British History: from pre-Celtic to Norman Britain

  • 4000 BCE

    Pre-Celtic Britain

    Pre-Celtic Britain
    Six-thousand years ago Britain was already inhabited. the population began to burn and cut forests, to grow cereals and breed cattle. So over the course of four centuries they changed the landscape.
    In this period small permanent settlements are developed.
    Most earlier Neolithic settlements in Britain were of about one to three houses with possibly a few outbuildings. They were rarely defended, except in Cornwall. Most settlements were placed at some distance from areas of barrows.
  • 3000 BCE

    'Ritual landscapes' like henges and round barrows proliferate

    'Ritual landscapes' like henges and round barrows proliferate
    From circa 3000 BC some areas that were ritually important in earlier times gained added significance. There is evidence for smaller and more specialised ceremonial sites such as henges (the most famous of these is Stonehenge in southwest England). A huge variety of Bronze Age round barrows began to proliferate after 2500 BC.
  • 2500 BCE

    Bronze Age

    Bronze Age
    Early Bronze Age (2500-1500 BC) saw the regular production of more sophisticated metalwork, consisting mainly of axes, daggers and 'tanged' spearheads.The earliest British metalwork was made of pure copper(rame), bronze or gold. Gold was used for ornaments and jewellery, bronze and copper for spearheads(punte di lance), axes, knives and daggers(spade).
    The islanders also started producing pottery and salt, and manufacturing leather and cloth.
  • 700 BCE

    The Celts

    The Celts
    The Britons, also known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons, were Celtic people who inhabited Great Britain from the British Iron Age into the Middle Ages.
    They arrived from northwest Germany and today their language remains in Welsh in Wales, and Gaelic in Scotland and Ireland.
    They were farmers, hunters, fisherman and metal workers. They introduced the iron plough which made the cultivation easier. The Celts built massive hill forts sorrounded by ditches sometimes filled with water.
  • 55 BCE

    Julius Caesar's expedition to Britain (Part of Caesar's Gallic Wars)

    Julius Caesar's expedition to Britain (Part of Caesar's Gallic Wars)
    Julius Caesar led a Roman invasion of Britain in 55-54 BC but the country was not actually conquered until 43-47 AD
    About the photo: Edward Armitage's reconstruction of the first invasion
  • 43

    Emperor Claudius orders the invasion of Britain

    Emperor Claudius orders the invasion of Britain
    An army of four legions and approximately 20,000 auxiliaries, commanded by senator Aulus Plautius, landed at Richborough, Kent. The Romans met a large army of Britons, under the Catuvellauni kings Caratacus and his brother Togodumnus, on the River Medway, Kent. The Britons were defeated in a two-day battle, then again shortly afterwards on the Thames. Togodumnus died and Caratacus withdrew to more defensible terrain to the west.
  • 122

    Emperor Hadrian orders the construction of a wall across northern Britain

    Emperor Hadrian orders the construction of a wall across northern Britain
    Hadrian was a gifted administrator who set in place a policy of creating natural or man-made barriers at the empire's outer limits.
    A 73-mile-long stone wall was built by Roman soldiers, stretching(distendersi) from modern Newcastle to Carlisle. It marked the northernmost boundary of the empire, serving as a 'porous' (poroso;permeabile) border control for the movement of people and goods, or as a strong defensive fortification in times of strife.(lotta)
  • 409

    Roman control of Britain comes to an end

    By 410, troops were continually being withdrawn from Britain to help fight wars elsewhere in the empire. There was a general and persistent state of military crisis. With incursions on all fronts by Angles, Saxons, Picts and Scots, Britain appealed to emperor Honorius for help. Honorius wrote to them telling them to 'look to their own defences'. This act is often seen as marking the end of Roman Britain, although Roman institutions and their way of life endured.
  • 449

    Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrive in south east Britain

    Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrive in south east Britain
    The traditional date of 449 AD for the arrival of the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain is taken from the 'Ecclesiastical History of the English', completed by the Venerable Bede, a Benedictine monk, in 731 AD. It is almost certainly wrong, and other sources suggest that the arrival of Angles and Saxons was part of a process of conquest and settlement that began earlier, and continued until later.
  • 597

