History and royalty in the UK

Overview of the most important facts from the history of Great Britain. The most outstanding features of the kings of England and their government. Places connected with royalty. The Queen is the official Head of State, is a symbol of the Unity of nation.

Рубрика История и исторические личности
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 28.07.2015
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History and royalty in the UK


The British Isles today are shared by 2 separate and independent states. The smaller of these is the Republic of Ireland with its capital Dublin. The larger, with London as its capital, is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This long title is the result of a complicated history.

The isalnd of Great Britain contains three “nations” which were separate at early stages of their history: England , Wales and Scotland. Wales ahd become part of the English administrative system by the 16th century. Scotland was not completely united with England until 1707. The republic of Ireland became united in 1801. At that time the new country's name was introduced.

(The chart of rulers)

The chart covers the most important periods of British history. It shows the chief inhabitants and invadors of England until the Middle ages, then the royal Houses of England (until 1603) and of Britain ( after 1603). There have been kings and queens thoughout British history , there have been magnificent royal palaces to house them, and today many of these places survive as national treasure- glorious monuments to the long and fascinating history of sovereign state.

(Dates of British history)

Some facts from the history

history royalty britain

Prehistoric Britain was a period in the human occupation of Great Britain. The invaders , known as Vickings, or Danes returned again and again to attack England. At first they didn't settle, and the English had to pay tribute. In the ninth century they conquered and settled in the extreme north and west of Scotland and also some coastal regions of Ireland. They held the English crown for 24 years. 3 Danish kings, one after another, ruled over England; one of them Canute was at the same time king of England, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.the rule of the Danish kings ended in 1035 after Canute's death.

In 1066 an invading army of the Normans won the victory at the battle of Hastings; as a result of this single battle William, Duke of Normandy was crowned king of England and became known as William the Conqqueror. Unlike the Germanic invasions, the Norman one was small-scale.

For 2 hundred years the English people were at war with the Danes coming from Denmark and Norsemen invading from Scandinavia. King Alfred of the Saxon kingdom of Wessex first took part in the battles when he was a boy of 16. After King Saint Ethelred's death the Witan (the meeting of wise men) passed over his two sons and elected his younger brother Alfred king. The Witan chose well. Alfred was a great ruler. He organized resistance to the Vickings and built a fleet of ships and fortification on the coast; under his leadership the small kingdom were united to fight against the invaders.King Alfred was not only an able warrior but also a dedicated scholar. After the victory over the Danes he did much for educating his people, opening schools for nobility and asking scholars to translate into English masterpieces of world literature; he is also famous for working out the English code.

Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter, literally "Great Paper"), also called Magna Carta Libertatum (Great Charter of Freedoms), is an English legal charter, originally issued in the year 1215. It was written in Latin.

Magna Carta required King John of England to proclaim certain rights (mainly of his barons), respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or fettered -- most notably the writ of habeas corpus, allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment.

Magna Carta was arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today in the English speaking world. Magna Carta influenced the development of the common law and many constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution. Many clauses were renewed throughout the Middle Ages, and continued to be renewed as late as the 18th century. By the second half of the 19th century, however, most clauses in their original form had been repealed from English law.

Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects (the barons) in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded by the 1100 Charter of Liberties in which King Henry I voluntarily stated what his own powers were under the law.

In practice, Magna Carta mostly did not limit the power of the King in the Middle Ages; by the time of the English Civil War, however, it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law.

Magna Carta is normally understood to refer to a single document, that of 1215. Various amended versions of Magna Carta appeared in subsequent years however, and it is the 1297 version which remains on the statute books of England and Wales.

