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: Great Britain 2

: Great Britain 2
: 00:00:00 19 2011
: 413 : 12 : 2 : 5 :    


Physical Features


1. Geographical survey [`s :vei] .

2. Climate and Nature.

1. Geographical survey .

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles [`ailz] a large group of islands lying off the north-western coasts of Europe and separated from the continent by the English Channel and the Strait of Dover [`douv ] in the south and the North Sea in the east.

The British Isles consist of two large islands Great Britain and Ireland, and a lot of small islands, the main of which are the Isle of Wight [wait] in the English Channel, Anglesea [`æŋglsi:] and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the Hebrides [`hebridi:z] a group of islands off the north-western coast of Scotland, and two groups of islands lying to the north of Scotland: the Orkney [`o:kni] Islands and the Shetland [`∫etl nd] Islands.

Historically the territory of the United Kingdom is divided into four parts: England, Scotland (including the Orkney and Shetland Islands), Wales and Northern Ireland. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands between Great Britain and France are largely self-governing, and are not part of the United Kingdom.

The total area of the United Kingdom is 242. 000 square kilometres.

The main areas of high land are in Scotland, Wales and Cumbria [`kλmbri ]. In the centre of England there is a range of hills called Pennines [`penainz], which are also known as the backbone of England. Nearly the whole of Wales is occupied by the Cumbrians [`kλmbri nz]. The highest mountains are in Scotland and Wales: Ben Nevis is 1. 343 metres and Snowdon [`snowdon] is 1. 085 meters.

The rivers of Britain are short, the water level in them is always high. The rivers seldom freeze in winter. Many of them are joined together by canals [k `nælz]. This system of rivers and canals provided a good means of cheap inland water transport.

The most important rivers are the Severn [`sev n], the Thames, the Tyne [tain], the Trent [trent], the Mersey [`m :zi] and the Clyde [klaid].

British lakes are rather small and have no outlets. They afford [ `fo:d] limited ,eco`nomic possibilities in the system of navigable [`nævig bl] water ways. But most of them are famous for their unique beauty and picturesque surroundings.

Great Britain is rich in coal. There are rich coal basins [`beisnz] in Northumberland [no:θλmb l nd], Lancashire [`læŋk i ], Yorkshire [`jo:k i ], Nottinghamshire [`notiŋæm i ], South Wales, North Wales and near Glasgow. Among other mineral resources there is iron, tin ( ) , copper [`kop ] and silver.

2. Climate and Nature.

Great Britain is situated in the temperate [`temprit] zone of Europe. The nature of Great Britain is greatly affected by the sea: there is no place situated more than 100120 km from the seashore, in the northern parts only 4060 km.

The climate is generally mild and temperate. Prevailing winds are south-westerly and as these winds blow from the Atlantic they are mild in winter and cool in summer. Due to the prevalence [`prev l ns] of mild south-west winds and the Gulf Stream, which flows from the Gulf of Mexico, Great Britain has warmer winters than any other `district in the same latitude.

The mild winters mean that snow is a regular feature of the higher areas only. Occasionally, a whole winter goes by in lower-lying parts without any snow at all.

The popular belief that it rains all the time in Britain is simply not true. The image [`imidg] of a wet foggy land was created two thousand years ago by the invading [in`veidiŋ] Romans. In fact, London gets no more rain in a year than most other major European cities, and less than some.

The amount of rain falls on a town in Britain depends on where it is. The wettest part of Britain are the areas where high mountains lie near the west coast: the western Highlands of Scotland and Lake `District and North Wales. Autumn and winter are the wettest seasons, except in the Thames district, where most rains fall in the summer.

With its mild climate and varied [`ve rid] soils, Britain has a rich natural vegetation [,vedgi`tei∫n]. When the islands were first settled, oak forests probably covered the greater part of the lowland. Now woodlands occupy only about 7 per cent of the surface of the country. The greatest density [`densiti] of woodland occurs in the north and east of Scotland, in some parts of south-east England and on the Welsh border. The most common trees are oak, beech () , ash () and elm () , and in Scotland also pine and birch.

Most of countryside England is agricultural land, about a third of which is arable [`ær bl] , and the rest is pasture [`pa:st∫ ] and meadow.

With the disappearance of forest, many forest animals, including the wolf, the bear, the boar, the deer and the Irish elk [elk] , have become practically extinct [iks`tiŋkt] . There are foxes in most rural [`ru r l] areas, and otters [`ot z] are found along many rivers and streams. Of smaller animals there are mice, rats, hedgehogs, moles, squirrels, hares, rabbits and weasels [`wi:zlz] .

There are a lot of birds, including many song-birds. Blackbirds, sparrows and starlings are probably most common. There are many sea-birds, which nest round the coasts.


The Early History of Great Britain


1. Prehistory

2. The Celtic Period

3. The Roman Period

4. The Anglo-Saxon Period

5. The Vikings

1. Prehistory

Men have lived in Britain for at least 250 000 years. Early men lived in caves and hunted animals for food. Gradually they learned to grow corn and breed domestic animals. They made primitive tools and weapons of stone.

