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1. Ancient people on the territory of the British Isles. The Celts


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The persecution of the Puritans in England deteriorated the whole explosive situation. The Puritan movement was a further development of the Reformation. The Puritans regarded the reformation of the church in England as incomplete; they wanted more change. They considered that church discipline should be more rigid and that all people should lead a more modest life. Many of the Puritans wished to replace the Anglican Church by a Presbyterian one on the model of the Scotch Kirk, which was modest in its service and means, and strict in its rules and teaching. Puritanism, arising as a purely religious movement, later developed into a mighty political force of the 17th century expressing the interests

of the bourgeoisie.

The situation was aggravated in connection with the events in Scotland. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to enforce the Anglican Church system in Scotland. As a result, the Scotch rebelled.

In 1639 Charles I attacked Scotland, and badly needed money on the war. Under such circumstances Charles was forced to summon Parliament the same year. The Short Parliament, which met in April, refused to grant money until grievances were redressed, and was dissolved. Then the Scottish forces invaded northern England and pushed the Kings army back. The king called Parliament again. This Parliament came to be known as the Long Parliament for it sat for 13 years and voted its own dissolution in 1653. The Long Parliament abolished many of the illegal taxes, which had been introduced by Charles I. It brought to trial the king's chief ministers, who had helped him to reign for so long without Parliament. It also issued the Bill that provided for a meeting of Parliament at least once in three years, whether the king summoned it or no.

II))

At first Charles I carried on negotiations with Parliament, but in August 1642 he tried to arrest 6 parliamentary leaders and failed. Charles, confident that he had support among those who felt that Parliament was becoming too radical, fled from London to Nottingham and declared war on Parliament. The Civil war that followed was long and obstinate. The King was holding Oxford, the Parliament -London. Success swayed from side to side. Most people both in the country and in towns didn't want to take any side. In fact, no more than 10% of the population became involved. In Parliament itself most of the House of Lords and a few in the House of Commons supported Charles. The Royalists, known as 'Cavaliers', controlled most of the north and west. The Parliament controlled East Anglia and the southeast, including London. At first its army consisted of armed groups of London apprentices. Their short hair gave the Parliamentary soldiers their popular name of 'Roundheads'. Parliament was supported by the navy, by most of the merchants and by the population of London. It therefore controlled the most important national and international sources of wealth.

The Royalists, on the other hand, had no way of raising money. By 1645 the Royalist army was unpaid, and as a result soldiers either ran away or stole from local villages and farms. In the end they lost their courage for the fight against the Parliamentarians, and at Naseby ['neizbi] in June 1645 the Royalist army was finally defeated. In May 1646 Charles surrendered at Newark, Nottinghamshire, to the Scots, who handed him over to Parliament in January 1647. In November Charles escaped, leading another short war in 1648, was recaptured and kept at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. Charles continued to encourage rebellion against Parliament even from there. A Scottish invasion followed, that was suppressed by Oliver Cromwell. The Parliamentarian leaders, after 4 years of hesitation, decided to execute the King. That was done on ]anuary 31,1649. The Parliamentarian army was commanded by several MPs. One of them was an East Anglia gentleman farmer named Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). He came from a wealthy and influential family, but his own income was rather modest. He has to support a large family: his old mother, wife and eight children. He made a living by farming and collecting rents, and played some role in local administration. The Civil war raised Cromwell to power. At the beginning of the war, he was a captain in charge of a small body of mounted troops; in 1643 he was promoted to colonel and given command of his own cavalry regiment. He was successful in some sieges and small battles against royalist. At the end of the year he was appointed second in command of the Eastern Association Army and received the rank of lieutenant general. He had created a mew model' army, in which, instead of country people or gentry, Cromwell invited educated men who were eager to fight for their beliefs. His cavalry set the tone for the whole army. Under their influence the infantry gradually acquired determination and purpose, which welded the whole army into a first-rate fighting machine and a formidable political instrument. Cromwell played a major role in the victory at Naseby: suppressed the rebellion in South Wales and defeated a Scottish Royalist Army at Preston. After the execution of Charles I, Cromwell led military campaigns in Ireland and Scotland, in order to establish English control over them. The culmination of his military career was the victory over another Scottish Royalist army of invasion at Worcester in September 1651. Then Cromwell was appointed lord general (commander-in-chief) of all parliamentary forces. His military success and influence over the army gave him substantial political power.

III))

Gradually, Cromwell became more and more influential in Parliament and hardened his position towards his opponents in the House of Commons. After the so-called Pride's Purge (the removal of about 100 Royalists and Presbyterians from Parliament by a detachment of soldiers led by Thomas Pride), which Cromwell himself didn't take part in; the remaining part of only 53 members formed the Rump Parliament. It renamed the government of England as the Commonwealth (1649-1653), abolishing the monarchy and the House of Lords. England was declared a republic. In July 1653 Cromwell replaced the Rump Parliament with the 15-member Barebone's Parliament, which was also dissolved in December. On 16 December 1653 Cromwell was proclaimed Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, under the authority of a constitution entitled the Instrument of Government, which had been drawn up by a group of army officers.

So, from 1649 till 1660 Britain was a republic, the Commonwealth of England. It was not a success. Cromwell and his followers created a government far more severe than Charles' had been. The army remained the most powerful force in the country. Continuous disagreement between the army and the Parliament sustained tension and resulted in Parliament dissolution in 1653.

For almost 5 years until his death on 3 September 1658, Cromwell alone governed Britain with far greater powers than king had had. His efforts to govern the country through the army were extremely unpopular. Nevertheless, Cromwell's government, the Protectorate, was able to fulfill some of his goals: strengthened England's navy, brought Scotland and Ireland under English control, and aided the development of English colonies in Asia and North America. Other measures, i.e. setting limits to the freedom of the press and adopting rigid moral standards caused dissatisfaction in the society. For example, people were forbidden to celebrate Christmas and Easter, or to play games on Sunday.

The Commonwealth rested on the support of two groups, the merchants and the lower middle class, which still formed only a small minority of the total population. The last years of the Commonwealth were marked by a steady loss of mass support, an increasingly precarious balance of the generals and the army, only held together by the prestige of Cromwell himself. In 1657, Parliament offered Cromwell the title of king, but he refused it.

