Five Important Events in the History of England
What are five important events in the history of England?
This is a very difficult question! England's had a very long, eventful history and picking just five events... well. Everyone you ask will probably have a different answer, based on which period in history they like best.
I'm going to pick events that changed England, or changed the way we thought about ourselves and the world around us. So, here is my list of five, which starts - predictably with:
The Norman Conquest
England changed a lot in 1066 - and even more in the years after the Battle of Hastings. Anglo-Saxon England was prosperous, civilised and largely at peace with itself and world. After the Battle of Hastings almost everything changed: language, government, law, dress, food, building style ... you name it.
The Black Death
Before the Black Death wiped out half the population, the English were a pious lot. They believed in the teachings of the Christian church, in salvation, redemption and punishment. The understood, and generally accepted, that some men were born peasants and some were born lords.
When the plague first struck, it was seen as a divine punishment for the people's sins. But as villages died and towns emptied, as the righteous lay dead beside the wicked - many began to question their faith and the right claimed by the powerful to govern the weak. When the plague had run its course, England had changed.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries
Medieval England was a place of towering church spires, of wealthy, powerful monasteries and - of course - catholic faith. Henry VIII, raised in that faith, staunchly defended it against the early whispers of reformation... until he wanted a divorce and the Pope refused to oblige.
Suddenly, it was acceptable for the king to dispense with Catholicism, to make himself head of the Church of England, and to decide that Catholic monasteries no longer had a place in his kingdom.
The audacious step gained the king several wifes, a son and daughter, and a vast amount of money. It also heralded decades of religious strife and changed England's landscape yet again.
The Execution of King Charles I
When the Black Death swept England, people began to question the divine rights of leadership. Three hundred years later, they did more than question. Instead, they executed the English King for treason, denying his 'divine right' to rule them. The Civil War, fuelled by religious zeal and hunger for power, changed England yet again. And while the monarchy was eventually restored, the way England is governed had changed forever.
The Acts of Union
England and Scotland had always been separate entities. And for much of their history they had been at war in one way or another. In 1603, the Union of Crowns, brought the monarchies of Scotland and England together, with King James VI of Scotland inheriting the English crown and ruling as King James I of England as well. In 1707, the Acts of Union completed the process begun over 100 years earlier - uniting the kingdoms of Scotland and England, and the Kingdom of Great Britain was born.
There you have it, my five important events in English history. No doubt, there are many others. So if you fancy digging a little deeper, or finding your own five, here are a few books to help out: