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The History of England has affected us all by its colorful English heritage, which has helped shape the whole world. This small country influenced so much of the OLD WORLD for hundreds of years, and was a power to be reckoned with. The Tree Maker wanted to show a little of the history to our genealogy friends so they can enjoy this same rich heritage as their ancestors did. The information listed may even help genealogist understand a little of what their direct lines had to live through and endure in ever day life. Please enjoy this short history of England and its English heritage.

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History of England and its English Heritage

Display your English coat of arms or your English heritage

History of England: England's heritage is a colorful one. The first recorded history of England begins with the invasion of the island {then called Britain} by Caesar, in 55 B. C. Before that time the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks had visited it to procure tin. It was not until the time of Claudius, nearly one hundred years after Caesar's invasion, that a serious attempt was made to reduce Britain to the condition of a Roman province, and it was not until the time of Agricola that the inhabitants might be said to have been in any degree Romanized. The entire island did not submit to the Romans at any period, and at various times walls were built across it to ward off the attacks of the northern tribes whom the Romans had been unable to subdue. Under the roman dominion the southern part of the island advanced considerably in civilization. Flourishing towns were built there, great roads were constructed and Christianity was introduced.

But soon after the beginning of the fifth century, the Romans found it necessary to withdraw their armies from Britain, and the inhabitants of the country who had been for centuries protected by the Romans, found them-selves utterly unable to repel the invasions of their northern neighbors. They therefore called on the Jutes to aid them, but soon found that the Jutes intended to repay them-selves by making settlements on the island. Other tribes from the mainland, chief among them the Angles and the Saxons, also descended upon Britain and soon overran the country. The English of today have strains of all these peoples.

Of the political divisions into which the Angles and Saxons divided the conquered territory, the most conspicuous were the seven small kingdoms commonly known as the Heptarchy. Gradually the more powerful of these came to dominate the weaker ones, and by 827 Egbert, King of Wessex, had made himself king of the entire country. From this year the kingdom of England {Angle-land} may be considered to date, and Egbert's descendants ruled in England, with the exception of a short period of Danish power, until 1066. In the early strife between the Angles and the Saxons, the civilization of the Romans had been completely overthrown, and Scandinavian mythology had taken the place of primitive Christianity. By the sixth century, however, the Christian religion had been reintroduced by Saint Augustine and his successors.

Meanwhile, the Danes had been constantly harassing the coast, and they gradually obtained a firm foothold on the island. When Alfred the Great ascended the throne, in 871, he found them practically masters of his kingdom. But he succeeded in reducing their power, confined them to a certain part of the country and forced them to do him homage. The successors of Alfred, Edward {901 - 925} and Athelstan {925 - 940}, were again obliged to contend with the Danes, who were constantly issuing from the Danelagh, the territory to which Alfred the Great had confined them. Among the chief political characteristics of the rule of the Saxons in England was the growth of the power of the king, and the early establishment of the Witenagemot, without the sanction of which the king was supposed to undertake nothing of importance. A really strong king, however, might often set aside the Witan and rule almost absolutely.

By 1013 the Danes under Sweyn had made themselves masters of the greater part of England, and Sweyn's son Canute, who succeeded him in 1016, firmly established the Danish rule. Harold and Hardicanute succeeded Canute, and on the death of Hardicanute in 1042 the English line again came to the throne in the person of Edward the Confessor. Edward died in 1066, and Harold, his brother-in-law, was chosen king. He ruled but a few months, however, as William of Normandy, who claimed the throne partly through his relationship to the royal Saxon line, partly through a promise, which he said had been made him by Edward, the Confessor, descended upon England in 1066 and defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings. By Christmas Day William had brought a large part of the island into subjection, and on that day he was crowned in London. It was not until some years later, however, that the complete subjugation of the island was accomplished.

With the reign of William I begins the history of united England, and the monarchs who have ruled since then are shown in the following table:

Ruler Dates of Reign
William I {The Conqueror}
William II
Henry I
Stephen
Henry II
Richard I
John
Henry III
Edward I
Edward II
Edward III
Richard II
Henry IV
Henry V
Henry VI
Edward IV
Edward V
Richard III
Henry VII
Henry VIII
Edward VI
Mary
Elizabeth I
James I {Stuart}
Charles I
Commonwealth
Charles II
James II
William III
Anne 1702
1066 - 1087
1087 - 1100
1100 - 1135
1135 - 1154
1154 - 1189
1189 - 1199
1199 - 1216
1216 - 1272
1272 - 1307
1307 - 1327
1327 - 1377
1377 - 1399
1399 - 1413
1413 - 1422
1422 - 1461
1461 - 1483
1483 - 1488
1488 - 1495
1495 - 1509
1509 - 1547
1547 - 1553
1553 - 1558
1558 - 1603
1603 - 1625
1625 - 1649
1649 - 1660
1660 - 1685
1685 - 1688
1689 - 1702
1702 - 1714

During the reign of Anne, in 1707, the two countries of England and Scotland were united constitutionally, and the title of the sovereign became officially not King of England but King of Great Britain and Ireland. The subsequent rulers are the following:

Ruler Dates of Reign
George I
George II
George III
George IV
William IV
Victoria
Edward VII
George V
Edward VIII
George VI
Elizabeth II
1714 - 1727
1727 - 1760
1760 - 1820
1820 - 1830
1830 - 1837
1837 - 1901
1901 - 1910
1910 - 1936
1936 - 1936
1936 - 1952
1952 to Present

The title is now King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

At William's death in 1087 his second son came to the throne as William II, and his younger brother Henry followed him on his death in 1100. Henry's reign was much disturbed by the attempts of Robert, Duke of Normandy, eldest son of William I, to gain the throne, but Henry was able to strengthen his hold on the kingdom and even to gain possession of Normandy. Henry had chosen as his successor his daughter Matilda, wife of Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, but Stephen, a grandson of William the conqueror, raised an army in Normandy and attempted to seize the throne. After years of fighting with varying results it was agreed that Stephen should reign until his death, and that he should accept as his successor Henry, the son of Matilda. Stephen lived buy a year after this arrangement was made, and in 1154 Henry, the first of the Plantagenet line, came to the throne as Henry II.

Henry II proved to be one of the strongest of English kings. He put down the great barons who had established themselves in their castles and made themselves scourges to the country about them, and he established a just and orderly government. One of the most important events of his reign was his contest with the Church, the powers of which, despite his enforced submission to the Pope after the murder of Becket, he very materially lessened. Henry, whose possessions in France exceeded in extent his English kingdom, had spent little of his time in England, and his son, Richard I {1189 - 1199}, who succeeded him, was in England only one year during his reign. In his absence the nobility succeeded in increasing their power at the expense of the royal authority.

John {1199 - 1216}, who succeeded Richard, while in some ways an able man, was untrustworthy and weak, and during his reign England lost all of its possessions in France. This separation of the two countries in the end worked good to England, as it compelled the Norman barons in England, who up to this time had thought of France as their home country, to recognize themselves as subjects of an English king. John's weakness was beneficial to England in another way, because it allowed the barons, with the support of the people, to wrest from him the Great Charter of Liberties. John's son, Henry III {1216 - 1272}, succeeded him, and much of his reign was taken up with troubles with the barons, which in the end resulted in a confirmation of the Great Charter. It was during this reign that the first House of Commons were assembled.

Edward I {1292 - 1307} proved himself a stronger king than his two predecessors and reduced the country to order. It was in his reign that Wales was finally united with England, and that the fierce struggle with Scotland began, which continued, at intervals, for centuries. Edward, by his defeat of William Wallace, gained some advantage in Scotland, but under Edward II this was lost, and after the victory of Robert Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314, the independence of Scotland was recognized. With Edward III {1327 - 1377} began the long struggle with France known as the Hundred Years War. Edward, with his son, the Black Prince, won brilliant victories, which however, meant no permanent advantage for England, while the great expense of the war was a serious drain on the country. Two important results of the contest to England were the strengthening of the national feeling, which resulted from the union of the Normans and Saxons against France, and the increased power, which Parliament secured because Edward III was dependent upon it for supplies.

Richard II {1377 - 1399} proved a weak king, and after several uprisings, chief of which was the insurrection under Wat Tyler, Henry, Duke of Lancaster, who came to the throne as Henry IV, dethroned him. The persecution of the Lollards and the frequent rebellions headed by supporters of the deposed king, Richard, were the chief events of his reign, which, however, was of importance in the growth of constitutional government in England by reason of Henry's respect for the Parliament which had proclaimed him king. The reign of Henry V {1413 - 1422}, was spent chiefly in the prosecution of the Hundred Years War, and so successful were the English that Henry was able to wring from the French king, Charles VI, a promise that the English king should succeed him on the throne of France. After the death of Henry V and the succession of his son, Henry VI, who was but a boy, the French, with the aid of Joan of Arc, defeated the English and obliged them to relinquish their claims on France.

In the reign of Henry VI {1422 -1461}, began the long factional struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. In the course of these wars Henry VI was several times dethroned and again restored, but ultimately Edward IV, the head of the House of York, firmly established his hold on the throne. After the short reign of Edward V, which was a reign in form only, Richard III usurped the power, but he was overthrown in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, and Henry, Earl of Richmond, came to the throne as Henry VII. He was the first of the Tudor dynasty. The new king was a man of ability, and he successfully upheld the royal authority, at the expense of Parliament and the nobles, so that his son, Henry VIII {1509 - 1547}, found himself, at his accession, in the possession of great power.

The reign of Henry VIII was chiefly noteworthy for the beginnings of the Reformation in England, which arose not through any desire of Henry's to found a new ecclesiastical system, but from a contest of the king with the Pope on a personal matter. Edward VI {1547 - 1553}, Henry's son, carried on the work of the Reformation, but on the accession of Henry's daughter Mary {1553 - 1558}, the most strenuous efforts were made to restore the Catholic religion. Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were the most illustrious of the many victims of this attempt to crush out the Reformation in England. Mary's efforts, however, were in the end vain, as her half-sister, Elizabeth I {1558 - 1603}, on her accession re-established the reforms, which her father had instituted, and by the Act of Supremacy had herself proclaimed head of the Church in England. One important result of this move of Elizabeth's was the increase in the feeling of nationality in England, and his growth was also promoted by the defeat of the Armada. During Elizabeth's reign Ireland was entirely reduced to dependence on England.