The end of the Republic coincided with a long period of famine from 1658 to 1661. When Cromwell died in 1658 the Protectorate collapsed. Cromwell had hoped that his son would take over, but Richard Cromwell was not a strong leader, and resigned the office on May 25, 1659. The army commanders soon started to quarrel among themselves, and in 1660 one army group marched to London, arranged for elections to Parliament, which served as a prelude to the Restoration of the monarchy. The Parliament invited Prince Charles, the son of Charles I, who had lived in France, to return and to rule his kingdom. The Republic was over, and the period of Restoration started

IV))

The Restoration. Prince Charles, the eldest surviving son of Charles I, was born on 29 May 1630, and ascended the throne on 30 January 1649, in exile in France by right. He began negotiations with Scotland to lead any army against Cromwell. He was crowned King of Scots in 1651, and supplied with an Ill-prepared army, which was defeated at Worcester. The next 9 years Charles spent in France.

In his Declaration of Breda (4 April, 1660), Prince Charles promised stability of property, religious toleration and pardons for all except those directly concerned with his father's execution. Charles was restored on May 29. 1660. crowned on April 23, 1661. and ruled until 1685. His ministers were chiefly the old Royalists, who had served him during his exile. He was 30 at that time, fun loving, easy-going; his subjects called him the Merry Monarch. He enjoyed horse racing, gambling, a good company, the theatre and beautiful women. Under his charter, in 1663 the Drury Lane Theatre was open, the oldest English theatre still in use.

During his 25-year reign the English went as far in the direction of amusement as the Puritans had gone in the direction of austerity. For all his gaiety, Charles was clever and intelligent, with common sense and wit, though lazy and cynical. The Restoration did not mean a return to the old order. The Puritan Revolution had limited the English monarchy, but kings still had considerable authority. In fact, King and Parliament shared power.

Charles made no claims to divine right, which his father had insisted on. He knew that he reigned by permission of the landlords and merchants and could be dismissed as easily as he had been invited to take the throne. Nevertheless, conflicts continued during the Restoration. Charles II favoured the Roman Catholic religion and wanted to strengthen royal power. Mindful of his father's fate, he moved cautiously so as not to provoke Parliament. The issues of religion and royal despotism repeatedly emerged during this reign.

In foreign policies, Charles II had to lead wars with the Dutch under the pressure of Parliament, preoccupied with naval and commercial rivalries. The war, started in 1665, was unsuccessful for the English, and in 1667 a peace was concluded which left the position much as it had been before the war. In May 1670, Charles signed a treaty with France at Dover, in order to join forces against the Dutch. In the secret clause of this treaty he promised to convert himself Catholic; the French would pay subsidies to him and in the case of victory to award him Dutch ports. To help English Catholics Charles II published a Declaration of Indulgence, which caused dissatisfaction of Parliament. Charles had to withdraw this declaration and to agree to a Test Act drawn up by Parliament, which excluded Roman Catholics from all offices.

The controversy had two important results. One was the passage in 1679 of the Habeas ['heibies] Corpus Act (Latin for 'you have the body'), a safeguard against arbitrary imprisonment. Anyone who believed himself to be unjustly imprisoned could obtain a writ [rit] (предписание судебных органов), which compelled the government to explain why the prisoner was being held. Another consequence was the beginning of modern political parties. The Whig party, which represented the middle class and the upper nobility, supported Parliament. The Tory party, representing the lesser nobility and the gentry, supported the King. Since Charles II had no legitimate heirs, the issue between Whigs and Tories was reduced to the question of who would succeed Charles on the throne. The legitimate successor was Charles' brother James, an ardent Roman Catholic and proponent of divine right. Charles resisted the attempts of Parliament to exclude James from the succession. He dissolved Parliaments in 1679 and in 1680, and in 1981 under military pressure and with the support of the Tories, crashed the Whigs opposition in the new Parliament. Charles himself was received into the Roman Catholic Church just before his death, on February 1685. When Charles died, James became king.


15. Glorious (Bloodless) Revolution of 1688
James II, intent on reasserting his own authority and that of the Roman Catholic Church, soon antagonized almost everyone. His open contempt for Parliament and his support of the Church of Rome alarmed even the Tories. His opponents were somewhat reassured by the fact that he was growing old. They were also aware that after his death the throne would pass to his two daughters by his first wife, who were Protestants. But in 1688 the king's second wife gave birth to a son, creating thus a possibility of a long line of Roman Catholic monarchs. Tories then joined with Whigs in offering the crown to James' elder daughter, Mary, who had married William III of Orange, the ruler of the Dutch and a stanch Protestant. In November of 1688, William and Mary landed in England at the head of a large army. James could offer little resistance, because his army commanders did not support him. He fled to France, and William and Mary were proclaimed the new rulers of England and Scotland. This reassertion of parliamentary authority is known as the Glorious or Bloodless Revolution of 1688. In order to safeguard the results of the Glorious Revolution, Parliament undertook important measures, passing several bills, which are jointly called the Revolution Settlement. The Bill of Right of 1689 guaranteed freedom of speech in Parliament, provided for frequent meetings of that body, and forbade the king to interfere with the elections of its members. Other clauses guaranteed the right of the people to petition the government, forbade excessive bail, and protected the nation from the illegal use of the army.

Another part of the Revolution Settlement, also passed in 1689, was the Toleration Act, which granted religious freedom to various Protestant groups, although those who were not members of the Anglican Church could not hold public office. A third bill, the Act of Settlement of 1691, provided that no Roman Catholic could be ruler of England. By making the king subordinate to Parliament, the Glorious Revolution was a victory for the principles of parliamentary government and the rule of law. it was also a means of protection against tyranny ['tir ni]. After 1688, government in England was thought of as a sort of contract between king and people, with each having recognized responsibilities and obligations.

So, the main result of the Glorious Revolution was the establishment of a constitutional monarchy - that is. a democratic nation with a royal head.
16. Industrial Revolution
Several influences came together at the same time to Britain’s industry: money, labour, a greater demand for goods, new power, and better transport.

Increased food production made it possible to feed large populations in the new towns. These populations were made up of the people who had lost their land through enclosures and were looking for work. They now needed to buy things they had never needed before. This created an opportunity to make and sell more goods than ever before. The same landless people who needed these things also became the workers who made them.

By the early eighteenth century simple machines had already been invented for basic jobs. So that “mass production” became possible for the first time. Each machine carried out one simple idea of “division of labour” among workers.

