Location of EnglandEngland is located in the north west of Europe, in the south-eastern part of the British Isles. It has Scotland to the north, the North Sea to the east, English Channel to the South, Atlantic Ocean to the south west, and Wales and the Irish Sea to the west.
Historical Summary of EnglandDuring the ninth and tenth centuries the Kingdom of Wessex, one of several competing Saxon kingdoms in England, grew to dominate the region as the Kingdom of England. In 1066 multiple claimants to the throne invaded, including Scandinavian leaders, and the Norman Duke William; the latter was successful in taking and holding the kingdom for the long term. After numerous wars over the throne, including the “Anarchy” of Stephen’s reign and the Wars of the Roses, the height of English personal monarchy was reached with the reign of Henry VIII, he of the six wives. During this period England broke with the Catholic Church, creating the Church of England.
The monarchy remains strong in England, broken only by the ‘Interregnum’, a period following The English Civil War when Oliver Cromwell and son ruled as Lord Protector, and also having survived the expulsion of James II and the invitation to William of Orange to accept the throne; he did as William III. During the early modern and modern period England conquered an empire, including lands in America, Africa and India, having already fought with the other countries in the British Isles and conquered Wales. Throughout its history English armies have fought wars on the continent, in the twentieth century playing roles in World Wars 1 and 2. Currently England is in a political union with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Key People from the History of England
- Henry VIII 1491 – 1547
Probably the most famous English monarch thanks to interest in his six wives, Henry was the apogee of personal monarchy in the country, drawing the nation tight around him. He broke with Catholicism and laid the foundations for the Church of England, but has been called a tyrant and a monster, as well as a great king.
- Oliver Cromwell 1599 – 1658
A commander of Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War, Cromwell rose to become Lord Protector of England during the Interregnum and is famed for restoring England’s position in Europe. He is also known for religious tolerance in England, but detested by many in Ireland for his violent and intolerant campaign there.
- Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965
A politician and soldier, Churchill’s mixed reputation was completely rewritten when he successfully led Britain during the Second World War, using skills at oratory to keep the nation together, as well as managing military commanders. However he lost the following election and had to wait until 1951 to become a peacetime leader.