain's investment in North America may have been simply to prevent French influence.
Further interest in the New World was surely sparked by the explorations of Franciscan missionary de Niza who returned to Spain in 1539 with glowing accounts of the "seven cities of Cibola." One year later, Dutchman Jo Greenlander discovered that early settlers had been in what was later named Greenland. Hernando de Soto landed at Tampa Bay and Coronado explored the American southwest. In 1541 Pizarro completed his conquest of Peru and de Soto discovered the Mississippi. Perhaps the most consequential discovery of the century was that of the silver mine at Potosi by the Spanish in 1545 that fueled the commercial activity of Europe during the following century.
The efforts of Spain and Portugal in the same area also spurred further English interest in the Americas. It was especially so since the writings of Welshman John Dee had claimed the New World for Elizabeth I as Queen of an Atlantic Empire, and successor to Madoc, a Welsh prince purported to have landed in what later became known as Mobile Bay in the 12th century and whose followers, it was claimed, intermingled with the Mandans in the upper Mississippi Valley.
England's own era of exploration, initiated by the Cabots, was expanded by the journeys of Hugh Willoughby to seek a Northeast Passage to China and the spice trade. He reached Moscow by way of the White Sea and Archangel in 1553. As a result, the Muscovy Company was founded by Richard Chancellor to trade with Russia in 1555. One year later, in what many non-smokers now consider "a year of infamy," tobacco seeds reached Europe, brought from Brazil by a Franciscan monk.
In 1561, Jean Nicot (who gave his name to nicotine) sent seeds and powdered leaves of the tobacco plant to France. Such imports to Europe seized the imagination of John Hawkins who began his career of high-jacking Portuguese and Spanish ships in 1562. Hawkins' exploits, along with similar exploits of his fellow mariners, led to England's entering the Slave Trade despite Queen Elizabeth's dramatic speech against it (she later took shares in his company and even lent him a ship).
Tobacco found its way to England when John Hawkins brought some home from Florida in 1565. Three years later, David Ingram explored from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and reported finding vines with grapes as large as a man's thumbs. A great boost to exploration then came from the publication, in 1569, of the Flemish geographer Mercator's projection map of the world which represented the meridians of longitude by equally spaced parallel lines and which greatly increased the accuracy of navigational maps. English mariner Francis Drake then undertook his daring voyage of 1572 to capture the Spanish treasure fleet returning from Peru, a feat surpassed by his even greater haul one year later.
English exploration of North America continued in 1576 when Martin Frobisher discovered Baffin's Land and Frobisher's Bay on his search for a Northwest Passage to China. Two years later Queen Elizabeth gave a patent to Sir Humphrey Gilbert to "inhabit and possess at his choice all remote and heathen lands not in the actual possession of any Christian prince." The search for the famed Northwest Passage continued unabated.
In 1580, Drake arrived back in Plymouth having circumnavigated the globe in the Pelican, renamed the Golden Hinde after the gallant ship had passed through the Straits of Magellan. Drake was then knighted by the Queen after capturing the richest prize ever taken at sea. Gilbert then tried unsuccessfully to create the first English settlement in the New World at Newfoundland. The Virginia colony was established in 1584 at Roanoke by Sir Walter Raleigh. One year later, Chesapeake Bay was discovered by Ralph Lane and Davis Strait by John Davis.
In 1585, the first oriental spice to be grown in the New World, Jamaican ginger, arrived in Europe. In 1586, Sir Richard Cavendish became the third man to circumnavigate the globe when his ship the Desire reached England after a voyage of over two years. During the same year, Raleigh planted potatoes on his estate near Cork, Ireland; and Virginia Dare was born on Roanoke Island, the first English child to be born in North America.

In 1594, after deaths from scurvy in the Royal Navy had become epidemic, Sir Richard Hawkins recommended orange and lemon juice as antiscorbutics. It eventually became standard practice in the Royal Navy to add citrus juice to the diet (conquest of scurvy played a big part in England's later domination of the seas). When the Portuguese closed its spice market in Lisbon to Dutch and English traders, the Dutch East India Company was created to obtain spices directly from the Orient.
English exploration of the New World continued, receiving a bonus when Richard Hakluyt produced a recognizable map in 1599. In 1600, the Honourable East India Company was chartered to make annual voyages to the Indies and to challenge Dutch control of the spice trade. The smoking of tobacco became fashionable in London this year. When the first spice fleet leaving for the Orient arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, James Lancaster dosed his sailors with lemon juice to make them the only crew in the entire fleet not decimated by scurvy. Coffee joined tobacco as a London fad.

In 1602, English sailor Bartholomew Gosnold explored what was later to be called "New England." He brought sassafras back, but left smallpox behind to decimate many of the native peoples, mistakenly called "Indians." After James I had made peace with Spain in 1604, he re-directed England's efforts at colonizing North America, and the Plymouth and London Companies sent ships and colonists. Jamestown, Virginia was founded in 1607. During the same year, Henry Hudson sought a route to China and sailed round the Eastern Shore of Greenland to reach Spitzbergen. In 1610, Hudson's ship Discovery reached the strait later to be known as Hudson Bay, Canada.
In 1612, John Smith published his "Map of Virginia" describing the colony, which eventually managed to produce an extremely profitable export commodity in tobacco. In 1614, Smith also explored the New England coast and renamed a native village, calling it Plymouth. Next, when he ventured to a latitude of over 77 degrees north to seek the Northwest Passage, William Baffin sailed farther north than any other explorer for the next 236 years. In 1616, John Smith published his "Description of New England", providing a further impetus to would-be settlers.
In 1618, the first legislative body in the New World convened at Jamestown, the Virginia House of Burgesses. This was also a year in which small pox ravaged the native population of the English North American colonies, including Chief Powhatan. One year later, the first black slaves arrived in Virginia, and the first American day of Thanksgiving was celebrated on the English ship Margaret at the mouth of the James River.

In 1620, the Mayflower arrived off Cape Cod with 100 Pilgrims and two children born at sea. The Plymouth Colony celebrated its first Thanksgiving Day, but the colonists did not entertain their Indian guests at the dinner until the following year. In 1628 John Endicott arrived as the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Thousands more English settlers went to the American colonies during the reign of Charles l. In 1632, Maryland received its charter by a grant from King Charles to Cecil Calvert. Four years later, Providence was founded as a Rhode Island settlement by Roger Williams, and Harvard College came into existence.
In 1639 the first Smithfield hams arrived in England from Virginia, now starting to thrive, and the following year, Massachusetts Bay Colony began to export codfish. In the West Indies, sugar cane was grown for profit, supplying Britain with a substitute for honey, now rare after the dissolution of the monasteries, which had produced most of British honey for centuries. The manufacture of Rum from sugar cane was established in Barbados. Britain began to concentrate on the West Indies and the Americas, leaving the East Indies to the Dutch, but competing with France (and to some extent the Dutch) for North America.
In 1649, after the defeat of the armies of King Charles l, many Royalists emigrated to Virginia. In 1655, Admiral Penn captured Jamaica from the Spanish. In 1664, Nieuw Amsterdam was renamed New York after its capture from the Dutch. A year later, the New Jersey Colony was founded by English colonists. The Treaty of Westminster of 1674 returned New York and Delaware to England, freeing the English to expand their trade and grow prosperous on it.
In 1681, Pennsylvania had its beginning in the land grant given to Admiral Penn's son, the Quaker William, who wished to call it New Wales, but settled for the Welsh word for head (Pen) and the Latin for woods (Sylvania). The Frame of Government for the new colony contained an explicit clause that permitted amendments, an innovation that made it a self-adjusting constitution, as the US Constitution itself later came to be.
In a move that has been ignored by many historians, England readmitted Roman Catholics to the army in 1686, thus allowing many thousands of Irish peasants and Scots Highlanders to join the forces that would be needed to expand and control England's ever-growing empire. In 1696, William Dampier published his general survey of the Pacific, "Voyage Round the World." One year later, Parliament opened the slave trade to British merchants who began their triangular trade from taking rum from New England to Africa, slaves to the Caribbean and sugar and molasses to New England. In 1698, Dampier sailed on his Pacific expedition to explore the West Coast of Australia.
Further emigration from England to the American Colonies was encouraged during Queen Anne's reign by the 1702 publication of Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana," a history of New England designed to show that God was at work in the colonies. A French-Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, however, was a precursor of the later war to come. Queen Anne, of a most "ordinary" character, and the last monarch of the ill-fortuned House of Stuart, died in 1714. She was succeeded by Hanover's Prince George Louis, a great-grandson of James I. During her reign, developments had taken place in England that were to shortly make it the world's leading industrial power. But first came political union with Scotland.
The Act of Union with Scotland: May 1, 1707
James II's youngest daughter Anne, whose last surviving child, Princess Anne did not survive; thus there was no direct successor to the throne. London was afraid that unless a formal, political union with Scotland was firmly in place, as distinct from the existing dynastic union (which had been established with the accession of the Stuart James VI of Scotland as James I of England in 1603), the country might choose James Edward Stuart, Anne's exiled Catholic half-brother.
The English Parliament passed the Act of Settlement in 1701 to ensure that Anne's heir was to be the Electress Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James l. Consequently, when William died in 1702, he was succeeded by Queen Anne, a true daughter of the last legitimate monarch, James II. On William's deathbed he had recommended union with Scotland. In 1703, the Scottish Parliament passed the Act of Security that provided for a Protestant Stuart succession upon Anne's death, unless the Scottish government was freed from "English or any foreign influence."
The English Parliament responded with an Alien's Act that prohibited all Scottish imports to England unless the Scots accepted the Hanoverian succession. When union was strongly urged by Lord Godolphin, the Scots reluctantly acquiesced in order to gain the advantage of free trade with the new British common market; the Act of Union merely cemented what had been a growing interdependence between the two countries. Union with Scotland became official on May 1, 1707 by act of Parliament. There were advantages for both countries in the Union, seen in retrospect as an act of policy, not of affection.

Sometimes overlooked while discussing the reasons for Scotland's agreeing to the union is the terrible beating taken by that unfortunate nation in the Darien affair. The Scottish Parliament's grandiose scheme to finance a rival to the East India Company and its attempt to found a colony on the isthmus of Darien, or Panama, met with hostility from the English Parliament. Disease and Spanish interference brought a quick and sad end to the scheme, in which practically the whole Scottish nation had shown interest. Much of the blame was cast upon "Dutch William" and his English advisors, but Scottish mercantile interests were forced by the experience to find a workable solution. Perhaps it would be better, they reasoned, to give up a separate and divergent economic policy in favor of a merger that would be of equal benefit to both Parliaments. Not all on either side were happy with the Union that many historians see as a result of "judicious bribery". The mercantile interests in Edinburgh did not represent the whole nation. The people of the Highlands certainly were not consulted in the matter. In particular, the nation had to balance the loss of its ancient independence against the need to open itself up to a wider world and greater opportunities than it could provide by itself. For its part, England gained a much-needed security, for no longer could European powers use Scotland as a base for an attack on its southern neighbor.
Scotland kept its legal system and the Presbyterian Kirk, but gave up its Parliament in exchange for 45 seats in the House of Commons and 16 seats in the House of Lords. The Act proclaimed that there would be "one United Kingdom by the name of Great Britain" with one Protestant ruler, one legislature and one system of free trade. The Act of Union settled the boundaries of a state known as Great Britain whose people, despite their differences in traditions, cultures and languages, were held together simply because they felt different from people in other countries.
The people of Britain also felt superior; they were constantly being compared with those of other countries in Europe as being better fed, better housed and better governed. Part of the feeling of superiority came from the acquisition of so much overseas territory; part came from government propaganda and the need to suppress dissent, part came from technical advances that already heralded the coming of both the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

Eighteenth Century England
The Electress of Hanover, Sophia, died the same year as Anne. When her son George left Hanover to come to England, knowing but a few words of the English language, there were many who wished a restoration of the Stuart monarchy. In this period of rapid Anglicization of Scotland and the acceptance, through the Union, of the political and economic situation that prevailed in Protestant England, the Stuarts were not yet finished. In 1708, their hopes were raised once again when an invasion of Scotland, launched from France managed to avoid the British fleet. Unfortunately, and by now predictably, the opportunity was lost; the troops landed too far north to be effective in taking Edinburgh. Then, in 1715, James II's son, James Edward Stuart, who was James III to his supporters was persuaded to undertake an invasion of England, "the fifteen."
It had been highly apparent that attempts at restoring the Stuarts would have meant the replacement of a Protestant monarchy, however foreign and dull it appeared, with a Roman Catholic dynasty, for one thing, and it was far too late for that. For another, the restoration would have to be accomplished by a foreign (and Catholic) army of occupation. The Stuarts were backed by France, Britain's most obvious and strongest enemy, a Popish enemy at that. The British press was full of the horrors of life in the Catholic states of Europe and the blessings that the island nation enjoyed under its Protestant rulers. Despite the nostalgia and the romanticism attached to the exiled Stuarts, and their wide support in Scotland, it was unthinkable for most Britons to contemplate their return. The majority of people in the nation were not in the mood for what surely would be a bloody and prolonged civil war. They certainly did not welcome the idea of a Jacobite army that would be mainly composed of French troops marauding through their land. In addition, it seemed as if the struggle of Whig against Tory that had brought the country to the verge of civil war had exhausted everyone. The attempt of the Pretender to regain the throne for the Stuarts in 1715 thus fizzled out like a damp squib.
George I (1714-1727)
The first great crisis of the reign of George I, that fool of a king (who was ridiculed for his eccentric behavior and poor English), was the Jacobite Rebellion. He was lucky that his nation was in no mood for another civil war. James Stuart was sent back to France after failing to rally Scotland behind him. It was left to the Young Pretender, Charles Edward to try again during the reign of George II. The other crisis that affected the reign of the first Hanoverian monarch of England was known as the South Sea Bubble.

Briefly, the South Sea Company, founded in 1711, had acquired a monopoly in the lucrative Spanish slave trade and other trading ventures in South America. Prices of its shares increased dramatically when the government announced that the company, and not the Bank of England, should finance the National Debt. Dozens of irrational schemes came into being as the result of the ridiculously high prices of company shares. They all crashed in October of 1720 when shares began to tumble; many investors were ruined.

The fiasco, involving many government ministers, needed someone to straighten things out, and the right person appeared in Robert Walpole, who defended the ministers and the Crown, being rewarded with the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer and leading the House of Commons for 20 years. Walpole straightaway reduced import and export duties to encourage trade and took care of the financial crisis by amalgamating the South Sea Company stock with that of the Bank of England and the East India Company. An astute business man, he kept England at peace and he increased the powers and privileges of Parliament.

At the Act of Settlement of 1701, Parliament had insisted that there should be a Privy Council of 80 members. King George reduced it to 30, and from these, a smaller group formed the cabinet, and an even smaller group, the inner cabinet. And it was here that the important decisions were made. As "German George" knew little English, understood practically nothing of the English constitution and stayed away from cabinet meetings, Walpole rose to a position of chief minister. He continued his leading role after the death of George I in 1727. Walpole's day-to-day supervision of the administration of the country, unhampered by royal interference, gave him such influence that he is remembered as England's first Prime Minister (The title originated as a term of abuse when his opponents mockingly used it to describe his extraordinary power).

George II (1727-1760)
Among the many events that took place during the reign of George II, there were two that were to have a profound influence, not only upon his kingdom of Britain, but upon much of the world outside its borders. The first of these events began in 1728 when Yorkshire carpenter John Harrison created a working model of a practical, spring-driven timekeeper that would win the prize offered by the London's Board of Longitude to solve a centuries-old puzzle; how to make the accurate determining of longitude possible. (In 1676, the Greenwich Observatory had been established to study the position of the moon among the fixed stars and to set a standard time to help sailors fix their longitude). In 1730, John Hadley invented the reflecting quadrant that made it possible to determine latitude at noon or by night. Extremely accurate, it was quickly adopted by the admiralty.

In 1736, Harrison presented his ship's chronometer to London's Board of Longitude; accurate to with one-tenth of a second per day. Made weatherproof and placed aboard ships, along with the observations of astronomer Nevil Maskelyne, published in 1763 that calculated longitude at sea from lunar distances, the chronometer was to revolutionize the world's shipping. It was to prove of particular importance to English navigators in their constant, unending search for new markets for English products, new trading centers and eventually, new lands to settle her surplus criminals and poor, unemployed citizens. (The chronometer was proved to be a success aboard HMS Deptford in 1761).

The second major event began at Oxford University, also in 1728, when a group of students began to call divinity student Charles Wesly a "Methodist," because of his methodical study habits. Charles was to help found a holy club with his brother John and others for strict observance of sacrament and the Sabbath, along with reading the New Testament and undergoing fasting. Brother John was to begin preaching Methodism at Bristol in 1739.
The first conference of Methodists was held in 1744. From then on, the movement, aided by his indefatigable preaching and wide spread travels in the British Isles, spread rapidly. The new religious ideas were to take root in North America where ideas of political independence from Britain were to merge with ideas of religious independence from the Church of England.
At home, as strong-willed as George II seemed to be, he could be controlled by his wife, Caroline of Anspach, whose influence ensured that Walpole keep his position as prime minister in the new regime. When Caroline died in 1737, it was increasingly difficult for Walpole to keep England out of war with Spain, brought about by the continual harassment of British trading ships by the Spanish. When a certain Captain Jenkins presented the sight of his sun-dried (or pickled) ear, supposedly cut off by the Spanish in 1731, Parliament was enraged and demanded action. Walpole was unable to effect a compromise and England went to war in 1739. At the same time, the War of the Austrian Succession had broken out on the Continent.
Because George II feared a French invasion of his beloved Duchy of Hanover, England was forced to involve itself in the war that primarily involved the coalition of Central European powers, supported by France, to despoil Maria Theresa, the new Arch Duchess of Austria, of her possessions. To the dismay of the jingoistic Parliament, George signed a treaty with France to protect Hanover, Walpole was held responsible and defeated in Parliament after losing support of the Commons. Walpole had coined the term "balance of power" in a speech in Parliament in June 1741; it gave expression to the principle that was to guide British foreign policy for decades to come.
Despite King George's attempts to stay neutral in the European conflict, he had to fight. At Dettingen, he personally led his forces, and won a great victory over the French. When France declared war on England in 1744, believing that she was the cause of most of her troubles, Parliament was forced on the defensive. As so many times before in the island nation's history, however, the notorious British weather helped destroy a French invasion fleet in 1744. It was now time for the Jacobite Cause to resurrect itself.

The Last Gasp of the Jacobites
Incredibly enough, after the farce of the last attempt to regain the throne, the Stuarts were to try again. Despite having endured so many years of ill-fortune, the Jacobite cause was still powerful enough to be considered the greatest threat to Britain in mid-century. In 1718, the Spanish government, in the conflict with Britain for control of trade, had sponsored an abortive raid on Scotland. Though the attempt ended in a defeat for the Highlanders at Glenshiel, an English newspaper argued in 1723 that the people of the Scottish Highlands "will never fail to join with foreign Popish powers..."

As if to fulfill this prophecy, 22 years later, Charles Edward seized his opportunity. At a time when George II was away in his beloved Hanover and the bulk of the British Army fighting in Flanders and Germany, the Stuart prince landed in the Hebrides in July 1745. He was encouraged by promise of support from France, and indeed some ships did reach Scotland with supplies and artillery. By September, Charles had rallied thousands of Highlanders, was aided by the Provost's who had secretly left a gate open and had taken the city of Edinburgh (where he assured the Presbyterian clergy of religious toleration), captured Carlisle, and defeated a small British force at Prestonpans where his soldiers employed their broadswords in the famous Highland charge.
Flushed with victory over the obviously ill-trained and ill-prepared British force of General Cope, the Scottish army marched south to England, hoping to rally support all along the way. Yet, it soon became apparent that Charles Edward was not going to be successful in raising the men and money necessary to sustain the invasion. Even in the Scottish Lowlands, support had not been forthcoming. Interests of commerce overrode those of patriotism. Despite Charles Edward's bold plans to advance on London, Lord Murray argued for a return to Scotland. The Prince reluctantly admitted the lack of support from English Jacobites. In addition, misleading reports about the strength of the English forces convinced the majority of the Council to return to Scotland.