By the 1740s the main problem holding back industrial growth was fuel. But at this time the use of coal was perfected, and this made Britain the leading iron producer in Europe. Increased iron production made it possible to manunufacture new machinery for other industries.

John Wilkinson built the largest ironworks in the country. He built the world’s first iron bridge, over the River Severn, in 1779. He saw the first iron boats made. He built an iron chapel for the new Methodist religious sect.

In 1769 James Watt developed a new type of steam engine and in 1781 produced an engine with a turning motion, made of iron and steel. It was a vital development because people were now no longer dependent on natural power.

A series of remarkable textile inventions soon caused England to become a world leader in producing cotton goods. In 1764 a spinning machine was invented which could do the work of several hand spinners. In 1769 was patented Richard Arkwright’s waterframe. Samuel Crompton’s mule (1779) combined the spinning machine and the waterframe. In 1785 Cartwright invented a power loom that made weaving a speedy operation.

The cost of goods was made cheaper than ever by improved transport during the eighteenth century. New waterways were dug between towns. Roads, still used mainly by people rather than goods, were also improved during the century. York, Manchester and Exeter were three days’ travel from London in the 1720s, but by the 1780s they could be reached in little over twenty-four hours.

Soon Britain was not only exporting cloth to Europe. It was also importing raw cotton from its colonies and exporting finished cotton cloth to sell to those same colonies.

The social effects of the industrial revolution were enormous. Workers tried to join together to protect themselves against powerful employers. They wanted fair wages and reasonable conditions in which to work. In 1799 they started to break up the machinery which had put them out of work. The government supported the factory owners, and made the breaking of machinery punishable by death. The government was afraid of a revolution like the one in France.
17. Britain in the Napoleonic Wars.
The growing hostility of England towards the development of the revolution in France finally led to war between the two countries. In 1793 England declared war on France. England together with Austria, Prussia and Spain already at war with France formed the first coalition which lasted four years. In the course of war Prussia and Spain withdrew from the conflict while the defeat of Austria put an end to the first coalition. At this stage Napoleon decided to strike at E. through her possessions in India. Egypt was an important link in his strategic plans. But these plans were disrupted by the English fleet under the command of admiral Nelson. The second coalition lasted 2 years (1799-1801).

Napoleon managed to defeat Austria in 1800. Soon England made peace with France. The Peace of Amiens (1802) signed between E. and F. proved to be only a truce (перемирие). In 1804 Napoleon was declared emperor.

Tension between E. and F. broke into open war and a third coalition of E., Russia, Austria and Sweden was formed in 1805. Napoleon gathered a large army At the French channel port of Boulogne. All E. was in great tension awaiting the invasion. But Russian and Austrian troops frustrated Napoleon’s plans. He was compelled to stop his invasion plans especially after admiral Nelson’s brilliant victory near Trafalgar in 1805 when he destroyed the combined forces of the French and Spanish fleets. E. seemed unconquerable. She headed every coalition against F.

The English had one week spot- their commercial dependence upon Europe. Napoleon announced a continental blockade of the Br. Isles: no trader was allowed to deal commercially with E. Britain did the same for France.

The fate of Napoleon’s empire was decided in Russia. It was the heroic resistance of the Russian people and the army in 1812 that led Napoleon to his final downfall. The Allies (Антанта) assembled at the Congress of Vienna, which met from 1814 to 1815 to redraw the map of Europe which Napoleon had drawn. Quite naturally E., Russia, Prussia and Austria dominated the meetings. England made serious gains to her empire. She secured (овладела) Malta, Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope and others. But the country suffered a severe economic crisis. Foreign trade had seriously shrunk during the long period of wars.

18. The 1832 Reform Bill. Chartism.
In 1825-1827 England faced a typical crisis of capitalism. It effected every branch of economy, thousands of workers became unemployed and social tension was growing in the country. The election system certainly needed reform. In 1830 the July revolution took place in France and it gave a powerful fillip (толчок) to the movement for parliamentary reform in England. The Whig reformers under Lord Grey did not intend to give the vote to everybody. The Bill which they intended to introduce gave the vote only to men paying rates on their property.

A month before the French July revolution William IV was crowned as king. The reformers made use of the situation and handed (вручили) in petitions to reform the electoral system. However, this modest Bill failed to pass the House of Commons on the first occasion. When the Tory majority in the Lords threw out the Reform Bill for a second time, Lord Grey asked the king to make some more Whig peers. The Tories were threatened. When the Bill came up again to the upper house, the latter surrendered and did not vote against it. In 1832 the Reform Bill was passed, and became law.

After the passing of the Bill it became evident that the industrial bourgeoisie was the greatest winner and practically nothing was gained by the working class. The Reform Act took 143 parliamentary seats. Representation was given to the new large towns like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. It increased the number of voters. But most Englishmen, especially the working class, and all English women, were still without the vote. In fact, only one out of forty could vote.

However, not all the conditions of suffrage (избирательное право) that had been insisted on were accepted. There was no secret ballot (избират. бюллетень), no payment of deputies.

Chartism. In 1836 a trade and industrial crisis broke out. The Working Men’s association was organized in London by William Lovett. They formulated their demands in a six-point charter (хартия) (hence the name of the movement): universal suffrage (право голоса), annual parliaments, vote by ballot, abolition (отмена) of the property qualification (имущественного ценза) for MPs, payment of MPs so that low-income representatives could participate in the session of parliament, and the equal electoral districts. Gradually the industrial North became the focus of the whole movement with the main periodical the Northern Star. There were 3 trends in the movement. 1) Lovett and his supporters held the opinion that the Charter must be won in alliance (в союзе) with the radical bourgeoisie and only by peaceful methods – education, peaceful persuasion, agitation and petitions to Parliament. This was the party of “moral force”. 2) The party of “physical force” was headed by Feargus O’Connor. He recognized armed uprising, but only as a last resort when all other methods of struggle had failed. 3) In the course of struggle a revolutionary left wing began to evolve (развиваться) among the Chartists headed by O’Brian, Harney and Jones. They had a much clearer idea of class struggle and considered that socialism was the only option which the workers should choose and that it could be won in stubborn class struggle.

The government undertook suppressive measures against the movement. Some 450 prominent activists of the movement were arrested and imprisoned. The Chartist papers were banned. The failure of the first Petition was a direct result of the lack of unity among the Chartists.

