General History - 750 years and older

100 years war750 Years Ago

Henry 4th circa 1400, was the first English King whose native language was English since the arrival of the Norman's.100 years war with France.  Magna Carta, the Kings loose their outright dictatorial rule.First steps to a democratic parliament.The end of over 1000 years of rule by "Foreigners" ?

Magna Carta
750 Years ago (1215) the Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede a tiny island in the Thames a few miles down stream from the Windsor castle. Some say the Magna Carta or Barons Charter as it was initially known was a key milestone in taking away the ultimate dictatorial powers of the Kings plus the first bill of human rights. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Langton brokered the deal between King John 1199-1215, and his Barons such that certain decisions could not be taken with out the agreement of the Barons.

The Barons had generally been appointed by a king anyway as massive owners of land given to them by the king in return for collecting taxes and supplying knights for the army. The Magna Carta also guaranteed the freedom of the church plus it stated that no freeman can be arrested without a trial. (Nothing was said about Serfs, that is workers virtually slaves to the Barons.)

750 years ago saw the founding of the first Universities in England. Oxford was the first initially established around the church of St Mary the Virgin with three colleges University, Balliol and Merton. Note the first university in Europe was started in Bologna, Italy some 200 years earlier. (1088) Prior to this, Circa 600 AD, centres of teaching in England were organised by the Catholic Church most notably following the evangelical work in Ireland by Roman Britain St Patrick and his disciples work in Scotland and England. (Yes Patrick was born in England but was Sainted by the Irish)

Teaching at this time would be largely reading, writing and languages on the backs of the arduous task of translating and copying religious books (into books made of dried sheep skin!)

Wales conquered; The English Jews, the financial pundits of the time were expelled.
750 years ago England finally conquered Wales under King Edward 1st (1284). Interesting to note that England ruled Ireland for longer than it has ruled Wales. Edward was said to be a model king of the time but he drummed up some fervent nationalism which culminated in the exiling of all Jews.
Some years later:
- Henry 3rd came to the throne (1327- 1377)
Henry 3rd reign can be divided into two, triumph and then disaster. The English were under attack from the Scots in the north and the French wanted their land back in Aquitane (Bordeaux area) Henry saw off both these aggressors and the English people loved him for it.

When Henry was 34 and had been King for 19 years disaster struck, The Black Death. This plague started in China and was carried to England, indeed the whole of Europe, by fleas on rats in trading ships. Henry saw 30% to 50% of his English subjects die. Perhaps this finished him, for the rest of his reign he was as useless as previously he had been brilliant.

Chaucer was born in 1342 during the periods of the Plague and lived for 58 years. He was the first English writer/poet to use the English language. Up to this time poets would have used Latin or French.

100 years war with France (1337 - 1453)
Not surprisingly the French wanted their land back that had been acquired by England with the amalgamation of the land ruled by the Norman's in France and their conquests in England. In the end the French retook the lot over a period when England was ruled by 5 different Kings. During the early stages England did well notably at the battle of Agincourt, just south of Calais. The English army was supreme, aided by well trained (farmer) soldiers who were devastating with the English Long Bow against the French high born knights. At the end the combination of weak English Kings and the legendary French female military leader of men, Joan of Ark won the day for the French.

1000 Years Ago

The end of the so called Dark Ages and the commencement of the Medieval period or Middle Ages. (1066 to 1485)All the Kings are speaking French and are ruling simultaneously in England, parts of France (and Ireland).

1000 years ago saw an end of rule by Saxon and Viking Kings and the commencement of rule by Normans. Normans came from Normandy in France and spoke French, not English but in essence they were also Vikings who had settled there two hundred years previously, that is at the same time as they started settling in England.

The Norman Kings
William the Conqueror invaded in 1066 a date known to every pupil at school. William ruled through a network of friends (Barons) that he enticed into England from France. Each was recommended to build a castle in a strategic location for his own area and had the vital task of collecting taxes. William himself also built a castle in London now called the Tower of London. English kings were resident in this fortress/palace for almost 500 years. (Until Henry 7th.)