An English force that caught up with the retreating Scottish army was soundly defeated at Clifton, the last battle to be fought on English soil. Once again, a concentrated Highland charge managed to dislodge British dragoons. Scottish success, however, only strengthened the resolve of the pursuing troops under Cumberland, who was determined to use his superior fire power and strength of numbers to his advantage the next time. The battle also led to a feeling among the Highlanders that they were invincible in a charge involving hand-to-hand fighting. They were almost correct. On the bumpy, uneven pasture lands of Culloden in April 1745 with a considerable distance to cover under fire before they could reach the ranks of the English troops, the bravery of the charging Highlanders would not be enough.
The enormous casualties suffered by the Highlanders in their futile charges against the entrenched infantry, and the slaughter of their wounded was followed by a brutal aftermath. "Bliadna Thearlaich," Charlie's Year to the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders, was finished. The Jacobites were left without any hope of reorganizing, though they still hoped for support from the Bourbons in Spain and France. This was not forthcoming, for struggles in Europe were shifting to those for control of North America.

After Culloden, Scotland was ready to play a major role in the expansion of the British Empire. In particular, the fighting qualities and heroic traditions of the Highlanders were put to good use in British armies sent to fight in Europe and further afield. The Seven Years War (1756-63) that closely followed the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion was the most dramatically successful war ever fought by Britain. Success followed success (mostly at the expense of France) in Canada, India, West Africa and the West Indies, and the tiny North Atlantic island of Britain found itself at the head of a vast, world empire in which the Scots played a leading part.
A New Role for the Island Kingdom
The War of the Austrian Succession was ended by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. But Britain was still anxious to fight for possession of new lands and trade routes. After Walpole's resignation, the country was led by William Pitt ("the elder"), a man who believed that the strength of the nation's economy depended upon overseas expansion as well as the defence of its trading outposts. Thus Britain found itself at war with France again, only the theatres of war were now primarily in North America and India. In the Seven Years War, England's ally Prussia was relied upon to conduct operations against France and Austria in Europe. In the sub-continent of India, Robert Clive won important victories to establish British presence at the expense of the French.
In other areas, at first, the wars went badly. Admiral Byng was disgraced when he lost Minorca to the French in 1757. In North America, the British colonists suffered defeats at the hands of the French, who began Fort Duquesne; in Europe, the French occupied Hanover. Then William Pitt took over, the person described by Frederick the Great as having been "a man brought forth by England's labor," and under his direction of Parliament, his countries' armed forces began a string of victories that made them seem invincible.

In 1747 James Lind had reported on the success of citrus juice in combating scurvy, and ten years later The Royal Navy received the new sextant created by John Campbell. (In 1775, upon his return from the Pacific, Captain James Cook received a medal from the Royal Society for finally conquering scurvy; he had brought 118 men "through all climates for three years and 18 days with the loss of only one man.) He had succeeded with sauerkraut: the Royal Navy ordered all its ships to give out lime juice as a daily ration in 1795.
In North America, British troops captured Fort Duquesne and renamed it Fort Pitt (later Pittsburgh); other victories occurred at Senegal, the centre of the French West African slave trade and at Guadeloupe in the West Indies. In Canada, General Wolfe captured Louisburg and then Quebec, in 1759, a victory that was followed up by General Amherst to complete the surrender of Canada to Britain.
At the time of King George II's death in 1760, England was growing rich from profits made in sugar, tobacco, sea-island cotton and other products produced by slave labor. A new leisured class was rapidly developing that would eventually demand its say in government. Britain's prosperity had come about despite the favoring of Hanover by King George; it reflected the growing influence of the mercantile classes in Parliament. It also reflected the indomitable energy and initiative of William Pitt.
Pitt gathered all power into his own hands; he controlled finance, administration and the military. He understood fully the threat from France for hegemony in North America, and he took the vital steps to counter it. His war with France has been seen by many historians as the First World War; it certainly involved more than a mere redistribution of strategic forts and a re-shuffling of frontiers. It also took considerable toll on England's resources and a general war-weariness gave fodder to those enemies of Pitt who worked for his downfall.
George III (1760-1820)
The new king saw himself as a kind of savior; freeing the country from the tyranny of a corrupt Parliament and restoring it into the hands of a virtuous, honorable, "thoroughly English" monarch, one who was perfectly capable of choosing his own ministers. Lord Bute was more to his liking than William Pitt. When peace negotiations began with France, Pitt refused to desert Prussia. France then turned to Spain for an alliance to help her regain her North American possessions. Pitt's urging of war with Spain met with fierce resistance in the Commons and he was forced to resign.
Seen by historian Carlyle, as "King of England for four years," William Pitt undoubtedly was one of England's great leaders, a true statesman with a vision expanding far beyond the political boundaries of England. His successor in Parliament, Lord Bute, had nothing of Pitt's political acumen, wide-ranging vision or experience. Only months after Pitt's resignation, England was forced to declare war on Spain, but despite a series of overwhelming victories, including those by Admiral Rodney in the Caribbean, that made her mistress of the world and master of the seas, Bute did not wish to further antagonize a severely weakened France and Spain. Besides, the king wished to end what he called " a bloody and expensive war."
Britain gained handsomely at the Treaty of Paris of 1763, yet France and Spain came off rather well. It took a considerable amount of political chicanery and bribery to ensure the ratification of the treaty by Parliament, for it was denounced by Pitt as giving too much away and for containing the seeds of future war. Britain did gain Canada, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton; the right to navigate the Mississippi; the West Indian Islands of Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica and Tobago in the West Indies; Florida (from Spain); Senegal in Africa; and the preservation in India of the East India Company's monopoly; and in Europe, Minorca.
To Pitt's dismay and fears for the future, France was appeased with the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, fishing rights off Newfoundland (the nursery of the French navy, later to play such a decisive role in the American War of Independence) and the rich sugar islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Spain, in turn, received Havana, which controlled the sea-going trade in the Caribbean and Manila, a center of the trade with China. Thus France's naval power had been left untouched. Britain was later to pay dearly in the loss of its American colonies.

As George insisted on picking his own ministers, he appointed four different men to lead the country in the 1760's: the Earl of Bute, George Grenville, the Marquee of Rockingham, and the Elder Pitt. His last choice, his personal favorite, was Lord North. Between them, they lost America.

The American War of Independence
The final revolt of Britain's American colonies was a long time coming: it certainly could have been foreseen and better prepared for by the intransigent London government. The enormous expense of the Seven Years War, and the protection of the Colonies from the designs of France, led Parliament to insist that Americans should pay for their own defence. It therefore could justify the infamous sugar tax of 1764 and the stamp duty one year later. But these taxes were only the latest in a long history of repressive measures that were designed solely to benefit England's mercantile, industrial and agricultural interests.

In 1651, the Navigation Act forbade importation of goods into England or her colonies except by English vessels or by vessels of the countries producing the goods. This was passed to help the nation's merchant navy in their struggle against the Dutch. It was still too early to be a bone of contention with the Colonies. In 1660, Charles I sought to strengthen the Navigation Acts in that certain "enumerated articles" from the American colonies may be exported only to the British Isles. These articles include tobacco, sugar, wool, molasses and many other essential items of American livelihood; the result was widespread economic distress and political unrest, especially in Virginia.

In 1663, a Second Navigation Act forbade English colonists to trade with other European countries. In addition, European goods bound for America had to be unloaded at English ports and reshipped. Export duties and profits to middlemen then made prices of the goods prohibitive in the Colonies. In 1672, Parliament imposed customs duties on goods carried from one American colony to another. Even though not many colonists were engaged in the woolen industry, it was mostly restricted to their individual homes, further resentment came with the Woolens Act of 1699 that prevented any American colony from exporting wool, wool yarn, or wool cloth to any place whatsoever."

Trading restrictions continued in 1733 when the Molasses Act taxed British colonists on the molasses, rum and sugar imported from non-British West Indian islands. The price of rum, a drink heavily favored because of its supposed therapeutic properties increased dramatically in the Colonies. A hint of later rebellion was provided in 1741 when Salem sea captain Richard Derby avoided the British Navigation Acts by sailing his schooner Volante under Dutch colors. Six years later, London marine insurance companies began to charge exorbitant rates on ship and cargo from New England to Caribbean ports, but large profits were made by American merchantmen carrying cod from the Newfoundland banks.

In 1750, the Cumberland Gap through the Appalachians was discovered by English physician Thomas Walker. Colonists could now break out of their relatively narrow coastal areas and move westward; ideas of breaking away from the Mother Country were sure to follow the pioneers as they moved over the mountains in search of new lands to settle, farther away from English interests. By 1763, the Mississippi River was recognized as the boundary between the British colonies and the Louisiana Territory. Meanwhile, the raising of the bounty on whales by the English government in 1750 did much to encourage the New England fishing industry, not to be overlooked in the growing aspirations for independence.
In the meantime, the population of the American Colonies was enjoying a rapid population increase, due to the high birth rate and high rates of immigration, especially from Germany, Ireland and other countries not disposed to favor keeping ties with Britain. A rolling iron mill established in New Hampshire also gave notice that the colonists could engage in an industry that had hitherto been an English monopoly.

In 1757, after a visit to England, Benjamin Franklin was able to report to the Colonies just how far American importers could safely go in flouting London's mercantile acts. In 1763, there was an angry reaction to George III's decree that Colonists must remain east of the sources of rivers that flow into the Atlantic. The decree was honored only in the breach and further intensified the Colonists' growing desires for independence from the dictates of London. The king had not wished to antagonize Spain and France; the land-hungry Colonists were indifferent.
In April 1763, Parliament passed the Sugar Act and sent customs officials to order colonial governors to enforce it. In May, the Currency Act then forbade the Colonies from printing paper money. Also in May, Boston lawyer James Otis denounced "taxation without representation," and urged the colonies to unite to oppose Britain's new tax laws. During the same month, Boston merchants organized a boycott of British luxury goods and initiated a policy of non-importation. As the colonists had contributed little tax support to England, the government decided at this juncture to take a harder line American industry, in the meanwhile, received a great boost by the invention of Pennsylvania mechanic James Davenport that could spin and card wool.

Events started moving to a head in 1765. First, Parliament passed the Quartering Act ordering colonists to provide barracks and supplies to British troops (quite fair considering the expense of maintaining the defence of the Colonies). The Stamp Act, passed in March, was particularly resisted: it was the first measure to impose direct taxes in the Colonies. It required revenue stamps on all newspapers, pamphlets, playing cards, dice, almanacs and legal documents. In May, in the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry stood up to denounce the Act, despite cries of "Treason" from other delegates. The Act was also denounced in Boston, where the Sons of Liberty formed clubs to show their resistance. In October a Stamp Act Congress convened in New York to protest taxation without representation and resolved to import no goods that required payment of duty. Ironically, the greatest protest against the Act came, not in the Colonies, but in England, where merchants complained that it was contrary to the true commercial interests of the Empire.

Self-confident American colonials were beginning to flex their muscles. In Philadelphia the opening of the first American medical school, later to become the College of Physicians and Surgeons, showed only too well that the fledgling nation could develop its own institutions. In commerce, shipping interests were booming. Exports of tobacco, bread and flour, fish, rice, indigo and wheat were streaming out of the ports of Boston, New York and Providence. Philadelphia, with over 25,000 inhabitants, had become the second largest city in the British Empire.
Early in 1766, it seemed that reconciliation was in the offing when Parliament, partly in response to the persuasive powers of visiting Benjamin Franklin, repealed the Stamp Act. However in March, the Declaratory Act rekindled the flames of colonial resentment, for it declared that the King, by and with the consent of Parliament, had the authority to make laws and to bind the British colonies in all respects.
Though William Pitt had returned as Prime Minister, his powers were no longer as effectual, and the arrogant Lord Townsend introduced the infamous Townsend Act, a Bill that imposed duties on American imports of paper, glass, lead and tea. Rebellion may not have been immediately on the minds of the Colonists and John Dickinson's "Letters from a Farmer" advised caution and loyalty to King and Empire, but the Townsend Act would be on the minds of the merchant classes. They were now beginning to despair of bringing the British Government to reason through limited resistance.
In 1767, Daniel Boone took his party through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, thus defying the 1763 decree of King George, completely out of touch with the aspirations of the American Colonists. Two years later he was emulated by a party of Virginians moving into what later became Tennessee (10 years later, Boone led a party to break the Wilderness Road to be used by more than 10,000 pioneers pouring into the new territories of Western Tennessee and Kentucky).
When delegates from 28 towns in Massachusetts met at Faneuil Hall, Boston in September to draw up a statement of grievances, following anti-British riots, infantry regiments were brought in from Canada. More riots broke out in Boston the following June when Customs officials seized a sloop belonging to John Hancock. In the meantime, Cherokee lands were ceded to the Crown in the Carolina and Virginia Colonies, as were lands of the Iroquois between the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Another pioneering journey was that of a fleet of American whalers into the Antarctic Ocean to begin a new and most profitable industry.
In 1769, a huge step towards independence was taken by the Virginia House of Burgesses that issued its resolutions rejecting Parliament's right to tax British colonists. When the governor dissolved the assembly, its members met in private and agreed not to import any duty-liable goods. In January, 1770, at the Battle of Golden Hill, New York, the first blood was shed between British troops and the colonists.
In March, the so-called "Boston Massacre" further inflamed passions, already being incited to rebellion by radicals in many of the Colonial governments (aided by such Whig newspapers as "The Massachusetts Spy"). The repeal of the Townsend Acts by newly-appointed Prime Minister Lord North, came too late to assuage those who had already made up their minds that the future of their country was as an independent nation, completely freed from its political links with Britain.
Events moved fitfully towards an inevitable conclusion. The so-called Boston "Tea-Party" in December 1773 had protested British taxes on American imports and in September 1774, the first Continental Congress of twelve colonies met in Philadelphia. It is interesting to note that the protest was organized by Samuel Adams, supported by John Hancock, whose smuggling of contraband tea had been made unprofitable by the measures passed in Parliament. "Men of Sense and property" such as George Washington, however, deplored the actions of those who staged the "Boston Tea-Party" and it is safe to say, at this juncture, that the majority of the colonists opposed independence, or at least, were not willing to fight Britain to gain it.
The first Continental Congress quickly adopted a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, but no less than George Washington himself wrote that "... no thinking man in all of North America desires independence." Benjamin Franklin also cautioned against a break with the mother country, for despite its unkindness "of late," the link was worth preserving. The radicals were still few in number and all measures taken by the Colonies were undertaken to pressure the British Government to listen to their grievances, not to force its hand. However, when news of the Bostonian's "tea-party" reached Parliament, outrage by many of its members produced its coercive acts in a failed attempt to bring the colonists to heel. Boston Harbor was closed until the East India Company was reimbursed for its lost tea and until trade could be resumed and duties collected. The acts were a fatal blunder by the Prime Minister, Lord North. As nothing else, they united the colonies against the government.
Other "tea-parties" followed Boston's example, and many colonies sent supplies to help the Bostonians survive the closing of its port. 1774 can be called the year of the pamphlets, with huge amounts of tracts being written and distributed throughout the American Colonies, arguing the pro's and con's of independence. In March, 1775, Patrick Henry made his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, and the dye had been cast. The war began in April 1775 when a force of redcoats, sent to seize war material stored at Concord, were met by a force of patriots. The resulting skirmishes of Lexington and Concord meant that there would be no turning back for either side.
The War of Independence can be summarized briefly. The strong determination of the colonists to make themselves completely independent would surely have succeeded in the long run, but they were aided enormously by incompetent English generals. One George Washington in charge of English redcoats would have quickly ended the rebellion. In addition, without the notoriously corrupt Earl of Sandwich in charge at the Admiralty, the Royal Navy would have surely held the seas against the French relief forces. Yet even with these crippling burdens, the war started well for the government.
In June, the Second Continental Congress had followed after the urging of Richard Henry Lee of Virginia to make foreign alliances and form a confederation. The resolutions were adopted on July 2, 1776. Efforts to end the war by negotiation broke off. At first, the colonists were no match for the better trained, better armed and better disciplined regulars of the British army, augmented by King George's Hessians, despite the incompetence of its generals.
The publication of The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson which was signed by 56 delegates was no doubt influenced by the publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense written in July 1776. It created a major shift in political emphasis. One of its immediate effects was to create a will and strength to see the thing through. Before the Declaration, the revolutionaries had seen their cause as mainly fighting for their rights as British subjects against a stubborn English Parliament; after the Declaration, they saw their fight as necessary to protect their natural rights as free men against a tyrannical and out-of-touch king. This indeed was a cause worth fighting for.
To aid in the fight, General Washington appointed Polish military expert Kosciusco to help train the volunteers, "the citizen-soldiers" who made up the bulk of the American armies. Following many early defeats, it was a surprising victory over the Hessians at Trenton on Christmas Day, 1776 which provided a stirring impetus to continue. In January, Washington followed up his victory at Trenton by defeating Cornwallis at Princeton. Later in the year, however, when he lost the Battle of Brandywine and retreated to Valley Forge, General Howe failed to consolidate his victory, preferring to sit out the winter in Philadelphia, and the American army was miraculously able to recover.

In Parliament, Lord North expressed his dismay at the poor leadership shown by the British commanders in America. When the British forces, surrendered one of its armies under Burgoyne at Saratoga, who returned to England, it was the beginning of the end for the valiant redcoat armies. Poorly led, forced to march and counter-march through untracked wildernesses, dispersed over hundreds of miles of unknown territory and harassed every step of the way, they had been betrayed by the incompetence of their officers as much as by the determination of the Colonists under Washington's inspired leadership. The victory at Saratoga galvanized into action the French government, who followed up its policy of aiding the Colonists with money and supplies by recognizing American independence and forming an alliance with the fledgling nation. The French fleet was to prove decisive in the struggle and ultimate victory of the Americans. In 1779, Spain and Holland, for reasons of their own, also provided aid in the form of money, supplies and military hardware. Not only that, but sympathetic (and profit-hungry) British merchants, including Robert Walpole, were engaged in smuggling arms and provisions to the Americans through the West Indies.
When Cornwallis surrendered his troops at Yorktown, after foolishly digging in where he had no natural defences except the sea, which was blocked the French fleet, no further military operations of any consequence took place. The British armies in North America were exhausted. The War was over. Signed on September 3rd, 1783, the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the American Colonies. Britain's great age of Empire, paradoxically was just about to begin.
The Growth of Empire
The long struggle between Britain and France for world supremacy continued to be fought all over the globe. For 23 years, Britain was at war with the greatest military power on earth, led by its great military genius Napoleon. Its results were to destroy the ambitions of the French dictator, to impose a New Order on the whole of Europe by force and to vindicate Britain's equally firm resolve to not only resist, but to uphold the imposition of order only through international law.
United in their Protestantism more than anything else, the Welsh and Scots and English thought of themselves as British; it was their Protestantism (and perhaps their representatives in Parliament) that held them together; they thought of themselves as a united, religious and moral people. Thus it was only right for them to go out as bringers of enlightenment, mainly through the conflicting aims of trade and religious conversion (the latter always second to the former) to the far corners of the earth. The anarchy and confusion that prevailed in France during its Revolution were looked on with revulsion in England, now having come to terms with the loss of its American colonies and having become more of a united kingdom in the painful process.
On the Continent, the armies of France crushed those of Austria, repelled those of Prussia and helped establish a French Republic. (The monarchy was abolished by the National Convention in September, 1791: King Louis XVI was executed in January, 1793.) When France invaded the Netherlands, England was asked to help protect the navigation rights to the Dutch. The French Republic then declared war on Britain, Holland and Spain who formed an alliance. Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Rome in 1796, made the Pope a prisoner and the same year assembled an army to invade England. He went to Egypt instead, where his forces captured Alexandria and Cairo from the Mamelukes. Two years later, he defeated the Turks, with their British allies at Abukir. He then left to take command of his armies in Europe as first consul and dictator of France.

