Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running! England
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled. If you are prevented from editing this article, and you wish to make a change, please discuss changes on the talk page, request unprotection, log in, or create an account.
This article is about the country. For other uses, see England (disambiguation).
Flag Royal Coat of Arms
Dieu et mon droit (French)
„God and my right“
God Save the King (Queen)
Location of England (orange) – on the European continent (camel & white)
– in the United Kingdom (camel)Capital
(and largest city) London (de facto)
Official languages English (de facto)
– by Athelstan 967
– Total 130,395 km²
50,346 sq mi
– 2006 estimate 50,690,0001
– 2001 census 49,138,831
– Density 388.7 /km²
976 /sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2006 estimate
– Total US$1.8 trillion (n/a)
– Per capita US$35,300 (n/a)
HDI (2006) 0.940 (high)
Currency Pound sterling (GBP)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
– Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .uk2
Calling code +44
Patron saint St. George
1 From the Office for National Statistics – UK population grows to more than 60 million
2 Also .eu, as part of the European Union. ISO 3166-1 is GB, but .gb is unused.
England (pronounced IPA: /ˈɪŋglənd/) is a country to the northwest of Continental Europe and is the largest and most populous constituent country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Its inhabitants account for more than 85% of the total population of the United Kingdom, whilst the mainland territory of England occupies most of the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. Elsewhere, it is bordered by the North Sea, Irish Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and English Channel.
England became a unified state during the tenth century and takes its name from the Angles — one of a number of Germanic tribes who settled in the territory during the fifth and sixth centuries. The capital city of England is London, which is the largest city in Britain and largest city in the European Union.
England ranks among the most influential and far-reaching centres of cultural development in the history of the world. It is the place of origin of both the English language and the Church of England, and English law forms the basis of the legal systems of many countries. It was the historic centre of the British Empire. It was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and was the first country in the world to become industrialised. England is home to the Royal Society, which laid the foundations of modern experimental science. England was the world’s first parliamentary democracy and consequently many constitutional, governmental and legal innovations that had their origin in England have been widely adopted by other nations.
The Kingdom of England was a separate state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union resulted in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the Kingdom of Great Britain.
2.1 Prehistoric Britain
2.2 Roman conquest of Britain
2.3 Anglo-Saxon England
2.4 Kingdom of England
2.5 Norman conquest
2.6 Mediaeval England
2.8 English Civil War
2.9 Great Britain and the United Kingdom
5.2 Major rivers
5.3 Major conurbations
8.4 Engineering and innovation
8.8 Science and philosophy
9.1 English language
9.2 Additional languages
10.2 Other religions
13 English people
15 National symbols and insignia
15.1 St George’s Cross
15.2 Three Lions
16 National anthem
17 Gallery of images
18 See also
20 External links
See also: List of meanings of countries’ names
England is named after the Angles (Old English genitive case, „Engla“ — hence, Old English „Engla Land“), the largest of a number of Germanic tribes who settled in England in the fifth and sixth centuries, who are believed to have originated in the peninsula of Angeln, in modern-day northern Germany.
Their name has had a variety of different spellings. The earliest known reference to these people is under the name Anglii by Tacitus in chapter 40 of his Germania, written around 98. He gives no precise indication of their geographical position within Germania, but states that, together with six other tribes, they worshipped a goddess named Nerthus, whose sanctuary was situated on „an island in the Ocean.“
The terms Angelfolc, Anglorum and Anglis were all used by Bede in Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) when referring to England and the English people.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary entry , the word Angle is derived from the same root as the word angle, originally meaning a fish hook and in this instance
referring to the shape of the district where the Angles originated.
Main article: History of England
Stonehenge, a Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monument in Wiltshire, thought to have been erected c.2000-2500BC.Main article: Prehistoric Britain
Bones and flint tools found in Norfolk and Suffolk show that homo erectus lived in what is now England around 700,000 years ago. At this time, England was linked to mainland Europe by a large land bridge. The current position of the English Channel was a large river flowing westwards and fed by tributaries that would later become the Thames and the Seine.
Archaeological evidence has shown that England was inhabited by humans long before the rest of the British isles because of its more hospitable climate.
Roman conquest of Britain
Main article: Roman conquest of Britain
By AD 43, the time of the main Roman invasion of Britain, Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions, planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. Like other regions on the edge of the empire, Britain had long enjoyed trading links with the Romans and their economic and cultural influence was a significant part of the British late pre-Roman Iron Age, especially in the south.
