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The first Celtic tribes have come to the British Isles between 800 and 700 BC. Two centuries later they were followed by the Brythons or ancient Britons after whom the country was called Britain.
The first Roman invasion was led by Julius Caesar in 55 BC. But Britain was not conquered until some 90 years later, under Emperor Claudius, in 43 AD. Although the Roman occupation of Britain lasted nearly 400 years, its effects were few.
In the middle of the 5th century, three Germanic tribes - The Angles, Saxons and Jute's invaded Britain from the continent. From the 8th century the Anglo-Saxons had to face Scandinavian invaders - the Danes and the Norsemen sometimes (Vikings) - who occupied parts of Britain and made some permanent settlements. The Scandinavian invasions continued till the 11th century.
The period of feudalism started around 1066 and lasted to the 15th century. In this period the modern English nation and language came into being. It was a period of struggle for power between kings and between powerful nobles, a period of frequent wars. But it was also a period in which the development of the wool trade and the early decline of feudalism prepared the way for England's rise as a world power.
The period between 1485 and 1603 is known as the Tudor Period. It was a turning point in English history. England became one of the leading powers. The two famous rulers of the House of Tudor were Henry VIII and Elisabeth I. The Elizabethan age produced the world's greatest playwright William Shakespeare.
The first 40 years of the 17th century can be characterised as a period of growing conflict between the King and parliament, representing the interests of the bourgeoisie. The conflict led to the civil war in 1640 which resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and in Cromwell's military rule in the middle of the century. This period ended in the Glorious Revolution (1688-89) which marked the end of the English bourgeois revolution.
In the period of 1688 to 1760 England definitely took the lead in European commerce. During the Industrial Revolution (1760 - 1850) Britain became the first industrial power in the world, "the workshop of the world." The Anglo - French rivalry for world domination which had started in the previous period continued and culminated in the Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815).
The Victorian era which comprised the second half of the 19th century, called after Queen Victoria, was a period in which Britain became the strongest world power: besides being the greatest financial and commercial power, the greatest sea power and the greatest colonial power. In was the era of the greatest colonial expansion.
The 20th century is a period of the decline of Britain as a world power a period of crises of the two world wars, from which Britain emerged as a victor, but greatly weakened. It is characterised by the disintegration of Britain's colonial empire and the effort to adjust Britain to the new situation by joining the other developed capitalist countries of Western Europe in EEC.
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