Napoleon continued his victories in Europe, defeating the Austrians at Marengo, 1800, but a temporary peace signed at Amiens in March, during the following year gave Britain control of Trinidad and Ceylon in exchange for its other maritime conquests. A renewal of hostilities and the need for France to find adequate finances led to the doubling of the United States by its "Louisiana Purchase" in 1802.
Napoleon once more contemplated invading England by assembling a fleet at Boulogne and negotiating with Robert Emmet to lead a rebellion in Ireland. In India, another British victory was achieved by Arthur Wellesly over native forces. In France, in May 1804, Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor. Spain then declared war on Britain. Early in 1805, Viscount Nelson blockaded a French fleet intent on invading England.
On October 21, 1805 one of the greatest sea victories in England's long history took place at Trafalgar, when Admiral Nelson defeated a combined French and Spanish fleet near Gibralter. All French pretensions as a great sea power were effectively ended by this decisive battle during which Nelson was mortally wounded. (It is to be noted that the British crews were now free of scurvy which continued its deadly toll on enemy ships).

On land, however, the French armies continued their string of victories, with Napoleon defeating the Austrians and Russians at the Battle of Austerlitz in December. Early in 1806, the Holy Roman Empire came to an end after a thousand years when the Confederation of the Rhine was set up under French control. Prussia now joined the fight against Napoleon's grandiose ambitions. Napoleon's Berlin Declaration inaugurated the Continental system designed to cut off food and supplies reaching Britain from the Continent. When British ships bombarded Copenhagen in September for joining the Continental system, Denmark allied with France and Russia declared war on Britain.

French troops then marched into Spain to prevent occupation by Britain, who invaded Portugal under Sir Arthur Wellesly, soon to succeed Sir John Moore as British Commander. It was the beginning of the end for the armies of Napoleon despite a costly victory over the Austrians at Wagram, leading to the Treaty of Schonbrunn that ended hostilities between the two countries. In March 1810, Napoleon married the Austrian Archduchess Maria Luisa. No-one in Paris witnessing the construction of the Arc de Triomphe could have guessed the fate soon to overtake their triumphant Emperor.

In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia, the same year that Britain and the United States began a 30 month war over issues that included the impressment of US seamen. Wellesly continued his success in Spain against the French armies, and when Napoleon reached Moscow, he found the Russian armies had prudently withdrawn and the city almost empty. The European war then seesawed back and forth; Austria renewed its enmity with France; Napoleon won at Dresden, was utterly defeated at Leipzig, and Wellesly continued his successes in Spain to cross the borders into France.

An alternating series of defeats and victories then followed for the French armies, now opposed by the formidable Prussian leader Marshall von Blucher as well as Wellesly, promoted to Duke of Wellington. Napoleon's abdication was followed by his internment at Elba. His escape from Elba and consequent defeat at Waterloo in June, 1815 at the hands of Blucher and Wellington finally ended his European dreams. The war came to an end during the same year when the Congress of Vienna rewrote the map of Europe. Similarly, the Treaty of Ghent ended the ''War of 1812' between Britain and the United States. With her armies victorious in Europe, England was now poised to assume the mantle of world leadership in many areas.
Leadership implied responsibility and created a dilemma as to which side England should support in the conflicts of Europe. Was France, the known, or Russia, the unknown, the more dangerous rival? In 1854, however, common interests brought Britain and France together in defense of the crumbling Empire of Turkey against the ever-increasing aggressiveness of Russia. Britain, in particular, wanted to keep Russia out of the Straits and away from the Mediterranean. The result was the costly muddle known as the Crimean War that began in 1854 and that solved nothing.
The horrors of the War have been well documented. The refusal of the Duke of Wellington to initiate reforms in the army, the general incompetence of the military leaders such as Lord Cardigan of the Light Brigade fame, the lack of an efficient central authority to manage supplies, send reinforcements and ensure adequate training created disaster after disaster in the field. The main enemy proved to not be the incompetent Russian armies, but the numbing cold aided by cholera, dysentery, typhus and scurvy as well as the lack of adequate food, clothing and shelter. Florence Nightingale and her gallant nurses did their best to remedy the appalling hospital conditions and the army's resentment at their "interference." The war ended when the allies took Sebastopol after a costly siege and Russia, to prevent Austria from joining the allies, agreed to the peace terms.

Other areas in which English soldiers were involved included India, where they had to deal with the great mutiny; but a war with China over British export of opium from India in exchange for silks and tea. The Chinese forbade the opium trade, rashly fired on a British warship and were bombarded by a Royal Navy squadron. The Opium War ended with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 that opened up five "Treaty Ports" for trade and gave Hong Kong to Britain. The second war with China came in 1857 out of an incident involving the Arrow, a Hong Kong schooner sailing under a British flag. Palmerston won an election on the issue, vowing to punish the insolent Chinese for arresting the ship on a piracy charge. An Anglo-French force captured forts leading to Tientsin and Peking, won concessions from the Chinese, including more "treaty ports," gained diplomatic representation and the right for Christian missionaries to practice their trade in China. Palmerston continued his "gun-boat" policy by later aiding Garibaldi's invasion of Sicily and the Neapolitan mainland by sending warships. His government also compensated the United States for the mischief caused by the Confederate raider Alabama built on Merseyside.

The Agricultural Revolution
King George III had shown such a great interest in the agricultural improvements taking place in England that he was known as "Farmer George." He had much to be proud of; his countrymen were at the forefront of creating changes in the way the land was farmed and livestock raised that would dramatically change the face of agriculture, an undertaking that had for so long been traditionally conservative and opposed to change.

In 1600 "Theatre d'agriculture des champs" had been published in France by Huguento Ollver de Serres recommending revolutionary changes in crop growing methods. It had been mainly ignored by all, but there were some in England who took notice. There, land enclosures had been taking place steadily since the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, with the great barons amassing huge swathes of the best agricultural lands when the king sold them off. Massive numbers of peasants and small landowners were displaced.

A riot against the enclosures in Elizabeth's reign was severely dealt with, and the enclosures continued apace. Notorious winter weather continued to plague a system that was reluctant to introduce major changes except to increase the amount of land available for the raising of sheep and cattle. Potatoes had been planted in the German states as early as 1621 though much of Europe remained in fear of the tubers' spreading leprosy but their food value was too great to be ignored.
By 1631, potato production in Europe was so great that a population explosion ensued. In England, population growth had been more or less increasing at the same slow rate for hundreds of years, but began a rapid rise in the 18th century. It was simply a matter of the nation being better fed. Land enclosures may have been protested vigorously by the peasantry, but they did result in better management, allowed for selective breeding of stock and experiments with fertilization and machinery that produced better crops.

In 1701 Jethro Tull's seed-planting drill had enormously increased crop production and lessened waste. Tull had studied farming methods on the continent and was not reluctant to introduce them into England. In 1733 he invented the two-wheeled plough and the four-coulter plough, both of which, strenuously resisted at first by his labourers, had a great impact on future methods of cultivation.
Another great pioneer was "Turnip" Townsend, Secretary of State under George II and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Townsend also studied foreign methods of land use and introduced the practice of crop rotation into England, using turnips and clover to revitalize land left fallow and to provide winter feed for livestock, whose manure in turn fertilized his fields. Townsend was followed by Thomas Coke who worked on the principle "No fodder, no beasts: no beasts, no manure; no manure, no crops." At Holkham, Coke continually worked on ways to improve crop yield, contributing greatly to better breeds of both cattle and sheep.
It is to Robert Bakewell, however, that most of England's outstanding success in producing better breeds of sheep and cattle is to be attributed. Bakewell pioneered methods of selection and the secret of breeding, including breeding the new Leicester sheep. Farm animals became fatter, hardier and healthier. Britain became a meat-eating nation, but it also enjoyed better and more reliable supplies of bread and vegetables.

Even as early as 1707, England was enjoying the fruits of its explorations and settlements in India. The opening of Fortnum and Mason's in London in that year attests to the increased demand for foreign delicacies, English farmers having produced sufficient basic necessities. In particular, farmers had realized that beef and mutton would be more profitable than powers of draught and quantities of wool. In the latter part of the century, Arthur Young's tenure as Secretary of the Board of Agriculture ensured that the new farming methods were accepted throughout the nation (though it took many years for English farmers to utilize the iron plow, developed in 1784 by James Small).

In 1786, Scotsman Andrew Meilde developed the first successful threshing machine. In addition, following the publication of Lady Montagu's "Inoculation Against Smallpox" in 1718, and after the work of Edward Jenner in the 1790's, the killing disease began to be eliminated in England. Hand in hand with the vast improvements in agriculture and medicine, an industrial revolution was taking place that would also change the world forever. Progress in agriculture was to be dwarfed by what took place in industry.

The Industrial Revolution
The progress of the industrial revolution is a long catalog of mechanical inventions by which the labor and skill of the human worker was replaced by machines. It had its beginnings in the depletion of England's forests in Elizabethan times to provide timber to build its great navies. Coal was a ready substitute as fuel and it was abundant. The early part of the 17th century brought a new emphasis on coal mining though effective methods of extracting it had to wait until developments in the steam engine took place and mines could be drained of their ever-present water. The enormous increase in the price of firewood fueled a rush to find and extract more coal. By 1655, even under the most primitive mining conditions, Newcastle was producing half a million tons a year.

But coal was expensive and dangerous to mine. In 1627, Edward Somerset had invented a crude steam engine. This was of little use, but in 1698, English engineer Thomas Savery improved matters with his crude steam-powered "miner's friend" to pump water out of coal mines. A further advance came in 1705, when Cornish blacksmith Thomas Newcomen produced his steam engine to pump water out of mines. In 1709 a major breakthrough occurred when Abraham Darby, who made iron boilers for the Newcomen engine, discovered that coke, made from coal, could substitute for wood in a smelting furnace to make pig and cast iron. The industrial revolution was on its way, the whole process being geared to producing for profit and ushering in a totally new economic system.

In 1739, Benjamin Huntsman rediscovered the ancient method of making crucible steel at Sheffield, soon to become a major British steel producer. In 1754, the first iron rolling mill was established in Hampshire, the same year that the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufacture was formed. In the 1760's the Bridgewater Canal was opened to link Liverpool, England's major port (which had profited enormously from the slave trade) with Leeds, a centre of manufacturing. It heralded an era of rapid canal building, joining cities and towns all over the nation and enabling manufactured goods and raw supplies to be shipped anywhere they were needed.
In 1765, James Watt produced his steam engine, a far more efficient source of power than that of Newcomen. During the same year, Brindley's Grand Truck Canal began construction to link the western and eastern coastal ports of Britain. In 1769, Watt entered into partnership with Mathew Boulton to produce his steam engines which would revolutionize industry and the world. In 1782, English ironmaster Henry Cort perfected his process of puddling iron, completely changing the way wrought iron is produced, totally freeing it from its dependence upon charcoal for fuel, and giving further impetus to the search for coal. The mining industry benefited greatly from Humphrey Davy's invention of a safety lamp for miners in 1815.
At the same time that coal mining and iron manufacturing were making such rapid progress, the textile industry was also changing English society. Labor costs had been halved by the invention of Kay's flying shuttle in 1733, the first of the inventions by which the textile industry was transformed. The same year saw the invention of a spinning machine by Wyatte and Paul that redressed the gap between spinning and weaving. In 1765, Hargreave's spinning jenny completed the balance, for it allowed enough thread to be produced for the weavers. A single worker could now operate a number of spindles to produce several threads at once.
The move away from cottage industry to the factory system was further hastened in 1769 with Arkwright's invention of a frame that could produce cotton thread hard and firm enough to produce woven fabric. English cotton mills began to proliferate in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Both English and US economies were to benefit from Eli Whitney's cotton gin of 1792. In 1805, Scotsman Patrick Clark developed a cotton thread that was to replace linen thread on Britain's looms. The woolen industry was also to benefit enormously from the new machinery, especially in Yorkshire. In 1779, Samuel Crompton devised his spinning mule, a landmark in the industrial revolution.
With the steam engine replacing animal, wind, or water power, the Golden Age of domestic industry was now over, and the lines of the factory system laid down. Sporadic riots against the employment of the new machinery did nothing to halt their proliferation and with the increase came a shift in the way industry was financed. (The Luddites began their activities in earnest in 1811 to no avail; quick execution of their leaders brought the movement to an end with only sporadic outbreaks). The factory system was responsible for the development of the joint capitalist enterprise that became such a powerful force in the nation's economic affairs. The steam engine also affected and completely transformed transportation and though the canals had their glorious years, they were soon to be eclipsed by the railroad.
James Watt patented his double-acting rotary steam engine in 1782, a great improvement on his earlier invention. It was used to drive machinery of all kinds, beginning two years later at a textile factory in Nottinghamshire. Women and children now left their homes and their spinning wheels and looms to work in the mills, at first furnished by the rapidly flowing streams of the North, but more and more powered by steam.
The 1780's saw the introduction of steam to power riverboats, in which the work US inventors John Fitch, James Rumsey and Robert Fulton and the Scot William Syminton led the way. The adaptation of Richard Trevithick's high pressure steam engine to propel a road vehicle in 1800 is a major milestone in the development of the railroad. In 1804, in a trial run, Trevithick carried 10 tons of iron and 70 men by steam engine run on rails at Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. The locomotive had arrived on the world's scene. Only three years later the first paying passengers were taken on the mineral railroad world linking Mumbles with Swansea, South Wales, using horses for power (It lasted until 1960 when its electric trams were discontinued). English inventor George Stephenson ran his steam locomotive on the Killingworth colliery railway in 1814, the first to go into regular service. In September 1825, the world's first steam locomotive passenger service began as the Stockton and Darlington Railway. (Ironically, this was the same year that the Erie Canal opened in the US to link the Great Lakes with the Hudson and the Atlantic: only two years later, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, using rolling stock and rails imported mainly from Wales, began its challenge to the Erie Canal).
The S.S. Aaron Manby, the world's first iron steamship was launched in April, 1822 but it took many years for iron to displace wood in the world's navies. During the same year, the first iron railroad bridge was completed by George Stephenson for the pioneering Stockton-Darlington line.
The introduction of the hot blast by Scot James Neilson in 1828 made it possible not only to use coal without having it coked first, but also to use anthracite to smelt iron. Huge coal fields were thus made available in Scotland and Wales, though the biggest gains came in Pennsylvania when Welsh iron master David Thomas built his first furnace on the Lehigh in 1839. In 1830, the invention of the flanged T-rail by Robert Stevens in New Jersey laid the foundations of all future railroad track developments. In the meantime, road transportation began to benefit enormously through the improvement of highways brought about by the experiments of Scot MacAdam after 1815.
The snowball effect of all these inventions continued throughout the century. In 1856 Bessemer introduced his revolutionary steel-making process, and a new industry was given to England and the world. In 1864, Siemens invented the regenerative furnace, improving the strength and durability of steel, needed for the vast networks of railroads sprouting up all over England. In 1879, an important advance came when Gilchrist-Thomas was able to remove phosphorous from the ores used in smelting (Germany and the US with great deposits of iron ore were particularly grateful for this invention).

During Britain's rise to world supremacy in so many areas, it is sad to relate that so many of its leading citizens made their fortunes from the slave trade. The nefarious business played a crucial role in the development of Britain's mercantile interests.
England's Role in the Slave Trade
Only two years after Columbus discovered the New World, he brought back more than 500 Caribbean's to Spain to be sold as slaves. In 1501, African slaves were first introduced into Hispaniola by Spanish settlers; the natives had already been severely decimated, resulting in a labor shortage in the plantations. In 1511, African slaves were taken to Cuba. The nasty business had begun in earnest.
By 1518 huge numbers of African slaves were arriving at Santo Domingo to harvest sugar cane. The 1545 discovery of the Potosi silver mines as well as epidemics of typhus and smallpox hastened the decline of the natives, used as slave labor and increased the importation of African slaves to replace them. In 1560, Portugal also imported slaves into Brazil to replace native labor in the sugar plantations.
English participation in the lucrative slave trade seems to have begun when John Hawkins hijacked a Portuguese ship carrying Africans to Brazil in 1562. Hawkins traded the slaves at Hispaniola for ginger, pearls and sugar, making a huge profit which could not be ignored by his countrymen. One year later, Hawking sold a cargo of Black slaves in Hispaniola and the floodgates were opened. Though Queen Elizabeth spoke out against the dark business, she later took shares in Hawkins'' ventures, even lending him one of her ships in the enterprise that pitted her adventurous navigators against those of Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands (It was Hawkins who introduced tobacco into England in 1565).

In 1570 large scale exports of slaves to the Americas began. Ironically it was maize, introduced into Africa from Brazil that ensured a steady food crop that fueled the population growth to furnish a steady supply of slaves. In Europe a growing appetite for sugar as a sweetener for the newly introduced beverage, tea (begun to be drunk in earnest in England in the mid-1600's), and as a preservative for fruit, meant a great increase in sugar plantations in the Caribbean and thus the need for more slaves. The Virginia colony received its first Black slaves in 1619. From this time on they began to play a role in the North American economy. In 1627 English settlers colonized Barbados and soon began to transform into the largest sugar grower in the islands.
In 1672, English privateers in the slave trade gave way to the Royal company, formed expressly to take slaves from Africa to the Americas. In the North American Colonies, especially after "King Philip's War" of 1676, the fast-swindling supply of native slaves was augmented by Africans who were bought and sold at enormous profits. In 1698, Parliament opened the slave trade to British merchants who began the triangular trade, taking rum from New England to Africa, and from there, slaves to the Caribbean, from there West Indian sugar and molasses was shipped to New England to produce more rum. By 1709, Britain was taking as many as 20,000 Black slaves a year to the Caribbean. However, the most active period in its participation in the trade began when the South Sea Company received a grant to import 4,500 slaves a year into Spain's New World colonies for the next thirty years.
As the industrial and agricultural revolutions in England began to show enormous profits for many individuals, more and more investment took place in the slave trade. A new triangular trade began, mainly centered in Liverpool, in which cotton was sent to West Africa, where it was sold for slave. The slaves were then taken to the American South, where they were sold for raw cotton which was taken back to Liverpool to be processed in the mills of Lancashire. The business of cotton helped create hundreds of banks in England, including the giants Barclays and Lloyds, and, after 1773, a booming stock exchange appeared. British slavers began taking Xhosa (Bantu) slaves to Virginia plantations in 1719. By the 1750's, a whole new leisured class had been created in England from profits gained mainly from island cotton, sugar and tobacco grown with slave labor. At this time, English Quakers did not follow the practices of their Friends in the American Colonies who excluded slave traders from their Society.

Perhaps the beginnings of public protest against the slave trade in England began in 1763 when the badly beaten slave that Granville Sharp nursed back to health was kidnapped and sold (three years later, none other than George Washington exchanged an unruly slave for rum). A turning point in British toleration of slavery occurred in 1772 when James Somerset escaped from his master. Britain's Lord Chief Justice William Murray ruled that "as soon as any slave sets foot in England he becomes free."

The first motion to outlaw slavery in Britain and her colonies was heard in the Commons in 1776; it failed, perhaps due to pre-occupation of the House with the American War of Independence. English Quakers were also very active in their denunciation of the trade. A speech in the Commons by William Wilberforce in 1789 strongly condemned the practice of shipping Africans to the West Indies, but insurrections in some of the islands prevented a motion from being passed in 1781 that forbade the practice.

