The history of the United Kingdom dates back to prehistoric times, with evidence of human occupation dating back over 800,000 years. The island of Great Britain was inhabited by various Celtic tribes before being invaded by the Romans in 43 AD. The Romans occupied Britain for nearly 400 years, leaving a lasting impact on the country’s culture, infrastructure, and language.
After the Roman withdrawal, Britain was invaded by various Germanic tribes, including the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who established several powerful kingdoms, such as Mercia, Wessex, and Northumbria. In the 9th century, the Viking invasions began, and the country was split into various Anglo-Saxon and Viking territories, which eventually formed the basis of the English and Scottish kingdoms.
In 1066, the Norman Conquest saw the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, who established himself as King of England. The Norman period saw the construction of impressive castles and cathedrals, and the introduction of French culture and language.
The Middle Ages saw the development of a unified English state under the Plantagenet dynasty, as well as the establishment of the Scottish kingdom. The Wars of the Roses in the 15th century saw a struggle for the English throne between two rival families, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, which ultimately resulted in the rise of the Tudor dynasty.
During the Tudor period, England became a major maritime power, with the reign of Elizabeth I seeing the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the establishment of colonies in North America. The early 17th century saw the English Civil War, which resulted in the execution of King Charles I and the establishment of a republican government, led by Oliver Cromwell.
In 1707, the Act of Union joined the crowns of England and Scotland and formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the rise of the British Empire, with Britain becoming the world’s pre-eminent colonial power. The Victorian era saw significant social and economic changes, as well as the growth of the British industrial revolution.
In the 20th century, the UK played a major role in both World War I and II, and underwent significant social and political changes, including the establishment of the National Health Service and the granting of independence to many former colonies. The UK was also a founding member of the European Union, although in recent years it has opted to withdraw.