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Tema 1

1. Provide brief but comprehensive explanations for the following


Beaker people



Hadrians wall

St. Patrick






Domesday Book

Francis Drake




Tapestry of



A henge is circular area containing a circle of stones or wooden ditches. In the prehistoric
Britain they were centers of religious, political and economic. The word hedge is a
backformation from Stonehenge, the monument in Salisbury Plain.
The Beaker people were the new comers settled in Britain about 2500BC. Their
characteristic was the shape of the pottery beakers, that were found in their graves. They
also brought barley in Britain.
Erse was the dialect spoken by the Gaelic Celts in the Highlands and the Islands of Scotland
in the Iron Age.
Ulster is a province located in the North of the Ireland. The oldest literary of the Irish epic
recording the deeds of the Conchobar and the brave hero Cuchulainn is known as the Cycle
of Ulster.
Ossianism is the name of the new Irish literary fashion in almost the whole Europe, from the
legendary bard Ossian, alleged by James Macpherson.
Hadrians Wall was a defensive fortification built along the northern border, during the
romans invasion, to keep out the raiders (Scots and Picts) from the north. Later on, Hadrian
s Wall marked the border between England and Scotland. The work probably begun in 122
AD, under the rule of emperor Hadrian
St. Patrick, Irelands patron was born in north-west Britain, son of a church deacon. At the
age of 16, he was taken captive by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he begun
to explore for himself the mysteries of the Christian Faith. After six years, he escaped and
returned to Britain. But he had a series of dreams which called him once again in Ireland as a
missionary. Patrick is said to have tought the mystery of the Trinity using a shamrock on a
single stem: God, the Father, Son and Spirit are three that form a single whole.
The Heptarchy is a collective name applied to seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. These
were: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex. The Anglo-Saxon

kingdoms eventually became the Kingdom of England. The term has been in use since
the 16th century. It is used to apply both to the seven kingdoms and to the time period in
which they existed.
The ceorlas were free man entitled to their share of the common land, in the Middle Ages.
They were lower in rank than the Anglo-Saxons noblemen.
Wergild also spelled Wergeld, or Weregild, (Old English: man payment), in ancient
Germanic law, the amount of compensation paid by a person committing an offense to the
injured party or, in case of death, to his family. In certain instances part of the wergild was
paid to the king and to the lordthese having lost, respectively, a subject and a vassal.
The wergild was at first informal but was later regulated by law. In certain areas a
mans wergild was determined by his status in society.
Augustine is the monk sent by Pope Gregory the Great in 597 AD to re-establish Christianity
in England. He came as a missionary in Canterbury, at king Ethelbert of Kents court, and he
became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in 601. He continued to convert especially ruling
families in Kent, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex and Wessex. In Northumbria, Christianity was
introduced by Irish monks 40 years later.
Wedmore also known as The Peace of Wedmore is a term used by historians for an event
referred to by the monk Asser in his Life of Alfred, outlining how in 878
the Viking leader Guthrum was baptised and accepted Alfred as his adoptive father. Guthrum
agreed to leave Wessex and a "Treaty of Wedmore" (sometimes called the "Treaty of
Chippenham") is often assumed by historians to have existed. No such treaty still exists.
However, there is a document not specifically linked to Wedmore that is a Treaty of Alfred
and Guthrum.
Doomsday Book(1088) is the most valuable piece of antiquity possessed by any nation
(David Hume) that represents the best documentary reflecting the way in which feudalism
functions in William (the Conqueror) I s England (the lands of the kingdom, their value,
owners, quality of the soil, cattle or poultry). It contains a general survey of England in the
late eleventh century. Nowadays, it can be found, at a affortunable price as a complete
translation, due to Penguins edition.
The vassals showed their obedience to the king, their lord, through the so-called homage
ritual: the vassal kneeled before the lord, his hands placed between those of his lord.
(Nowadays this ritual is part of the coronation ceremony of British kings and queens.)
The thirteenth century Renaissance was the period in which Normandys industrial and
trading classes encouraged the development of culture in Norman England. The greatest
cathedrals, the two great universities (Oxford and Cambridge) were founded during this era.
Ulster is a province in the north of the island of Ireland. In ancient Ireland, it was one of
the fifths (Irish: cige) ruled by a r ruirech, or "king of over-kings". Ulster was a central topic
role in the parliamentary debates that eventually resulted in the Government of Ireland Act
1920. Under the terms of the Act, Ireland was divided into two territories, Southern
Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the border passing through the province.
Sir Francis Drake, vice admiral (c.1540 27 January 1596) was an English sea
captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out
the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580, and was
the first to complete the voyage as captain while leading the expedition throughout the entire
circumnavigation. With his incursion into the Pacific he inaugurated an era of privateering