British cotton manufactures were also profiting greatly from slave labor in the American South that gained enormous benefits from the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1792. Though the US and Britain had agreed to cooperate in suppressing the slave trade in the Treaty of Ghent (that ended the War of 1812), the new, speedy Baltimore clipper ships continued to deliver cargoes of slaves.
In 1823, all the elements of the anti-slavery movement in England coalesced when William Wilbeforce and Thomas Buxton formed an antislavery society in London. Prominent Welsh reformer and factory owner Robert Owen also publicly advocated the abolition of slavery. In 1830, British authorities in the Bahamas declared that slaves from the wrecked schooner Comet were free, despite American protests.
Sharp's rebellion in Jamaica took place in 1831, but a drop in sugar prices had made slavery unprofitable on the island and news of the savage reprisals shocked British consciences. Parliament finally ordered the abolition of slavery in the British colonies to take effect by August 1, 1834 (three days after the death of Wilberforce). England and its empire was at last free from its terrible curse, During the same year, the Factory Act forbade the employment of children under 9 and proscribed the number of hours children were to work in the textile mills.
Political Reform
Between the death of George III in 1820 and the accession of Victoria to the throne in 1837, England was ruled first by the Prince Regent, during the dotage George of then under his own rule as George IV ending in 1830 and by his Uncle, William IV from 1830 to 1837. There is not much to say about George IV except that he suffered from a disastrous marriage and that he exercised a fine artistic taste. During his reign, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace were renovated and extended and under the architect John Nash, St. James' Park and Regent's Park laid out, and the extravagant Royal Pavilion built at Brighton. When the Catholic Emancipation Bill became law, George threatened to abdicate, only reluctantly agreeing to prevent civil war in Ireland. George had no male children; his daughter had died in 1817, and his second brother was childless. The throne thus went to his third brother, who became William IV who ruled from 1830-1837.

Progress in the Arts
The first half of the 18th century had given us the "Augustans," following the ideals of classical Rome. Alexander Pope led the school that included Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne and James Boswell; and the "common sense" philosophy of Dr. Samuel Johnson. England produced the painters Gainsborough and Reynolds and crrated a climate for musicians such as Handel to receive Royal patronage.
The transition was most apparent in the writings of philosopher David Hume "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding," 1748; the historian Edward Gibbon "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," 1776; and politician Edmund Burke "Reflections on the Revolution in Francem" 1791. The new class of poets included William Cowper and Robert Burns. English poets and painters, in their revolt against "common sense," began to follow the brilliant explorations of poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827).

The brilliant landscape artist John Constable died the same year that Victoria became queen. J.M.W. Turner was still alive. As members of the so-called Romantic Movement, they had been part of an astonishing artistic revolution that accompanied the topsy-turvy develpments in politics and the gradual displacement of the aristocracy by the middle class trading interests in the seat of power. Wordsworth and Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and Byron all followed in rapid succession bringing a new depth to English literature, changing it from one concerned primarily with "reason" to one that we now call "romantic." Instinct and emotion took the place of the old rationalism. The idealization of the "noble savage," could only have come about however, when England's explorers and missionaries journeyed to new, and hitherto unknown lands.
Expansion of Empire: Australia
One result of the separation of the American colonies was that the British legal system lost one of the places to which convicts could be transported (Canada's climate was too severe for plantations and thus slave or convict labor). After considering the coasts of Africa, the British government decided that the lands called Botany Bay would be suitable and in 1788, the first shipload of 750 convicts arrived in that most inhospitable area of Australia.
Dutch sailors had landed on the coast of Australia in 1606, but they were driven off by natives. It wasn't until 1770 that Captain James Cook explored the eastern coast of what was then called "New Holland." Cook took possession of the island continent in the name of George III; he named his landfall Botany Bay on account of the great variety of plants he found there. The whole of Australia may have had no more than 250,000 natives at that time. There was lots of room to accommodate British convicts, further shiploads of which caused the early settlement to move to an area to be named Sydney, in the colony now named New South Wales.
It wasn't just land to resettle criminals that Britain needed. Both the agricultural and industrial revolutions had contributed to an enormous growth in population. There just were not enough jobs to go around, and as one historian has pointed out, in Ireland "there were neither enough tenements nor enough potatoes." Following the peace of 1815 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, there was a great increase in the population of the British Isles, so much so that a feeling of alarm spread through government ranks.
A growing population which had hitherto been regarded as one of the strengths of the nation now found itself looked on as something of a curse. There simply were too many people to feed (and control). Increasing pauperism and distress, along with monstrously bad harvests, massive unemployment and public debt, severely strained the limited resources available, and drastic remedies were sought by the folks in Westminster.

Perhaps the easiest solution was emigration. In 1822, an article by James Mill on "Colonization" in the "Encyclopedia Britannica" offered emigration as a remedy for over-population. It was eagerly read and avidly discussed by M.P.'s such as Robert Horton, who spent quite a few years of his time in the House of Commons trying to convince his colleagues of the merits of his emigration schemes. In the years 1823- 25, attempts were made to put his plans into practice, especially because the Government wished to settle British people in new lands that could be contested by other nationalities. Though most of the emigrants chosen for government-assisted passages in these early years were Irish (one way to get rid of those troublesome Catholics) many Scots were attracted by the offers of free land overseas.
Despite its reputation as a penal colony, in the very early years of the 19th century, the island continent of Australia had more and more begun to appear as a practical proposition for settlement. Australia offered an alternative to the vast wildernesses of loyalist Canada. Attitudes in Parliament began to shift with the publication of Captain Alexander McConochie who recommended that Britain look to the Pacific Ocean to expand its commerce. He particularly advocated a settlement of New South Wales that would open up new markets as well as absorb what he termed Scotland's "superabundant population." McConochie's "A Summary View" of 1818 gave the people of power in Scotland, especially the commercial interests, an awareness of the potential awaiting them in Australia.
By 1815, the Blue Mountains had been crossed and the vast interior revealed, an interior suited to sheep farming. The introduction of the merino sheep was to lay the foundation for the great Australian wool industry. The native Aborigines were ignored, especially in Tasmania, where they were hunted down and killed off for possession of their lands.

Thousands of convicts continued to arrive each year, and from 1820-60 new colonies were established. These new colonies included : South Australia, Van Diemen's Land (later named Tasmania); the Swan River Colony (later part of Western Australia); Victoria, transformed by the discovery of gold at Ballarat and Bendigo and Queensland, created in 1859 out of New South Wales. The rapid increase in the number of free settlers led to demands for some kind of self-government as had been granted to Canada. A Parliamentary Committee condemned the convict system and gradually each Australian colony banned their importation. In 1856 all four colonies were granted constitutions which gave them responsible self-government; Queensland and Western Australia soon followed suit.

New Zealand
In 1642 Dutch captain Abel Tasman discovered what he named Van Diemen's Land after the governor general of the Dutch East Indies. Four months later, Tasman discovered the islands of New Zealand. In 1769, Captain Cook arrived to charter the coasts and to discover that the country consisted of two main islands. He reported that they were fertile and well-suited for colonization. Gradual penetration by settlers, whalers, convicts and missionaries followed, and in 1813 the islands were proclaimed as dependencies of New South Wales under British protection. Mainly due to missionary activity anxious to protect the native Maori population from exploitation, in 1840 Captain William Hobson was sent out from London to negotiate with the Maori chiefs for the cessation of sovereignty to the Crown.
There were many land disputes between the Maori and the white settlers, but under the leadership of Sir George Grey, 1845-53, native lands and possessions received some kind of protection. The Maori had banded together in the face of increasing immigration from Britain and elsewhere, and for almost twelve years, a military police action against them eventually led to their being granted full citizenship rights, including fair prices for their land and equal treatment under the law. The Treaty of Waitingo was signed by many Maori chiefs, and though some resentments linger among the Maori people, who number about 12 percent of the country's population, it remains an important symbol for the equal partnership between the races that is the foundation of New Zealand's national identity.

New Zealand particularly owes a great debt to John Mackenzie, who had left Ardross, Ross-shire in 1860 to become a farmer in his new country. In Scotland he had developed a deep antagonism towards the power of the landlords to dispossess small farmers, a phenomenon that was destroying much of the traditional life of the Highlands. Witnessing the same kind of activity in New Zealand, Mackenzie entered politics to prevent it from happening in his adopted land. He was elected to Parliament in 1881 as a Liberal, becoming Minister of Lands and Immigration in 1891 under Prime Minister John Ballance, equally committed to protecting the small farmers against encroachment by the large landowners.
In 1892, Mackenzie won passage of the Lands for Settlement Act, opening up Crown land for leasing. An amendment in 1894 compelled the owners of large estates to sell parts of their lands. The same year, the Advances to Settlers Act greatly expanded the supply of credit available for small farmers. He also sponsored a plan to use the unemployed to clear and then lease land holdings. In addition to his sponsorship of legislation to aid the small farmers and break up the large estates (something that had never been achieved in his native Scotland), Mackenzie used his political clout to promote scientific methods of agriculture. Also to his credit was the laying of the foundation of the New Zealand ministry of agriculture. There were many more Scots of influence in the islands; they did much to make the country prosperous, as well as keeping it closely tied with and proud of its association with, Great Britain.

In l880, New Zealand began to export huge quantities of frozen mutton and lamb to Britain. By l902, this process began to flood the English market. Alas, Scots settlers stripped millions of acres of lush, sub-tropical forests to create their sheep pastures, and the ruinous effects of the subsequent soil erosion are still very much in evidence.

Captain James Cook had made three exploratory voyages to the West Coast of Canada between 1768 and 178l. Because the Chinese were very interested receiving fur in exchange for the tea, silks and porcelain in so much demand in Europe, the lucrative fur trade beckoned further English interest. In 1788, a group of English traders settled on Vancouver Island (discovered by Cook 10 years before). Spain still claimed the whole West Coast of America up to the boundary of what is now Alaska, but after a confrontation at Vancouver between the two countries, England presented an ultimatum to the Spanish whose lack of allies, and an effective navy, forced them to accept its terms. The Spanish recognition of British trading and fishing rights in the area opened the way for the establishment of British Columbia and the creation of a British North America stretching from ocean to ocean. There still remained the thorny question of the borders with the United States.
Many thousands of Empire loyalists left the United States after its independence to settle in Canada, mainly in the eastern Maritime Provinces. Many of the kilted soldiers who conquered Quebec for Britain had been Jacobites and followers of Prince Charles Edward. It has been suggested that their victory at Quebec was sweet revenge for France's general indifference to and failure to help the Jacobite cause.
Perhaps the Canadian province most closely connected with Scotland is Nova Scotia New Scotland. The land had been discovered by John Cabot in 1497 and claimed for Britain. The vast territory of Acadia was seized by Captain Argall in the name of James VI of Scotland (James I of England), in 1613. Part of this lovely land became the first permanent North American settlement north of Florida when Scotsman Sir William Alexander, friend of the king, was granted a charter in 1621. In his book describing the colony, Sir William deplored the ancient proclivity of Scotsmen to expend their energies in foreign wars and encouraged them instead, to send swarms of emigrants "like bees" to New Scotland. Over 300 years later, seven eighths of its people acknowledge British ancestry, mainly Scottish.
The West was still unknown territory. In 1809, Welsh-born fur trader David Thompson surveyed and mapped more than 1 million square miles of territory between Lake Superior and the Pacific. The War of 1812 seems to have begun over the impressment of US seamen, but frontiersmen on both sides were intent on territorial gains in many disputed areas.
The naval battles on Lake Erie showed only too well US interest north of the established borders. The Rush-Bagot Treaty of 1817 limited US and British naval forces on the Great Lakes. One year later, the US-Canadian border was established by a convention, making the 49th parallel the boundary to the Rockies while Thompson continued his survey. The two countries agreed to a joint occupation of the Northwest Territories for a 10-year period. The treaty was extended in 1828 for an indefinite period.
Back east however, a French Canadian rebellion against British rule, led by Papineau and Mackenzie took place in 1837. It was crushed after some desultory skirmishes. In 1839, in his Report on the Affairs of British North America, the Earl of Durham proposed a union of Upper and Lower Canada and the granting of self-government. Durham argued for putting the government of Canada into the hands of the Canadians. The Union Act was passed in July, 1840. Two years later, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty finalized the Maine-Canadian border.
Still in dispute was the boundary of the Oregon Territory, which received thousands of American immigrants after John Fremont mapped the Oregon Trail guided by Kit Carson. Other settlers from the US arrived in the Columbia River Valley, claimed by Britain. In 1846, the Oregon Treaty granted land south of the 49th parallel to the US, thus extending the frontier to the Pacific and granting British Columbia and Vancouver to Britain.

In 1847, Lord Elgin was made Governor of the newly united colony of Canada. By the 1860's, the fear of economic and political subordination to the US stimulated the movement to combine the eastern Maritime Provinces to the rest of Canada. In 1867 the British North America Act united Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Dominion of Canada with its capital at Ottawa, first settled in 1827.
A Scots-Canadian, John Alexander Macdonald, who had led the federation movement became the first premier. Within six years, the Dominion was joined by Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island (Newfoundland joined in 1949). The Canadian Pacific Railway begun in 1880 then became a crucial link in the chain of confederation, making it possible for the addition of the two prairie provinces to join in 1905, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In June, 1880, the anthem "Oh Canada" was sung for the first time in Quebec; it received official English lyrics in 1908.
Other Maritime Provinces were also heavily influenced by Scottish settlers. Prince Edward Island was captured from the French by Lord Rollo, a Scottish Peer, in 1758 and parceled out among a number of landed proprietors, including many Scots. One was John Macdonald of Glenaladale, who conceived the idea of sending Highlanders out to Nova Scotia on a grand scale after Culloden.
New Brunswick also became the home for many Scots. In 1761, Fort Frederick was garrisoned by a Highland regiment. The surrounding lands surveyed by Captain Bruce in 1762 attracted many Scotch traders when William Davidson of Caithness arrived to settle two years later. Their numbers were swelled by the arrival of thousands of loyalists of Scottish origin, both during and after the American Revolution. A continual influx of immigrants from Scotland and Ulster meant that by 1843, there were over 30,000 Scots in New Brunswick.
A large group of Scots chiefly from Ross-shire arrived in 1802 on the Nephton to settle in the Quebec province. Many of their descendents have become prominent in the business, financial and religious activities of Montreal ever since. The great centre of the Scottish Loyalists, however, was not in Quebec, but in Upper Canada, the Glengarry Settlement in what is now Ontario. Here, in what was then wilderness, many of the early settlers had come from Tryon County in New York State. They were joined by many Highlanders during the Revolution, and after the War had ended, by a whole regiment of the "King's Royals."

Unemployment and suffering that followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars caused the British government to reverse its former policies and to actively encourage emigration. In 1815, three loaded transports thus set sail from Greenock for Upper Canada: the Atlas, the Baptiste Merchant and the Borothy. After the end of the War of 1812, they were joined by many soldiers from the disbanded regiments. In 1816, further arrivals from Ulster helped swell the Scottish element in what was at first a military settlement. Many Perth families became prominent in both state and national governments.

The list of Scots who influenced Canada's history is indeed a long one. We can only mention a few more who contributed in so many different areas. Explorer Alexander Mackenzie completed the first known transcontinental crossing of America north of Mexico. John Sandfield Macdonald (1812-72) became Prime Minister of the province of Canada in 1862 and the first Prime Minister of Canada in 1867. Sir John Macdonald (1815-91), who emigrated in 1820, became the first Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada, leading the country through its period of early growth. Under his leadership, the dominion expanded to include Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Sir Richard McBride (1870-1917) was Premier of British Columbia from 1903 to 1915, where he introduced the two-party system of government and worked tirelessly on behalf of the extension of the railroad.
The list seems endless. Immigrant Alexander Mackenzie was the first Liberal Prime Minister of Canada (1873-78). Another Scot, William Lyon Mackenzie, who led the revolt in Upper Canada against the Canadian government in 1858, became a symbol of Canadian radicalism. His rebellion dramatized the need for a reform of the country's outmoded constitution and led to the 1841 Confederation of Canadian provinces.
British India
In India, Robert Clive had defeated pro-French forces at Arcot in 1751 thus helping his East India Company to monopolize appointments, finances, land and power. The British victory led to the withdrawal of the French East India Company. Then, six years later, faced with native opposition, opportunist Clive defeated the local Nabob at Plassey to become virtual ruler of Bengal and opened up much of the country to further exploitation and control by the East India Company. When Clive was recalled to England, Warren Hastings took over to strengthen British interests in India and to establish a basic pattern of government that remained virtually unchanged for 100 years. Hastings was impeached by Parliament for enriching himself unduly in India. His trial, in which he refused to admit his mistakes, was closely studied in January 1999 by members of the US Senate in their own impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.
India was regarded as the "jewel in the crown" of the British Empire; over two thirds of the vast sub-continent was ruled by the East India Company. Its finances and its troops were used to protect British interests, even overthrowing native Indian princes. Much of the country, however, was chafed under English practices, there were simply too many differences in social and religious customs between the two countries. In 1857, simmering discontent flared into a great mutiny, when sections of the army of Bengal attacked British settlers.
After atrocities on both sides, the revolt was finally crushed by November 1858, the majority of Indians, having remained loyal. The British government then took over the administration of India from the East India Company and the British Governor General became the Viceroy of India to represent the Crown. A proclamation from the Queen then ensured the Indian people that their religious practices and customs would not be interfered with, that the titles of their Indian princes would be recognized and that in the future they would be able to participate in the government of their country.

At the same time, a network of roads, railroads and telegraphs (in addition to the ubiquitous civil servant) helped unite the sprawling subcontinent, and an educated, English speaking elite emerged to further westernize its peoples. Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877 by Prime Minister Disraeli. India did not gain its independence until after the Second World War when it fought alongside other countries of the British Empire.
South Africa
South Africa came to the attention of Europeans when a Dutch ship, Haarlem, broke up at Table Bay in 1648 and the survivors, back in Holland, urged authorities to establish a settlement for provisioning their East India fleets. In 1652, a small group of Dutch settlers founded Cape Town. In 1815, Britain gained its long-desired "half-way house" on the sea route to India when the Dutch ceded the Cape of Good Hope. The British arrived in 1820 when the Albany settlers founded Grahamstown in the eastern coastal region. By 1826, Britain's Cape Colony had extended its borders to the Orange River. In 1834, Xhosa tribesmen revolted against Dutch encroachments on their lands but were defeated. The seeds of later conflict, however, involving British, Dutch and native Africans were sown.