William should also be remembered for the Domesday Book. William being new to England wanted an audit (a count) of the assets he now owned so that he could calculate how much he could raise in taxes from his new subjects. The Domesday book which still exists showed England as 65% farmland and about 15% woodland and listed 13,000 human settlements. William can be remembered for encouraging the financially astute Jews to settle in England from France to help boost the economy. Jews at that time were well ahead with schooling, science and mathematics and most importantly were not forbidden by their religion to lend money to finance a new trade.

There followed a succession of Norman Kings none of them speaking English and all of them also ruling in France. Not all of France as we know today but for example in the reign of Henry 2nd (1154 to 1189) his territory stretched from the southern borders of Cumbria in the north of England down to Tours some 1/3 of the way down modern France.

By 1172 with the help of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine who came from the Bordeaux area and one of his Baron henchmen Strongbow in Ireland, Henry 2nd was ruling land stretching from the borders of Spain in the south all the way up through the fertile west coast of France across to the fertile east coast of Ireland in the west. In Ireland this involved ousting the Vikings whose largest overseas colony Dublin was still in their hands. England ruled Ireland (generally brutally) for the next 850 years (until 1922).

During Henry's time he did not conquer and rule Wales or Cumbria in the north of England and had no chance at all in subduing those superb fighting men in Scotland. The quality of life improved in England during this period through increased trade and as Henry also reconstructed and enforced a new and fairer legal system.

Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest Nottingham
There is no evidence that Robin Hood existed although the legend is so strong that it is thought that somebody like him must have. He features in a series of songs circa 1300. The legend refers to the time of Norman King Richard 1st 1189 - 1199 who during his 10 year reign was hardly ever in England as he preferred wider "Crusading" duties organised by the Pope in Rome, attempting to regain Jerusalem for Christians from the Arab Islamic Egyptian/Syrian rulers notably Saladin. They failed. These Crusades cost a fortune and were financed by taxes collected from ordinary country folk.

Robin Hood was the Gangster Hero who robbed the tax collectors and local Barons and returned the money to the poor. Robin Hood and his followers are depicted as being extraordinarily good with the English Long Bow. This part of the story rings true as the English were supreme with this beautifully produced weapon for more than 250 years. (The Long Bow was a hand crafted laminate of wood from various parts of the Yew tree.)

1500 Years Ago

The birth of ENGLAND
- 500 years of culture and religion destroyed or nearly so.
-Invasion , Invasion, Invasion.The birth of England.
Prior to this time the land we call England was called Britain by the Romans. It was only after the Romans left and the barbaric Angles from northern Germany arrived that the word England was coined out of Angleland or as the French now say Angleterre.

The start of the so called DARK AGES.
Perhaps a better title would be THE AGE OF DESTRUCTION
Just before the beginning of this period the Roman Empire was still ruling lands from their Western Atlantic out posts in England, France and Portugal to their furthest Eastern base in present day Middle East. To the south the Romans ruled across the whole of Mediterranean coast of North Africa with their biggest bases in Alexandria (Egypt) and in present day Tunisia in the town of Carthage. Their northern boarders were the problem. The Romans had never held much land north of the Rhine river in Germany (or the Danube in Eastern Europe).

Then one by one these apparently brutal and warlike peoples living in all of the present day countries north of the Rhine attacked and eventually destroyed the Roman Empire. The rulers had become decadent and their armies were largely manned by mercenaries. (Non Romans)
The order of events was as follows;

A Germanic tribe (the Vandals) attacked and destroyed the mighty Roman empire.In England the Romans who had ruled for 400 years had to leave in a hurry to defend Rome. Alas, perhaps, in vain.England was left defenceless against every warmongering tribe in Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Invasion - Anglo-Saxons
Saxons were the first to arrive in England. The Saxons came from the coastal areas of present day Germany in the fertile land between the rivers Rhine and Elbe. (AD 440- 650). Saxons settled across the south of England. The Angles came from the present day boarders of Germany and Denmark north of the river Elbe. The Angles settled in present day East "Anglia" and northward across the Pennines towards Manchester (West Anglia). Jutes from present day Denmark (Jutland peninsular) settled in Kent.

