Historia Britanica

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Penguin Readers Factsheets
A History of Britain
By Fiona Beddall

Summary
More than 2,000 years of times past are brought to life in
this lively and interesting account of Britain’s history. It
reveals the main events, characters and movements that
have made Britain the country it is today. Although a small
country, Britain’s history is important on the worldstage, and
this book places Britain within its world context. Beginning
with the Romans’ invasion of Britain in 55bc, the book follows
Britain’s history in a broadly chronological order, though the
chapters are organised thematically. Feature boxes within
the main body of the text also describe some of the most
famous characters from British history in more depth. Some
social history, as wellas political history, is also covered.
Chapter 1 is called ‘Invaders’, and it covers the period of
British history from 55bc until the last successful invasion of
Britain by a foreign army in 1066. After the Romans came
the Angles and Saxons, the Vikings and then the Normans.
Each of these different invaders during these early years
had an important influence on Britain, its language,culture
and its people. The chapter profiles one of Britain’s most
spirited heroines – Boudica. She fought fiercely against the
Romans for the right to govern her own people and land.
Chapter 2 explains the complicated relationships between
the four countries which comprise ‘The United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’ (These are England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.) Thechapter pays
particular attention to the long and difficult relationship
between England and Ireland, and the causes of the
religious and social tensions that still exist between the two
countries today.
Chapter 3 – ‘God and Government’ – covers the part
of British history known as the Tudor period. It describes
the reigns of Henry VIII and his children (most notably,
Queen Elizabeth I).During this time, Britain changed from
a Catholic country to a Protestant one. The chapter explains
the reasons why – and the consequences.
Chapter 4 continues Britain’s story from the death of
Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. This period of British history is
dominated by the battle for power between the monarchy
and parliament, representing the people. The text reviews
the growth of ‘peoplepower’ in Britain from the Magna Carta
(an early British bill of rights – the only in existence) to the
present day. In particular, it covers the English Civil War,
when supporters of Charles I and supporters of Parliament
fought fiercely all over the country.
Chapter 5 turns to social history, and tells the story of
the Industrial Revolution and its impact on British society. It
describes thedreadful condition of workers’ lives in the 18th
and 19th centuries and the resulting growth of a revolutionary
spirit amongst the people. But Britain was able to modernise
and improve peoples’ lives without violent revolution. This
chapter explains how and why.
© Pearson Education Limited 2006

Finally, Chapter 6, looks at the growth and decline of
Britain’s great empire. It explains howBritain’s earlier history
meant it was able to acquire new lands across the globe
and highlights the importance of Britain’s great hero, Admiral
Nelson. Britain’s roles in World War I and World War II are
described too. The book ends with an evaluation of Britain’s
place in the world today.

Background and themes
Although Britain is a small country, it still plays a relatively
importantrole on the world stage. Much of its history, too, is
important on a world scale; and the themes of its history are
those of the history of mankind.
Religion – particularly the conflict between the Catholic
and Protestant divisions of Christianity – has played a vital
part in making Britain the country it is today. Henry VIII
began the process of changing Britain from a Catholic
nation to...
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