Culture and Civilization Matters

August 3, 2009

England: Timeline of Pivotal Events

The BBC has made available a useful tool that can allow you to interactively navigate Britain’s History.


You can access this tool by clicking HERE. We encourage you to explore how Modern-Day England evolved from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

You can also access another BBC tool that chronicles the history of Kings and Queens through time.


You can access this tool by clicking HERE. We encourage you to explore the British Monarchy’s lineage.

The BBC site also breaks British history down into ten key periods: Normans, Middle Ages, Tudors, Civil War and Revolution, Empire and Sea Power, Abolition of Slave Trade, Victorians, World War I, World War II and Modern Britain.

You can read more about each of these periods by clicking HERE.

During the course we will provide a brief overview of Pivotal Events in British History that shaped the country you will experience during the residenc:

NORMAN PERIOD (1066-1154)

    October 1066: William of Normandy defeats Harold II at the Battle of Hastings.

    September, 1087:William II, is crowned at Westminster Abbey. following William I’s death in Normandy

    1096: Oxford University is founded.

    August, 1100: Henry I is crowned at Westminster Abbey after William II is killed in a hunting accident.

    September, 1106: Henry I defeats and captures his brother, Robert of Normandy

MIDDLE AGES (1154-1485)

    December 1154: King Henry II, the first “Plantagenet” king, accedes to the throne.

    June 1215: King John and his barons sign the Magna Charta

    December 1264: Simon de Montfort’s “Parliament” is summoned following a rebellion against Henry III

    July 1348: Black Death enters Britain killing between 30%-45% of the population.

    May 1420: Charles IV cedes France to Henry V in the Treaty of Troyes

    November, 1477: William Claxton Publishes the First Printed Book in Britain entitled “Dictes of Sayenges of the Philosophres”

    January 1486: Henry Tudor marries Elizabeth of York, uniting the two houses and ending the Wars of the Roses.

TUDOR PERIOD (1407-1603)

    April 1509: Henry VII dies and is succeeded by Henry VIII

    November 1534: Act of Supremacy makes Henry VIII the head of the English Church

    November 1558: Mary dies and Elizabeth I accedes to the throne

    January 1571: Elizabeth I officially opens the Royal Exchange

    September 1580Sir Francis Drake Arrives at Plymouth after circumnavigating the globe in the Golden Hind

    August 1588: English disperse the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines

    1599: Globe Theater is built by William Shakespeare’s playing company.

    December 1600: British East India Company receives its charter from Elizabeth I


    March 1603: James I, cousin of Elizabeth, accedes the throne. The first Stuart ruler unites the three separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland.

    November, 1605: Gunpowder plot to assassinate James I is discovered. Conspirators including Guy Fawkes executed.

    1611: King James Bible is published.

    August 1620: Pilgrim Fathers sail for America in the Mayflower

    August 1642: English Civil War begins as Charles I raises his standard at Nottingham

    August 1648: Oliver Cromwell’s Parlimentarian troops defeat the Scottish-Royalist Army

    January 1649: Charles I is executed at the Banqueting House Whitehall, London

    September 1658: Oliver Cromwell dies. Commonwealth of England collapses into financial chaos and arguments between military and administration increase. Charles II is invited to return from exile.

    1694: William Patterson founds Bank of England to manage mounting debts from William III’s expensive wars.


    November 1720: South Sea Company bubble bursts and triggers financial panic.

    April 1721: Sir Robert Walpole becomes first Prime Minister and is given the official residence of 10 Downing Street by George I

    March 1765: Riots erupt in American colonies after parliament levies Stamp taxes.

    1771: Factory Age begins with the opening of Britain’s first Cotton Mill at Cromford, Derbyshire.

    1774: John Wesley publishes “Thoughts Upon Slavery”

    October 1781: Americans defeat British army at Yorktown, Virginia effectively ending the War of Independence

    May 1788: First edition of “The Times” of London is published

    April 1791: Parliament rejects William Wilberforce’s bill to abolish the slave trade.

    October 1805: Royal Navy defeats French and Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar

    June 1815: Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, defeats Napoleon at Waterloo

    April 1829: Parliament grants Catholic Emancipation via the Relief Act

    July 1833: Parliament passes a bill to abolish slavery in the British empire


    June 1837: Victoria comes to the throne following the death of William IV

    May 1838: The People’s Charter advocated Social and Political reform

    September 1838: London-Birmingham Railway line opens with newly designed Euston station.

    August 1841: Sir Robert Peel forms a Conservative Government

    May 1851: The Great Exhibition opens at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. Showcasing the worlds most advanced inventions, manufactures and works of art, it attracted almost six million visitors.

    May 1876: Voting by secret ballot is introduced by William Gladstone’s Liberal Government.

WORLD WARS (1900-1945)

    August 1914: Britain declares war on Germany in response to the invasion of Belgium.

    February 1917: German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare results in United States declaration of war.

    November 1918: World War I ends when Germany signs an Armistice.

    January 1919: Paris Peace Conference draws up treaties, including the Treaty of Versailles, to end World War I.

    April 1925: Chancellor Winston Churchill returns Britain to the Gold Standard

    September 1939: Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declares war on Germany in response to the Invasion of Poland

    May 1940: Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the Coalition Government. On the same day, Germany invades Holland and Belgium.

    September 1940: Blitz begins with massive daylight raid by the Luftwaffe. 950 aircraft attacked London. It was the start of 57 consecutive nights of heavy bombing.

    August 1941: Anglo-American alliance is sealed between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt with the Atlantic Charter

    June 1944: 150000 Allied forces troops land in Normandy on D-Day.

    May, 1945: Grand Admiral Karl Donitz surrendered to Allied General Dwight Eisenhower in France on May 7. Britain celebrates the end of the war on Victory in Europe Day.

    October, 1945: United Nations comes into existence with Britain as founder member.


    August 1947: India gains independence from Britain.

    April 1949: Republic of Ireland comes into being.

    August 1950: British troops arrive to support US forces in Korean War.

    May 1951: Festival of Britain is opened by George VI. There were over 10,000,000 aid admissions to the 6 main exhibitions in 5 months.

    February 1952: Elizabeth II succeeds her father, George VI

    April 1955: Winston Churchill retires as prime minister and is succeeded by Anthony Eden.

    January 1973: Britain joins European Economic Community

    May 1979: Conservative Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first female prime minister.

    July 1997: Britain hands Hong Kong back to China.

    January 1999: Britain decides not to join the European single currency (Euro).

    March 2003: Britain joins US in Iraq Invasion.

Click HERE to return to Main Course Page.


Blog at