HISTORY AND POLITICS
First original inhabitants who settled down on territory of British Isles were Celts. They came from North Europe before 6th century B.C. In 1st century A.D., the Romans began an invasion, which resulted in the Roman occupation of Britain, which lasted 400 years. They built towns, roads, centralized administration. In 5th century the barbarians brought the Roman Rule to the end. Until 12th century, there were reign of German tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes), Danes, and Normans. The first king of the line of Plantagenet’s was Henry II who ruled in 12th century. In 1215, his second son John Lackland was forced by barons to sign the Magna Charta Libertatum -Supremacy of Law over the king (foundation of parliamentary government). The basis of Hundred Years’ War (1338-1453) was in Edward’s III (one of the kings ruling after John I. Lackland) feudal claim to the French crown. It includes victories on both sides, either British or French. In the end, the French led by Joan from Arc won and made English lose their power in France. The Wars of the Roses took place in the 15th century.
There were the wars between the House of York (white) and the House of Lancaster (red). These wars ended when Henry Tudor became King Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York and thus he joined the two houses. He established the Tudor dynasty. Henry VIII is known as a king who had six wives and established the Church of England. Under the reign of one of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. Britain became world power. Between years 1640-1649, there was civil war between Parliament and Charles I. because of Parliament’s defiance. It was won by parliament and Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector) ruled England. It became a republic. But after Cromwell’s death the monarchy was renewed by Charles II (1660).The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) meant a new struggle between the two traditional rivals, Britain and France. Napoleon’s plan to invade England failed when Admiral Nelson defeated the French at Trafalgar. Under the reign of Queen Victoria, Britain dominated the world industry, commerce and military (Industrial Revolution – 1837-1901). It was added large parts of Canada, India, Africa and Asia to the empire. Moreover, by her reign it was formed Commonwealth. Through victorious World War I. (1914-1918), Britain suffered huge economic losses and social problems. The land suffered from major bombing damage in World War II. (1939-1945). Industrial growth went on in post-war period, but Britain lost its leading position to other powers. During the decade after the WW II Britain lost the majority of its colonies. Nevertheless, most members of the Commonwealth remained. Labour governments nationalized some basic industries, free healthcare and education. In 1979 Conservatives came to rein and they reduced welfare…
Today the UK is a democratic constitutional monarchy. The head of state and theoretical ultimate source of power in the UK is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. In reality, the Queen has an essentially ceremonial role. In practical terms, the political head of the UK is the Prime Minister (Tony Blair). The executive power is in the hands of Government. It consists of Prime Minister and ministers. Legislative power is represented by the Parliament of the UK. It is bicameral consisting of the House of Commons (it consists of 659 Members of Parliament - MPs) and the House of Lords which consists of Lords Spiritual (archbishops and bishops), Lords Temporal-peers (hereditary peers and outstanding people). Judicial power is represented by courts but the UK does not have a single unified judicial system: England, Wales have their own systems system, Scotland another and Northern Ireland also another.
UK is the member of the EU, OECD and the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is a voluntary association of UK and her 49 former colonies (About 1 200 million people). Founding members were Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
UK is made up of the four countries. First, an Act of Union (1536) brought England and Wales together. England and Scotland were also unified (1707) and called Great Britain. Ireland was joined in 1801 and the four countries became the United Kingdom. Since 1921, only Northern Ireland belongs to the UK. The capital city of the UK is London. However, countries have their own capital towns: In Wales it is Cardiff, in Scotland Edinburgh and in Northern Ireland it is Belfast. Scotland has also its own parliament and Wales has the Welsh Assembly. The UK is also divided into regions, which are called counties.
National Anthem is ’’God Save the Queen.’’ The Union Flag or Union Jack is the national flag of the UK combining England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
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HISTORY AND POLITICS
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