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 The Britons

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The Great LEO

The Great LEO

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The Britons Empty
PostSubject: The Britons   The Britons EmptyMon Apr 12, 2010 5:27 am

[font:808d="]Following the withdrawal of the Roman[/font]
[font:808d="]legions to Gaul (modern France) around 400, the British Isles fell into a very[/font]
[font:808d="]dark period of several centuries from which almost no written records survive.[/font]
[font:808d="]The Romano-British culture that had existed under 400 years of Roman rule[/font]
[font:808d="]disappeared under relentless invasion and migration by barbarians. Celts came[/font]
[font:808d="]over from Ireland (a tribe called the Scotti gave their name to the northern[/font]
[font:808d="]part of the main island, Scotland). Saxons and Angles came from Germany, Frisians[/font]
[font:808d="]from modern Holland, and Jutes from modern Denmark. By 600, the Angles and[/font]
[font:808d="]Saxons controlled most of modern England. By 800, only modern Wales, Scotland,[/font]
[font:808d="]and West Cornwall remained in largely Celtic hands.[/font]





[font:808d="]The new inhabitants were called[/font]
[font:808d="]Anglo-Saxons (from the Angles and Saxons). The Angles gave their name to the[/font]
[font:808d="]new culture (England from Angle-land), and the Germanic language they brought[/font]
[font:808d="]with them, English, replaced the native Celtic and previously imported Latin.[/font]
[font:808d="]Despite further invasions and even a complete military conquest at a later[/font]
[font:808d="]date, the southern and eastern parts of the largest British Isle have been[/font]
[font:808d="]called England (and its people and language English) ever since.[/font]





[font:808d="]In 865 the relative peace of England was[/font]
[font:808d="]shattered by a new invasion. Danish Vikings who had been raiding France and[/font]
[font:808d="]Germany formed a great army and turned their attention on the English. Within[/font]
[font:808d="]10 years, most of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had fallen or surrendered. Only the[/font]
[font:808d="]West Saxons (modern Wessex) held out under Alfred, the only English ruler to be[/font]
[font:808d="]called "the Great."[/font]





[font:808d="]England was divided among the Vikings,[/font]
[font:808d="]the West Saxons, and a few other English kingdoms for nearly 200 years. The[/font]
[font:808d="]Viking half was called the Danelaw ("under Danish law"). The Vikings[/font]
[font:808d="]collected a large payment, called the Danegeld ("the Dane's gold"),[/font]
[font:808d="]to be peaceful. The Danes became Christians and gradually became more settled.[/font]
[font:808d="]In time the English turned on the Danes, and in 954 the last Viking king of[/font]
[font:808d="]York was killed. England was united for the first time under an English king[/font]
[font:808d="]from Wessex.[/font]





[font:808d="]In 1066 the Witan ("king's[/font]
[font:808d="]council") offered the crown to Harold, son of the Earl of Wessex. Two[/font]
[font:808d="]others claimed the throne: Harald Hardrada (meaning "the hard[/font]
[font:808d="]ruler"), King of Norway, and Duke William of Normandy. The Norwegian[/font]
[font:808d="]landed first, near York, but was defeated by Harold at the battle of Stamford[/font]
[font:808d="]Bridge. Immediately after the victory, Harold force-marched his army south to[/font]
[font:808d="]meet William at Hastings. The battle seesawed back and forth all day, but near[/font]
[font:808d="]dusk Harold was mortally wounded by an arrow in the eye. Over the next two[/font]
[font:808d="]years, William, now "the Conqueror," solidified his conquest of[/font]
[font:808d="]England.[/font]





[font:808d="]During the remainder of the Middle Ages,[/font]
[font:808d="]the successors of William largely exhausted themselves and their country in a[/font]
[font:808d="]series of confrontations and wars attempting to expand or defend land holdings[/font]
[font:808d="]in France. The Hundred Years War between England and France was an on-and-off[/font]
[font:808d="]conflict that stretched from 1337 to 1453. It was triggered by an English[/font]
[font:808d="]king's claim to the throne of France, thanks to family intermarriages. The war[/font]
[font:808d="]was also fought over control of the lucrative wool trade and French support for[/font]
[font:808d="]Scotland's independence. The early part of the war featured a string of[/font]
[font:808d="]improbable, yet complete, English victories, thanks usually to English[/font]
[font:808d="]longbowmen mowing down hordes of ornately armored French knights from long[/font]
[font:808d="]range.[/font]





[font:808d="]The English could not bring the war to[/font]
[font:808d="]closure, however, and the French rallied. Inspired by Joan of Arc, a peasant[/font]
[font:808d="]girl who professed divine guidance, the French fought back, ending the war with[/font]
[font:808d="]the capture of Bordeaux in 1453. The English were left holding only Calais on[/font]
[font:808d="]the mainland (and not for long).[/font]
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