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History of the United Kingdom: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
The United Kingdom has a long and interesting history. In this lesson, you will read about the history of the United Kingdom, which includes the Romans, rats and controlling one-quarter of the whole world at one time.

A Long But Crazy History!

While people think of the United Kingdom, they think of kings and queens, London and even the English language. The United Kingdom, also known as Great Britain, is made up of four parts: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Four countries are united under one king, giving it the name 'United Kingdom.' Together, these people are known as the British.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and make up the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom

Let's start our journey through U.K. history with the Romans, who ruled the southern part of the United Kingdom from 43 to 410 A.D. When they met the Scots, the Romans built Hadrian's Wall, cutting Great Britain in two. The Scots could net get over the wall, and for hundreds of years, Britain was a Roman colony. The Romans gave London its name, Londinium.

The Middle and Dark Ages: 410 - 1484

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Great Britain was a mess! A lot of people invaded from all sides, including the Vikings from Norway and Denmark. Great Britain was very weak, and people from Normandy, France, (the Normans) invaded in 1066 and took over. Today, many of the words in the English language are actually French because of this invasion.

When the mid-1300s rolled around, a horrible disease called bubonic plague killed many people--about half the population of the United Kingdom. The disease was caused by sick fleas that lived on rats. The plague only lasted about 10 years, but life continued to very difficult, dirty and dismal for many years after. This period is called the Dark Ages.

Political Turmoil and Industrialization: 1485 - 1914

More problems were to come following the Dark Ages. Britain entered into a period of tension. Many people were fighting over who would be the king or queen, and at one point, the British even got rid of their kings and queens. There was also a lot of fighting between Catholics (who followed the Roman Catholic Church) and Protestants (who followed the new Church of England).

By 1713, Britain had entered a period of amazing growth under industrialization, the period of great change that revolved around more efficient manufacturing. The United Kingdom became the most powerful country on Earth and ruled many colonies. At one time, the British controlled nearly 1/4 of the world's land under Queen Victoria. This territory included India, Canada and Australia as well as parts of Africa and Asia.

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