This is a summary of key information that should be known and committed to memory before you sit your Life In The UK Test. This is not intended to be comprehensive.
- Romans: ruled Britain from 43-410 AD (approximately 400 years). Hadrian’s wall built on orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian to keep out tribes (Picts) who lived in what is now Scotland.
- Middle Ages (1066-1485): period of constant war, including Crusades and Hundred Years’ War.
- Elizabethan period (1500s): known for growing patriotism, expanded trade and rich poetry and drama.
- The Enlightenment (1700s): development of new ideas about politics, philosophy and science. Adam Smith (economics) and David Hume (philosopher) influential Scottish thinkers.
- Industrial Revolution (from mid-1700s to 1800s). Britain produced over half of the world’s supplies of cotton cloth, coal and iron. Machinery and stream power developed.
- Victorian Age (1837-1901): Queen Victoria reigned; Britain increased power and influence abroad. Became largest empire in world history. Middle classes grew significantly and reformers improved conditions for the poor.
- 1900s: jet engine and radar invented. TV & World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee) invented.Hovercraft invented (Sir Christopher Cockrell) and penicillin discovered (Sir Alexander Flemming). ATM invented. Cloned sheep Dolly. Developed Concorde (supersonic jet) with the French. Co-discovered insulin and co-invented the MRI. Structure of DNA molecule discovered. Radio telescope at Jodrell Bank was for many years the world’s largest. Harrier jump jet (takes off vertically). IVF therapy.
- State retirement pension and free school meals introduced before WWI
- 1929: Great Depression. Aviation and automobile industries developed. High unemployment, especially in “heavy” industries (e.g. shipbuilding).
- 1942: Beveridge Report (William Beveridge) set out ideas which led to foundation of modern welfare state.
- 1944: Education Act (R A Butler). Free secondary education and clear distinction between primary and secondary education.
- 1945-1950: NHS and social security system established.
- 1947: 9 colonies gained independence, including India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka
- 1950s: Post-war labour shortages led to recruitment of workers from India, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh.
- 1960s: Increased wealth and liberalisation of social laws (e.g. abortion and divorce).
- 1973: UK joined the EEC
- 1998: Good Friday Agreement led to establishment of Northern Irish parliament
- 1999: Scottish parliament & Welsh assembly established
Battles and Wars
- 1066: William of Normandy conquered England at Battle of Hastings (Bayeux Tapestry)
- 1314: Battle of Bannockburn. Scottish King Robert the Bruce defeated the English.
- 1455: War of the Roses. Civil war between House of Lancaster (red rose) and House of York (white rose) to determine who should be king of England. Ended at Battle of Bosworth Field (1485). Henry Tudor of House of Lancaster became King Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, uniting the two families as the House of Tudor (red rose with a white rose inside). Last of the Welsh rebellions had been defeated by mid-15th century.
- 1588: Spanish Armada was defeated under Elizabeth I
- 1640: Beginning of English Civil War. Parliament (supporters: Roundheads) vs the King (Cavaliers). Charles I introduced Prayer Book; Parliament, made of Puritans, didn’t back him. King’s army defeated at Battles of Marston Moor and Naseby. King Charles I executed.
- 1776: American colonies declare independence over taxation.
- 1805: Battle of Trafalgar. Lord Horatio Nelson (of Nelson’s Column) defeated French (Napoleon) and Spanish fleet.
- 1815: Battle of Waterloo. Lord Wellington defeated Napoleon.
- 1889-1902: Boer War in South Africa.
- 1916: Battle of the Somme WW1. British forces suffered 60,000 causalities on the first day.
- 1918: WWI ended at 11.00 on 11/11.
- 1939: German invasion of Poland led UK and France to declare war on Germany
- 1940 (WWII): Evacuation of Dunkirk. Rescue of 300,000 men by volunteers and small boats.
- 1940 (WWII): Battle of Britain. German/British aerial battle.