The Wars of the Roses (1453-1487) were a series of dynastic civil wars fought in England between supporters of the Houses of Lancaster and York. Although armed clashes had occurred previously between supporters of Lancastrian King Henry VI and Richard, Duke of York, head of the rival House of York, the first open fighting broke out in 1455 and resumed more violently in 1459. Henry was captured and Richard became Protector of England, but was dissuaded from claiming the throne. Inspired by Henry's Queen, Margaret of Anjou, the Lancastrians resumed the conflict, and Richard was killed in battle at the end of 1460. His eldest son was proclaimed King Edward IV after winning a crushing victory at the Battle of Towton early in 1461.

After minor Lancastrian revolts were suppressed in 1464 and Henry was captured once again, Edward fell out with his chief supporter and advisor, the Earl of Warwick (known as the "Kingmaker"), who tried first to supplant him with his jealous younger brother George, and then to restore Henry VI to the throne. This resulted in two years of rapid changes of fortune, before Edward IV once again won a complete victory in 1471. Warwick and the Lancastrian heir Edward, Prince of Wales died in battle and Henry was murdered immediately afterwards.

A period of comparative peace followed, but Edward died unexpectedly in 1483. His surviving brother Richard of Gloucester first moved to prevent the unpopular family of Edward's widow, Elizabeth Woodville, from participating in government during the minority of Edward's son, Edward V, and then seized the throne for himself, using the suspect legitimacy of Edward IV's marriage as pretext. This provoked several revolts, and Henry Tudor, a distant relative of the Lancastrian kings who had nevertheless inherited their claim, overcame and killed Richard in battle at Bosworth in 1485.

Yorkist revolts flared up in 1487, resulting in the last pitched battles. Sporadic rebellions continued to take place until Perkin Warbeck, the last (and fraudulent) Yorkist pretender, was executed in 1499.

The wars were fought largely by the landed aristocracy and armies of feudal retainers, with some foreign mercenaries. Support for each house largely depended upon dynastic factors, such as marriages within the nobility, feudal titles, and tenures. It is sometimes difficult to follow the shifts of power and allegiance because nobles acquired or lost titles through marriage, confiscation or attainture. For example, the Lancastrian patriarch John of Gaunt's first title was Earl of Richmond, the same title which Henry VII later held, while the Yorkist patriarch Edmund of Langley's first title was Earl of Cambridge. However it was not uncommon for nobles to switch sides and several battles were decided by treachery.

The war was disastrous for England's already declining influence in France, and by the end of the struggle few of the gains made over the course of the Hundred Years' War remained, apart from Calais which eventually fell during the reign of Queen Mary. Although later English rulers continued to campaign on the continent, England's territories were never reclaimed. Indeed, various duchies and kingdoms in Europe played a pivotal role in the outcome of the war; in particular the kings of France and the dukes of Burgundy played the two factions off each other, pledging military and financial aid and offering asylum to defeated nobles and pretenders, to prevent a strong and unified England making war on them.

The post-war period was also the death knell for the large standing baronial armies, which had helped fuel the conflict. Henry, wary of any further fighting, kept the barons on a very tight leash, removing their right to raise, arm, and supply armies of retainers so that they could not make war on each other or the king. England did not have another standing army until Cromwell's New Model Army. As a result the military power of individual barons declined, and the Tudor court became a place where baronial squabbles were decided with the influence of the monarch.

Henry VIII (28 June 1491 - 28 January 1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland, later King of Ireland and claimant to the Kingdom of France, from 21 April 1509 until his death. Henry was the second monarch of the House of Tudor, succeeding his father, Henry VII.

Henry VIII was a significant figure in the history of the English monarchy. Although in the great part of his reign he brutally suppressed the Protestant reformation of the church, a movement having roots with John Wycliffe of the 14th century, he is more popularly known for his political struggles with Rome. These struggles ultimately led to his separating the Anglican church from the Roman hierarchy, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and establishing himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Although some claim he became a Protestant on his death-bed, he advocated Catholic ceremony and doctrine throughout his life. Royal backing of the English Reformation was left to his heirs, the devout Edward VI and the renowned Elizabeth I, whilst daughter Mary I temporarily reinstated papal authority over England. Henry also oversaw the legal union of England and Wales (see Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542). He is noted for his six marriages.