Soon after Britain abolished slavery in its Empire in 1834, Dutch cattlemen in South Africa began their great Trek north and east of the Orange Rivers. In the next two years, some 10,000 Boers (Dutch colonists) moved to new lands beyond the Vaal River. They were to found Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In 1838, they were forced to defeat the Zulu at the Battle of Blood River in Natal. Britain then repulsed the Boers and made Natal a British colony in the pretense of protecting the natives. In 1854, the British withdrew from lands north of the Orange River and the Boers seized the Orange Free State. In 1856, Britain made Natal a Crown colony; and the Boers established the South African Republic (Transvaal) with Pretoria as its capital.
Events came to a head between Boers and Brits when diamonds were discovered in the Orange Free State. The British disregarded Boer claims to the territory, annexing the district to Cape Colony in 1871. Six years later, Britain annexed the South African Republic in violation of the Sand River Convention of 1852 that recognized the independence of the Transvaal. The Boers demanded a restoration of their independence and fully expected it from British Prime Minister Gladstone, always concerned with doing what was right and moral. His slowness, however, in getting a reluctant Parliament to act led to the Boers taking up arms. In December 1880 a Boer Republic independent of Britain's Cape Colony was proclaimed by Paul Kruger. After a British defeat at Majuba Hill a year later, the Treaty of Pretoria gave independence to the Boer Republic but under British suzerainty.
When gold was discovered in the Transvaal in 1886, the drive to annex the Boer republics began in earnest. Cecil Rhodes (who had founded the De Beers Mining Corporation in 1880) was determined that the riches being discovered in South Africa were not going to the Boer farmers. Rhodes dreamed of extending British rule in Africa, building a railroad from the Cape to Cairo but the Boers were in the way, controlling the key areas of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Using his great wealth, amassed in the diamond and gold fields, Rhodes with other imperialists established British colonies to the north of the Boer territories. Both Northern and Southern Rhodesia (settled by English workers for Rhodes's British South Africa Company who founded Salisbury in 1890) were granted charters by London.
The Outsiders (Uitlanders, who flocked to the gold fields soon began to outnumber the Boers (sometimes called Afrikaners), who took retaliatory measures which included excessive laws against the newcomers that led to Rhodes intervening in the abortive "Jameson Raid," late in 1895. When Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain tried to get Kruger to accept British supremacy, the attempt ended in yet another humiliation for his government. War began in 1899 as a result of British diplomatic pressure and a military build up on the borders of the Transvaal.
The highly mobile guerrilla units of the Boers were immediately successful in defeating much larger units of the British Army. Their big error, and one that may have cost them the war, was not to invade Natal, but to lay siege to a large British force penned up in Ladysmith, an error they repeated in the sieges of Kimberley and Mafeking (of Baden-Powell fame). Yet overwhelming Boer victories occurred when British commander Redvers Buller split up his forces.
Victory for Britain only came when Buller's replacement, Lord Roberts took the war into the enemy heartland, putting the Boers on the defensive. The capture of Bloemfontein and Pretoria effectively ended the gallant efforts of the Transvaal Field Army of the Boers, so successful in small engagements but heavily outgunned an out numbered in larger battles. Kruger went into exile and the two Boer republics were annexed to the British crown in 1900.
Yet the war dragged on. Under skilful leaders such as de Wet, Botha and Smuts, the Boers utilized commandos to strike at British lines of communication in determined efforts to fight to the last for their independence. The British resorted to a scorched earth policy to deny the Afrikaners food and supplies, burning their farms and crops and removing masses of farming families to concentration camps. Losses to attrition and demands from Liberals in the government at Westminster to stop the barbarism led to negotiations and the Peace of Vereenigning in May 1902. The Boers accepted British sovereignty with a promise of future self-government.
The war was costly for both sides, but especially the British. Deaths from disease greatly outnumbered those from bullets, and a series of defeats showed only too clearly the deficiencies in leadership, operational planning, training, equipping and supplying of troops that had been so evident in the Crimean War. The red jackets of English soldiers had made them easy targets for Boer marksmen on the high Veldt, and their lack of knowledge of how to survive on the land was to lead Baden-Powell to found the Boy Scout movement primarily as a form of early outdoor military training for youths born and bred in the unhealthy cities spawned by the industrial revolution.
Further Expansion of Empire
Britain's rise to a world power meant that she found interests everywhere. Not only was she now head of the self-governing colonies, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand (mostly settled by British newcomers in addition to the relatively tiny native populations); but also the vast Empire of India and a veritable host of dependent territories all over the world's oceans. Most of these had been acquired somehow to protect the merchants and traders of England, or areas in which their missionaries and explorers (mostly Scots such as self-promoting David Livingstone or English brave hearts such as Richard Burton and John Speke) had established their outposts.

Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister in 1874 with the idea of expanding the Empire and taking up the "White Man's Burden" (as Rudyard Kipling described it) to not only create trade and bring profit, but also to spread British ideas of democracy and law, as well as the Christian (and Protestant) religion. The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, offered a 5,000 mile shortcut from Britain to India and the east, to Australia and New Zealand and Disraeli persuaded his government to buy the khedive of Egypt's majority shares with a loan from the Rothschild banking house.
Because of Britain's control of Egypt it got involved in the war against the Mahdi, preaching a holy war in the Sudan (a dependency of Egypt), and the defeat of General Gordon at Khartoum. It was also Disraeli who backed British military intervention in the Transvaal in 1877, in the Zulu War two years later and in the ill-fated attempt to support the ruler of Afghanistan against Russia in 1878.
Britain had become involved in Afghanistan, that graveyard of so many foreign troops, when the expansion of Russian power in the Near and Middle East in the 1820's and 30's alarmed the East India Company. An attempt by the British government to control the mountainous land in 1839 by placing a pretender on the Afghan throne proved a complete disaster. A whole British army was destroyed, the puppet ruler assassinated and the British envoys murdered. Not much was learned from the experience.
In a further attempt to control the northwest approaches to India, another British invasion against the legitimate ruler (considered too friendly to Russia) took place in 1880 under Gladstone's government. The murder of the British Resident in Kabul brought another British force to remedy the situation under General Roberts. It managed to extricate itself after dealing with rival claimants to the throne. The Northwest frontier between the Punjab and Afghanistan was finally drawn up in 1901 under the British viceroy in India, Lord Curzon.
1901: The End of an Era
In 1897, Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee. She died in 1901. Britain had undergone enormous changes in the 60 years of her reign. It had become the workshop of the world, yet, to many of its inhabitants, the days of prosperity and optimism were over, the future was uncertain. Commerce was flourishing, industrial productivity was booming, exports were soaring, the nation led the world in manufacturing, the Empire had expanded across the globe. Yet there were many cracks in the wall and skeletons in the closet.
The great movement in population from the countryside to the towns and the urban squalor and poverty it created has been well-documented by such writers as Charles Dickens. Not even the Royal family could escape the dreaded cholera, rampant in London due to its tainted water supplies. Victoria's uncle, William IV's had two daughters die in infancy and disease was rampant in the squalid slums of the rapidly growing cities and manufacturing towns.
The constant refusal of landlords to improve their properties, install proper sanitary facilities and relieve the burden of high rents was matched by the indifference of the factory and mine owners to the terrible working conditions of those they employed. Those who did care about their workers, such as Robert Owen, were few and far between. The government was forced to step in; only law could change the intolerable conditions.

Reforms had tentatively begun under the Tory Party, which dominated in Parliament from 1812 to 1827 and under the dynamic Robert Peel as Home Office Minister. Peel reformed the criminal code, abolished the death penalty for over 100 offences, improved prison conditions and created the London Police force, the so-called "Bobbies."

It was only a beginning. Reforms were greatly needed in every sector of British society. Not everyone had benefited from the improvements in agriculture and industry. Increasing enclosures of land had thrown hundreds of thousands of small landowners onto the mercy of the Parish or drawn them into the fast-growing cities to replenish the stock of poor and unemployed. Lord Byron, a hereditary peer in the House of Lords was not the only one to speak out against the evils of industrialization. The poor had no representation in Parliament, for the system had long ago failed to represent anyone except a small privileged class. It was time for major changes.
In 1832, the Duke also had to acquiesce in the passing of the great Reform Bill of 1832 that, while doing nothing for the poorer classes, at long last recognized the right of the new manufacturing magnates and the middle-classes to govern England. It was a right long overdue, for the manufacturers and merchants had long been the chief factors in the economic life (and success) of England. Their agitation was their demand to be admitted into the elite of the ruling set. As the first formal change in electoral law, however, since an Act of 1430, it heralded further inevitable changes in the relationship between the old aristocratic oligarchy and the new men from the boroughs and manufacturing towns.

The British working classes were still without representation in Parliament: they turned to Chartism to redress their grievances. Early attempts at forming workers' unions had failed miserably, their leaders denounced as "gin-swilling degenerates" and their members expelled from their work places. The workers then turned to violence, forming groups such as the "Scotch Cattle" that destroyed property and threatened workers. The great depression of 1829, with its massive unemployment and wage cuts led to the great Merthyr Rising in South Wales, now heavily industrialized and influenced by many of its Irish immigrants. Order was brought into the area by the military and punishment was severe. Dic Penderyn was hanged for wounding a soldier, becoming a martyr for the Welsh workers.
The Chartists now began to recruit in earnest. The movement was named after the radical London reformer William Levett, who drafted a bill known as "The People's Charter" in May 1838. The Chartists hoped to bring about a democratic parliament and an enfranchised working class. They staged demonstrations in many towns and when the government refused to consider the six points of the Charter presented in June 1839 took to arms. The biggest demonstration took place in South Wales, at Newport, where thousands of marchers, coming into the town in columns from the coal-mining valleys, were shattered by well-directed volleys from a body of troops (chiefly recruited in Ireland) stationed in the Westgate Hotel.
The repeal of the infamous Corn Laws in 1846 and the consequent availability of cheap bread meant that people were less inclined to revolution. The Chartist Movement, faced with the might of the British military and a recalcitrant government, was fading by the late 1850's. In 1857 an Act declared that property qualifications were no longer necessary for a seat in Parliament, and the first great democratizing point of the Charter had been conceded by the government.
Not to be overlooked, was the introduction of canned foods, created for the Royal Navy, but sold commercially by the London firm of Donkin-Hall in 1814 that eventually helped alleviate shortages caused by bad harvests (the industry took advantage of the vacuum pan recently invented by Edward Howard). In 1867, the Great Reform Bill finally ended the Chartist Movement, for in that year, nearly one million voters were added to the register, nearly doubling the electorate. Forty-five new seats were created, and the vote given to many working men as well as tenants of small farms. From henceforth, governments had to heed the voice of the middle and lower classes; its resources had to be used to benefit all of society, not just the privileged few, and the State came to play a leading part in the lives of Britain's citizens.
The Continuing Problem of Ireland
One of the major cracks in Britain's armor was Ireland, a country so near and yet so far. A country that remained an enigma to most Britons, unable to understand the depth of nationalist (and Catholic) feeling that kept their neighboring island out of the mainstream of the Empire in so many ways. Even the revolutionary effects of the coming of industry to Britain had little effect upon Ireland, which remained rural and agricultural. Anglo-Irish relations had been bitter ever since the ruthless policies of Cromwell. The Ulster Plantations of James I, and the failure of the Jacobite rebellions had not helped matters. In 1791 Wolfe Tone and others established The Society of United Irishmen to follow the lead of the Americans to agitate for independence from Britain. A French fleet set sail for Ireland in December, 1793 to aid the Irish rebels. A mighty storm dispersed the ships and no invasion took place, but the French tried again in 1795, after the Battle of Vinegar Hill had broken Irish resistance to British rule. Once again, however, they were defeated; this time by troops under Cornwallis.
On January 1, 1801, the Act of Union of 1801 created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, establishing one single Parliament. Primarily due to the obstinacy of George III, who did not wish to give full emancipation to Irish Catholics, the union had little chance of success. Catholics could vote in elections, but only for Protestant candidates, no Catholic could be a Member of Parliament, nor become a minister or servant of the Crown. The problem could not be continually put on the back burner by the Parliament in London; the work of Daniel O'Connell saw to that.
O'Connell gave voice to the political aspirations of the Irish people. In 1823, he founded the Catholic Association, to provide the funds for a national movement, and in 1823 a Catholic Relief Bill was passed by the Commons. Its rejection by the Lords, however, meant further agitation by O'Connell who returned unopposed from County Clare, and in 1829, the Catholic Emancipation Bill was pushed through Parliament by the Duke of Wellington over strong Tory opposition. The Bill opened up the right to sit in Parliament and to hold any public office (with few exceptions) to Catholics.
The Act settled one grievance, but it did nothing to settle the major one: that of the unpopular Union of 1801. O'Connell wanted nothing less than the restoration of an Irish Parliament. Despite the Irishman's eloquent oratory and strong support in Parliament, however, Robert Peel refused to budge on the question, and in time-honored fashion, sent troops to Ireland to quell disturbances. O'Connell's activities had him convicted for conspiracy, but the verdict was reversed on appeal. His influence waning, he died in 1847. Meanwhile, Peel's proposals to alleviate the problems in Ireland, were met with hostility from both Protestants and Catholics alike. A Bill introduced in 1845 to give Irish tenants the right to compensation for improvements to their holdings was opposed in Parliament. The Great Famine prevented its implementation for over thirty years.

There had been many warnings of the problems that could result for the Irish from their reliance on a single food crop. Potatoes had come to their country in 1586, planted on his estate near Cork by Sir Walter Raleigh. They seemed to be an admirable food to supplant wheat, so dependent upon the weather. They were easily grown, easily stored, easily cooked. In 1770, they were sold publicly in London. In less than one hundred years, their value as a food source had helped fuel a population increase in many parts of Europe but especially in Ireland, an increase that was most dramatic after 1800. By 1841, there were almost eight and a half million people in Ireland depending upon potatoes, but as early as 1830 William Cobbett had warned of over reliance on the crop.
In 1845, over one half the Irish potato crop, mostly grown on nearly 2 million acres in spade-cultivated plots of less than one acre, was lost to a fungus. The harvest failed, and the peasants saw their winter food supplies go to rot. A greater tragedy came with the second failure a year later. The British government did very little; it believed that economic forces must work themselves out with as little interference as possible and threw the burden of relief onto the local Irish Poor Law authorities. The repeal of the Corn Laws (passed to aid the British farmer) in 1846 did practically nothing to solve the problem.

For the majority of the Irish, the answer was starvation or emigration, and between 1848 and 1851 over a million left for the United States, taking with them their resentment of the British government and its feeble attempts to solve the mass starvation in Ireland. Unlike the Scots, bereft of their lands in the Great Clearances, they did not remain loyal to the Empire. Meanwhile, the "Problem of Ireland" intensified for successive British governments during the second half of the century.
In the 1860's a new force entered Irish politics, the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, founded in the USA, that became known as the Fenians. Its aims went a lot further than those of O'Connell, for it sought nothing less than complete separation from Britain and the setting up of an independent republic. It also promoted violence as a means to achieve its aims. In 1868, Gladstone promised to "pacify Ireland," and began a program of moderate reforms including the disestablishment of the Protestant Church of Ireland. In 1870, Gladstone enacted a Land Act to prevent eviction of tenants (except for non-payment of rent), and to give compensation for the improvements made to land or property. The only problem was that landlords consequently raised their rents (and could thus have an excuse for evictions). The Prime Minister responded to the resulting violence by the Coercion Acts that further antagonized the poor Irish. Gladstone's desire to give the Irish Catholics their own university was defeated by a narrow margin in Parliament.

Disraeli was not married to a Welsh girl as was Gladstone; he had less sympathy to the people of Ireland. During his 1874-80 ministry, the Irish Home Rule League was founded, to demand repeal of the Union of 1801 and the restoration of an Irish Parliament at Dublin. It was supported by 59 Home-Rulers elected to the Commons in 1874. When Parnell took over the reigns, the League became a powerful political force. In 1879, another movement began: the Irish National Land League was founded by Michael Davin to boycott landlords and to work for ownership of all Irish land by Irish peasant farmers. Like the Home Rule League, the INLL was backed by huge sums of money raised in the US by Fenian societies.
Between 1880 and 1895, at the height of its imperial powers, Britain suffered the humiliation of having four out of six governments being defeated as a direct result of Irish affairs. Parnells' power block of 80 or so Irish M.P.'s was a crucial factor. Determined to press for Home Rule for Ireland, their constant side switching in an attempt gain their aims led to the Irish Home Rule Crisis of 1886 which split the Liberal Party in two and kept the Conservatives in power. Unfortunately, despite their passage of a Land Purchase Act in 1891, the government implemented strict measures to try to improve law and order in Ireland, all of which were vigorously opposed by Parnell. After Parnell's disgrace in 1891 (over an affair with a divorcee), Gladstone continued to press for a Home Rule Bill. His final attempt passed the Commons in 1893 but was rejected by the stubborn, myopic House of Lords. Ireland's problems, and the inability of the English government to deal with them continued well into the next century, one in which the accomplishments of Britain began to be matched by other countries, and one in which its mighty empire disintegrated.
Part 8: England in the 20th Century
Changes in Empire and at Home
The popular,aged Victoria was succeeded by Edward VII, who reigned for nine years (1901-10). The jovial, popular, avuncular Prince of Wales had waited a long time to accede to the throne. Known as Edward the Peacemaker for his diplomacy in Europe, he used his knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian and German to good advantage. Matters seemed fine in the island kingdom of Britain, feeling secure as the head of the largest empire the world had ever known. Yet the image of splendid and carefree easy living portrayed by the King was in direct contrast to the growing forces of discontent and resentment felt by too many members of British society.
England in the Edwardian Age existed in a twilight zone; the balance of power in so many areas was shifting in a Europe in which the decisive factor was the rise of a united Germany, and in a world in which the United States would soon dominate. To prepare for the future, one politician, Arthur Balfour, Prime Minister 1902-5, saw that Britain needed to advance its educational system and to strengthen its defenses. His Education Bill of 1902 abolished the School Boards and placed primary, technical and secondary education under the control of local authorities. This helped to create an "education ladder" by which abler children were able to win scholarships to enter the secondary grammar schools (the mis-named Public Schools continued as private enclaves for the rich and very rich). The Civil Service was thus able to find itself enriched by a steady stream of educated, qualified young men (and later young women).
Balfour made effective the Committee of Imperial Defence to carry out the reforms made necessary after the humiliations of the Boer War. The Committee also improved Britain's naval defenses; and under John Fisher, the Admiralty began building the Dreadnought a new type of heavily-armed warship. To further meet the threat from the new German fleet, he also concentrated the Royal Navy in home waters instead of having it dispersed all over the world. Balfour, however, was completely unable to prevent the inevitable. Though many historians see the death of King Edward as marking the dividing line between the security and stability of the 19th century and the uncertainties of the twentieth, there had been ominous warnings before 1910.
In Wales, conditions in the tin plate industry had been severely depressed by the 1891 McKinley Tariff of the United States; the deplorable conditions endured by coal miners led to the creation of a new force in British politics: the trade union. There had been many earlier attempts to form unions, mostly unsuccessful because of determined resistance from the mine and factory owners. Workers had been fired for trying to form unions; their leaders were once denounced by the leading Welsh newspaper as "gin-swilling degenerates." In 1834, when Robert Owen had attempted to improve factory conditions and the lives of the workers through his Grand National Consolidated Trade Union, six English farm laborers were sentenced to deportation for secretly forming a branch of the GNCTU (they were the famous Tolpuddle Martyrs).
In Lancashire, in 1869, the formation of the Amalgamated Association of Miners led to fierce resistance from the coal owners and was forced to disband. A united front against the unionists was then forged by the formation of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association in which 85 companies owned over 200 mines. The workers persisted in their attempts to form unions, however, and in 1877 the Cambrian Miners Association began in the Rhondda Valley under the inspired leadership of William Abraham (Mabon). Abraham was elected Lib-Lab M.P. for Rhondda in 1885 and kept the peace between owners and miners for twenty years. (The Lib-Labs represented an informal agreement with local Liberal organizations to run a number of trade union candidates, rather than a party of organized labor.)
In 1888, a successful strike of girls in the sweated trade of match-box making occurred. One year later the Gas Workers Union secured a reduction from twelve to eight hours in their working day. A strike by London Dock workers the same year was equally successful. Their disciplined behavior won them widespread support When their demands were finally conceded, the Dockers Union gave considerable stimulus to recruiting for other trade unions, who were quick to see the strike as a means to solve their grievances.

The Fabian Movement began in 1884, its composition of middle-class intellectuals (including dramatist and critic George Bernard Shaw) giving it considerable weight as an instrument in bringing forth political and social reform. As a response to poor working conditions, the Independent Labour Party was formed in 1893. Six years later the Miner's Federation of Great Britain began at Newport, South Wales. The Federation argued for the creation of a Board of Arbitration to replace the infamous sliding scale and the restriction of the work day to eight hours (also that year the Women's Social and Political Union was formed by Emmeline Pankhurst with the goal of achieving voting rights for women. In 1918, women over thirty were granted the right to vote, following their efforts as factory workers taking the places of men called up for the military).
When judgement was given in favor of the owners and against the striking workers in the Taff Vale Railway Company dispute of 1900, the huge costs levied against the union practically ensured the creation of a new party in British politics. The unions saw clearly that they had to have legislation to guarantee their rights, and thus they needed representation in Parliament. The Labour Representative Committee answered their needs: in 1906, it became known as the Labour Party, but it took many years before it could muster enough strength to offer a worthy challenge to the Liberal and the Conservative Parties.
George V (1910-1936)
The new King, George was the second son of Edward VII and Queen Alexander, Prince Albert Victor had died in 1892. It was George who changed his family name from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to that of the English Windsor. With his wife Mary, he did much to continue the popularity of the monarchy. They were helped enormously by the advent of the BBC in 1922 which probably did more to perpetuate the national sense of common identity than any other factor save war. In 1934, George began his broadcasts to Britain and the Empire. Radio, newspapers (and later television) all added to the mystique and prestige of the royal family when so much more was in a state of flux, and old traditions were being challenged everywhere.
The pre-War years saw major changes in England's domestic policies. The question of tariff reform divided the Conservatives. One group wished to use the tariff to protect British industries and boost inter-imperial trade and co-operation; the other, fearing the social and political consequences that higher food prices would bring as a result of the tariff, was in favor of Free Trade. A crisis occurred in 1906.
In that year, left-wing Liberal, Welshman David Lloyd George became Chancellor of the Exchequer and pushed through Parliament his "People's Budget" that proposed a tax on the rich to pay for reforms and the rebuilding of the Royal Navy. The rapid rise of such men as Lloyd George from humble origins to high positions in the government showed only too clearly the changing nature of political life in the country, a change that the House of Lords was slow to accept. The Upper House, packed with its hereditary peers, was particularly upset by what it considered the socialistic and confiscatory nature of the budget and rejected it.
Two general elections were held to resolve the deadlock. The Liberals were able to win a landslide victory and remained in power until the wartime coalition government was formed in 1915. In the interim, the Lords continued to reject the Budget, which finally passed in 1911 when the Commons approved the Parliament Bill to limit the delaying power of the House of Lords. From now on, the Lords could no longer reject bills outright and there was to be a general election every five years (instead of seven).

