Video: Living on £50 a week

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Video: Voting at 16 on the Isle of Man

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Snapshots from British History



Celtic tribes settled in all parts of the British Isles hundreds of years before Christ. The Celts were mainly farmers and lived in small clans and kingdoms. They spoke Gaelic.

Copyright: Getty Images 

In the year 43, the Romans invaded Britain. They set up their capital at Londinium (London) and built major cities in Bath, Chester and York.

The Romans stayed in Britain about 400 years. Then the Roman soldiers were needed at home. Anglo-Saxon tribes from today’s Germany soon invaded the island and the Celts were beaten once again.

The Scandinavian Vikings came to raid and plunder along the coast from 800 AD. After a while they started to settle in Britain. Viking power in Britain came to an end in 1066.

A French Duke, later known as William the Conqueror, beat the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He established a Norman state. French became the dominant language.
Henry the VIII
In the16th century Henry VIII became king. Because the Pope would not let him divorce his first wife, he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Protestant Church of England. In all, he had six wives; he divorced two, had two executed, one died in childbirth and the last outlived him.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII. Elizabeth was queen for 45 years. This is when England became a world power, beat Spain and established colonies in America. William Shakespeare wrote his plays and poems in this period.

About 200 years later, Victoria became queen. She ruled for most of the 19th century and she became Queen and Empress of more than a quarter of the world's population. Scotland, Ireland and Wales were now united with England, and the Industrial Revolution had made Great Britain the richest country in the world.

Modern history
Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister during World War II (1939-45). Britain played a leading role in the fight against Hitler. Even though Britain had been on the winning side in both world wars, the country was no longer a leader of the world. Most British colonies became independent from Britain in the period after World War II.
After the terrorist attacks on the USA in 2001, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair was America’s strongest supporter in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Britain today
London is one of the most important centres in business and finance in the world. In addition, the country that brought the world William Shakespeare, football, the Beatles, James Bond and the BBC is still a cultural force to be counted on.

Shortcut activity

True or false?
Correct the false statements.

a) The Vikings invaded Britain before the Romans.
b) The Celts spoke English.
c) William the Conqueror beat the English in 1066.
d England became a world power when Elizabeth was queen
e) The Industrial Revolution made Great Britain the richest country in the world
f) Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister during World War I.
g) Most British colonies became independent after World War II.
h) Today, London is no longer an important centre in business and finance in the world.

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