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Britain’s Past

British is a historic country, whose history dates back to the Bronze Age, to 2000 B.C., when the Celtic people lived on the British Isles. They originally came from Spain and France.

The next people who came to Britain were the Romans. They called the land Britanium. They built a lot of cities, for example Bath, Chester and London as well, which they called Londonium. They also built Hadrian’s Wall to protect the country against Scottish tribes. It is 122 km long. The Romans built military camps around which towns started to appear. The names of those towns are derived from the Latin word ‘castrum’, which means ‘a military camp’. So today’s towns have names with the suffix ‘–cester’ or ‘–chester’. For example: Chichester, Leicester, Worchester, Menchester, Winchester and others. The next period was Germanic. Three tribes from Germany called the Saxons, the Angels, and the Jutes occupied Britain. They were among the first to bring Christianity to England.

In the 9th century, the Vikings invaded from Scandinavia and occupied the east and the south of England. Their most important settlement was today’s York. The Viking built towns with the suffix ‘-by’ in their names, for example: Rugby, Selby, Derby and others. The Vikings mostly settled the north and the centre of England.

In the Medieval Ages, the city of Canterbury was famous for the murder of Thomas Beckett. He lived in the 12th century. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury and a friend of King Henry II. As time went by, Thomas and the King started to have different opinions and Thomas was sent into exile to France. After he came back, he was murdered in the Cathedral. Geoffrey Chaucer, the first Renaissance writer of England in 14th century, wrote about it in his ‘Canterbury Tales’. It is about pilgrims – they travel from Southwark to Canterbury to see Canterbury Cathedral. During the journey the pilgrims tell many interesting stories about people from different social classes.

In the 16th century, the very famous King Henry VIII lived. He was famous for his six wives. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was from Spain. The marriage was a diplomatic act. They lived happily, but Henry wanted to have a son. All they had was only a girl. He wanted to divorce. His second wife was Anne Boleyn. Together they tried to have a son, but just like Catherine, she only gave him a daughter, Princess Elizabeth. Anne was executed in the Tower. Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, gave Henry a son, but he died a few days later. Anne of Cleves was his fourth wife and she was from Germany. His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was about 30 years younger than the king and she was beheaded in the Tower. The king’s last wife, Catherine Parr, lived with the old king until his death.

An important historical event of London was the Black Plague. A lot of people died. It was in 1665. In the year 1666 in London there was a large accident - the Great Fire. It lasted for four days. It started in a bakery on Pudding Lane near London Bridge and destroyed 80 % of the city. Amazingly, nobody died in fire. The fire spread quickly, because in these ages London was very dirty and the streets were crooked and narrow with wooden houses. After the fire, the people rebuilt the City with stone and bricks. Architect Sir Christopher Wren built the principal church of London called Saint´s Paul Cathedral. Nowadays, in the street Pudding Lane, is a commemoration to the Great Fire called The Monument.

Přidal: tess.for 17. 2. 2008
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