In 1840 the workers in Manchester formed a nation-wide political party known as the National Chartists Association. It was set to unite the working class and gain political power for masses. In 1841 another Petition was being drawn. It contained the main demands of the first petition coupled with new items such as wage increase, shorter working hours etc. The Tory government of 1842 rejected the Petition. The executive committee of the National Chartist Association proclaimed a general strike. A great number of active participants of the Chartist movement were arrested. Some were sent to colonies in Australia.

In 1846 England again was hit by another crisis. National Chartist Association started a new agitation for the third National Petition. The Chartists included the demand to proclaim Britain a republic into the third Petition. On April 10, 1848 a great demonstration was held in support of the Petition. The government mustered (собрали) army and police force in London. The Petition was rejected a third time. O’Connor, the chief organizer of the demonstration in London, failed to give the signal for resolute action. After the dramatic events of 1848 Chartism gradually lost its revolutionary fervour (рвение).

The main reason for the defeat of the Chartists was the harmful influence of the supporters of peaceful evolutionary actions and conciliation with the bourgeoisie as well as the absence of a militant revolutionary party. Chartism made a deep impression on the working class in England. It was the first attempt to build an independent political party representing the interests of the laboring and unprivileged classes of the nation. Chartism played a great historical role. The ten-hour working day, the more liberal factory legislation, the Parliamentary Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884 were results of this heroic effort of British working class struggle.

19. The Victorian Age

On 20 June 1837 at about two o’clock in the morning King William IV died. Four hours later his eighteen-year-old niece Victoria was woken up in Kensington Palace and, still in her dressing-gown and slippers, learnt that she had become the queen. Thus began a reign that was to be the longest in British history, spanning the greater part of the 19th century and ending in the 20th(1901); and Victoria was to give her name to a glorious age.

Victoria started her reign as a willful and passionate young woman, who was also ill-educated and inexperienced. Very soon she was to recover that the political role of the Crown had been further reduced in the years preceding her accession. Although all acts of government continued to be carried out in the name of the sovereign and the monarch still chose the Prime Minister and asked him to form a ministry, the choice was narrowed to someone who had the general confidence of Parliament and especially the House of Commons.

At the beginning of Victoria’s reign her headstrong (несговорчивый) temperament, her susceptibility (восприимчивость) to the undemocratic ideas of Continental royalty and open preference for Lord Melbourne and the Whigs became a real danger to the monarchy. Fortunately, she also had a sense of duty, earnestness (серьезность, вдумчивость).

When Victoria came to the throne Melbourne had been Prime Minister for two years. Melbourne gave a great of time and attention to the political education and advising of the young queen.

The Court at Victoria’s time changed greatly compared with the previous two reigns. The royal family, guided (руководствующаяся) by an ideal of personal duty, became a model for private morality, decency, economy. Interest in the arts and sciences, in learning and education both the general masses and their own children, in national achievements and good works was now the focus of the royal attention. Belief in the improvement was to become the essence of the whole Victorian age.

The mid-Victorian years (1841-1865) were a time of remarkable prosperity. Free trade and not yet encountering any foreign competition, Britain had reason to enjoy its industrial leadership. The achievements of industry and the country’s supremacy (превосходство) in world leadership gave rise to a spirit of confidence in the present and faith in the idea of progress. Britain moved into a new age of transition and reform, an age of High Victorianism.

The election of 1841 gave the Tories a clear majority, and by this time both the queen and the Parliament had recognized that the monarch must choose a Prime Minister. Victoria had to ask Robert Peel to form a government. Peel accepted the idea of gradual reform, free trade, and the industrial society as the basis of Britain’s prospering economy. He faced the agitation of the Chartists and the Anti-Corn Law League. Chartism had originated in the late 1830s. They called for universal male suffrage, the abolition of the property, annual general elections, and electoral districts of equal size. Later they became revolutionary.

The first change concerned the monarchy and started in 1861, when Victoria’s husband died of typhoid fever. The sudden and unexpected death of the Prince Consort led his widow to seclude (изолировать) herself for twenty years from public life. However, though she didn’t afterwards take a part in public life as before, she never neglected any of her essential duties as queen. By the 1870s Victoria was beginning to be viewed in a different light due to the longevity of the reign, her domestic virtues, her role through the marriages of her many children as the matriarch of Europe, as well as being the focus of the world. In 1876 Victoria was made Empress of India. The monarchy became the symbol of stability, tradition and Empire. People could now travel to see the spectacles, read about them in newspapers, see photographs. Victoria was in fact the first media queen.

The second major change is connected with the two main parties that were in response to the new political and social conditions. In 1859 the Peelites came together with the Whigs, Liberals and Radicals to form the future Liberal party, with Palmerston as the Prime Minister and Gladstone as a major force in the party. Benjamin Disraeli was ambitious and amoral. He rescued the Conservative party from the political wilderness and Gladstone’s rival. The conservative party was the party of the establishment and of property.

A distinctive feature of Victorian society in 90s years was that there was no group confrontation of classes. The idea of hierarchy was universally accepted. What held society together was deference (уважение).

Another common ground was respectability (почтенность). It embodied (включало) financial independence achieved through one’s own efforts and self-discipline. Respectability brought with it a cult of work and deep respect for home and family. Those who were not respectable were the extravagant, the unreliable, the drunkard, the passive, and those who lived off the state.

If the queen, deference, religion and respectability drew classes together, so too did philanthropy and good works. The philanthropy of Victorian Britain by far exceeded that of any other European country.

In the last decades of the 19th century the discovery of gold and diamonds in Transvaal had brought there a lot of foreigners, many of whom were Britons. Relations between Boers, descendants (потомки) of Dutch and French Calvinists, and Britons worsened. The war began. The Boer War was to last three years (1899-1902). It began disastrously for Britain and only gradually moved towards victory with the taking of Pretoria in June 1900. However, two more years of guerilla warfare followed until peace was finally made at Vereeniging. The Boers were subjugated and their two states annexed to form the Union of South Africa. Yet, the Boer war isolated the country diplomatically, cost 300 million pounds and claimed the lives of 30,000 men.