When Elizabeth died, James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots, succeeded her on the throne as James I, and established in England the Stuart dynasty. Despite this union of the crowns of the two countries, a complete union was not accomplished for over one hundred years. At the outset of his reign, James, by his statement of the doctrine of the "divine right of kings", instituted a controversy with Parliament, which ended disastrously for his son. This reign is noteworthy in the history of America, because during it were founded the colonies in Virginia and in Massachusetts.

Almost immediately after the accession of Charles I {1625 - 1649}, the struggle with Parliament reached a crisis. Charles prorogued his first two Parliaments, and although he was compelled by the Parliament, which convened in 1628 to assent to the Petition of Right, he assembled no Parliament for eleven years after that time and ruled almost as arbitrarily as Louis XIV of France. The persecutions of the Puritans, the attempt to force the Anglican liturgy on the Scottish Church and the continued disregard of the necessity of calling a Parliament finally brought matters to a head, and when in 1640, Charles did assemble a Parliament, because he found that he must have its aid in putting down the risings in Scotland, Parliament took matters into its own hands and impeached the king's ministers.

The contest soon led to open war. After several years of varying fortunes the war ended in the defeat of Charles, who gave himself up to the Scottish army. He was handed over to the English Parliament and in 1649 was tried, convicted of treason and put to death. The strongest man in parliament and in the army, Oliver Cromwell, soon showed himself the natural head of the country, and he was able by 1653 to make himself Lord Protector of the commonwealth and to rule almost absolutely until his death in 1658. Cromwell's son proved but a weak successor, and by 1660 the royalists were able to bring about the restoration of Charles II, who was most enthusiastically greeted on his return to England. This reign {1660 - 1685}, during which in its foreign policy England was little more then a dependency of France, and the court and society were more licentious then at any other period of English history, passed without any serious protests against the arbitrary character of Charles, so glad were the people to have again a king of the royal line.

Before the death of Charles, attempts were make to exclude from the succession his brother, James, because he had adopted the Roman Catholic religion, but these proved unsuccessful, and James succeeded to the throne without a struggle. The pronounced favor which he showed to Catholics, his setting aside of the Test Act, his proclamation of a declaration of indulgence and, finally, in 1688, the birth of a son who, it was feared, might be trained in the Catholic religion and might continue his father's policy, led many of the great nobles of the country to dispatch an invitation to William and Mary, the son-in-law and daughter of James, to accept the English throne. On their landing, late in 1688, James fled, and William and Mary were proclaimed sovereigns without striking a blow.

During William's reign the Dissenters were allowed freedom of worship, and a step was taken in the direction of true constitutional government, by the declaration of the responsibility of the king's ministers to Parliament. In foreign affairs the reign was taken up largely with the struggle with Louis XIV of France, and William died just when he had begun preparations for another struggle with Louis. Anne {1702 - 1714} continued his plans, and her reign was made brilliant by the successes of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession. It was during the reign, in the year 1707, that the legislative union of England with Scotland was finally accomplished. England's history since that date is regarded as "Great Britain". The new heading can be found under those listings.

Of course much has changed since then and the nation of England is a thriving country proud of its heritage. England is a place that you would be proud to display your English genealogy, family coat of arms or surname history.




Display your English Heritage or Family History from England

Our family tree charts can easily show your English heritage or even the family history from England by simply adding the additional information. Most of our genealogy charts can be customized this way. We can also add a family coat of arms or family crest displaying the beautiful artwork that are blazon of arms are known for. Free pedigree chart if needed.

Customized Charts With Names

9-Generation Fan Chart Plain

9-Generation Fan Chart with 2 Surname History

9-Generation Fan Chart with Coat of Arms and Surname History

9-Generation Fan Chart with 2 Coats of Arms

7-Generation Bow-Tie Chart

6-Generation Chart

6-Generation Chart 2

5-Generation Chart

5-Generation Couples Chart

4-Generation Couples Chart

Cousin's Chart

Blank Charts With No Names

9-Generation Fan Chart Plain

9-Generation Fan Chart with 2 Surname History

9-Generation Fan Chart with Coat of Arms and Surname History

9-Generation Fan Chart with 2 Coats of Arms

7-Generation Bow-Tie Chart

6-Generation Chart

6-Generation Chart 2

5-Generation Chart

5-Generation Couples Chart

4-Generation Couples Chart


This genealogy website was designed to help our visitors find ways to show their English heritage. We think we have do a great job on being able to offer many types of genealogy products to display your coat of arms or family crest, which would proudly list England as the country of origin. Feel free to ask us about any ideas you may have and we may be able to custom create a family tree chart or one of our other genealogy product to display your ancestry in a way that would look even better.




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