An Anglo-Saxon helmet found at Sutton HooMain article: History of Anglo-Saxon England
Further information: Anglo-Saxon conquest of England
The History of Anglo-Saxon England covers the history of early mediaeval England from the end of Roman Britain and the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the fifth century until the Conquest by the Normans in 1066.
Fragmentary knowledge of Anglo-Saxon England in the fifth and sixth centuries comes from the British writer Gildas (6th century) the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (a history of the English people begun in the ninth century), saints’ lives, poetry, archaeological findings, and place-name studies.
The dominant themes of the seventh to tenth centuries were the spread of Christianity and the political unification of England. Christianity is thought to have come from three directions — Rome from the south and Scotland and Ireland to the north and west.
Heptarchy is a term used to refer to the existence (as believed) of the seven petty kingdoms which eventually merged to become the Kingdom of England during the early tenth century. These included Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex.
The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms tended to coalesce by means of warfare. As early as the time of Ethelbert of Kent, one king could be recognised as Bretwalda, or „Lord of Britain“. Generally speaking, the title fell in the seventh century to the kings of Northumbria, in the eighth to those of Mercia, and finally, in the ninth, to Egbert of Wessex, who in 825 defeated the Mercians at Ellendun. In the next century his family came to rule all England.
Kingdom of England
Statue of Alfred the Great at Winchester.Originally, England (or Angleland) was a geographical term to describe the territory of Britain which was occupied by the Anglo-Saxons, rather than a name of an individual nation state.
The Kingdom of England was not founded until the separate petty kingdoms were unified under Alfred the Great King of Wessex, who later proclaimed himself King of the English after liberating London from the Danes in 886.
For the next few hundred years, the Kingdom of England would fall in and out of power between several West-Saxon and Danish kings. For over half a century, the unified Kingdom of England became part of a vast Danish empire under Cnut, before regaining independence for a short period under the restored West-Saxon lineage of Edward the Confessor.
The Kingdom of England continued to exist as an independent nation-state right through to the Acts of Union and the Union of Crowns. However the political ties and direction of England were changed forever by the Norman conquest in 1066.
The Bayeux TapestryMain article: Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England was the conquest of the Kingdom of England by William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy), in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent Norman control of England. It is an important watershed in English history for a number of reasons. The conquest linked England more closely with Continental Europe and lessened Scandinavian influence. The success of the conquest established one of the most powerful monarchies in Europe, created the most sophisticated governmental system in Europe, changed the English language and culture, and set the stage for English-French conflict that would last into the nineteenth century.
The events of the conquest also paved the way for a pivotal historical document to be produced – the Domesday Book. The Domesday Book was the record of the great survey of England completed in 1086, executed for William the Conqueror. The survey was similar to a census by a government of today and is England’s earliest surviving public records document.
To date, the Norman conquest remains the last successful military conquest of England.
Mediaeval EnglandThe signing of the Magna Carta in 1215
Fifteenth-century miniature depicting the English victory over France at the Battle of Agincourt.Main article: Britain in the Middle Ages
The next few hundred years saw England as an
part of expanding and dwindling empires based in France, with the „King of England“ being a subsidiary title of a succession of French-speaking Dukes of territories in what is now France. Only when English kings realised that their losses in France meant that England was now their richest and most important possession did they accept the same „nationality“ and language as their subjects in England. They used England as a source of troops to enlarge their personal holdings in France for many years (Hundred Years’ War); in fact the English crown did not relinquish its last foothold on mainland France until Calais was lost during the reign of Mary Tudor (the Channel Islands are still crown dependencies, though not part of the UK).
The Principality of Wales, under the control of English monarchs from the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, became part of the Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. Wales shared a legal identity with England as the joint entity originally called England and later England and Wales.
Portrait of Elizabeth made to commemorate the English victory over the Spanish Armada (1588).Main article: English Reformation
The English Reformation was the process whereby the external authority of the Roman Catholic Church in England was abolished and replaced with Royal Supremacy and the establishment of a Church of England outside the Roman Catholic Church and under the Supreme Governance of the English monarch. The English Reformation differed from its other European counterparts in that it was more of a political than a theological dispute which was at the root of it. The break with Rome started in the reign of Henry VIII.
The English Reformation ultimately paved the way for the spread of Anglicanism in the church and other institutions.