The year 1911 saw the greatest industrial unrest in Britain's history. Nationwide strikes of dock workers, railway men and miners brought the country to a standstill. The government was forced to respond. The National Insurance Act was passed to ensure that the worker, the employer and the government all contributed to a general fund to pay for free medical treatment, sick pay, disability and maternity benefits. It also introduced a measure of unemployment benefits, free meals for school children as well as periodic medical exams. Through the efforts of Winston Churchill there had been the setting up of Labour Exchanges where the unemployed worker could sign on for vacant jobs. Foundations were being laid for a veritable sea of change in the way the state was to assume responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.
Many reforms took place in a veritable flood of "socialist experiment." The introduction of a salary for M.P.'s allowed the entry of working class members to Parliament; the trade unions were freed from the liability for strike damage and allowed to use their funds in politics. Hours and conditions of labor were regulated, slum -clearances effected, eighty-three labor exchanges set up, and old-age pensions inaugurated as the first installment of social security. All this cost a great deal of money. it came from the pockets of the rich. They were further incensed by the Home Rule Bill of 1912.
Irish M.P.'s had helped the Liberals gain power; they wanted their reward in Home Rule. To the Conservatives, however, the idea of Britain splitting up (in the face of increasing German hostility) seemed ludicrous, to be avoided at all costs. They were aided by the Protestant forces of Ulster (most of Northern Ireland), equally alarmed at the prospect of being ruled from Dublin. A major civil war loomed in Ireland, and the British Army regulars made it clear in the so-called "mutiny" at the Curragh, that they would not fight against their brothers in Ulster. In 1914, the Home Rule Bill was finally pushed through, but the outbreak of the Great War pushed everything else aside; it was said that "the public had forgotten the Irish for the Belgians."
World War I (1914-1918)
By the turn of the century, it had become increasingly apparent to many, both in and out of government, that the possession of an Empire would not be enough to cure Britain's domestic problems. Gladstone, in particular, had the wisdom (and the courage) to admit that though the Empire was a duty and responsibility that could not be shrugged off, there could be little advantage, and possibly only future problems, in expanding it. For him, in contrast to the imperialist Disraeli, and later, the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, Britain's strength lay in its own people, in their own land. Foreign adventures could only waste the nation's resources, sorely needed to aid its own people. He had been proved right in the costly adventures in Afghanistan, the Sudan and South Africa. (As a sideline, the poor physical condition of the British soldiers in South Africa during the fight against the Boer farmers, led Baden-Powell, who had successfully defended Mafeking, to found the Boy Scout Movement in 1908.)
In the heady day of Empire, William Ewart Gladstone had believed in peace with justice. He respected the rights of small nations to seek their own forms of government; hence his support of Home Rule for Ireland. He died in 1898, four years after being defeated in Parliament. He had relentlessly condemned the Conservative government's overseas policies. Sadly, though he recognised what was going on in Ireland, he had failed to see that a genuine nationalist movement had surfaced in Egypt, where Britain was forced to stay, once involved, until the middle of the next century. He had noticed, however, that Germany's support of the Boer farmers, in the way of arms and guns, boded ill for future relations between the two countries. A new rivalry developed over their respective navies. More than one historian has pointed out that the German navy was floated on a tide of Anglophobia.
It was thus that Britain's foreign policy, during the first few years of the new century, changed drastically. Instead of the old cordiality towards Germany and fear of a combined France and Russia, she now became friendly towards France and Russia and hostile to Germany. An Anglo-French agreement in 1904, mainly over their respective interests in Egypt and Morocco, alarmed the Germans. The new Liberal government's Foreign Secretary, Lord Grey, had no intention of dissolving its association with France (and with Japan and Russia, who were at war with one another in 1905).
The question now arose of what would be Britain's response should Germany attack France over a dispute concerning Morocco. The answer can be found in the summer maneuvers of the English army that assumed Germany, not France, would be the enemy. Germany also felt humiliated by the Treaty of Algeciras that temporarily settled the Morocco question, and felt surrounded by hostile powers, a feeling that grew alarmingly after the 1906 Anglo-Russian Entente. Its reply was to build up its navy, including the Dreadnought, a threat to England's long-held supremacy at sea. World War I broke out in August 1914, when Germany declared war on Russia. Trouble in the Balkans precipitated the outbreak of hostilities, but they had been stewing for a long time.
Perhaps the War came about as the result of a breakdown in the European diplomatic system -- the bad judgment of a number of individual politicians. Perhaps it was inevitable -- the result of the profound economic changes that had been at work that had caused a "structural failure" of European society. In England, domestic problems, as much as the crisis in the Ottoman Empire, had dictated foreign policy decisions. In any case, Britain was not willing to see Germany defeat France again; nor did she want to lose her position as the world's leading power. The troubles began in Bosnia.

Austria seized Bosnia in 1908; Italy then took Tripoli, Cyrenaicia and some islands to show that Turkey could no longer defend what was left of her empire in Europe. Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany were all hungry for spoils in the area. When Greece allied with Serbia and Bulgaria (all satellites of Russia), to defeat the Turks, Austria became alarmed; her own empire contained many Slavic peoples. Germany, too, feared Russian expansion in the Balkans. A conference in London in 1913 failed to pacify the region, in which the late victorious Balkan states were now quarrelling among themselves. Serbia's successes further alarmed empire of Austria-Hungary.
With the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June, 1914, all hell broke loose. The military chiefs of many nations were all ready to go to war. Historians have succinctly pointed out that an inexorable military machine quickly overwhelmed the improvisations of diplomacy. With the Kaiser's support, Austria declared war on Serbia. Germany declared war on Russia and on France, creating a huge dilemma for Britain: should she give full military support to France and her allies or to stay out of Europe altogether in a policy of complete neutrality. The latter policy would have opened the door for Germany, however, and when that country violated the neutrality of Belgium in August, Britain went to war on the side of France. The decision to aid Belgium, one of small-statured Lloyd George's "little 5-foot-5 nations," marked the beginning of the end for his country's world dominance.
The length of the war, and its enormous toll on life and resources, was completely unpredicted. A German plan for a rapid victory in the West was thwarted by the combined French-British armies at the Marne. When the German offensive began down the North Sea coast of Belgium, the battles at Ypres managed to stem their advance, but at heavy cost. The years of trench warfare then began in a costly war of attrition with neither side gaining any real advantage.
At sea, the war produced one large-scale battle and a few smaller engagements. The action at Jutland, despite British losses, resulted in the German fleet heading for home, allowing the Royal Navy to continue to dominate the sea routes, to supply new fronts in the Eastern Mediterranean (with limited successes), and to impose an economic blockade upon Germany and her allies. In reply, the consequent German submarine campaign showed only too well the strengths of this new kind of weapon. The sinking of the Lusitania off Kinsale Head, Ireland in May 1915, however, had enormous consequences for the later stages of the war. In the meantime, in order to aid rapidly weakening Russia, the allies decided to strike at Turkey and the rear of Austria-Hungary by way of the Balkans.

Both Lloyd George and Winston Churchill argued for the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. The campaign was designed to attack weaker spots of the enemy's front by combining military and naval forces; to force Turkey to abandon her support of Germany, circumvent Bulgaria's entry into the war, and bring Greece into the side of the allies. In the campaign, failure to co-ordinate their activities, however, left great numbers of British, New Zealand and Australian troops stranded on the Gallipoli Peninsular unable to break through the Turkish defenses. All the objectives of the bold but totally mismanaged campaign were lost (much hostility resulted in the attitude of Australia and New Zealand that is still evident today in their progress towards republican status, despite lingering affection for the mother country). On the Western front, allied losses also caused great concern.
The German attack at Ypres, where gas was used for the first time, and the failure of the British counter-offensive, brought a government crisis in Britain. Lloyd George became minister of Munitions and Arthur Henderson, Secretary of the Labour Party was admitted to the Cabinet, a decision that clearly showed the growing importance of organized labour. A German offensive at Verdun then blunted the allied plans for a simultaneous attack; and the Battle of the Somme ended in disaster for the allies, who lost around 600,000 men in futile attacks against a firmly entrenched enemy. At the same time, the Russian state began to show signs of collapse.
In late December, 1916, Lloyd George took charge of a coalition ministry in which he showed the energy and capacity for getting things done in a time of great crisis. The conduct of the war, the losses incurred, and the difficulties in Ireland (where the brutal suppression of the Easter Rising almost certainly turned that nation against Britain when a more just solution may have kept the nation loyal to the Crown), needed drastic measures. Military deadlock, the successful U-boat offensive, as well as the onset of revolution in Russia, provided a new test of character of the British people.
The introduction of an organized convoy system put a huge dent in the success rate of the German submarines in sinking allied supply ships. British efforts were rewarded by the entry of the United States into the War in April, 1917. The great French offensive early 1917 failed hopelessly. It was followed by an equal failure of Haig's offensive in Flanders and the misery of the mud at Passchendaele Ridge. The Italians were then overwhelmed by the German-Austrian army at Caporetto before stabilizing their line with help from British and French troops. To make matter worse for the allies, the new Russian revolutionary government made peace with Germany, freeing nearly fifty German divisions for service on the Western front.
Things then began to change. German intrigue with Mexico (still simmering over the loss of much of its territory to its powerful northern neighbor) along with the unrestricted submarine warfare of 1917 brought the USA into the war. President Wilson's "Fourteen Points," set forth in an address to Congress, had a great impact on world opinion at the time when all belligerents except the US were exhausted by the war effort. In the spring of 1918, the Germans planned their great offensive to capture the Channel ports. In spite of early successes, however, attrition had taken its heavy toll. Aided by their new weapon the tank, British forces turned the tide at Amiens, a battle that German Commander Ludendorf decided was critical.
Britain's seizure of Palestine from the Ottoman Turks (aided by the successes of the famed Lawrence of Arabia), was followed by the Balfour Declaration of November 11, 1917 that favored the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Further allied successes on the Eastern front, the defeat of the Bulgarians, the capitulation of Turkey, a victory by the Italians at Vitoria Veneto, a mutiny of the German fleet at Kieland a revolt by the German people against their military leaders, all convinced the German high command to enter into peace negotiations. The abdication of the Kaiser was followed by the imposition of severe armistice terms by the allies at Compiegne. They were accepted on November 11, 1918; what had been the costliest war in human history was over.
The cost to Britain was the loss of an entire generation, one whose contribution to national life was to be sadly missed during the political mismanagement of the postwar years. The blood baths of the Somme and Passchendaele could never be adequately described by the nation's poets and prose writers, most of whom had been conscripted into the army when the regulars, as a fighting force, had ceased to exist. So many of Britain's physical and intellectual best were killed off in the endless fighting to gain a few yards of muddy ground.
During the War, there was also unrest at home, particularly in the industrial belt of Scotland where Intense labor conflict gave the name "Red Clyde" to its shipbuilding region. A series of episodes took place there that have since assumed legendary proportions, almost on the scale of the Jacobite rebellion. The conflicts, pitting management's use of semi- or unskilled labor against the militant unions, produced such well-known activists as James Maxton, John Wheatley, John Maclean and Emmanual Shinwell. The troubles culminated in the George Square riot in Edinburgh of 1919 that practically ensured the Labour Party's national victory in the General Election of 1922. They have been regarded by many in the Labour Movement as forming part of the "glad, confident morning" of Scottish socialism.
As noted earlier, however, it was the Liberal Party under Lloyd George that was most effective in bringing needed changes to Britain. The introduction of salaries for M.P.'s in 1911l meant that the Labour Party could now field many candidates from the ranks of the trade unions. Scotsman Keir Hardie, the socialist ex-miner, had been elected to Parliament by the Merthyr constituency (South Wales) in 1891. In the hallowed halls of Westminster, he defiantly chose to wear his cloth deer-stalker hat (transmogrified by legend into a working man's cloth cap) in place of the usual top hat.
It wasn't only conditions in industry that were being transformed by the growth of Labour. There were also many changes taking place in British agriculture during the early years of the century. A rapid increase in population due to a declining death rate meant that farmers were unable to meet the increasing demand for butter, cheese, margarine and lard (used for cooking until the switch to vegetable oil right up until the 1960's), and a reliance grew upon Denmark for these products. English farmers turning to market gardening and fruit growing. Fuel shortages in 1916 motivated Parliament to pass a "summer time" act, advancing clocks one hour to make the most of available light. Farmers protested in vain.
To meet domestic demand, imports of US pork, Argentine beef and New Zealand lamb continued to rise, but a significant contribution to raising protein levels of urban English diets came with the introduction of the fish and chip shop. It utilized the product of fast, deep-sea trawlers that packed their catch in ice and rapidly shipped it to British markets. A new addition to the British diet was baked beans, first test marketed in Northern England by the American Heinz Company in 1905, but which became a staple of British diets beginning in 1928 when the first canning factory began at Harlesden, near London.
Between the Two World Wars
Following the Armistice of 1918, the first order of the day for the victorious allies (Britain, France, the USA, Italy, Japan and to a lesser extent Russia) was to hammer out the peace terms to be presented to the defeated powers (Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary). At Versailles, Lloyd George represented Britain; pressing for severe penalties against the Germans, he came up against the idealism of US President Wilson, anxious to have his plans for a League of Nations implemented; and Clemenceau of France, who wished for even more severe recriminations against Germany.

The final treaty came in June, 1919. The reparations and "war-guilt" clauses were later seen by English economist John Maynard Keynes as a future cause of discontent; they later became an excuse for Herr Hitler to begin his efforts to countermand them. The US did not ratify the treaty, and the disunity that prevailed after its signing did not bode well for the future of Europe. In addition, the United States and Russia did not join the League of Nations that met for the first time in Geneva in November, 1920.
The matter of Ireland then became a serious source of hemorrhage to the confidence of a seemingly-united Great Britain. The war had presented the opportunity the Irish nationalists had been waiting for since the postponement of the Home Rule Act of 1914. When they seized their opportunity to attack British rule in Ireland, the execution of many of their leaders following the Easter Monday Rising in Dublin, made reconciliation between the two countries impossible.
The British government failed to separate its important Irish prisoners. An internment camp at Frongoch, in North Wales, later known as "Sinn Fein " University, brought together many who would later become key figures in the fight for independence, including Michael Collins (later to become Director of Intelligence as well as chief organizer) and Richard Mulcahy (later to become Chief of Staff). Prisoners were inspired by hearing the Welsh language all around the camp declare a republic in which Gaelic would be the national language. In 1918, following the General Election, the successful Sinn Feiners refused their seats at Westminster and formed the Dail Eireann that proclaimed the Irish Republic on January 21, 1919.
The war against British rule then began, lasting until December 1920 when atrocities and counter atrocities by both sides (not only those committed by the infamous "Black and Tans.") finally led to the Government of Ireland Act. The Act divided Ireland into Northern Ireland (containing the largest part of Ulster) and Southern Ireland, giving both parts Home Rule, but reserving taxation powers for the Westminster Parliament. It seemed that no one in Ireland was satisfied and guerrilla warfare intensified. The coalition government in London was finally convinced that a policy of reconciliation was needed and a truce in July, 1921 was followed by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December.

Mainly through a threat of an all-out war, Lloyd George somehow managed to persuade the Irish delegation, led by Michael Collins, to accept the offer of Dominion status within the Commonwealth rather than hold out for an independent republic, and the Irish Free State came into being. A basic British condition was that the six counties of Northern Ireland, mainly Protestant (who equated Home Rule with Rome Rule) should not be coerced into a united Ireland, the other 32 counties, mainly Catholic.
Eamon De Valera (one of the participants in the Easter Rising, but who had escaped from Lincoln Gaol) objected to the oath of allegiance to the Crown and formed a new party, the Republican Party against the government of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. It began a bitter civil war in which Collins, leader of the Dail's military forces and a much revered Irish patriot lost his life leading the Free-State forces against the Republicans. The bloody civil war ended in April 1923 when De Valera, who had been elected President of the Irish Free State in 1919, ordered a cease fire. Eire was finally declared a republic in April 1948, with Northern Ireland remaining as part of the United Kingdom.

The Great Depression
In the meantime, there had been a major downturn in the British economy since the end of the World War. Government promises of a better society in which there would be a higher standard of living and security of employment had not been fulfilled. The productivity rate was falling rapidly behind that of other nations; there was simply too much reliance on the traditional industries of cotton, coal mining and shipbuilding, all of which were finding it difficult to compete in world markets and all of which were managed by those who could not adapt to more modern methods. Many countries which had been dependent upon British manufactured goods were now making their own. A great slump in which millions were unemployed was left to work itself out when planned government expenditure would have helped mobilize the unused resources of the economy.

The Liberal Party, which had done so much to alleviate conditions of poverty and had made so many significant strides in improving social conditions in general, began to lose its standing in the polls after 1922. The political program of the Labour Party advocated increased social security measures, including a national minimum wage, the nationalization of basic industries such as coal, railways and electricity; and the imposition of higher taxation to pay for social welfare and to reduce the burden of the National Debt. The "dole" (unemployment benefit) allowed workers to survive while unemployed (it was probably the reason why there was not greater social unrest or even revolution).

Labour had become the chief challenger to the Conservative Party, and formed its first government in 1924 under James Ramsey MacDonald. In October of that year, however, Britain once more turned to the Conservatives under Stanley Baldwin. As had Labour, however, it proved ineffective to handle the nation's industrial problems.

Further mass unemployment resulted when Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill returned Britain to the gold standard in 1925. The return was made at the old pre-war gold and dollar value of the pound. As a result, the pound was devalued; British goods (coal, steel, machinery, textiles, ships, cargo rates and other goods and services) became over-priced, and Britain's share of the world export market declined rapidly. The resulting unemployment and wage cuts caused serious repercussions in the industrial areas, where strikes became common. Iron, steel, coal, cotton and ship building suffered the most, the very industries that Britain's free trade economy relied upon to provide the bulk of the consumer and capital goods exported to provide for the large imports of food and raw materials. A general strike took place in 1926.
A huge drop in coal exports, the government's refusal to nationalize the coal industry and the setting of wages by the pit-owners triggered the unrest. In April of that year, the miners' leader, A.J. Cook coined the phrase "not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day." The mine owners refused to compromise. A showdown came about when the government indicated that it would not continue negotiations under the threat of a general strike. On May 4, 1926 the great strike went into effect, but lack of support for the unions, the use of volunteers to keep essential services going, the intransigence of the government, and the gradual wearing away of the resistance of the miners by the coal owners eventually ended the stoppage. But grievous harm had been done to the miners, who came out of the business with longer hours and less pay.
Under the Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin, only a modest program of social reform took place, mainly to appease working class opinion. The Widows, Orphans and Old Age Health Contributory Pension schemes extended the Act of 1911 and insured over 20 million people. In 1928, the Equal Franchise Act gave the parliamentary vote to all women over twenty one. Under Health Minister Neville Chamberlain, the Local Government Act of 1929 reduced the number of local government authorities and extended the services they provided. There was still lacking a coherent policy to deal with the relief of unemployment. A Labour government, elected in 1929, came to power at the beginning of a world-wide depression triggered by the Wall Street Crash, but like the Conservative government before it, could do little to remedy the situation at home.