Cultural collapse and rebirth
These fighters from the north of the Rhine had never been ruled by the educated Romans who in turn had taken much from Greek culture and the new Christian faith of Jesus. Books and public records were burnt as being no use to people who can't read. Amongst all this chaos one Romanised Britain stands out and rescues much of the Roman classical learning (which included the Roman official religion Christianity) available to him. This is Patricus, or as he is now better known St Patrick. Patrick who loved the Irish fortunately set up home there and preached Christianity and Roman culture to the Irish through a network of monasteries set up for the purpose.

Some 100 years after St Patrick, his followers sailed to the west coast of Scotland and continued to expand these teaching missions. The inhabitants of what we now call Scotland at this time were the tough barbaric Picts that the Romans had kept out of England with the help of Hadrian's Wall. These new Irish settlers were called Scoties,(another word for Ireland) hence Scotland. Inspite of the new barbaric occupants of England from northern Germany, the St Patrick movement moved south into northern England where in Jarrow St Bede (or the Venerable Bede as he is better known) has provided the best written evidence of the time in his "Ecclesiastical History of the English people" (He wrote in Latin, King Alfred translated into English)

Invasion - Vikings
Then 1200 years ago, (that is about 800 AD) the "infamous" Viking invasions commenced. The reason for this particular time in history is perhaps because the Scandinavian territories were under threat from the successful Frankish territorial expansion, economic and cultural advances. A Frankish King of note at this time was of course Charlemagne, headquartered in modern day Aachen in Belgium. The Vikings retaliated with a viciousness perhaps exaggerated by story tellers of that time into both France and England. The Franks eventually solved the problem by giving modern day Normandy to the Vikings from the north (Normandy for "Northmen").

Viking ships were good enough to reach North America via Iceland and Greenland so they had no trouble in also reaching the west coast of France and round Spain and into the Mediterranean. Norwegian Vikings landed and colonised Jarrow in the north east of England and Dublin and Sligo in the west of Ireland. From Dublin they sailed and settled into modern day Liverpool. Danish Vikings settled into many areas of England from London to York. During the latter part of this period the Vikings had brought the whole of England under Viking rule. King Canute (Cnut) ruled England, Norway and Denmark at the same time.

2000 Years Ago

- Roman Britain
- Greek/Roman culture, education, technology and the Christian faith comes to EnglandRoman Britain
2000 years ago, before the Romans invaded Britain, there was already trade between the Celtish tribes in Britain and the Romans who were ruling France (then called Gaul). About 100 BC. Notably woollen clothes and rugs made in Britain were easily sold the Romans in Gaul in exchange for wine. It was also obvious to the Romans that the British Celts had Gold Silver and Bronze so:-
- 2000 years ago Romans decided to have a closer look at England
The one and only Julius Caesar led the first army which arrived in Kent. However, Julius Caesar was beaten back by the local (Kent) Celtish King Cunobelinus. Caesar came back with a fleet of 800 ships and beat our Celtish hero and made a peace deal with him but Caesar had more important things to do in Rome and Roman action in Kent was quiet until:-

England capitulates
The Romans under Emperor Claudius reappeared (AD 43)with a massive army of 40,000 troops, defeated the local Kentish hero Caratacus and marched north and took Colchester in Essex. At this time the Romans were perhaps 1500 years ahead of the world in military power, technology and law and order.

At about this time Jesus was born in modern day Israel which at that time was part of the Roman empire

The Romans divided England into four areas centred at the following towns London, Cirencester, York and Lincoln. The largest uprising against the Romans was by a woman ruler, the now famous Boadicea (Latin name Boudicca). She ruled the Iceni tribe in East Anglia. Before defeat she lost 80,000 warriors.

For those who behaved themselves life improved under the Romans who improved law and order, personal hygiene (regular washing), sewage systems, good roads and introduced and grew many new crops including: roses, apples and wine. Up to this time local women either dressed in dresses made of wool in the winter or linen from local flax in the summer. The Romans introduced silk obtained from Asia and cotton grown in Egypt. But these were only for the rich.

Around 200 AD the Romans started building houses out of stone rather than wood which were much more substantial.

By 300 AD life in Britain was almost on a par with Rome, a visitor from there writing "Britain is a most wealthy island" 100 years later it was all finished as the Roman legions withdrew to defend Rome which was under attack from Germanic north of the Rhine. Britain was left defenceless against attack from similar peoples, the Anglo Saxons.

