From Roman Conquest to Brexit: A Timeline of the United Kingdom’s History

The United Kingdom has a rich and complex history that spans over 2,000 years. From the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD to the country’s recent exit from the European Union, the UK has been shaped by a series of pivotal events and transformations that have left a lasting legacy. This article provides a brief timeline of the key moments in the UK’s history.

Roman Conquest (43 AD)

The Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD marked the beginning of the island’s recorded history. The Romans established the province of Britannia, which remained under Roman rule for over 350 years. During this period, the Romans built roads, forts, and cities, and introduced Christianity to Britain.

Anglo-Saxon Invasion (5th-6th centuries)

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Britain was invaded by Germanic tribes including the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. These groups established their own kingdoms, and by the 7th century, the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy had emerged. The Anglo-Saxon period saw the development of Old English, the precursor to modern English, and the spread of Christianity.

Norman Conquest (1066)

In 1066, the Norman Conquest saw the invasion of England by William the Conqueror and the establishment of Norman rule. The Normans introduced a feudal system and built castles and cathedrals, such as the iconic Durham Cathedral. The Norman period also saw the development of the English Common Law.

Tudor Era (1485-1603)

The Tudor Era saw the rise of the Tudor Dynasty, beginning with Henry VII in 1485 and ending with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. This period saw significant developments such as the English Reformation, which resulted in the establishment of the Church of England, and the rise of the British navy under Elizabeth I.

Industrial Revolution (18th-19th centuries)

The Industrial Revolution transformed the UK from an agrarian society to an industrial one. The country’s textile mills, factories, and ironworks brought about sweeping changes, including the increase in population and the growth of cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow.

World War I (1914-1918)

The 20th century began with the outbreak of World War I, in which the UK played a crucial role. The war saw the mobilization of millions of British soldiers, and resulted in the deaths of over a million people. World War I also saw the end of the Edwardian Era and the beginning of a new era of modernity.

World War II (1939-1945)

The horrors of World War II saw the UK fighting for its survival against Nazi Germany. The war resulted in the deaths of over 450,000 British soldiers and civilians, and the country underwent significant social and economic changes in the post-war years.

Thatcherism and the Falklands War (1980s)

The 1980s saw the rise of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, which implemented policies based on free market principles and reduced the role of the state. The Falklands War in 1982 also saw a significant shift in the UK’s foreign policy, and marked the country’s reassertion of its national identity.

Brexit (2016-present)

In 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union, a process commonly referred to as Brexit. The decision has had far-reaching consequences, in both the UK and the EU. The UK’s exit has been accompanied by political turmoil and economic uncertainty, and has raised questions about the country’s future role in the world.


The UK’s history is a journey through time and space, from the Roman conquest to the modern era of Brexit. Each period has left its mark on the country, creating a rich and diverse culture that continues to evolve. As the UK faces new challenges and opportunities in the 21st century, its history remains a powerful reminder of the country’s resilience, adaptability, and enduring spirit.