About three thousand years BC the British Isles were inhabited [in`hæbitid] by a people, who came to be known as the Iberians [ai`birinz] because some of their descendants are still found in the north of Spain (the Iberian Peninsula [ai`birin pi`ninsjul]).

These people were religious. Some temples which they built stand in many parts of England and Scotland. They are just circles of great stones standing vertically. The greatest of them is Stonehenge [`stounhendg]. It was built on Salisbury [`so:lzbri] Plain some time between 3050 and 2300 BC. It is one of the most famous and mysterious archaeological [,a:ki`lod3ikl] sites in the world. One of its mysteries is how it was built at all with the technology of the time (the stones come from over 200 miles away in Wales). Another is its purpose. It appears to function as a kind of astronomical [,stro`nomikl] clock and it was used by the Druids [`dru:idz], the Celtic priests, for ceremonies marking the passing of the seasons.


inhabit , ,


Iberian Peninsula

temple ,


Salisbury Plain

archaeological site

astronomical clock


2. The Celtic Period

About 500600 BC new peoples from the Continent arrived in Britain. They were called the Celts. They introduced Iron Age cultures into the British Isles.

More than one Celtic tribe [traib] invaded [in`veidid] Britain. Celtic tribes called the Picts [pikts] penetrated [`penitreitid] into the mountains of North; some Picts as well as tribes of Scots crossed over to Ireland and settled there. Later the Scots returned to the larger island and settled in the North beside the Picts. They came in such large numbers that in time the name of Scotland was given to that country. Powerful Celtic tribes, the Britons [`britnz], held most of the country, and the southern half of the island was named Britain after them. Most of the Iberians were slain in the conflict; some of them were driven westwards into the mountains of what is now Wales and the others probably mixed with the Celts.

The Celts did not write down the events themselves. Other peoples (the Greeks and the Romans) who knew them described them in their books. The earliest writer from whom we have learned much about the Celts was the famous Roman general Julius Caesar [`d3u:ljs `si:z]. He tells us that the Celts were tall and blue-eyed. They wore long flowing moustaches but no beards. They lived in tribes, and were ruled by chiefs whom all the tribesmen [`traibzmn] obeyed. The chiefs were military leaders and some of them were very powerful. The military leaders of the largest tribes were sometimes called kings.

The Celts had no towns; they lived in villages. They were acquainted with the use of copper, tin and iron and they kept large herds [h:dz] of cattle and sheep which formed their chief wealth. They also cultivated crops, especially corn ( , ).

Some of the Celtic tribes were quite large and fighting was common among them. In war-time the Celts wore skins and painted their faces with a blue dye to make themselves look fierce. They were armed with swords and spears and used chariots [`t∫ærits] on the battle-field.

The Celts worshipped [`w:∫ipt] Nature. They were polytheistic [,poliθi`istik]. They believed that the sky, the sun, the moon, the earth and the sea were ruled by beings like themselves, but much more powerful. They also believed in many nameless spirits who lived in the rivers, the lakes, mountains and thick forests. Some plants, such as the mistletoe and the oak-tree, were considered sacred [`seikrid]. The Celts sacrificed [`sækrifaist] animals and human beings to their gods. Sometimes these victims were placed into a great wicker [`wik] basket and burnt, sometimes they were slain with knives.

The Celts believed in another life after death. They were taught by priests called Druids [`dru:idz], that their souls passed after death from one body to another. The druids lived near groves of oak-trees which were considered to be sacred places. No one was allowed to come near without permission. The druids were very important and powerful, sometimes, more powerful than the chiefs. They often acted as prophets [`profits]. They were also teachers and doctors.

Wise women were also considered to be very important. There were women prophets, and women warriors [`woriz] who trained young men in arms; some women were made tribal [`traibl] chiefs and called queens.


tribe ; tribal ,

invade ,




Julius Caesar









wicker basket



3. The Roman Period

In the year 55 BC the Romans under Julius Caesar [`d3u:ljs `si:z] first landed in Britain. Their aim was to assess [`ses] the wealth of the country with a view to absorbing [`bso:biŋ] it later into the Empire [`empai]. Caesar expected to conquer Britain easily. In fact, it was not easy work, for the Britons fought bravely. But the Romans had better arms and armour [`a:m], and were much better trained. The Britons could not stop them. Having stayed in Britain some time, the Romans left and did not appear on the British shores for about a hundred years. Then, in 43 AD, the Roman Emperor [`empr] Claudius [`klo:djs] sent 40 000 men to invade Britain. He decided to make Britain a Roman province [`provins]. But there was a lot of hard fighting to be done before Britain was conquered. By the year 49 AD most of Lowland England was under Roman control. The last serious resistance [ri`zistns] of the Celts came in 61 AD, when Boadicea [,boudi`si] (Boudicca [`bu:dik || bu:`dik]) , queen of Iceni [ai`si:nai] tribe , let her people in revolt [ri`voult]. The revolt was suppressed and the queen took prison.