and piracy in the western coast of the Americasan area that had previously been free of
piracy. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-incommand of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He died of dysentery in
January 1596 after unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico. His exploits made him a
hero to the English but a pirate to the Spaniards, to whom he was known as El
Draque. King Philip II was said to have offered a reward of 20,000 ducats, about 4 million
(US$6.5 million) by modern standards, for his life.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards
the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the
world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time,
the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant
role in British military history, in particular, playing a large part in the Second World
War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.
The pivotal unit of government in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms was the shire (county), one of
the worlds oldest still functioning government units. In each shire, one shire reeve/ sheriff
was appointed as the kings local administrator, in charge of raising taxes and recruiting
The Tapestry of Bayeux records the story of the Norman triumph against the AngloSaxons, in 1066.
Caledonia is the region comprising present-day Scotland. It was named like that after the
Roman invasion.

2. Write one paragraph (max. 200 words) about the contribution to British
history of each of the following personalities: Boadicea/Boudicca; Alfred the
Great; King Canute; Edward the Confessor; William I.

Queen Boudica
At the time of the Roman conquest of southern Britain Queen Boudica ruled the Iceni tribe of
East Anglia alongside her husband King Prasutagus. Boudica was a striking looking woman.
A great mass of the reddest hair fell down to her hips. Her appearance was terrifying." Definitely a lady to be noticed!
The trouble started when Prasutagus, hoping to curry favour with the Romans, made the
Roman Emperor Nero co-heir with his daughters to his considerable kingdom and wealth. He
hoped by this ploy, to keep his kingdom and household free from attack. Unfortunately the
Roman Governor of Britain at that time was Suetonius Paulinus who had other ideas on the
subject of lands and property. After Prasutagus's death his lands and household were
plundered by the Roman officers and their slaves. Suetonius had Prasutagus' widow Boudica
publicly flogged and her daughters were raped by Roman slaves!
Other Iceni chiefs suffered in a like manner and their families were treated like slaves.
Not surprisingly these outrages provoked the Iceni, Trinobantes and other tribes to rebel
against the Romans.
The Britons at first had great successes. They captured the hated Roman settlement of
Camulodunum (Colchester) and the Roman division there was routed, the Imperial agent
fleeing to Gaul.
Boudica and her allies gave no quarter in their victories and when Londinium (London) and
Verulamium (St. Albans) were stormed, the defenders fled and the towns were sacked and
burned! The revolting Britons even desecrated the Roman cemeteries, mutilating statues and

breaking tombstones. Some of these mutilated statues can be seen today in Colchester
Finally Suetonius, who had made a tactical withdrawal (fled) with his troops into relative
safety of the Roman military zone, decided to challenge Boudica. He assembled an army of
10,000 regulars and auxiliaries, the backbone of which was made up from the 14th Legion.
The Roman historian Tacitus in his 'Annals of Rome' gives a very vivid account of the final
battle, which was fought in the Midlands of England, possibly at place called Mancetter near
Nuneaton, in AD61.
Boudica was not killed in the battle but took poison rather than be taken alive by the
Boudica has secured a special place of her own in British folk history remembered for her
courage; The Warrior Queen who fought the might of Rome. And in a way she did get her
revenge, as in 1902 a bronze statue of her riding high in her chariot, designed by Thomas
Thorneycroft, was placed on the Thames embankment next to the Houses of Parliament in
the old Roman capital of Britain, Londinium - The ultimate in Girl Power!

