The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

Main events in British history

Chronological  list  of  main  events  in  early  history  of  Great  Britain

3000—2000 The Iberians and Beaker Folk inhabited England.

6th-3rd  centuries  В.  C.  —  The  Celts  invade  Britain  and  overcome  the  Iberians. London is just a small settlement, called Llyn-din (a lonely port in Celtic).

55  В.  C.  —  Julius  Caesar  lands  in Britain. 

54  В.  C.  —  The  second  invasion  of  the  Romans.

43  A.  D.  —  The  Romans  begin  to  conquer  the  south  of Brit­ain under the Emperor Claudius. The Romans call the land Britannia and its Celtic inhabitants Britons . Llyn-din  becomes Londinium. Latin, the language of Romans, influences the Celtic tongues.

lst-5th  centuries  A.  D.—  Britain  is  a  Roman  province.

407—410 The Roman army was withdrawn from England. During the Migration Period, waves of Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrive from the German lands. These Germanic tribes conquer the Celtic population (or Britons) and give England its name Angle land. They speak their languages. That is why the English and the German of this period resemble each other.


5th(449)-7th  centuries  —  The  Anglo-Saxons  conquer Britain.

6th  (597)-7th  centuries  —  Conversion  of  the  Anglo-Saxons  to  Christianity.

793  —  The  Danes  begin  to  raid Britain. The struggle against the Danish invaders begins.

9th  century  (829)  —  Unification  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  kingdoms  into  the  kingdom  of England.

835  —  The  Anglo-Saxons  led  by  King  Egbert  defeat  the  Danes.

871  —  The  Danes  invade Wessex.

871-899  —  Reign  of  Alfred  the  Great.

886  —  Treaty,  fixing  the  boundaries  of  the  Danelaw.

991  —  King  of  England  begins  to  collect  Danegeld  tax.

1017-1035  —  Reign  of  the  Danish  king,  Canute,  in England.

1065 The foundation of Westminster Abbey.


1066  —  Battle  of Hastings. The Norman Conquest. The Duke of Normandy, William defeated Harold near Hastings. The French-speaking Normans (short for northmen) arrive from Normandy, the dukedom in the north of France. At the battle near Hastings, they defeat the Anglo-Saxons, and the Norman Duke William becomes the English king William I, the Conqueror. London (which is no longer Londinium) becomes the capital of the country. It is from the union of the Norman conquerors and the defeated Anglo-Saxons that the English people and the English language are born. First the Norman noblemen speak Norman French; the common people speak their own tongue. Later the mixture of these languages gives birth to modern English. Thus Latin, German and French have influenced English greatly.

1066-1087  —  Reign  of  William  the  Conqueror.

1069;  1071  —  Large  rebellions  break  out  against  Norman  rule  in England.

1086  —  Feudal  registration  in  England  (The  Domesday  Book – The Domesday survey was made).

1215 —  The Magna Carta (Charta) is signed by King John, who is forced by the nobles. The document is a guarantee of rights and the rule of law. The foundation of the parliamentary system is laid. The House of Lords is established.

1263 —  Merton College was founded at Oxford.

1265 —  The first English parliament was summoned by Simon de Montfort. The first House of Commons is elected. Thus the British Parliament (the first in the world) is established. It consists of the House of Lords (the upper house) and the House of Commons (the lower house). The members are MPs.

1277, 1282—3 —  King Edward I defeats the Welsh and awards his new-born son the noble title of the Prince of Wales. Since then, the eldest son of the British monarch is the Prince of Wales and his wife is the Princess of Wales.

1284 —  Peterhouse was founded as a college at Cambridge.

1314 —  The Scots under Bruce defeated the English at Bannockburn.

1337 — 1453 —  The Hundred Years War between England and France.

1381 —  The peasants’ uprising of Wat Tyler.

1431 —  Joan of Arc was burned by the English as a witch.

1440 —  Eton college was founded.

1455—85 —  The Wars of the Roses.

1476 —  William Caxton set up the first English printing press at Westminster.

1485 —  Richard III was defeated in battle on Bosworth Field by Henry Tudor.

1497 —  Henry VII patronized Cabot’s voyage to North America.

1516 —  Thomas More wrote Utopia.

1534 —  The Act of Supremacy was passed by Parliament which abolished papal authority in England.

1535-1542 —  Wales finally becomes the official part of England.

1536—9 —  All monasteries were dissolved.

1555 —  The Muscovy Company was chartered following Chancellor’s voyages to Russia.

1578—80 —  Francis Drake made his voyage around the world.

1588 —  The English navy defeated the Spanish Armada. The African Company was chartered.

1600 —  The East India Company was chartered.

1605 —  The Gunpowder Plot.

1640—60 —  The English bourgeois revolution.

1642—6 —  The first Civil war.

1648 —  The second Civil war.

1649 —  Charles I was executed and England was declared a Commonwealth - a republic is proclaimed under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, a London brewer. The conquest of Ireland was begun by Cromwell.

1653 —  Cromwell became Lord Protector.

1660 —  The restoration of monarchy took place.