3000 Years Ago

The late bronze age, the early iron age and the Celts.

3000 years ago, before the iron age, bronze was the only metal that that man could use for manufacturing tools and containers. For example cups for drinking out of and tools like plough tips for tilling the land for farming. Bronze is made from tin and copper heated together.

1300 years ago the established civilisations of the warm Mediterranean and middle eastern areas were running out of tin and this caused people to travel far and wide to look for this vital metal. Tin was found to be plentiful in Britain and this caused the Celts who lived in eastern Europe, north of the centres of civilisation in Mesopotamia (Iraq) to move westward and settle in Britain.

A few hundred years later the same Celts brought the technology of iron smelting to Britain and once again Britain was found to have plenty of the right stuff (Iron Ore). Iron revolutionised life as it made both stronger ploughs and hence more food could be grown, much better axes for chopping down trees for more farm land and of course much better weapons (spears, swords and arrow tips) for killing the enemy!

Celts were generally of darkish complexion with black straight hair. They loved fighting often doing so naked with painted bodies. They would yell and scream to generally frighten the enemy. British Celts lived in family groups or larger family tribes in hilltop camps which they defended to their death as the Romans were later to discover. British Celts could spin both sheep wool and spin and weave linen made from locally grown flax.

British Celts developed a profitable trade with nearby Europe down as far as Spain. Main products were copper, tin silver and gold as well as animal skins and wool for clothes. In return they received bronze "table ware", tools and ornaments made from bronze and Amber (an attractively coloured resin from fir trees which dries rock hard.

4000 Years Ago

The Bronze age and the age of the BEAKER peopleAround 2500 BC the Beaker people arrived in Britain from Europe, so called as they brought with them the skill of making cups and larger containers from copper and clay (pottery). Watertight vessels enabled the Beaker people to heat liquids and heat solids (metals) until they became liquids. By experimenting with heating copper and tin together, both easily found in Britain, the Beaker people first made Bronze and later iron from iron ores.

They also could spin and weave initially using mainly sheep's wool. So this time also saw the change from people wearing animal skins to wearing woollen clothes fairly similar to the clothes we wear today. The Beaker people also were probably the first peoples in Britain to start riding horses rather than hunting them for meat.

Early towns were being created in the worlds warm fertile river valleys like Babylon in Iraq's Tigris/Euphrates region, Jericho on the Jordan, and cities by the rivers Nile, Indus (Pakistan) and Yellow (China).

10,000 Years - 12 Billion Years Ago

The end of the last major ice age which had seen Britain totally covered in ice as far south as Oxford. With so much water frozen as ice at the poles the sea was not so deep and people and animals could walk from Europe to Britain and across to Ireland. As the ice melted and the land got warmer trees grew and Britain was soon almost totally forest. Mammoths became extinct.

25,000 Years Ago

The beginning of the last major ice age. During this period very few humans would have lived in Britain. Only large animals would have remained like Mammoths and Sabre Toothed Tigers. Both these animals are of course now extinct.

35,000 Years Ago

The modern human arrives in Europe and reaches Britain where he meets another type of earlier human called Neanderthal man. We do not know why Neanderthal man died out.

200,000 Years Ago

The oldest fossil remains of "humans" in Britain

2,000,000 Years Ago

Some where between 2 million and 6 million years ago the first man developed. Probably in southern Africa.

10,000,000 Years Ago

Climate change eliminated many of the forests in Kenya, Africa and many apes died as their tree habitat disappeared. A number of new ape species developed which were better adapted to walking than climbing trees. These apes had hands that learnt to do other things than hold on to branches and thus the brain was stimulated as never before creating the way for the development of man.

35,000,000 Years Ago

A Period when the world was inhabited by huge mammals nearly as big as the biggest Dinosaurs and including a large variety of Apes.

70,000,000 Years Ago

Dinosaur died out.

300,000,000 Years Ago

Early Dinosaurs found. So Dinosaur were around for about 230 million years. Humans have only lived around 2 million so far!

5,000,000,000 Years Ago

5 Billion years ago our Earth was formed from our sun.

7,000,000,000 Years Ago

7 Billion years ago our sun was created.

12,000,000,000 Years Ago

12 Billion years ago the Galaxy was created. The Big Bang.