King Alfred the Great

Anglo-Saxon king 871899 who defended England against Danish invasion and founded the
first English navy. He succeeded his brother Aethelred to the throne of Wessex in 871, and a
new legal code came into force during his reign. He encouraged the translation of scholarly
works from Latin (some he translated himself), and promoted the development of the AngloSaxon Chronicle. This ensured that his deeds were recorded in history as legends and we
know more about him than any other Anglo Saxon King.
Alfred was born at Wantage, historically in Berkshire but currently in Oxfordshire, the
youngest son of Aethelwulf (d. 858), king of the West Saxons. In 870 Alfred and his brother
Aethelred fought many battles against the Danes. Alfred gained a victory over the Danes at
Ashdown in 871, and succeeded Ethelred as king in April 871 after a series of battles in
which the Danes had been defeated. Not all his campaigns were so successful; on a number
of occasions he had to resort to buying off the Danes for a brief respite. Five years of uneasy
peace followed while the Danes were occupied in other parts of England. In 876 the Danes
attacked again, and in 878 Alfred was forced to retire to the stronghold of Athelney which was
at that time an island in the Somerset Levels. The legend of him burning the cakes probably
comes from this period.
His come back and great victory at Edington in 878 secured the survival of Wessex, and the
Treaty of Wedmore with the Danish king Guthrum in 886 established a boundary between
the Danelaw, east of Watling Street, and the Saxons to the west. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
says that following his capture of London in 886 'all the English people submitted to him,
except those who were in captivity to the Danes'. In some respects, therefore, Alfred could be
considered the first king of England. A new landing in Kent encouraged a revolt of the East
Anglian Danes, which was suppressed 88486, and after the final foreign invasion was
defeated 89296, Alfred strengthened the navy to prevent fresh incursions.
During periods of peace Alfred reformed and improved his military organization. He divided
his levies into two parts with one half at home and the other on active service, giving him a
relief system he could call on to continue a campaign. He also began to build burhs (fortified
strongpoints) throughout the kingdom to form the basis of an organized defensive system.
Alfred is popularly credited as being the founder of the Royal Navy; he did build a fleet of
improved ships manned by Frisians and on several occasions successfully challenged the
Danes at sea.
He was superior to all his brothers .. both in wisdom and in all good habits, and furthermore
because he was warlike beyond measure and victorious in almost all battles' - Asser's Life of
Alfred, 893 AD

King Canute
King of England from 1016, Denmark from 1018, and Norway from 1028. Having invaded
England in 1013 with his father, Sweyn, king of Denmark, he was acclaimed king on Sweyn's
death in 1014 by his Viking army. Canute defeated Edmund (II) Ironside at Assandun, Essex,
in 1016, and became king of all England on Edmund's death. He succeeded his brother
Harold as king of Denmark in 1018, compelled King Malcolm to pay homage by invading
Scotland in about 1027, and conquered Norway in 1028. He was succeeded by his
illegitimate son Harold I.
Under Canute's rule English trade improved, and he gained favour with his English subjects
by sending soldiers back to Denmark. The legend of Canute disenchanting his flattering
courtiers by showing that the sea would not retreat at his command was first told by Henry of
Huntingdon in 1130
Canute and Edmund Ironside split up England, and Canute ruled Mercia and Northumbria
until he inherited the whole kingdom. The empire collapsed on his death. He was buried at
Most people think of Canute in connection with the story about him commanding the tide to
halt. But he should be remembered for more than this. He was perhaps the first king to
successfully rule over a truly united realm of England, free from internal and external strife
and unrest. Because he also ruled the Viking homelands, he was able to protect England
against attacks, maintaining twenty years of badly-needed peace during which trade, AngloScandinavian art and Christianity were able to flourish. Canute had great respect for the old
English laws, to which he brought a keen sense of justice and a regard for individual rights.
As part of his promotion of himself as an English king, he did penance for the wrongdoings
of his Viking forefathers, building churches and making many generous gifts to others.