20. The First World War and Britain

The First World War was the result of the imperialist monopoly stage of capitalist development and imperialist rivalry between the two main capitalist camps headed by Britain and Germany. V. I. Lenin pointed out that in the war the imperialists aimed at seizing new colonies, plundering the rival countries and weakening the proletarian movement by setting the proletarians of one country upon the proletarians of another. However, Anglo-German contradictions and rivalry were most important in provoking the world war.

In the course of preparation for the war the main imperialist powers settled their disputes and formed opposing alliances (союзы).Thus the Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria was expanded into a Triple Alliance by the adhesion of Italy in 1882.In 1904 the Anglo-French ‘Entente cordiale’ (cordial agreement) was signed and Anglo-French colonial disputes settled. This agreement was of great international importance. From then on Britain and France could join forces against their common rival –Germany. This agreement sharpened the imperialist contradictions between the two blocks, and twice in 1905 and 1911 the rivals were on the brink of war over Morocco.

On August 1, 1914 Germany declared war on Russia, on August 3 it declared war on France. On August 4 Britain declared war on Germany. The invasion of Belgium was a pretext for the British government to disguise a war of imperialist robbery as a war for the upholding of treaty rights and the defence of small nations.

The Germans began the war in the west by the invasion of Belgium, their troops passing through the Belgian capital to make a wide sweep southwards into France .This was their famous Schlieffen Plan-named after Count Schlieffen ,former chief-of-staff .The problem was how to knock out France, before the huge Russian armies could come into action. However, the plan failed. The Russian armies foiled the German plans by distracting much of the German war effort to the east. Moreover, the Anglo-French counter-attack known as the battle of the Marne, from September 6 to 10, 1914 saved the French armies from the intended encirclement: the Germans were forced back, Paris was saved. After the Marne, the Western front settled down to a vast and prolonged siege warfare. It made a quick German victory impossible and gave time for the great but slowly mobilized material resources of the British empire to have their effect. The stalemate on the Western front was, in fact, a prolonged and bloody struggle: it went on for the four years’ duration of the war.

In the course of the war a coalition government was formed with the participation of the Liberals, the Tories and a few Labour representatives. Lloyd George emerged as the dominant figure in the government doing his best to divert growing labour unrest by propagating ‘national unity’.

Despite these efforts there was a growing upsurge of working class militancy. In 1915 there were strikes in the great engineering centre of the Clyde under the leadership of the militant shop stewards. Despite government efforts to ban strikes the workers challenged these attempts and in July 1915 200,000 miners in South Wales went on strike and won their cause. In 1916 open rebellion broke out in Ireland on Easter week. Opposition to war and sympathy for the Russian revolution became widespread and in the course of 1917 872,000 workers actively participated in the strike movement which acquired a political character. Anti-war demonstrations took place far and wide.

However, Lloyd George’s cabinet could continue the war effort thanks to the betrayal or the working class cause by the leaders of the Labour party and the trade union movement. These capitulations left the workers leaderless and bewildered. Of all the European Socialist parties only the Bolsheviks carried on the struggle against war on revolutionary lines.

The surrender of the Trade Union leadership gave the government ample opportunities to step up the war effort. On August 8, 1918 the allied forces staged a major breakthrough surrounding and destroying 16 German divisions. Germany was defeated and the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. After the Paris peace conference the British ruling oligarchy vastly extended the empire at the expense of the German colonies. Germany, Britain’s main rival in trade and industry, was greatly weakened

21.The Second War and Britain

The Second World War was precipitated by the policies of the Western powers who did their utmost to direct fascist aggression against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union on its part consistently urged Britain and France to undertake collective measures to halt the advance of fascism and defeat its aggressive aims. The Chamberlain government exerted every effort to prevent this, and the outcome was the outbreak of World War II. Britain hoped to kill two birds with one stone-that Germany and Japan involved in the war against Soviet Russia would be seriously weakened, the problem of Bolshevism so much hated by the ruling oligarchy would be solved and Britain would maintain her superiority in world affairs. However, these hopes crashed in September 1939 when war between the two imperialist groups headed by Germany and Britain started.

Despite the seriousness of the situation the war was carried on by Chamberlain with great reluctance. The House of Commons forced Chamberlain to resign and Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of a coalition government which included Conservatives, representatives of the Labour party and Liberals. This occurred on May 10, 1940, the day on which Hitler opened his offensive on the western front. Three days after the attack in the west, Churchill warned Parliament, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us many long months of struggle and suffering.” For Britain World War II was now assuming an anti-fascist character when in summer of 1940 an immediate danger of fascist invasion became imminent. Fascist Germany resumed its advance on June 5 which ended with the capitulation of France. In 1940 Italy joined the war against Britain. At this stage of the war Hitler began to make preparations to invade Britain. From August 1940 came the permanent bombing of British cities and military installations, popularly called the “Blitz”. These attacks caused serious damage and took many lives. But the British did not flinch or hesitate in their determination to defeat fascism.

On June 22,1941 fascist Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The participation of the Soviet Union changed the whole content of the war.

When the Japanese fleet in December 1941 attacked the American naval base of Pearl Harbour the USA declared war both on Japan and Germany. This added a new dimension to the war: the antifascist coalition of the Soviet Union, the USA and Britain was thus created. It was a great victory of Soviet foreign policy. A powerful united front against fascism and militarism was formed. The Anglo-Soviet treaty signed in London in May 1942 obliged Britain together with the USA to open a second front. However, these promises were constantly delayed.

During the autumn and winter of 1942-3 the whole tide of war turned. The summer and autumn offensive of the Soviet army in 1943 consolidated the basic gains in the war against fascism and created an entirely new situation. The Soviet victory gave a powerful fillip to the resistance movement all throughout Europe.

Under such circumstances it was necessary to hold a summit meeting to solve the urgent problems of the final phase of the war and especially postwar issues. Such a summit meeting between the Soviet Union, the USA and Britain took place at Yalta in February 1945. The Conference demonstrated the sense of unity between the allies and destroyed all fascist hopes that a united front would not hold.

After victory over Germany urged to preserve the government coalition until the victory over Japan. However, the masses discontent with the reactionary policies of the Conservatives rejected this plan. The broad masses wanted no return to the past associated with the Tories. Despite Churchill’s personal popularity which the Tories tried to exploit the masses rejected the party of ‘big business’.