1665 —  The Great Plague swept London, killing thousands of people.

1666 —  The fire destroyed much of the City of London. It breaks out in the City and quickly burns London’s wooden houses and buildings. Later London is rebuilt and becomes one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

1679 —  The Habeas Corpus Act was passed.

1689 —  The Bill of Rights was enacted by Parliament.

1694 —  The bank of England was founded. The British North America Act established the Dominion of Canada.

1701 —  The Act of Settlement was enacted by Parliament.

1707 —  The Union of Scotland and England was effected.

1768 —  The Royal Academy was founded. Captain Cook made his first voyage to Australia and New Zealand.

1775—83 —  The War of Independence.

1776 —  The American Declaration of Independence was issued.

1789 —  The French revolution began.

1801 —  Ireland is conquered, and the union of Great Britain and Ireland is called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The national flag, the Union Flag or the Union Jack, is established.

1805 —  At the battle of Trafalgar (a cape), Admiral Nelson defeats Napoleon’s invasion armies. Admiral Nelson is deadly wounded. Trafalgar Square in London is named after this event. The Nelson Column (or Monument) is in its centre.

1807 —  The Slave trade was abolished.

1811-12 —  The Luddite movement.

1815 —  The battle of Waterloo took place.

1819 —  The Peterloo Massacre took place.

1825 —  The Stockton and Darlington railway was opened.

1829 —  Peel established a civilian police force in London.

1832 —  The Reform Bill was passed by Parliament.

1834 —  The Poor Law Reform Act was passed.

1839 —  The Chartists’ Petition was rejected by Parliament.

1845-6 —  Ireland suffered the Great Potato Famine.

1846 —  The Corn Laws were repealed.

1848 —  Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto was published in London. The last Chartist Petition was drawn.

1851 —  The Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park.

1857 —  The Indian Mutiny broke out.

1861-5 —  The American Civil war.

1864 —  The First International was formed.

1867 —  The Reform Bill extended the franchise.

1868 —  The first Trades Union Congress was held.

1869 —  The Suez Canal was built.

1881 —  H. M. Hyndman founded the Social Democratic Federation.

1884 —  The Third Reform Bill extended the franchise to the population in rural districts.

1889 —  The London Dock strike led to the expansion of Trade Unionism. The Second International was founded.

1899—1902 —  The Boer War was fought in South Africa.

1900 —  The British Labour party was founded.

1904 —  An Entente Cordiale between France and England was effected.

1907 —  An Anglo-Russian Entente was effected.

1911 —  The Parliament Act restricted the veto power of the House of Lords.

1912 —  The Titanic (the best and the largest ship then) collides with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sinks. More than 1,500 lives perish.

1914-1918 —  World War I: Great Britain, France and Russia fight against Germany, Italy and Austria.

1916 —  The Easter Rising took place in Dublin.

1918 —  The Franchise Act extended the electorate to men and to women over thirty.

1919 —  The Versailles Peace Treaty was signed and the League of Nations was founded.

1920 —  The Communist Party of Great Britain was founded.

1921-1922 —  The Irish Free State was established. Ireland becomes a British dominion. Most of Ireland separates and becomes the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom.

1922 —  The official name of the country is changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

1924 —  The first Labour government was formed. Britain recognized the USSR.

1926 —  The Genaral Strike was held.

1928 —  The franchise was extended to women at 21.

1929 —  The World economic crisis started.

1930 —  The Daily Worker began to be published.

1931 —  The Statute of Westminster recognizes the independence of the dominions. They are united as the British Commonwealth of Nations, an association of selfgoverning autonomous states.

1938 —  The Munich Agreement was signed.

1939—45 — World War II: the USSR, Great Britain, France and the USA fight against Germany, Italy and Japan.

1940 —  Britain experienced a devastating defeat at Dunkirk.

1942 —  Fascist Germany lost a decisive battle at Stalingrad.

1944 —  D-Day. Anglo-American forces landed in Normandy on June 6th. The opening of the second front.

1945 —  The Potsdam Agreement was signed. The United Nations Organization was founded.

1947 —  The Nationalization Acts were passed. Independence was granted to India. The British Empire stops existing. The British Commonwealth of Nations becomes the Commonwealth of Nations.

1948 —  The National Health Service was established.

1949 —  NATO was formed.

1951 —  ’Britain’s Road to Socialism’ was first published.

1956 —  Britain participated in the Suez aggression against Egypt.

1958 —  CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) held its first march to Aldermaston.

1966 —  The Daily Worker became renamed the Morning Star.

1969 —  The voting age was reduced to 18. The British army was brought into Northern Ireland.

1971—2 —  The strike of the dockers of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

1972 —  The massacre of ‘Bloody Sunday’ took place in Londonderry.

1973 —  Britain joined the EEC (European Economic Community or Common Market). Britain dissolved the local parliament in Northern Ireland and imposed ‘direct rule’.

1979 —  Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister.

1982 —  The war for the Falkland Islands took place between Britain and Argentina.

1984—5 —  The year-old miners’ strike was held.

1987 —  Margaret Thatcher formed her third Conservative government.