- 1982: Argentina invaded Falkland Islands
- Magna Carta (1215): reduced rights of the king and laid out basic rights of the people.
- Act for the Government of Wales (under King Henry VII, 1500s): united England and Wales
- Habeas Corpus Act (1679): forbid unlawful imprisonment
- Bill of Rights (1689): confirmed the rights of Parliament and the limits of the king’s power
- Act of Union (1707): united kingdoms of England and Scotland and created Kingdom of GB
- Reform Act (1832): abolished pocket and rotten boroughs and gave more parliamentary seats to towns and cities. Increased number of (male) voters.
- Emancipation Act (1833): abolished slavery throughout British Empire. William Wilberforce was leading abolitionist and Quakers set up first anti-slavery groups. More than 2 million migrants came from India and China to replace labour force.
- Women’s suffrage – 1918 (vote at 30+ years) and 1928 (vote at 21 years, same as men)
- 1913: Home Rule proposed in Ireland. Idea was to have a self-governing Ireland with its own parliament that still remained part of the UK. WWI postponed any changes. Irish nationalists didn’t want to wait and the Easter Rising against the British in Dublin took place in 1916. Guerrilla war followed.
- 1921: Peace treaty signed splitting Ireland in two
- 1348: Black Death. Killed over 1/3 of Britain. Fewer people meant less need for cereal crops as well as labour shortages, then increased wages. Movement into cities and towns. Gentry (landowners of large plots) and middle class developed.
- 1400: English became preferred language of courts and official documents.
- 1660: The Restoration (of the monarchy). Charles (King of Scotland) invited to come back as King Charles II after Oliver Cromwell’s death.
- 1665: Great Plague
- Glorious Revolution (1688): English Protestants asked Mary’s husband William of Orange (of the Netherlands) to proclaim himself king, as didn’t want a Catholic king. He faced no resistance.
- During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, English settlers began to move to North American colonies.
- Sir Robert Walpole: first PM (1721-1742) as King George I (a German) relied heavily on ministers because of his poor English
- Oliver Cromwell: titled Lord Protector (circa 1640s-1650s) and led Britain whilst it was without a monarch
- King Alfred the Great united the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and defeated the Vikings.
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel: engineer (bridges, trains, tunnels, ships)
- Dylan Thomas: Welsh poet (“Under Milk Wood” & “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”)
- Robert Burns: Scottish poet (“The Bard”), Auld Lang Syne
- Richard Arkwright: Efficient and profitable factory owner during Industrial Revolution
- Sake Dean Mahomet: set up first curry house in Britain and introduced shampooing
- Florence Nightingale: founder of modern nursing
- Emmeline Pankhurst: Suffrage leader
- Rudyard Kipling: Indian-born author and poet. Work reflected idea that British empire was a force for good.
- George and Robert Stevenson: famous pioneers of railway engines
- St Columba & St Augustine: led missionaries from Rome.
- Sir Francis Drake: Elizabethan sailor who helped defeat Spanish Armada and who later sailed around the world.
- Hugunots: French Protestants feeling prosecution settled in England pre-1720
- Henry VIII: famous for marrying 6 times and breaking away from Church of Rome so he could get a divorce. Wales was united with England under his rule. Wives (in order):
(1) Catherine of Aragon
(2) Anne Boleyn
(3) Jane Seymour
(4) Anne of Cleves
(5) Catherine Howard
(6) Catherine Parr
- Margaret Thatcher was first female PM and the longest serving PM of the 20th century.
- Alexander Fleming: Scottish doctor who discovered penicillin (1928)
- Clement Attlee: Churchill’s Deputy PM. Became PM in 1945. Nationalised major industries and created NHS.
- Mary Peters: Olympic athlete who promoted sport and tourism in Northern Ireland.
- Roald Dahl: Welsh author (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” & “George’s Marvellous Medicine”).
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Scottish author (“Sherlock Holmes”)