The history of the United Kingdom stretches back over many centuries. Once the largest empire in the history of the world, United Kingdom history is still studied by most of the world to this day. Since the time of the Normans, the history of the United Kingdom has added many chapters. The United Kingdom today is a G8 nation and remains a major world power. Anyone planning a trip to the United Kingdom will certainly benefit from becoming familiar with the fascinating history of the United Kingdom.
When William the Conqueror was crowned King in 1066 at Westminster Abbey he began a tradition of monarchy that remains a part of United Kingdom history. Various Anglo-Saxon tribes had inhabited the area for many years, but the arrival of the Normans was a major point of change for United Kingdom history. King William I began taking over and building stone castles and organizing communities around these castles. This system of setting up monarchs to rule over the peasant class created a strict class divide that lasted throughout the ages and, some would argue, still holds sway to this day in the United Kingdom.
Over the years, English monarchs began attempts to stretch their empire to other neighboring territories. England history goes on to reflect the expansion of the British Empire to Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The acquisition of these countries bolstered England history and by the nineteenth century the United Kingdom was the greatest empire in the world, with more then a third of the world's population.
England history and the history of Scotland both contain intriguing stories of their own. The history of Scotland is wrought with bloody battles and the fierce independence of a people who refused to be conquered easily. Glorified in such movies as, Braveheart, the history of Scotland produced a culture that to this day retains an independent spirit. Many of the most famous Scottish castles were built as enormous towers to protect inhabitants from encroaching British forces.
The government of the United Kingdom developed over the years and many governments throughout the world still imitate its model. Although the monarch is considered to be the head of state and still technically holds full executive powers in the United Kingdom, it is the House of Lords and the House of Parliament under the guidance of the Prime Minister who run the government in practice. The role of the monarch has changed over the years, and more power has shifted to the Prime Minister and the two houses of Parliament as time passes. Many countries throughout the world (such as Canada and Australia), however, still recognize the British monarch as their head of state.
During the zenith of the British Empire in the nineteenth century the country produced some of the world's best literature and art in the history of English speaking folk. Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, J.K. Rowling, Oscar Wilde. and many, many more were born of the great British tradition. Older authors like Shakespeare, and more recent authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell also hailed from the United Kingdom.
The twentieth century saw the weakening of the United Kingdom as the first and second world wars shook Europe and crippled many economies. Although the United Kingdom has since reorganized itself into a prosperous and economically sound country, it is no longer the largest empire in neither the world nor the richest. The United Kingdom is, however, still a major player in world affairs. As a nuclear power and still retaining some of the most influential threads of an empire in the history of the world, the United Kingdom remains an important country.