22. National entity. The population of Gr. Br.: historical background, migration, density (плотность) and distribution, social structure, languages, religions.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a highly centralized and unitary state, and its main component, England, has been so for almost a thousand years, longer than any other European country. As a political entity, however, Britain (as the United Kingdom is loosely called) is less than 300 years old, being the state which emerged, from the union of the ancient kingdoms of Scotland and England in 1707.

The United Kingdom is a land of great diversity, partly in its landscape, but more importantly in the human sphere. There are four territorial divisions, Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland (or Ulster). They all carry a special sense of identity which is strongly affected by the tension between their own distinctive his­tory and tradition and centralized government from London.

National 'ethnic' loyalties can be strong among the people in Britain whose ancestors were not English. For some people living in England who call themselves Scottish, Welsh or Irish, this loyalty is little more than a matter of emotional attachment. The long centuries of contact between the peoples of the four nations of the British Isles means that there is a limit to their significant differences. With minor variations, they look the same, speak the same language, eat the same food, have the same religious heritage (Christianity) and have the same attitudes to the roles of men and Women.

The situation for the several million people in Britain whose family roots lie in the Caribbean or in south Asia or elsewhere in the world is differ­ent. For them, ethnic identity is more than» a question of deciding which sports team to support. Non-whites (about 6% of the total British popula­tion) cannot, as white non-English groups can. The great wave of immigration from the Caribbean and south Asia took place be­tween 1950 and 1965. These immigrants, es­pecially those from south Asia, brought with them different languages, different religions (Hindu and Muslim) and every­day habits and attitudes that were sometimes radically different from tradi­tional British ones. As they usually married among themselves, these habits and customs have, to some extent, been preserved. For some young people brought up in Britain, this mixed cultural background can create problems. For example, many young Asians resent (обижаться) the fact that their parents expect to have more control over them than most black or white parents expect to have over their children. Foreigners have been settling in Britain since the beginning of the century. The number of immigrants was controlled, except for Commonwealth citizens, who, until 1962, were allowed to enter freely. Before the Second World War most of the immigrants came from the old dominions: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. Then in 1952 many immigrants came to Britain from the West Indies, India and Pakistan. They were poor and out of work and had been told there were jobs for them in Britain.

Many English people see themselves as either 'northerners' or 'south­erners''. The fact that the south is on the whole richer than the north, and the domination of the media by the affairs of London and the south-east, lead to resentment (негодование) in the north.

Historians say that the class system has survived in Britain because of its flexibility. It has always been possible to buy or marry or even work your way up, so that your children (and their children) belong to a higher social class than you do. People in modern Britain are very conscious of class differences. They regard it as difficult to become friends with somebody from a different class. Of course, wealth is part of class identity- if you become wealthy, you can provide the conditions to enable your children to belong to a higher class than you do. But it is not always possible to guess reliably the class to which a person belongs by looking at his or her clothes, car or bank balance. Therefore, the clearest indication of a person's class is often his or her accent. In England and Wales, anyone who speaks with a strong regional accent is automatically assumed to be working class. In Bri­tain, as anywhere else where there are rec­ognized social classes, a certain amount of 'social climbing' goes on. Working-class people in particular are traditionally proud of their class membership and would not usually wish to be thought of as belonging to any other class.

Nowadays all Welsh, Scottish and Irish people speak English (even if they speak their own language as well), but they have their own special accents and dialects. Sometimes the difference in accents is so great that people from different parts of the UK have difficulty in understanding one another. A modern form of the dialect known as Scots is spoken in everyday life by most of the working classes in the lowlands. For about 20% of the population (that's more than half a million people), in Wales speak Welsh. The southern accent is generally accepted as standard English.

Christianity was first brought to Britain in the 3rd century from Rome. It became the official religion in Britain. Up to this day Canterbury has remained the English religious centre and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Established Church of England. The immigrants brought to Britain different religions such as Hindu and Muslim.

23. Scotland

Scotland is one of four parts which form the United Kingdom. Scotland forms the northern part of the island of Great Britain. Scotland is 31,510 sq. miles in area; it is 274 miles long from North to South and varies in breadth between 24 and 154 miles

The Midland Valley of Scotland represented the most northern extent of the Roman conquest of Britain after 79 A.D. Remnants of the Antonine Wall, which the Romans built between the River Forth and the River Clyde to defend this frontier, can still be seen. The lands to the north (known to the Romans as Caledonia) were occupied by a war-like tribe called the Picts. Little is known of the Picts, but their origin and language is most-likely Celtic. The more famous Hadrian's Wall, which is over 100 miles long and lies close to the current border between England and Scotland, was built by the retreating Romans (having been harried by continuous Pictish attacks) around 119 A.D.

In the 5th Century the "Scots" came from their home in Ireland and settled in the West of Scotland. The Scots, partially christianised when they came, had Saint Columba as their great missionary, and through him and his followers, built on the work of Saint Ninian converting the Picts and other tribes to christianity. Saint Columba is buried on the sacred island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland.

After centuries of wars with the Picts, they put the crown of Scots and Picts on the head of their king, Kenneth MacAlpin, in 843.

The reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057 - 93) was a time of great social, political and religious revolution. Malcolm had spent much time in England and he and his saintly queen (Margaret) encouraged the introduction of English customs, civilisation, the English language and settlers. Many Normans (the normans having conquered England in 1066) brought French culture to Scotland.

Scotland was a wealthy country through until the beginning of the 14th Century, when Edward I of England (known as the "Hammer of the Scots") was determined to incorporate Scotland into the English crown.

The defeat of Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314 was a great victory, reflected in the songs and spirit of Scottish nationalism until present times. The desire to preserve independence was embodied in a plea to the Pope, known as the Declaration of Arbroath. Long, bloody and destructive wars over the succeeding 300 years ensured that, while Scotland remained free, it was also poor.

John Knox, the Edinburgh churchman, played his part in the reformation in Scotland, which adopted a Presbyterian tradition losing the link between church and state (which is retained in England).

England and Scotland were linked through James VI of Scotland acceding to the English throne in 1603, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I (of England). Elizabeth had persecuted (and finally executed) James' mother and her own cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, but died childless.

Succeeding English monarchs were not as well disposed towards Scotland as James had been. Following the formal Act of Union in 1707, displeasure particularly amongst Highland Scots, supported the rebellions of 1715 and 1745 which attempted to restore respectively the Old and Young (Bonnie Prince Charlie) Pretenders to the throne of Scotland.

