Ruling Powers and the United Kingdom

Britain was not always Britain. With the United Kingdom sometimes seeming less United, and while the separatist movement in Scotland may become less than it is, it has already seen the separation of Ireland. Yet, the history of the country is far more factious. Before the Roman conquest in the first century, the various British Iron Age communities existed as tribal groups (Cunliffe, 2004). These groups, including the Iceni, Durotriges, and Corieltauvi, are referenced as the Britons, but each had different civilizations and community structures. With the introduction of the Roman order, these groups became more homogenized and started to become the people that would populate a unified England (Hall, 2008).

But, when the Romans later left, a new group of people entered the mix—with the early invasions of the Saxon tribes from Germany (Geary, 2003). England under Saxon rule consisted of separate kingdoms (Yorke, 2002). The Kingdom of Kent and the East Saxon and East Anglian Kingdoms formed an uneasy alliance that was often factious. Mercia, Wessex, and Northumbria had developed into the major English realms by the seventh century. Scotland and Wales remained outside of English control.

Towards the end of the Saxon kingdoms, an overlordship developed that later became the foundation for a unified England. Unfortunately, the impetus for such changes was also the source of the eventual change into Norman rule. The constant Viking raids plaguing the people of England extended into an occupation and the development of the Danelaw as the Danish people came to unify and conquer England (Asser, 2004).

The conquest and unification were short-lived, with the invasion of the country from Normandy and other Viking groups causing a series of skirmishes and wars across the nation and the nation’s fall to William the Conqueror in 1066 (Thomas, 2003). In this series of events, the people of England changed from a Celtic-speaking population to one that started to learn Latin. After this, the Saxon conquest brought about major changes to the speaking patterns of the people, and the predominantly Germanic foundation of today’s English language still exists. Yet, with the Norman rule came the amalgamation of the French language (Blake, 1996).

While the country has experienced a civil war and the change of monarchs multiple times, the invasion in 1066 was the last major change to the monarchy that occurred through war. Yet, the development of a free society started with the enforcement of rules and the enshrining of the principle of the rule of law following the actions of the Barons against King John and the enforced signing of the Magna Carta. As Tilly (1992) demonstrates, the development of England and of a constitutional monarchy limited by Parliament occurred with the gradual development of the British national identity. Over time, the English people took this belief in freedom and liberal rights to other nations, including the colonies that later became the United States. While the history of a nation such as the United Kingdom cannot be summarized in a short post, the development of politics and language in this nation occurred through the integration and amalgamation of multiple cultures, and the merging of each into a single hole on the blacksmith’s hammer of time and conflict.


Asser. (2004). Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources. Penguin UK.

Blake, N. (1996). A History of the English Language. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Cunliffe, B. (2004). Iron Age Communities in Britain: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC Until the Roman Conquest. Routledge.

Geary, P. J. (2003). The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe. Princeton University Press.

Hall, S. (2008). “New Cultures for Old?” In The Cultural Geography Reader. Routledge.

Thomas, H. M. (2003). The English and the Normans: Ethnic Hostility, Assimilation, and Identity 1066-c.1220. OUP Oxford.

Tilly, C. (1992). Coercion, capital, and European states, AD 990-1992. Blackwell Oxford.

Yorke, B. (2002). Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England. Routledge.

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