Edward the Confessor was named in this way because of his religious bent, had lived in
Normandy for 25 years in exile. He appointed Norman councilors and church leaders. He is
chiefly remembered as being the founder of Westminster Abbey (burial place). Edward rebuilt
the old Saxon church, that was first a Christian church, in the new Romanesque style and
began his palace nearby. The work was consecrated on December 28, 1065. After his death,
Harold Godwinson chosen, by the witan as the new king, was crowned here, on December,
25, 1066. He did not have any children and the fight for who should succeed him led to the
Norman invasion of October 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

William I
William, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy, on October 14th, and the Normans
defeated the English forces at the celebrated Battle of Hastings, in which Harold was slain.
William then proceeded to London, crushing the resistance he encountered on the way. On
Christmas Day 1066 Duke William of Normandy was acclaimed king in Westminster Abbey. It
was an electrifying moment. The Normans had to live like an army of occupation, living,
eating, and sleeping together in operational units.
Under his rule, the English learned Norman customs and the French language. The wealthy
built castles, cathedrals, and monasteries in the French style. The people learned new skills
from Norman weavers and other workers.
The arrival and conquest of William and the Normans radically altered the course of English
history. Rather than attempt a wholesale replacement of Anglo-Saxon law, William united
continental practices with native custom. By depriving Anglo-Saxon landowners of their
rights, he introduced a brand of feudalism inEngland that strengthened the monarchy. William
introduced feudalism into England. He confiscated the lands of English nobles and divided
them among Norman nobles. In return for the lands, the nobles became Williams vassals.

They promised to be loyal to the king and to provide him with soldiers. William maintained
many English laws and government practices. Villages and manors were given a large
degree of autonomy in local affairs in return for military service and monetary payments. The
Anglo-Saxon office of sheriff was greatly enhanced: sheriffs arbitrated legal cases in the shire
courts on behalf of the king, extracted tax payments and were generally responsible for
keeping the peace. The Doomsday Book was authorized in 1085 as a survey of land
ownership to estimate property and establish a tax base. Within the regions covered by the
Doomsday survey, the dominance of the Norman king and his nobility are revealed: only two
Anglo-Saxon barons that held lands before 1066 retained those lands twenty years later. All
landowners were summoned to pay homage to William in 1086. William imported an Italian,
Lanfranc, to take the position of Archbishop of Canterbury; Lanfranc reorganized
the English Church, establishing separate Church courts to deal with infractions of Canon
law. Although he began the invasion with papal support, William refused to let the church
dictate policy within English and Norman borders.
He died as he had lived: an inveterate warrior.
3. State whether the following statements are true or false:
The Beaker people inaugurated the Stone Age in Britain. F
The henges were centres of religious, political and economic power during the
Stone Age. A
The Celts settled in Britain in 100 BC. F
The Druids religious rituals were not performed in temples but in sacred (oak)
groves, on certain hills, by rivers or by river sources. A
Ossian is a heroic figure of the Cycle of Ulster. F
The Romans conquered Britain in 43 AD. A
The area of Roman occupation was confined to England and Wales. A
Emperor Constantine the Great brought Christianity to Britain. F
The Anglo-Saxons belonged to a Nordic culture which involved the worship of war
gods. A
In the sixth century, only one Anglo-Saxon kingdom survived the Viking invasion. F
The lowest in the Anglo-Saxon social hierarchy were the slaves. A
In 663, the Synod of Whitby decided in favour of the Celtic Christian Church. F
In 870, England was divided into Wessex and the Danelaw. A
The last Viking invasion took place under King Canute. F
Harold Godwinson was defeated by William of Normandy in 1066. A
The Norman social system represented a transition from the tribal to the feudal
organisation. A
The feudal social system was essentially based on two principles: Every man has a
lord, and Every lord has land. A

England refused to allow Spain to trade freely with the American colonies. F
The Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588 under Queen Elizabeth I. A
In 1940 the German air forces launched a major bombing and raiding campaign
over Britain. A
4. Draw up a list of effects of British insularity and write a paragraph (max.
250 words) to explain which you consider the most significant, and why.

Britains peculiar geographical position has influenced its climate, its

people and history in more than one direction:

By the warm Atlantic Current (Gulf Stream) the climate si temperate;

The insular position may also account for the peoples character;

The sea.

I consider that the most significant effect of British insularity is the sea because
help the inhabitants to face only few invasions, mostly from the invaders who had
the possibility to build ships and sail them, and also to build their society
according to their rules. The invaders bring their civilization and the blending,
even if it was forced, made from the Britan a great civilation who conquered later
other countries and influenced them, becoming a great empire. ( USA,