In the 1930's things improved a little under a national government comprised of members from all parties, led by Ramsey MacDonald. The abandonment of the gold standard and the decision to let the pound find its own value against the US dollar made British export prices more competitive in world markets. Agriculture was aided by the adoption of a protective tariff and import quotas in 1931. A building boom followed the increase in population that new health measures made possible. Old industries were replaced by newer ones such as automobiles, electrical manufactures, and chemicals. There were also changes made in the relationship of Britain to her colonies.
Since the Durham Report of 1839, the white-settled colonies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa had been virtually independent of Britain. The Statute of Westminster, passed in November, 1931, removed much legal inferiority not addressed in 1839. The independence of the Dominions was now established. The Crown remained as a symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth. The Imperial Economic Conference met in Ottawa, Canada in July 1932 to hash out the problems of Dominion economic policies and to settle the matter of their exports to Britain.

At the conference, Britain agreed to abandon free trade, imposing a 10 percent tariff on most imported goods, but exempting Commonwealth nations. In turn, they were to provide markets for British exports, including textiles, steel, cars and telecommunications equipment (thereby discouraging innovation in many industries, which was to put Britain further behind other countries).
The colonies had come of age; the conference showed only too well that Britain was no longer a magnet for Commonwealth goods. In 1932, however, King George initiated the Christmas Day radio broadcasts that served to link the Commonwealth countries in a common bond with England. Their loyalty was to be proven in World War II during the reign of George VI. George had come to the throne in 1936 after the abdication of his older brother Edward VIII (tradition ensured that the Edward had to renounce the throne if he were to marry the American divorcee Mrs. Simpson).
In the late 1930's Britain's foreign policy stagnated; there were too many problems to worry about at home. While domestic policies still had to find a way out of the unemployment mess, it was vainly hoped that the League of Nations would keep the peace, and while the aggressive moves by Germany, Italy and Japan may not have been totally ignored in Westminster, their implications were not fully grasped. It seems incredible, in retrospect, how all the signs of a forthcoming major war were conveniently ignored.

In Germany, Hitler had become Chancellor in July 30, 1934 on a rising tide of nationalism and economic unrest. After he proclaimed the Third Reich in March, his regime was given dictatorial powers. Also in March, the Nazis opened their first concentration camp for Jews, gypsies and political prisoners. In August, Hitler became President of the Reich at the death of Hindenburg. He announced open conscription early in 1935, in defiance of the conditions laid down at Versailles. Unencumbered by obsolete equipment and even more obsolete thinking that hindered the British and the French, the German republic was able to rebuild her army and airforce from scratch. They were soon to be used in a bid to dominate Europe.
Italy had entered the scramble for Africa in 1881 by taking over Assab in northern Ethiopia. It then expanded its holdings in the East African highlands. In 1887 the Italian-Ethiopian War began. Three years later, Italy made Assab the basis of an Eritrean colony. By 1896, however, a series of defeats led to the Italians withdrawing from their protectorate. In 1906, a Tripartite Pact declared the independence of Ethiopia but divided the country into British, French, and Italian spheres of interest.
In Italy, in November 1922, general fears of communism led King Victor Emmanuel to summon Benito Mussolini to form a ministry in which he would be given dictatorial powers to restore order and bring about reforms. Earlier in the year, Mussolini had led his black-shirts Fascists into Rome. He secured his fascist Dictatorship the following year through political chicanery and began protesting the terms of Versailles in 1930.

When Italian and Ethiopian troops clashed on the frontier between Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia in 1934, Mussolini had an excuse to invade Ethiopia. After his troops had occupied Addis Abbaba, he announced the annexation of Ethiopia and joined Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to create Italian East Africa. The League of Nations proved totally ineffective to prevent this seizure of the last bastion of native rule in Africa.
Lack of British resolve against the ambitions of Mussolini may have spurred Hitler to act. In March, 1936, at the height of the crisis in Ethiopia, he sent his armies into the Rhineland. France was afraid to react without British support. It proceeded to fortify its Maginot Line as Hitler began to fortify the Rhineland. The dictators of Germany and Italy then signed the pact known as the Rome-Berlin Axis. Both leaders then supported General Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Britain and France stood back for fear of precipitating a general European war; in their efforts to appease, they protested but did nothing except to embolden Hitler even further. His troops marched into Austria in March, 1938.
Hitler's next move was first to surround Bohemia and then to demand modifications to the Czech frontier, including the Sudetenland (with a large German population). Fearing a catastrophic war, and with the vivid memory of the carnage of World War I in mind, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain then agreed, along with the French Premier, to hand over the Sudetenland to Germany. He thought he had bought "peace with honor." Hitler then showed his true intention by seizing the rest of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlains finally saw what Germany intended, to dominate Europe, and his extension of a guarantee to Poland practically ensured war.
World War II
In the late 1930's Britain's foreign policy stagnated; there were too many problems to worry about at home. While domestic policies still had to find a way out of the unemployment mess, it was vainly hoped that the League of Nations would keep the peace. While the aggressive moves by Germany, Italy and Japan may not have been totally ignored in Westminster; their implications were not fully grasped. It seems incredible, in retrospect, how all the signs of a forthcoming major war were conveniently ignored.

In Germany, Hitler had become Chancellor on July 30, 1934, on a rising tide of nationalism and economic unrest. After he proclaimed the Third Reich in March, his regime was given dictatorial powers. Also in March, the Nazis opened their first concentration camp for Jews, gypsies and political prisoners. In August, Hitler became President of the Reich at the death of Hindenburg. He announced open conscription early in 1935, in defiance of the conditions laid down at Versailles. Unencumbered by obsolete equipment and even more obsolete thinking that hindered the British and the French, the German republic was able to rebuild her army and airforce from scratch. They were to be used soon in a bid to dominate Europe.
Italy had entered the scramble for Africa in 1881 by taking over Assab in northern Ethiopia. It then expanded its holdings in the East African highlands. In 1887 the Italian-Ethiopian War began. Three years later, Italy made Assab the basis of an Eritrean colony. By 1896, however, a series of defeats led to the Italians withdrawing from their protectorate. In 1906, a Tripartite Pact declared the independence of Ethiopia but divided the country into British, French and Italian spheres of interest.
In Italy, in November 1922, general fears of the spread of Communism led King Victor Emmanuel to summon Benito Mussolini to form a ministry in which he would be given dictatorial powers to restore order and bring about reforms. Earlier in the year, Mussolini had led his black-shirt Fascists into Rome. He secured his fascist dictatorship the following year through political chicanery and began protesting the terms of Versailles in 1930.

When Italian and Ethiopian troops clashed on the frontier between Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia in 1934, Mussolini had an excuse to invade Ethiopia. After his troops had occupied Addis Abbaba, he announced the annexation of Ethiopia and joined Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to create Italian East Africa. The League of Nations proved totally ineffective to prevent this seizure of the last bastion of native rule in Africa.
Lack of British resolve against the ambitions of Mussolini may have spurred Hitler to act. In March 1936, at the height of the crisis in Ethiopia, he sent his armies into the Rhineland. France was afraid to react without British support. It proceeded to fortify its Maginot Line as Hitler began to fortify the Rhineland. The dictators of Germany and Italy then signed the pact known as the Rome-Berlin Axis. Both leaders then supported General Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War (1936- 39). Britain and France stood back for fear of precipitating a general European war; in their efforts to appease, they protested but did nothing except to embolden Hitler even further. His troops marched into Austria in March 1938. There was no resistance.
Hitler's next move was to surround Bohemia and then demand modifications to the Czech frontier, including the Sudetenland (with a large German population). Fearing a catastrophic war, and with the vivid memory of the carnage of World War I in mind, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed, along with the French Premier, to hand over the Sudetenland to Germany. He thought he had bought "peace with honor." Hitler then showed his true intention by seizing the rest of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain finally saw what Germany intended to dominate Europe, and his extension of a guarantee to Poland, a country which geography he was incapable of aiding, practically ensured war.

In Britain, though there were two million unemployed, but things were generally looking prosperous following the slump of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, it was a totally unprepared Britain that declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939; two days after Hitler's armies had invaded Poland. Conscription was ordered for all men 20 years and older. Somewhat better prepared France followed Britain by declaring war on Germany.

German armies swept through Poland in 18 days. The allies turned to Russia for support, but Stalin had ideas of his own, coming to a marriage of convenience with Hitler in which Poland became a pawn in the hands of both. Stalin also took advantage of the situation to attack Finland.
Britain then prepared for total war. Cities were blacked out, rationing was imposed and rigidly enforced; children from the larger cities were moved into the countryside, clouds of barrage balloons filled the English skies, housewives turned in their pots and pans for scrap, iron fences, railing and gateposts disappeared into blast furnaces, gas masks were issued to every single person, including babies; total blackout was imposed and rigorously enforced by air Ðraid wardens. While the country waited to see if the French could successfully resist the Nazi armies, British beaches were mined, protected by barbed wire; tank traps and other obstacles to invading forces appeared everywhere; air raid shelters were dug in back gardens and London subway stations prepared for their influx of nightly sleepers.
Trapped behind their so-called "impenetrable" Maginot Line, the French could not hold back the German tide, and the new weapon of war, the Blitzkrieg, swept all through it. Hitler's legions first occupied Denmark and then brushed aside a Franco-British force sent to help Norway.
Beginning their march to the Channel in the Ardennes, after they had easily bypassed the Maginot Line, German forces took only five days to take Holland. They then raced forward at lightning speed to capture Paris. In one of the most successful campaigns in the history of war, German forces soon controlled France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway and Romania, leaving Britain alone in the West to face the Nazi hordes.
In May 1940, after a disastrous British attempt to force the Germans out of Narvik, Norway, a humiliated Chamberlain (who had earlier crowed that "Herr Hitler had missed the boat") resigned in favor of Winston Churchill. The 65-year-old veteran of many a political campaign was to prove a remarkable leader. The country quickly rallied behind him to expend its "blood, toil, tears and sweat" to eventually emerge victorious in what was to become a long, bloody war that, if it did not involve nearly every country on earth, certainly affected them.
British industry mobilized every person not on military service into production. Even the old and retired were called on to play their part as plane spotters, air-raid wardens and night watchmen. But single women played a major role. They had to report immediately to work in war industries or to work on the nation's farms in the so-called Women's Land Army. Women also entered the armed services by the thousands, to work as radar operators, mechanics, truck drivers and pilots in non-combat roles, even the retired.

After the complete collapse of France in June 1940, when it signed an armistice, Mussolini entered the war on the side of Germany, believing that Britain was doomed and that he could pick up rich spoils in Africa. When France fell, the British army was forced to evacuate the continent at Dunkirk, but somehow halting a German division at Arras, managed to save most of its cadre to train millions of new soldiers it needed to defend its Empire. One of the strangest fleets in history had rescued the bulk of the British Expeditionary Force from the burning beaches of Dunkirk. In the meantime, Soviet troops entered the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to incorporate them into the USSR.
New Prime Minister Winston Churchill informed the British people that the Battle for France was over: the Battle for Britain was about to begin. He stressed that Hitler would have to break Britain in order to win the war, and that no nation would be safe from sinking into the resulting darkness, not even the United States.
When France formed a "Vichy" government under Marshal Petain, the Royal Navy destroyed the French fleet anchored at Oran in North Africa. In the Atlantic, German U-boats were destroying thousands upon thousands of tons of allied shipping, but Britain precariously held out (those of us who were living in Britain at the time realize just how near to collapse we were). All Britain could do was to hang on, to fight on until the situation might eventually change. Hitler expected Britain to come to terms, but Churchill's defiant riposte was that he wasn't on speaking terms with Adolph Hitler.

Realizing that she would not come to terms, Hitler then planned an invasion of England, but first he would have to destroy the Royal Air Force. The task seemed easy enough; he had a decided advantage in the number of planes and in trained pilots. From airfields in conquered France, the English coast was only a few minutes away. At a time when the war at sea was rapidly turning in Germany's favor, the Battle of Britain began with an attack of German bombers on England, July 10, 1940 and artillery began shelling the English coast. The final assault was planned for August 13th. Hitler planned to have 125,000 men ashore by the end of the second day. Plans were meticulously drawn up for the government of a conquered Britain.
There was great fear throughout Britain during that late summer. In many villages, church bells rang in the mistaken belief that the invasion had begun. There wasn't much to stop the invader. Though 1,500,000 men in Britain had joined the Home Guard, they had only 70,000 rifles; the regular army had left most of its hardware behind in the evacuation from France. All that stood between the German armies and the planned invasion of Britain was the Fighter Command of the Royal Air Force.
During the early air war, the German Air Force conducted over 1500 missions a day over England, concentrating mainly on airfields and radar installations. Hitler's second-in-command Herman Goering miscalculated the resilience of the Royal Air Force. When British planes bombed Berlin to retaliate for bombs dropped on London (the German pilots had lost their way and missed their intended targets), Hitler determined to teach the British people, those "night gangsters, " a lesson. Insisting on a thousand-fold revenge, he ordered the Luftwaffe to destroy London. It was a grave error.
The British Air Force did not rise to the bait to defend London; they conserved what was left of their strength. More important, their airfields (and pilots) were given a much-needed respite to rebuild. Skilled use of a secret new weapon, Radar, then gave them a decided advantage over incoming German airplanes.
Though almost exhausted and down to its last few pilots, the RAF fought on in what was becoming a war of attrition in the air. Eventually, the heavy losses sustained by the Luftwaffe put an end to any real chances of German forces crossing the Channel. On September 17, following decisive losses, Hitler postponed the invasion of Britain. Instead of keeping up the pressure, the frustrated German dictator decided to ignore Goering's pleas for just a few more days to destroy Britain's air forces and turned eastward, to attack Russia.
In June 1941 when the German armed divisions poured into the east, Britain breathed a huge sigh of relief. Hitler's hatred of Communism blinded him to the risks involved; it was a colossal mistake. His involvement in the Balkans, where he feared a British attack against his flank from Greece, had delayed his assault on Russia. The oncoming winter would prove to be a deciding factor in the holocaust that ensued.
In September 1940, following a total blockade of the British Isles ordered by Hitler, U-boats sank 160,000 tons of British shipping. (In a time of great food shortages, even the Royal Family was issued ration books). These were called "the happy times" for German U-boat crews, idolized by adoring crowds as they set out into the Atlantic to wreak havoc on merchant ships bringing supplies from America. The British people, huddled in their air-raid shelters awaited the worst. Their defiance of the might of the German air force, their courage in carrying on "business as usual" and their slogan "London can Take it"" (relayed to the United States by radio commentators such as Edward R. Murrow) had a profound effect upon American opinion, especially upon the President.

In opposition to many in America who still thought that Britain's total defeat was only a mater of time, and a very short time at that, President Roosevelt came to the aid of the beleaguered island nation. He ordered his fleet to sink German submarines on sight. To meet the U-boat challenge, the US then provided Britain with Lend-Lease supplies in addition to handing over to the Royal Navy 50 much-needed destroyers. In November, British ships destroyed the Italian fleet at Taranto, putting it, like most of the French fleet before it, out of action for the rest of the war. Mussolini's grand boast of dominating what he called "mare nostrum" was defeated. The Royal Navy managed to keep control of the Mediterranean throughout the war.
In September, Japan had concluded a pact with the Axis powers in order to fulfil her designs on the Pacific, ranging from Hong Kong to Australia. On December 7, 1941 she seized her opportunity to attack. On the "day of infamy" so strongly proclaimed by Roosevelt, the Imperial Air force crippled the US Navy at Pearl Harbor. On December 11, Germany declared war on the US. Japanese forces then captured the British possessions of Malaya, Burma, Hong Kong and Singapore, the great symbol of the British Empire. They then advanced practically unopposed to the borders of India in the West and Australia in the South.
The Turn of the Tide
It seemed that the Japanese were unstoppable, but as had the Germans, they over-reached themselves. A string of successes was halted in May 1942 when they sustained heavy losses in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Germany too, suffered its first defeat when Hitler underestimated the strategic importance of Egypt. There, the British Eighth Army (the "Desert Rats") under Montgomery destroyed a German fighting machine of 250,000 men at the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. After being blocked by the winter snows and the fierce resistance of the Russians, in February 1943, a huge German army surrendered at Stalingrad.
Later in the year, Allied forces recaptured Sicily to invade Southern Italy, and all through the year, Russian troops continued to inflict heavy casualties on the Germans, who lost over 2,000 tanks and 1,392 airplanes at the decisive Battle of Kursk. The tide of war had turned irrevocably on the side of the allies. It was still heavy going in Italy, but bit by bit allied armies advanced up the peninsular, despite determined German resistance, recapturing Rome to bring Italy out of the war. The whole country had been taken by the spring of 1945. It was now time for the allies to invade fortress Europe.
On the sixth of June 1944, "D-Day" the invasion of the Continent by allied forces in Operation Overlord marked the beginning of the end of the war in the West. Years of meticulous planning and careful preparation paid off and hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers were landed within a few days with their equipment. Deceptive messages had led the Germans to concentrate their forces around the port of Calais. An expected German counterattack at the landing beaches did not come.
Some failures in the re-conquest of western Europe inevitably ensued, notably the efforts of Montgomery to end an early stalemate in Normandy by the airborne attempt to capture bridges over the Rhine, but steady progress brought British, Canadian, French and American forces into Germany. A failure of allied intelligence to spot 24 Nazi divisions gave the enemy temporary success in the Ardennes, at the Battle of the Bulge, but it was beaten back with heavy German losses. Hitler's exhausted forces in the west were finally brushed aside.
Back home, Londoners were once again forced into their underground shelters as V-1 rockets began to fall upon the city with terrifying effects. By September 1944, Germany still had enough resources to produce a thousand V-2 rockets a month, most of which were directed toward London. Only defeat of Germany would end the threat. In March 1945, the allies crossed the Rhine. In the east, a new Russian offensive began with 3,000,000 men polishing off one German division after another on an inexorable march to Berlin. In April, east met west as allied forces met with the Russians at the Elbe. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered.
The fall of Saipan in July had the same effect in the East. The War in Europe came to an end on May 8. The news eclipsed the news from Burma, where British forces under William Slim had stopped the Japanese efforts to invade India through Assam. By May 6, 1945, Burma had been retaken. The re-conquest was the most successful of all the campaigns British forces had undertaken during the whole war. It was the climax of a most difficult but brilliantly executed campaign.
The War in the Pacific came to an end on August 14, 1945. Japan surrendered only after the American Airforce dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Post-War Years
The great social-leveling influence of the War meant that Britains were anxious for change. Countless thousands of returning soldiers and sailors wanted a turn-around in the status quo. Members of British armed forces were considerably better educated than they had been in World War I. The soldier returning from the war was no longer in awe of his leaders; he had mixed loyalties. He was resentful of unemployment, wishing for a greater share in the nation's post-war restructuring, and he did not trust a Conservative government to tackle the enormous social economic and political problems, that they had done very little to solve between the wars. He wished for a change.

As a consequence, Winston Churchill, who led Britain to victory during the war, found himself as a member of the opposition when the election of 1945 returned the Labour Party to power with a huge majority. Under the Parliament of Clement Attlee, the new government began some of the greatest changes in Britain's long history---nothing less than a reconstruction of the nation.
The Labour Government struggled heroically to deal with the problems: to improve standards of living, move to a "mixed economy." close the trade gap, maintain its armed forces in sufficient strength to meet a new threat from Communist Russia, and to keep of its overseas bases. It succeeded in these aims remarkably well. During the dark early days of the War, economist William Beveridge had put forward proposals for postwar "cradle-to-grave" social security. The Government had taken on an emergency welfare responsibility; it provided milk for babies; orange juice and cod-liver oil for children.

