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Britan is an island and that fact is more important than any other in understanding its history. Only twice has it ever been conquered, once in 55 B.C. (before Christ) by the Romans and again in 1066 by the Normans. The conquerors always had to have a dialogue with the conquered, producing , sooner or later, a mixed society with elements from both. In the main, however, the country was invaded piecemeal by those resilient enough to brave the rough waters of its encircling seas. Because of that difficulty the numbers which came, whether they were tribes from the Rhineland from, the Mediterranean south, Anglo- Saxons from Germany or Vikings from Scandinavia, were always small. Once here they were absorbed into the existing population. This simple fact, that anyone who came had to make a storm - tossed journey in a boat, accounts for two dominant characteristics of the British as a people: they are both inward and outward looking. The British still cherish their island as a domain separate and inviolate from the rest of the world. Arriving by air today does not remove the sense of entering something cut off. Even a tunnel running under the Channel does not eradicate the sense of a filter