The English Civil War (1642-51) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. The first (1642-46) and second (1648-49) civil wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third war (1649-51) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The Civil War ended with the Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

We can't help mentioning a very important person in the history of the U.K.- Oliver Cromwell. He (born April 25, 1599 Old Style, died September 3, 1658 Old Style) was an English military and political leader best known for his involvement in making England into a republican Commonwealth and for his later role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was one of the commanders of the New Model Army which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England, conquered Ireland and Scotland, and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.

Cromwell was born into the ranks of the middle gentry, and remained relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life, at times his lifestyle resembling that of a yeoman farmer until his finances were boosted thanks to an inheritance from his uncle. After undergoing a religious conversion during the same decade, he made an Independent style of Puritanism a core tenet of his life. Cromwell was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640-49) Parliaments, and later entered the English Civil War on the side of the "Roundheads" or Parliamentarians.

An effective soldier (nicknamed "Old Ironsides") he rose from leading a single cavalry troop to command of the entire army. Cromwell was the third person to sign Charles I's death warrant in 1649 and was an MP in the Rump Parliament (1649-1653), being chosen by the Rump to take command of the English campaign in Ireland during 1649-50. He then led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650-51. On April 20, 1653 he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as the Barebones Parliament before being made Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland on 16 December 1653 until his death. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, but when the Royalists returned to power in 1660, his corpse was dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Cromwell has been a very controversial figure in the history of the British Isles - a regicidal dictator to some historians (such as David Hume and Christopher Hill) and a hero of liberty to others (such as Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner). In Britain he was elected as one of the Top 10 Britons of all time in a 2002 BBC poll. His measures against Irish Catholics have been characterized by some historians as genocidal or near-genocidal, and in Ireland itself he is widely hated.

Also relations between Russia and England go back to the middle of the 16th century, when on August , 1553 an unknown ship was seen off the White Sea coast near the mouth of the Northern Dvina. It was an English ship, one of the 3 ships sent to northern Russia by the English trading company.the commander of the ship, Richard Chancellor, went ashore and made his way to Moscow as the first English ambassador to Russia where he was recieved by Ivan the Fourth. In 1556 Chancellor returned to England; on board his ship was the first Russian ambassador Osip Nepeya who carried a letter of introduction to Queen Mary from Ivan the 4th.

Places connected with royalty

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London (and historically as The Tower), is a historic monument in central London, England, on the north bank of the River Thames. It is located within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and is separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill.

The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. Each monarch has left some kind of personal mark on it. For many centuries the Tower was a fortress, a palace, a prison and a royal treasure. It's a museum of arms and armour now, where the Crown Jewels are kept. The grey stones of the Tower could tell terrible and bloody stories of violence and unjustice. In 1100 the Tower of London received its first state prisoner, Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham, who was incarcerated for extortion. He was the first and one who managed to escape. Most enemies of the Crown were beheaded on Tower Hill, including 2 of Henry's VII queens- Anne Bolyn and Katherine Howard, and the “9 -day-queen” Lady Jane Grey.

Execution of Anne Boleyn

On 8 January 1536 news reached the king and the queen that Catherine of Aragon had died. Upon hearing the news of her death, Henry and Anne reportedly decked themselves in bright yellow clothing, yellow being the colour of mourning in Spain at the time. Henry called for public displays of joy regarding Catherine's death. The queen was pregnant again, and she was aware of the consequences if she failed to give birth to a son. Her life could be in danger, as with both wives dead, Henry would be free to remarry and no one could claim that the union was illegal. Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and was badly injured. It seemed for a time that the King's life was in danger. When news of this accident reached the queen she was sent into shock and miscarried a male child that was about 15 weeks old. This happened on the very day of Catherine's funeral, 29 January 1536. For most observers, this personal loss was the beginning of the end of the royal marriage.