    Augustine arrives in Kent and begins the conversion of England

    Augustine arrives in Kent and begins the conversion of England
    At the instigation of by Pope Gregory I, Augustine led a mission to England in 596 AD, probably as the result of a request of Æthelberht, king of Kent whose wife was Christian. He arrived In 597 AD and Æthelberht gave him land in Canterbury to build a church. Æthelberht became the first Anglo-Saxon king to turn his back on paganism and become Christian. Augustine was made a saint, sometimes termed 'Augustine the Less' to distinguish him from the first St Augustine.
  • 635

    Monastery of Lindisfarne

    Monastery of Lindisfarne
    In the monastery of Lindisfarne, founded in 635 off the northeast coast of England, the monks produced illuminated Gospels which are now on display at the British Library in London.
  • 731

    Bede finishes his 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People'

    Bede finishes his 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People'
    The Venerable Bede, who studied and taught for most of his life as a monk in Jarrow and Monkwearmouth (Tyne and Wear), was the author of books that were copied and studied all over Europe. His greatest book was the 'Ecclesiastical History of the English', a major source for the history of Britain in the immediate post-Roman period. That is why he is regarded as 'the father of English history'.
  • 789

    The Danes (also known as Vikings)

    The Danes (also known as Vikings)
    The Viking attack on Portland in Dorset is the first of its kind recorded in the British Isles, including Ireland.
    While Anglo-Saxons were farmers, their Scandinavian neighbours, the Vikings, were sea people. They crossed the Atantic on their longships and then set up colonies.
  • 793

    Vikings attack the monastery of Lindisfarne, Northumbria

    Vikings attack the monastery of Lindisfarne, Northumbria
    One surviving contemporary record(testimonianza) of the attack comes from Alcuin of York, an Anglo-Saxon scholar at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. He heard about the attack on the monastery in his native Northumbria and wrote: 'Never before has such an atrocity been seen.' He said it was God's punishment on the kingdom for its fornication, adultery, incest and greed.(avidità)
  • 851

    Athelstan, son of the king of Wessex, defeats a Viking fleet in battle

    Egbert, king of Wessex, had made his second son Athelstan king of Kent. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Athelstan fought a sea battle against the Vikings off Sandwich, capturing nine ships and putting the rest to flight. In the same year his brother, Æthelwulf of Mercia, was killed by a Viking raiding party.
  • 878

    Wessex is overrun by Vikings and King Alfred goes into hiding

    Wessex is overrun by Vikings and King Alfred goes into hiding
    In January, the Vikings succeeded in taking Wessex. Alfred, king of Wessex, took refuge in the marshes of Athelney (Somerset). After Easter, he called up his troops and defeated the Viking king Guthrum, who he persuaded to be baptised. He later brought Guthrum to terms and created a settlement that divided England.
  • 927

    Athelstan's, grandson of Alfred, kingdom

    In 927 Athelstan created a kingdom by establishing the idea of royal authority, law and coinage.
  • 991

    Byrhtnoth, the chief magistrate of Essex, dies fighting the Vikings

    Byrhtnoth, the chief magistrate of Essex, dies fighting the Vikings
    The heroic attempt to deny a party of Danes (Vikings) access to the Essex mainland at Maldon was celebrated by a famous Old English poem, 'The Battle of Maldon'. The poem describes how a chief magistrate named Byrhtnoth died, and how his followers gave their lives to avenge him. Eventually Æthelred paid 22,000 pounds of gold to rid his kingdom of these invaders.
  • 1042

    Edward the Confessor becomes king of England

    Edward the Confessor becomes king of England
    Edward II was better known as 'the Confessor' because of his extreme piety. He introduced more regular cultural and political contact with the continent than England had previously experienced, and the Norman influence in the English court increased during this period.
  • Jan 6, 1066

    Edward the Confessor dies and is succeed by Harold Godwinson

    Edward the Confessor dies and is succeed by Harold Godwinson
    Harold, earl of Wessex, was crowned king of England on 6 January 1066, the same day as the funeral of his predecessor, Edward the Confessor. He was immediately faced with powerful threats from William, duke of Normandy, and Harold Hardrada, king of Norway, both of whom laid claim to the English throne.
  • Oct 14, 1066

