If you are currently studying or planning to study in the UK, there are many things you have yet to learn about its history. The United Kingdom has given us great people and inventions that we cannot imagine our lives without. Here are 10 things you should know about UK history.
London has not always been the capital
“London is the capital city of Great Britain” is one of the first phrases foreign students learn in the English language. While that is entirely true now, it hasn’t always been so. Winchester was the capital of England from 827 to 1066. Before London became the capital, it was the trade capital of the empire.
The University of Oxford is one of the oldest universities in the world
Only 8 years older than the University of Bologna (the oldest university in the world), the University of Oxford was established in 1096. It is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and it remains one of the most prestigious universities to this day. Joining Oxford as a full-time student is an honor and a privilege, as the selection process is very meticulous. The university has been ranked as the number 1 university in the world.
The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world
The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209, making it one of the oldest functioning universities to this day. It is widely accepted as one of the most prestigious universities in the world and one of the hardest to get into. If you ever want to buy a dissertation in the UK, you probably want the final product to look like it was written by a Cambridge graduate. No wonder, as the university is especially well-known for its courses in humanities and social sciences.
The Black Death pandemic reached England in 1348
You’ve probably heard about the bubonic plague, which caused a lot of distress. It was one of the most damaging pandemics in the history of Europe, killing around 25 million people between 1347 and 1351.
William Shakespeare is the greatest English writer
Or so we’re told by most English language and literature teachers! William Shakespeare is not only one of the greatest English writers and entertainers of all time, but he is also responsible for a big chunk of the English language. Many of the words and phrases introduced in his plays are still used by us to this day.
The Battle of Waterloo took place in 1815
The Battle of Waterloo finished what Napoleon Bonaparte started in the early 1800s when he went to war with the rest of Europe. The Duke of Wellington led his army into the battle with Napoleon and won! He secured many years of peace for Europeans. He was also able to resolve any conflict between England and France, leading to a fruitful alliance of the two nations.
Queen Victoria started her rule in 1837
While the Royal Family dates way back, nobody made quite as significant of a transformation as Queen Victoria. She ruled her empire for almost 64 years, making it a longer reign than any British king or queen that came before her. Her cultural and political impact was clearly visible through the industrial revolution. Historians link Queen Victoria’s rule to the many inventions of her time and the growth of the empire she ruled.
England’s shortest war took place in 1896
The war was a lot shorter than you may expect! Also named the shortest war in history, the military conflict only lasted between around 40 minutes. The reason the war was so quick was the sheer force and effectiveness of the British Royal Navy. Roughly 500 Zanzibari men were injured and/or killed, while only one member of the British navy was injured.
Ireland gained independence in 1922
Initially, the country of Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom. The Irish War of Independence started in 1919, but it was caused by the 1916 Easter Rising. After the war, Ireland finally gained independence from the United Kingdom and was declared a free state. However, six Irish counties remained under the UK rule. These parts are now referred to as Northern Ireland and are considered a part of the United Kingdom to this day.
The world wide web was invented in the UK
More specifically, it was invented by an Englishman that goes by the name of Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee. Tim is a computer scientist that is widely known for inventing the world wide web as we know it. His life-changing invention dates back to 1989, can you imagine that?
Ray Campbell is an experienced writer and historian. His work focuses on the United Kingdom and England in particular. Ray is also interested in geography and scientific research.