It was now time for Labour to put the Beverage Plan into full operation. Family allowances had already been introduced before the War's end. A National School Lunch Act was passed in June, 1946. In 1948, the government introduced the National Health Service to proved free medical treatment for all, from the spectacles and false teeth, to maternity and child welfare services. Nationalization of the hospitals made nationwide care available for the injured and seriously ill. The "Welfare State" had begun.

The second major change brought about by the Labour Government, under Attlee, was to take control of industry and public utilities, and a two-year period beginning in 1946, saw the nationalization of the Bank of England; the coal industry; electricity and gas; air transport, along with road, rail and waterways. A total of 20 percent of all British industry had been taken into public ownership by 1950. (In August, 1947, the government operated its first atomic pile, at Harwell). Central control of the economy, which had proved so successful in wartime, was now a major undertaking in peacetime. It was achieved under terribly adverse economic conditions. Another crisis occurred in 1947.

Stringent financial measures, imposed to meet the enormous war debt, caused undue hardship that was only made worse by one of the worst winters on record, monstrous gales and floods wiped out farms and destroyed agricultural products. A fuel shortage severely curtailed exports, food was still severely rationed, and in 1948 even bread and potatoes were rationed (both had been exempt during the War). The author remembers well the little ditty "It had to B.U." that parodied a popular song of the time by referring to the Bread Unit.
In 1947, relief appeared in the form of the Marshall Plan, introduced by the US to help the European Economy recover. Along with the devaluation of the pound and an expansion of world markets, there was a revival of the spirit that had united the country during the War. The introduction of the Land-Rover to world markets in 1948 was a godsend for British exports. Britain was even able to join with the US in ferrying supplies to Berlin in the famous "Airlift" that began in July of that year. By 1950, rationing began to be phased out, though not until 1954 was meat rationing abolished.

Though the Labour Government did very little to develop the private sector, it can take credit for the building of giant hydro-electric schemes in the later 1940's, especially in the undeveloped areas of Scotland and Wales. In 1951, the Conservatives resumed control of the government. Under its slogan "You've Never Had It So Good," led by the aging Winston Churchill, economic prospects seemed to be on the upturn. In less than one year, the balance of payments deficit had become a surplus.
Compared to those of the developing nations of Southeast Asia and the rebuilt economies of Japan and Germany, however, Britain's pre-war industrial strength was severely weakened. The much-heralded Festival of Britain, held in London in 1951 has been seen by many in retrospect, not as a demonstration of the nation's strength, but as a product of British postwar weakness and a signal pointing to further decline. A fashionable joke at the time was that, like the Festival's Skylon, the country had no visible means of support. The Nation and the Commonwealth mourned the death of King George VI, who along with his queen Elizabeth, had done much to bring back dignity and honor to the monarchy. Yet there was a mood of optimism that received an another upturn with the coronation of the young queen Elizabeth, the first such ceremony to be televised.
Something of a miracle occurred just when the world's oil producing nations doubled the cost of their product: Britain herself became a major oil producer. Since 1962, she had been conducting seismic prospecting for oil and natural gas in the North Sea, and full-scale activities had begun in 1964, the first oil find came five years later. Great expansion of the oil fields then took place in the 1970's so that in 1979, the country's oil production exceeded its imports for the first time. Britain's ports also adapted to the new container vessels, spelling the end for such great traditional ports as Liverpool, Glasgow and East London.

Continuing violence between Catholics, committed to union with Eire and Protestants, committed to retaining their British identity, led to the Government imposing direct rule over Northern Ireland, but hopes for peace were shattered on "Bloody Sunday" when British troops opened fire on protesters at Londonderry (January 30, 1972). The IRA brought their violence to Britain, killing a leading Conservative M.P. in March. In Ireland, violence continued and Lord Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in August.

In 1974, the whole of Britain felt itself under siege from a vicious bombing campaign. Violence continued almost unabated. In 1985 the Anglo-Irish Agreement was an attempt to end it, with both Britain and the Irish Republic agreeing to confer over the problems and to work together against terrorism. It took the outrage of the Inniskillen bombing in 1998, however, to shock both sides into realizing that governments could do little; peace had to come from the initiatives of the people themselves.
Along with most of the industrialized nations of the world, Britain entered a period of depression in the 1970's. A tremendous blow to British pride came in February, 1971 when Rolls-Royce declared bankruptcy, forcing the government to bail out the company to avoid job losses and to restore national prestige. Britain's post-war lead in the production of motor-cycles had long been surrendered to the Japanese. In 1974, the great strike by the country's coal miners (over the government's "freeze" on wages) caused the Conservatives to lose the general election but under Labour, inflation spiraled and economic decline continued despite the social contract between the government and the trade unions.
Bitter confrontation between unions and government continued to escalate. A strike by London dock workers idled hundreds of ships and prevented goods from being exported. In March, 1979 Prime Minister Callaghan lost a vote of confidence by one vote in the House of Commons and Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher became the nation's first woman Prime Minister in May. Her promises to cut income taxes, scale down social services and reduce the role of the state in daily life had wide appeal and gave her a large majority. Many in Britain also wished to curb the power of the unions, which they believed had grown into a monster, almost out of control.
Margaret Thatcher
Though married to a millionaire, Margaret Thatcher was perceived as a grocer's daughter, hard-working and thrifty, a complete no-nonsense person. She was the first female Prime Minister in the nation's history and gained her reputation as "the iron lady" for her tight control of Britain's monetary policy. Her emphasis on "self-help" encouraged private enterprise, but her cutting back of expenditures on health, social services and education made her extremely unpopular with the masses. Then, in 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, claiming sovereignty over the small group of islands they called the Islas Maldivas in the South Atlantic that was home to a few thousand British settlers.

Prime Minister Thatcher sent a task force to recapture the islands; and after two months, the better-trained and disciplined British infantry, aided by its highly maneuverable airplanes (launched from carriers), won the day. The nation was jubilant, and Mrs. Thatcher was regarded as something of a national hero. The problems resulting from the country fast-becoming multi-national, with whole areas of the larger cities occupied by those whose religion, dress, food and social mores were considered "anti-British" were swept aside in a euphoria of jingoism.
Mrs. Thatcher's government was also helped by the splitting off of some Labour members to the Social Democratic Party, who later joined with the Liberals in "the Alliance." Then, in Mrs. Thatcher's second government, begun on such an optimistic note, the miners went on strike to protest the closing of many pits deemed unprofitable. Under their dynamic and outspoken leader Arthur Scargill, the miners also protested against overtime work. The bitterness caused by the strikes and the insensitivity of the government to their demands deeply divided the whole of British society. The Conservatives, once again helped by a split in opposition ranks, retained their control of the government. Its legislation, the closing of so many pits, and the switch to oil, had defeated the unions.
Mrs. Thatcher continued her policies of tight economic control, the privatization of industry and "dismantling" (when possible) of the Welfare State. Privatization of British Gas, British Telecom, the Water Authorities, British Airways and the electricity industry (termed by Macmillan as 'the family silver") proved a godsend to government revenues and also created a new class of British shareholders. The 1980's indeed, despite riots in the deprived areas of some of England's biggest cities, and continued IRA terrorist attacks, were a decade of prosperity (many immigrants, at the bottom of the social scale, especially those from the West Indies and some African states would disagree).

The number of videos acquired by British families was far greater than those in the US or Europe. The British were, on the whole, better fed, better housed, better clothed, cleaner and warmer than at any time in their history. No wonder the Labour opposition was in complete disarray. Spirits were also warmed in July, 1981 when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer (and another kind of spirit benefited from the "real-ale" campaign that protested against the mass production of pasteurized beer).
In addition, many promising development in science occurred. In 1974, mainly with income derived from the sale of Beatles records, the computed axial tomography scanner was developed in England, revolutionizing diagnostic medicine in immunology, (essential for organ transplants). In July, 1978, British doctors at London's Oldham Hospital created the world's first "test tube baby" Louis Brown. British scientists retained their lead. The 1990's saw the birth of the famous sheep Dolly (the first mammal produced from a donor cell taken from an adult rather than from an embryo), and then Polly, a transgenic animal produced through cloning.
Britain was also busy creating its own "silicon valleys" adapting the new micro-chip technology to replace traditional industries. In 1981, the Humber Bridge was completed; at 4,626 feet the world's longest Suspension Bridge. The world's longest high-speed optical fiber link connected Birmingham with London. British television projected an image of quality throughout the world. In addition, one of Britain's oldest shoe companies, now named Reebok, made impressive gains in the world market in competition with Nike.
General optimism, however, was tempered with distrust of one who was acquiring almost dictatorial powers, and in 1990, the Iron Lady's imposition of the "Poll Tax" caused unrest and street demonstrations. (The tax was an attempt to reform local government and finance by replacing household rates, which made each voter bear a full share of the costs incurred by prodigal spending). Inflation and interest rates also remained alarmingly high. Mrs. Thatcher's decision to send British land and sea forces into the Gulf to participate in the United Nations multi-national task force raged against the government of Iraq divided the country, especially when it was learned that English casualties came mostly from "friendly" (i.e. US) fire.
The government was mainly split by the question of integration into Europe, with some prominent members disagreeing with the purchase of the Westland Helicopter by Americans rather then Europeans. Other such issues, heightened by what Sir Geoffrey Howe (deputy leader of her own party) called her anti-European paranoia, brought a challenge to Thatcher's leadership, and in November, 1990, the Thatcher Era came to an end. The longest ministry of the century, it had glorified the Victorian values of self-help and nationalism.
For many, the main achievement of the Iron lady was to free her country from the iron grip of the trade unions. For others, it was the restoration of British pride in the victory in the Falklands. For most, it was apparent that Britain was beginning to come to terms with the loss of much of its heavy industry and the increasing reliance on finance, communications, oil, insurance, tourism, accounting and other service industries.
John Major & Tony Blair
John Major then took over the reigns of the Conservative Party as Prime Minister. He was committed to keeping "Thatcherism" alive. The unions were not going to regain their former powers, despite public sentiment in favor of the miners and as debatable as the benefits of privatization had proved, there was no going back to the old days of nationalized industries (and council houses, which had been offered for sale to private owners).

What must not be overlooked in the polices of "Thatcherism" was the influence upon intellectuals and government policymakers alike of "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek (first published in 1944). On Hayek's 90th birthday, Mrs. Thatcher wrote that none of what her government had achieved would have been possible without the values and beliefs "that set us on the right road and provide the right sense of direction." As a result of reading the book, Anthony Fisher founded the Institute of Economic Affairs in London which was to be the most important source of free-market ideas in Britain. By the mid-90's, there was very little to divide the Labour and Conservative parties on the central principles of economic management.
When Major was first elected, Britain was still saying "No" to socialism. By the general election of 1992, leading magazines (particularly in the US) wrote of the death of the Labour Party eventhough it had abandoned its policy of nuclear disarmament, forgotten that it had preached in favor of public ownership of the means of production and exchange, embraced the European community and purged from within the unrepresentative labor bosses. Its motto "It's Time for a Change" seemed to appeal to most Britons; not a single poll showed the Conservatives winning. But once again, the desire for continuity overrode the desire for change, John Major was returned to power.

Yet as early as 1993, the winds of change were blowing strong. Many Conservative M.P.'s were in open rebellion over Europe. They were told to support Major's European policy or bring down the government. The warm afterglow of the Gulf War had dissipated rapidly and continuing economic problems and uncertain leadership ate away Major's popularity.
Leading Tories wanted to scuttle any deals Britain had made at Maastricht; they feared that British industry would be subject to European regulations in working conditions and labor relations. Hundreds of Tory candidates were in open rebellion over Major's fence straddling on Europe; the Euro-skeptics determined to sabotage their leader. Why should they force Britain to enter a stagnant Europe? In addition, continuing revelations in the daily newspapers about scandals involving leading Tories doomed Mr. Major.

Despite the fact that the economy was recovering and inflation was at a 30-year low, the sale of tens of thousands of public housing (at bargain prices), perhaps the greatest gift of wealth to the working class in British history, putting the country far ahead of the US and Europe in the percentage of housing units owner-occupied, and despite the highest growth rate and the lowest unemployment in Europe, Labour won a landslide victory in 1997. Tony Blair was thus able to inherit an economy free from the dreaded "British disease" (militant trade unions, over-regulation, vacillating government policies and a foolish disdain toward enterpreneurship).
The election took place only two years after Labour had rid itself of the clause in its constitution that called for the "common ownership of production, distribution and exchange." It was particularly anxious to keep the billions of dollars that had been invested annually in the UK by the US, Japan, Korea and others during the 16 years of Conservative rule. The new brand of socialism was hardly distinguishable from that of Mrs. Thatcher but the move of Labour to the center was expedited by the popularity of its leaders.
The question of just how much should Britain integrate itself into Europe remained a thorny issue with the new government. It was now joined by a much more ancient problem: that of devolution with the British Isles, with powerful voices being raised in Scotland and Wales for more self-government, and the seemingly insoluble problem of Northern Ireland casting a deep shadow over the entire so-called United Kingdom.

On March 1, 1979 (St. David's Day) the people of Wales voted overwhelmingly against devolution. The reasons were many (they are discussed in full in my "Brief History of Wales" and "The Referendum of 1979." Too many feared changes in the statues quo; the work of the anti-devolutionists, led by such influential Welsh M.P.'s as Neil Kinnock (with his eyes on the Prime Minister's job) was done only too well. But in 1997 a new referendum was held in which, by a small majority, the people of Wales chose an Assembly of their own, despite heavily financed campaigns against it. This time, they had been supported by the Labour Party, led by Tony Blair.
Scotland, meanwhile, voted overwhelmingly in favor of its own Assembly. The reasons are given at length in my "Brief History of Scotland," but are also summarized below:

Though very much a minority party, and still suffering from the stigma attached to the very idea of nationalism during war years, (the Scottish National Party) SNP had begun to build its organizational skills and work on political strategy; its share of the vote steadily grew. This was also a period of intense activity in Wales by members of Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales, and by the fervent and some say overzealous and destructive activities of the Welsh Language Society Cymdeithas yr Iaith Cymraeg. In any case, discontent in both areas of Britain led to a feverish proliferation of committees soon at work in Westminster looking at further measures of devolution for Scotland and Wales.

The government published its proposals for a devolved Scottish assembly in November 1975. It would have no revenue raising powers and sovereignty would be retained in Westminster. Though prospects for passage looked good, the wide range of competing priorities for government attention took away the time needed for the Callaghan government to devote to the issue. Labour, fearing loss of support in Scotland to the SNP, was also still deeply divided on the question and the extent of devolution. The government's program was bound to fail: the Bill was headed for defeat.

Eighteen years later, the results were reversed. On September 11, 1997, four days after the trauma of Lady Diana's funeral, the referendum resulted in the decision to give back a Parliament to Scotland by a 3-1 margin. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose Labour Party had actively campaigned for passage of the devolution bill, called the results a step in the process of "modernizing Britain." Hollywood movie star, Scotsman Sean Connery (who did not appear in "Braveheart") campaigned hard and contributed a great deal of cash to the campaign, invoking the 1370 Declaration of Arbroath, "It is not for glory, riches or honours we fight, but only for liberty, which no good man loses but with his life."
The decision gives Scotland an Assembly with tax-levying powers, unlike the much weaker "talking-shop" that the Welsh are going to be saddled with as the result of their own (barely) successful referendum. The Scots will be given the broad authority to legislate in a host of sectors, but Westminster has the right to "reserve" or "withhold" many powers (constitutional matters, foreign policy, defense, and national security, border controls, monetary and fiscal matters, common markets for goods and services, employment law, and social security).
For the people of Wales and Scotland (and no less, the people of England), the decision to approve the Labour Government's plans for separate assemblies, may prove to be one of the most important ones in their long histories. In the councils of Europe, three voices will be heard instead of one: three equal voices, sharing a unique British heritage, but each proud of its own distinctiveness as cultural and political units. Westminster must have breathed a sigh of relief that the problems of devolution for Wales and Scotland were settled so amicably. Would the Irish question follow the same road? The problem of Europe remained for Tony Blair; in addition, there was the age-old question of what to do about the House of Lords.
In many ways, the Upper Chamber had become an anachronism. The very idea of non-elected, hereditary legislators seemed ridiculous in a country that prided itself on its democratic institutions. The old arguments about the need for a second chamber to act as a brake on any impetuousness showed by the government of the day had long since disappeared. Time and time again the Lords had obstructed legislation that would have surely benefited the nation. Their defense of ancient privilege had often blinded them to the realities of British political life since the time of Oliver Cromwell. Their record on Ireland was appalling, with their obstruction of Home Rule Bills, but it could be matched by many other areas in which they had excelled in their obstinacy.
Leaving aside century after century of attacks on the privileges (and power) enjoyed by the Lords, it was the budget of Lloyd George in 1909 that really stirred up the pot. The landed aristocracy saw his attempts to tax the rich as the beginning of the end of all rights of property. When the Lords rejected his bill, Lloyd George threatened to swamp them with five hundred new peers. Yet all attempts at reform eventually died down lacking a concerted opinion as to what kind of second chamber the country should support. The Parliament Bill of 1911 was thus a weak compromise: all the hereditary peers and bishops would stay in the House, but their powers of delay would be reduced to two years: it continued to remain a powerful revising chamber.
The advent of the First World War postponed the move to exclude hereditary peers from the Upper House. A conference held in 1917, however, faced the old difficulty of "the paralysing perplexity of so many alternatives." The Commons also feared that an elected upper chamber would offer a serious challenge to its own powers. In 1922, Lloyd George became notorious for selling lordships to the highest bidder; and the old aristocracy found itself rapidly outnumbered by the new captains of industry and leading financiers on the benches of the chamber. The newcomers proved just as anxious to preserve their newly-gained privileges as their hereditary colleagues.
Another crisis occurred in 1960 when Antony Edgwood Benn, a promising and ambitious Labour M.P. was duly elevated to the peerage upon the death of his father (who had been appointed as a Labour peer only twenty years before). As a peer, the younger Benn was refused admission to the Hose of Commons when he came to take his usual seat. A private bill, to allow him to resign his peerage, was defeated. It took four years of contentious debate to settle the matter, but it was evident that the House of Lords needed some drastic changes. The days of complacency were over.
In 1967, the Labour Party announced its plans to reduce the powers of the Lords and to eliminate its hereditary basis. Once again, however, it was willing to compromise in the uncertainly of what was to replace the second chamber. Many Labour M.P.'s wished to abolish the Upper House altogether, but a compromise was reached: only minor changes were effected. In the late 1990's, the government of Tony Blair and is centrist Labour Party, is still grappling with the problem of the Lords, a problem that perhaps exemplifies the struggle of Britain to adjust itself to the modern world.
There is nothing in the nation's proud past that would prevent a satisfactory solution to the problem of the privileges enjoyed by the House of Lords. While England my no longer Rule the waves, it is perfectly capable of putting its own house in order, as Wales and Scotland have shown. The past two thousand years have shown a resilient people, proud and independent; a people who will continue to give so much to the world, in art, literature, politics, science and technology, exploration, social welfare and sport; but above all, in the difficult art of compromise.

Williams, Peter. 2007. Narrative Histories. Retrieved from
Peter Williams Ph.D Biography
< back to Peter's The History of England
Peter N. Williams was born in Mancot, a little village in Flintshire, North Wales, just inside the border with England. Brought up in the industrial town of Flint, he was educated at King¹s School, Chester and at the University College, Swansea, South Wales.
After arriving in the United States in l957, Peter served with the US Army in Germany with an artillery unit. Following his military service, he taught high school in Delaware for a number of years before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Delaware. He then taught English at the university before becoming chairman of the English Department at Delaware Technical and Community College. He is now the editor of and The Eagle and Dragon (the official publication of the National Welsh American Foundation).
Founder of the Welsh Society of Delaware, and a director of the National Welsh American Foundation, Peter was honored for his work on behalf of Wales and Welsh Americans by being made a member of the Gorsedd at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1999. He is the author of The Sacred Places of Wales; From Wales to the Lehigh, the David Thomas Story; the Seven Wonders of Wales: a New look; The History of Wales in Verse; Wales from A to Y; and the editor of 38 Hymns in Welsh and English.
Visit Peter’s website

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