History of England
Chapter 1: The Foundations of England The early history of England is essentially a chronicle of invasions. Longbefore recorded British history began with the Roman invaders, waveafter wave of warlike settlers landed on English shores. Here themigrants mingled with other tribes so that the Britons became the mostmongrel of races. These early invaders came because the island lay soinvitingly open to invasion. After the last of these migrant settlers, theCelts, had subdued the island the Roman legions, in turn, subdued theCelts.An Island PeopleCentral to the history and character of the British people is thegeographical location of Britain, Its location, twenty-one miles from theContinent, makes England part of Europe, but with a separate andinsular identity. “Thus, in early times, the relation of Britain to the seawas passive and receptive; in modern times, active and acquisitive. Inboth it is the key to her story.”
History of England (
Garden City,New York; Doubleday, 1953), I,
The land and Its Resources. The physical formation, climate, andminerals of the country tempted the early invaders to settle, andexplain the paths of settlement they followed. Not having masterednature, the successive invaders claimed the rich and accessiblelowlands of southern and eastern Britain and drove the earlierinhabitants to the north and west.
The five thousand British Isles, dominated by the majorislands of Britain (labeled
by Julius Caesar) and Ireland, coverapproximately 120,000 square miles, with the area of England totalingless than half this amount (50,331 square miles). Presumably man firstcame to Britain in the Old Stone Age when the land was still joined tothe Continent. With the closing of the lee Ages, the receding glaciationstransformed the physical surface of the land and left it an island. Butthe early connection with the Continent meant that the flora and faunaof Britain were closely identified with the flora and fauna of northernEurope.Geographical features. The physical map of Britain will show whyEngland was so accessible from the Continent, for the land slopesdownward from the highlands to the north and from the craggy coast of the Atlantic to the low, flat plains of the southeast. Because of thegeneral slope of land from north to southeast most English rivers havetheir outlets on the south and the east coasts. Invaders moved inlandby following the Trent, the Welland, the Nen, and the Thames rivers to