After the 1745 rebellion, which was effectively a Civil War, the Highland Clearances began. Thousands were evicted from their rented crofts and the mass migration of Scots to other parts of the world began. Despite the popularist view that the landlords were English, the majority were Scots, but not those of the gaelic-speaking Roman Catholic tradition who had fought for the 'Bonnie Prince'.

The territory of Scotland is divided into two roughly equal parts by so-called Highland Line. It runs from the Stonehaven on the east coast to the Campelltown. The area to the north of this line is mountainous and is called the Highlands. The area to the south is called the Lowlands. The Highlanders have great pride and consider themselves superior to the lowlanders. Most Lowlanders are descendants of Danish and Anglo-Saxon settlers and are therefore not true Scots. The Lowlanders are thought of as quiet, moral and hard-working, the Highlanders as exuberant, carefree and unreliable.

Scotland has a western style open mixed economy which is closely linked with that of the rest of Europe and the wider world. Traditionally, the Scottish economy has been dominated by heavy industry underpinned by the shipbuilding, coal mining and steel industries. Petroleum related industries associated with the extraction of North Sea oil have also been important employers from the 1970s, especially in the north east of Scotland. De-industrialization during the 1970s and 1980s saw a shift from a manufacturing focus towards a more services orientated economy. Edinburgh is the financial services centre of Scotland and the sixth largest financial centre in Europe in terms of funds under management, behind London, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam, with many large finance firms based there, including: the Royal Bank of Scotland (the second largest bank in Europe); HBOS (owners of the Bank of Scotland); and Standard Life.

In 2005, total Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) were provisionally estimated to be £17.5 billion, of which 70% (£12.2 billion) were attributable to manufacturing. Scotland's primary exports include whisky, electronics and financial services. The United States, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain constitute the country's major export markets. In 2006, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Scotland was just over £86 billion, giving a per capita GDP of £16 900.

Tourism is widely recognized as a key contributor to the Scottish economy. A briefing published in 2002 by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, (SPICe), for the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Life Long Learning Committee, stated that tourism accounted for up to 5% of GDP and 7.5% of employment.

As of 2006, the unemployment rate in Scotland stood at 5.1% - marginally above the UK average, but lower than in the majority of EU countries.

Scots law provides for three types of courts responsible for the administration of justice: civil, criminal and heraldic. The supreme civil court is the Court of Session, although civil appeals can be taken to the House of Lords. The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court. Both courts are housed at Parliament House, in Edinburgh, which was the home of the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland. The sheriff court is the main criminal and civil court. There are 49 sheriff courts throughout the country. District courts were introduced in 1975 for minor offences. The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry.

Since the distinctive Scottish Reformation of 1560, the Church of Scotland, also known as The Kirk, has been Scotland's national church. The Church is Protestant and Reformed, and unlike the Church of England, it has a Presbyterian system of church government, and enjoys independence from the state. About 12% of the Scottish population are currently members of the Church of Scotland, with around 40% of the population claiming affiliation at the 2001 census. Scotland also has a significant Roman Catholic population, particularly in the west Islam is the largest non-Christian religion (estimated at 50,000, which is less than 1% of the population), and there are also significant Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities, especially in Glasgow. In the 2001 census, 28% of the population professed 'no religion' whatsoever.

Today, children in Scotland sit Standard Grade exams at approximately 15 or 16. The school leaving age is 16, after which students may choose to remain at school and study for Access, Intermediate or Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams. A small number of students at certain private, independent schools may follow the English system and study towards GCSEs instead of Standard Grades, and towards A and AS-Levels instead of Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams. There are 14 Scottish universities, some of which are amongst the oldest in the world.

The largest party is the Scottish National Party, which campaigns for Scottish independence. The current First Minister is Alex Salmond of the SNP. Before the 2007 election, Jack McConnell of the Labour Party was First Minister, whose government was formed on a coalition basis with the Liberal Democrats. Other parties include the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party.

24. Wales

The Celts had fled westwards under invasions from Romans, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo Saxon English kings had not ruled Wales, and at the Norman invasion Wales was a collection of small kingdoms and principalities from 400AD to 13th Century. There was not even an official boundary with England until King Offa of Mercia built Offa’s Dyke to protect against Welsh attacks in the late 8th. century

England became more of a single kingdom under the Wessex royal line in the 10th century, and it increased English intervention in Wales. It took the Normans some 200 years to gain control of the whole of Wales. The 8 major royal castles like Harlech (left) kept a lid on rebellion in the meantime. Anglo-Normans recognized the Principality of Wales in Treaty of Montgomery, 1267. However treaty was broken and Wales made a Dominion of the English King. By this means was ruled from 1282-1535, ruled by King's officials and marcher lords.

The last major Welsh uprising was by Owain Glyndwr between 1400 and 1416. He was a descendant of the princes of Northern Powys. He had considerable support, possibly influenced more by economic than political factors which also may have contributed to the downfall of the English king, Richard II, by 1399. The new king, Henry IV, made a peace offer on condition that Owain submitted to him as overlord. Owain refused and fighting continued for some years. However by 1415 he had virtually given up and was offered another pardon which he again refused. He seems to have tacitly accepted Henry’s terms, traditionally being thought to have lived with his daughter in Herefordshire for the rest of his life.

Finally the unilateral Act of Union in 1536 "incorporated, united and annexed" "Our Dominion, Principality and Countrey of Wales'' to England. Since then English law and government has ruled in Wales, and Wales has constitutionally followed the same path as England to become part of the United Kingdom today. A solution that appears to have satisfied most Welsh people. Until the middle of the 18th century Wales remained a rural backwater. Population was sparse, and the topography meant that farming was not a viable proposition on any scale.Then the exploitation of coal and iron brought the Industrial revolution to Wales

The need for labour in the south Wales coalfields brought an influx of English into this area which brought about an erosion of the Welsh language, though Welsh continued to be spoken extensively in North Wales. Today the mining of Welsh coal has all but disappeared, but the language continues to be spoken reasonably widely as a second language.

Wales has been governed from London via the Welsh Office, under a cabinet minister. Following the referendum on limited devolution in 1997, the Welsh were seen to be virtually equally spilt on the subject, with the more rural "Welsh" areas being for devolution, and the more industrial areas being against it Wales is not a big country. It has a maximum length of 140 miles and is 100 miles across at its widest. Total area is 8,015 sq miles. It is a mountainous country. Around one quarter of the land is above 1,000ft and in the north the peak of Snowdon rises to 3,560ft, the highest point in England and Wales. In terms of land use - 81% is used for agriculture, 12% is covered in woodland, and only 8% is categorised as urban.