Given the King's desperate desire for a son, the sequence of Anne's pregnancies has attracted much interest. Author Mike Ashley speculated that Anne had two stillborn children after Elizabeth's birth and before the birth of the male child she miscarried in 1536. Most sources attest only to the birth of Elizabeth in September 1533, a possible miscarriage in the summer of 1534, and the miscarriage of a male child, of almost four months gestation, in January 1536. As Anne recovered from what would be her final miscarriage, Henry declared that his marriage had been the product of witchcraft. The King's new mistress, Jane Seymour, was quickly moved into new quarters. This was followed by Anne's brother, George Boleyn, being refused a prestigious court honour, the Order of the Garter, which was instead given to Jane Seymour's brother.

Five men, including Anne's own brother, were arrested on charges of incest and treason, accused of having sexual relationships with the queen. On 2 May 1536 Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. She was accused of adultery, incest and high treason. Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death by the peers. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May 1536. At 8 a.m. on 19 May 1536, the queen was executed on Tower Green. She knelt upright, in the French style of executions. The execution was swift and consisted of a single stroke.

The last prisoner to be beheaded on Tower Hill was Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat. The last person to be sent to the Tower was Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess. The ravens used to find food in the Tower.they still live there as a part of history. There is a legend that if the ravens disappear the Tower will fall. That's why the birds are carefully guarded. The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders, popularly called “Befeeters”. Their everyday uniform is in blac in k and red, but on state occasions they wear a ceremonial dress which was in fashion in the 16th century.

Westminster is a part of London has always been connected with royalty and government. You can see the Palace of Westminster with famous Big Ben. King Edward the Confessor (last Saxon king) first decided to build a palace beside the River Thames in the 11th century. His successors extended the palace and made it their main residence. Gradually, Westminster became the centre of government and justice. Over the centuries power passed from the monarch to Parlament, but not without a few problems. For example, during the reign o James I Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Parliament.

James's son, Charles I, thought that he could rule the country without the help of Parliament, but these dreams led to his death. He tried to make parliament do what he wanted , but after years of quarrelling he finally lost his patience. One day he burst into the House of Commons with several hundreds of men and tried to arrest its leaders. They had alerady escaped. But the struggle between king and parliament wasn't finished and civil war began, which only stopped when Charles was finally beheaded in 1649. Nowadays the Queen still opens the new session of Parliament each autumn by reading “The Queen's Speech”, which describes the main policies of the government. However it takes place in the House of Lords, the Queen is not allowed to enter the House of Commons. This tradition goes back to the time of Charles I and reminds that the monarch must not try to govern the country.

The Houses of Parliament were rebuilt in 1835 after being completely destroyed by fire. It was also bombed on night of 10 May, 1941.

St. James's palace. Originally it was formed part of the Palace of Westminster. Henry VII acquired it in 1532. Henry's gatehouse, the entrance to the palace, still stand on the North Frontside the Chapel Royal. Only a few original features remai of the South Front, where the royal apartments were built. It was destroyed by fire in 1809. in 1827 the Queen Anne Room was built on the South Front, as the approach from the grand Staircase, which became the Entree Room and the Throane Room. Today the Throne Room, decorated in white, gold and crimson, is often used as a venue for official functions; here the Lord Mayor and Councillors of the City of Westminster present their address of welcome to visiting Heads of State. St.James's is also home to several memebers of the Royal family, it is a busy working palace housing the offices of the Prince of Wales and various Royal Household departments.

Kensington Palace.

In 1688 James II was exiled and William of Orange was invited to rule Britain jointly with his wife, James's daughter Mary. They lived in Dutch palace of Whitehall and they came to England. The following year William bought Noyyingham House, a modest suburban Mansion, soon it was renamed Kensington House and later Kensington Palace. The house was ideal, but too small for the royal houswhold. In 1690-1691 Mary added the Queen's Staircase leading to the Queen's gallery; King's gallery forms part of the South Front built in 1695. the charming orangery was added in 1704. george III deserted the palace in favour of Buckingham Palace, but his daughter (princess Victoria of Kent) was born here in 1819. today Kensington continues its long history as a residence for members of the royal family. The best- known residents in recent years were Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret.