    William of Normandy defeats and kills Harold II at Hastings

    William of Normandy defeats and kills Harold II at Hastings
    Harold II met William of Normandy near Hastings. The two armies were evenly matched in numbers, but Harold's men were exhausted after a long march back from the hard-fought Battle of Stamford Bridge. Nonetheless, the battle lasted the whole day. The English defensive shield wall was finally broken by the Norman tactic of using feigned retreats to lure Harold's troops into charging then cutting them down with cavalry. The Norman triumph was total. Harold was killed along with many Saxon nobles.
  • Dec 25, 1066

    William of Normandy is crowned king of England

    William of Normandy is crowned king of England
    Following his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William of Normandy progressed slowly towards London, his forces depleted by battle and hindered by disease. Some attempts were made to resist him, but he gradually received the submission of many Saxon nobles. He was crowned William I (although is more commonly referred to as William the Conqueror) in Westminster Abbey, the burial place of Edward the Confessor, the king from whom William derived his claim to the throne.
  • Dec 25, 1085

    Domesday Book is instituted to survey the English lands of William the Conqueror

    Domesday Book is instituted to survey the English lands of William the Conqueror
    While at court in Gloucester, William decided to undertake a survey of his English realm. The country was divided into circuits, and groups of commissioners gathered information in the counties of individual circuits. Initial returns were probably completed by the summer of 1086. The information gathered came to be known as the Domesday Book (Domesday meaning 'day of judgement'). It was the most complete record of any country at that time and remains a legally valid document.
  • Period: 1087 to 1153

    Anarchy

    When William I died in 1087, his eldest son, Robert, succeeded to Normandy. No specific succession was determined for England, but it may simply have been assumed that William's second son, would succeed. His third son, Henry, received a large sum of money. Following the death of his brother, Henry became king of England and then Duke of Normandy, too. When Henry died in 1135, Stephen was crowned but when Stephen's son died, he signed a treaty recognising Matilda's son Henry, as his heir.
  • 1154

    Henry II

    Henry II
    Henry, established stability after civil war between his mother and her rival Stephen.Thomas Becket had been Henry's close friend and his chancellor. But when Henry appointed him archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, Becket began to take the side of the Church against the king.Within a few years of his death, Becket was canonised and Canterbury became a site of pilgrimage. Henry II and his wife Eleanor had five sons, but when Henry died it was Richard, who became king of England.
  • 1190

    King John and Magna Carta

    King John and Magna Carta
    Richard I dies and is succeeded by his brother John. In 1209, a group of scholars migrated from the established centre of learning at Oxford to Cambridge, where they set up a new university. Social tensions and riots between townspeople and scholars were probably the key motivation for the move. A rebellion by northern barons led to a meeting between John and their leaders at Runnymede on the River Thames. At the meeting, the Magna Carta or 'Great Charter' was signed.
  • 1216

    Henry III and SImon de Montfort

    Henry III and SImon de Montfort
    Henry III came to the throne aged nine. II had made himself unpopular with the barons. One of these rebels was Simon de Montfort, who had married Henry’s sister. In 1258, de Montfort was one of a group of barons who imposed the Provisions of Oxford on the king. In 1261, Henry obtained a papal dispensation to extricate himself from the Provisions. Later in 1265, de Montfort was killed at the Battle of Evesham by the forces of Prince Edward, and royal authority was restored.
  • 1272

    Edward I and Model Parliament

    Edward I and Model Parliament
    Henry III was succeeded by his son Edward I, who respected the Magna Carta and in 1295 summoned a council made up barons, clergy, knights and representives of the town. This was know as 'Model Parliament', England's first Parliament.
    Edward I conquered Wales and tried to win Scotland as well, but was opposed by the Scottish hero William Wallace.
  • 1307

    Edward III and th Order of the Garter

    Edward III and th Order of the Garter
    EDwars II succeded is father in 1307 but was deposed by his wife , Queen Isaella, in 1327. I 1337 Edward III claimed th e crown of France because his mother was the French king's sister. In the autumn of 1452, an English force, landed in Bordeaux in an attempt to recapture the province from the French. This was the last major encounter of the Hundred Years' War. In 1377 Edward III died and the crown passed to his 10 years old grandson, Richard II