Wales has a population of 2.8 million. The people are mainly concentrated in the south-eastern corner around the capital city of Cardiff. The city, population 270,000, grew up in the 19th century as a coal-exporting port. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries had its major impact in South Wales, where the iron and steel factories and coalmines were concentrated here. Swansea, also in the south, is Wales's second city with a population of 177,000. Newport, to the east of Cardiff near the Welsh border, has a population of 130,000. Like Cardiff, Swansea and Newport owe their growth to the industries of South Wales and their location as ports on the Bristol Channel.

The National Assembly was first established in 1998 under the Government of Wales Act. There are 60 members of the Assembly, known as "Assembly Members (AM)". Forty of the AMs are elected under the First Past the Post system, with the other 20 elected via the Additional Member System via regional lists in 5 different regions. The largest party elects the First Minister of Wales, who acts as the head of government. The Welsh Assembly Government is the executive arm, and the Assembly has delegated most of its powers to the Assembly Government. The new Assembly Building designed by Lord Rogers was opened by The Queen on St David's Day (March 1) 2006.

English law is regarded as a common law system, with no major codification of the law, and legal precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive. The court system is headed by the House of Lords which is the highest court of appeal in the land for criminal and civil cases (although this is due to be replaced by a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom). The Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales is the highest court of first instance as well as an appellate court. The three divisions are the Court of Appeal; the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court. Minor cases are heard by the Magistrates' Courts or the County Court.

In recent years, the service sector in Wales has seen above average growth compared with the rest of the UK. Cardiff and to a lesser extent Swansea and Newport are centres for retail, hotels and restaurants, financial and business services, with Cardiff enjoying significant growth in recent years.

However, Wales does not have a favourable occupational structure. A relatively high proportion of service sector jobs in Wales are in the non-productive public sector: public administration, health and education. Compared to more prosperous parts of the UK, Wales lacks high-value added service sector employment in sectors such as finance, business services and research and development. This is attributable in part to a comparative lack of economic mass (i.e. population) and the absence of a really large city - judged by its wider urban area Cardiff is a non-metropolitan city significantly smaller than other major British regional cities like Leeds, Manchester or Bristol, or prime cities in smaller countries such as Dublin, Copenhagen or Helsinki.

With its mountainous landscape and numerous sandy beaches, Wales has always attracted much tourism. In 2002, nearly 13 million trips of one night or more were made in Wales, generating expenditure of £1.8 billion. 11.9 million of these trips were made by UK residents with 0.9 million coming from overseas.

Wales has a diverse manufacturing sector. Heavy industry, once a mainstay of the Welsh economy has largely been in decline over the past century but is still very apparent. Metal ore refining is a long established industry in Wales. Nearly all the tinplate and much of the aluminium of sheet steel products in the UK are produced in Welsh plants. Much of the ore is imported and some of the metal produced is re-exported.Milford Haven has two oil refineries which represent around a fifth of United Kingdom capacity.Wales is an important producer of automotive components: Ford has a major engine plant at Bridgend; Borg Warner has a major components plant in Kenfig, South Wales; and Visteon (previously Ford) has a large transmission components plant at Jersey Marine near Swansea.During the 1980s and 1990s, a major growth sector in manufacturing is the electronics industry with over 130 North American and 35 Japanese companies having operations in Wales. Welsh manufacturing is noted for its high productivity. However, research and development activity in this sector is relatively scarce and is generally undertaken elsewhere - a characteristic of a 'branch factory' economy where routine production is located in one region while higher skill activities are located in another.

Approximately 80% of the land in Wales is used for agriculture. With its grassy and hilly terrain, livestock farming is more common than crop cultivation. Wales is famous for its sheep, of which there is a population of more than 10 million, outnumbering the human population of more than three to one. Cattle farming for beef and dairy products is also common. About 13% of the land is covered by forestry and woodland. Wales's fishing industry is concentrated mainly along the Bristol Channel. In total, agriculture, forestry and fishing only contributes 1.5 % of the Welsh economy.

The official languages in Wales are English and Welsh. English is spoken by almost all people in southern and eastern. However, northern and western Wales retain many areas where only Welsh is spoken, and English is learnt as a second languageThe Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the Welsh and English languages should be treated on a basis of equality. Public bodies are required to prepare and implement a Welsh Language Scheme. Thus the Welsh Assembly, local councils, police forces, fire services and the health sector use Welsh as an official language, issuing official literature and publicity in Welsh versions (e.g. letters to parents from schools, library information, and council information). All road signs in Wales should be in English and Welsh, including both versions of place names in Wales where names or versions exist in both languages e.g. "Cardiff" and "Caerdydd".

25. Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom lying in the northeast of the island of Ireland, covering about a sixth of the island's total area, its population was 1,685,000, between a quarter and a third of the island's total population.

As an administrative division of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland was defined by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and has had its own form of devolved government in a similar manner to Scotland and Wales. The Northern Ireland Assembly, established in 1998, has been suspended multiple times but was restored on 8 May 2007. Northern Ireland's legal system descends from the pre-1920 Irish legal system (as does the legal system of the Republic of Ireland), and is therefore based on common law. It is separate from the jurisdictions of England and Wales or Scotland.

Northern Ireland has been for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict between those claiming to represent Nationalists, who are predominantly Catholic, and those claiming to represent Unionists, who are predominantly Protestant. In general, Nationalists want Northern Ireland to be unified with the Republic of Ireland, and Unionists want it to remain part of the United Kingdom. Unionists are in the majority in Northern Ireland, though Nationalists represent a significant minority. In general, Protestants consider themselves British and Catholics see themselves as Irish but there are some who see themselves as both British and Irish. People from Northern Ireland are entitled to both British and Irish citizenship. The campaigns of violence have become known popularly as The Troubles. The majority of both sides of the community have had no direct involvement in the violent campaigns waged. Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement or the G.F.A.) in 1998, many of the major paramilitary campaigns have either been on ceasefire or have declared their war to be over.

There are 5 settlements with city status in Northern Ireland: Armagh Belfast Derry
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