English Civil War
Main article: English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1651. The first (1642–1645) and second (1648–1649) civil wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third war of (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The Civil War ended with the Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.
The Civil War led to the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of his son Charles II and the replacement of the English monarchy with the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653) and then with a Protectorate (1653–1659): the personal rule of Oliver Cromwell. The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England came to an end, and the victors consolidated the already-established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established a precedent that British monarchs could not govern without the consent of Parliament although this would not be cemented until the Glorious Revolution later in the century.
Charles II was the restored House of Stuart King of England in 1660, shortly after Cromwell’s son, Richard Cromwell succeeded Oliver Cromwell and became Lord Protector.
Great Britain and the United Kingdom
When the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland merged to form the unified Kingdom of Great Britain under the Acts of Union in 1707, both England and Scotland lost their individual political, though not legal, identities. This union has subsequently changed its name twice: firstly on the merger with the Kingdom of Ireland following the Act of Union in 1800 creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, and then following the secession from the union of the Irish Free State under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Throughout these changes, England retained a separate legal identity from its partners, with a separate legal system (English law) from those in Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland law) and Scotland (Scots law), and eventually the strong feelings of the Welsh were acknowledged when it was decided that the name would henceforth be „England and Wales“.
A Mediaeval manuscript, showing the Parliament of England in front of the king c. 1300Main articles: Politics of England, Politics of the United Kingdom, and Government of England
There has not been a Government of England since 1707 when the Kingdom of England merged with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, although both kingdoms had been ruled by a single monarch since 1603 under James I. Prior to the Acts of Union 1707, England was ruled by a monarch and the Parliament of England.
The Scottish and Welsh governing institutions were created by the UK parliament along with strong support from the majority of people of Scotland and Wales, and are not independent of the rest of Britain. However, this gave each country a separate and distinct political identity, leaving England (83% of the UK population) as the only part of Britain directly ruled in nearly all matters by the British government in London. In Cornwall, a region of England claiming a distinct national identity, there has been a campaign for a Cornish assembly along Welsh lines by nationalist parties such as Mebyon Kernow.
Regarding parliamentary matters, a long-standing anomaly called the West Lothian question has
the fore. Before Scottish devolution, purely-Scottish matters were debated at Westminster, but subject to a convention that only Scottish MPs could vote on them. The „Question“ was that there was no „reverse“ convention: Scottish MPs could and did vote on issues relating only to England and Wales. Welsh devolution has removed the anomaly for Wales, but not for England: Scottish and Welsh MPs can vote on English issues, but Scottish and Welsh issues are not debated at Westminster at all. This problem is exacerbated by an over-representation of Scottish MPs in the government, sometimes referred to as the Scottish mafia; as of September 2006, seven of the twenty-three Cabinet members are Scottish, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary.
In terms of national administration, England’s affairs are managed by a combination of the UK government, the UK parliament, a number of England-specific quangos, such as English Heritage, and the mostly unelected Regional Assemblies (a kind of nascent executive for each English Region).
There are calls for a devolved English Parliament, and some English people and parties go further by calling for the dissolution of the Union entirely. However, the approach favoured by the current Labour government was (on the basis that England is too large to be governed as a single sub-state entity) to propose the devolution of power to the Regions of England. Lord Falconer claimed a devolved English parliament would dwarf the rest of the United Kingdom. Referendums would decide whether people wanted to vote for directly-elected regional assemblies to watch over the work of the non-elected Regional Development Agencies.
The Palace of Westminster, Parliament of the United Kingdom.During the campaign, a common criticism of the proposals was that England did not need „another tier of bureaucracy“. On the other hand, many said that they were not decentralising enough, and amounted not to devolution, but to little more than local government reorganisation, with no real power being removed from central government, and no real power given to the regions, which would not even gain the limited powers of the Welsh Assembly, much less the tax-varying and legislative powers of the Scottish Parliament (but Welsh powers are now being expanded). They said that power was simply re-allocated within the region, with little new resource allocation and no real prospects of Assemblies being able to change the pattern of regional aid. Late in the process, responsibility for regional transport was added to the proposals. This was perhaps crucial in the North East, where resentment at the Barnett Formula, which delivers greater regional aid to adjacent Scotland, was a significant impetus for the North East devolution campaign. However, a referendum on this issue in North East England on 4 November 2004 rejected this proposal, and plans for referendums in other Regions (such as Yorkshire) were shelved.