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal entertaining, and a major tourist attraction. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and acquired by George III in 1761 as a private residence, known as "The Queen's House". It was enlarged over the next 75 years, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th century, including the present-day public face of Buckingham Palace. The building is occasionally still referred to as "Buck House".

The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of brightly coloured scagliola and blue and pink lapis, on the advice of Sir Charles Long. King Edward VII oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle epoque cream and gold colour scheme. Many smaller reception rooms are furnished in the Chinese regency style with furniture and fittings brought from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and from Carlton House following the death of King George IV. The Buckingham Palace Garden is the largest private garden in London, originally landscaped by Capability Brown, but redesigned by William Townsend Aiton of Kew Gardens and John Nash. The artificial lake was completed in 1828 and is supplied with water from the Serpentine, a river which runs through Hyde Park.

The state rooms form the nucleus of the working Palace and are used regularly by Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family for official and state entertaining. Buckingham Palace is one of the world's most familiar buildings and more than 50,000 people visit the palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the royal garden parties.

The palace contains 77,000 square metres of floorspace (828,818 sq ft). The principal rooms of the palace are contained on the piano nobile behind the west-facing garden facade at the rear of the palace.

Buckingham Palace was originally built for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, in the 18th century. Lots of king and queens lived there and tried to remodel it. In 1809 some of royal appartments were destroyed by fire. When George IV acceded to the throne in 1820 he instructed John Nash to remodel his childhood home. He retained the skeleton of the original house but extended the garden side.

Windsor Castle, a thousand-year-old fortress transformed into a royal palace. This well-known silhouette of a seemingly medieval castle was not created, however, until the 1820s by Jeffry Wyatville.

Windsor Castle, in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world and, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, is the oldest in continuous occupation. The castle's floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet (about 45,000 square metres).

Together with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, it is one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining. Her other two residences, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle, are the Royal Family's private homes.

Most of the Kings and Queens of England, later Kings and Queens of Great Britain, and later still kings and queens of the Commonwealth realms, have had a direct influence on the construction and evolution of the castle, which has been their garrison fortress, home, official palace, and sometimes their prison. The castle's history and that of the British monarchy are inextricably linked. Chronologically the history of the castle can be traced through the reigns of the monarchs who have occupied it. When the country has been at peace, the castle has been expanded by the additions of large and grand apartments; when the country has been at war, the castle has been more heavily fortified. This pattern has continued to the present day.

The Queen

She is the official Head of State, for many people she is a symbol of the Unity of nation. She is “Her most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth the Second by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the other realms and Territories Queens, Head of Comonwealth, Defender of the Faith”. The hereditary principle still operates and the Crown is passed on to the sovereign's eldest son. The queen has a certain role in state affairs not only through ceremonial functions. Her functions envolves:

- opening and closing Parliament;

- approving the appointment with Prime-Minister;

- giving her Royal Assent to bills;

- being a Head of Commonwealth;

- being a Head of the Church of England;

- Being a Commander-in-Chief of the armed Forces.

The powers of the monarch are not defined precisely. Theoretically every act of government is done in the Queen's name. In reality, everything is done on the advice of the elected Government, and the Monarch takes part in the decision -making process. Many members of the Royal Family undertake official duties in Britain and abroad. Their responsibilities reflect tradition, their personal interests. For example, among many titles Princess Anne is the Colonel-in-Chief of 11 Army regiments, the President of the Safe the Children Fund.

The royal family's money comes from 2 sources: government funds and their own personal wealth. In fact, on the one hand the Queen is the richest woman in the world, while on the other her power is limited. Parliament has had control of the monarch's finance since the 17th cemtury.

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