The Roman province of Britannia [bri`tænj] covered most of present-day England and Wales. But the North of Scotland was not occupied by Romans. The Romans imposed [im`pouzd] their own way of life and culture, making use of the existing Celtic aristocracy [,æris`tokrsi] to govern and encouraging this ruling class to adopt Roman dress and Roman language (Latin).

The Romans founded the first cities, including Londinium (London); they built roads from one town to another, many of these roads are still in use today. The Romans remained in Britain for three hundred and fifty years, but despite their long occupation of the country, they left very little behind. Most of their villas [`vilz], temples, cities and roads were soon destroyed. Almost the only lasting reminder of their presence are place-names like Chester [`t∫est], Lancaster [`læŋkst] and Gloucester [`glost], which include variants of the Roman word castra (which means a military camp).

In 410, when Roman power all over the world was fast declining and when Rome wanted all the soldiers at home, the Roman army went away.



absorb , .


armour ,

Emperor Claudius



revolt ,

Boadicea ( Boudica )

Iceni tribe









4. The Anglo-Saxon [`æŋglou`sæksn] Period

After the Roman soldiers left Britain the Celts remained independent but not fo r long. From the middle of the 5th century they had to defend the country against the attacks of Germanic [d3 :`mænik] tribes from the Continent. In the 5th century first the Jutes [d3u:ts] and then other Germanic tribes the Saxons [` sæksnz ] and the Angles [` æŋglz ] began to migrate [mai`greit] to Britain.

In 449 the Jutes landed in Kent and this was the beginning of the conquest. The British natives fought fiercely against the invaders and it took more than a hundred and fifty years for the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes to conquer the country. The final refuge [`refju:d3] of the Celts was Cornwall [`ko:nwl] and Wales and the northern part of the island (Scotland) where the Celts were still living in tribes, later on some independent states were formed. The Celts of Ireland remained independent too.

By the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th century several kingdoms were formed on the territory of Britain conquered by the Germanic tribes. Kent was set up by the Jutes in the south-east. In the southern and the south-eastern part of the country the Saxons formed a number of kingdoms Sussex [`sΛsiks], Wessex [`wesiks] and Essex [`esiks]. The Angles founded Northumbria [no:`θΛmbri] in the north, Mercia [`m:∫i] in the middle and East Anglia [`i:st`æŋgli] in the east. These kingdoms were hostile [`hostail] to one another and they fought constantly for supreme power in the country.

The Jutes, the Saxons and the Angles were closely akin [`kin] in speech and customs, and they gradually merged [`m:d3d] into one people, which was called the Anglo-Saxons.

The Anglo-Saxons disliked towns and cities, they preferred to live in the countryside. They introduced new farming methods and founded the thousands of small villages which formed the basis of English society for the next thousand or so years. In their villages they bred cows, sheep and pigs. They ploughed [plaud] the fields and grew wheat, rye or oats for bread and barley for beer.

The Anglo-Saxons were tall, strong men, with blue eyes and long blond hair. They were dressed in tunics [`tju:niks] and cloaks which they fastened with a brooch above the right shoulder. On their feet they wore rough leather shoes. Their usual weapons were a spear and a shield. Some rich men had iron swords, which they carried at their left side. The women wore long dresses with wide sleeves. Their heads were covered with a hood.

The Anglo-Saxons were pagans [`peignz] when they came to Britain. Christianity spread throughout Britain from two different directions during the 6th and 7th centuries. It came directly from Rome when St. Augustine [`gΛstin] arrived in 597 and established [is`tæbli∫t] his headquarters [`hed`kwo:tz] at Canterbury [`kæntbri] in the south-east of England. But Christianity had already been introduced into Scotland and northern England from Ireland, which had become Christian more than 150 years earlier. Although Roman Christianity eventually [i`ventjuli] took over the whole of the British Isles, the Celtic model persisted [p`sistid] in Scotland and Ireland for several hundred years.






migrate ,








East Anglia


akin , ,

merge ,




St . Augustine .

establish ,

headquarters -




5. The Vikings

In the 8th century Britain experienced another wave of Germanic invasions [in`vei3nz]. These invaders, known as Vikings [`vaikiŋz], Norsemen [`no:smn] or Danes [`deinz], came from Scandinavia [,skændi`neivj].

The Danes were the same Germanic race as the Anglo-Saxons themselves. They still lived in tribes. They were still pagans. They worshipped Woden [`woudn], the god of War, Thor [θo:] and the other old gods whom the Anglo-Saxons had forgotten.

The Danes were well armed with swords, spears, daggers [`dæg], battle-axes [`bætlæks] and bows. They were bold and skilful seamen. Their ships were sailing-boats but they were also provided with oars [o:z]. The sails were often striped red and blue and green. At the prow [prau] of the ship there was usually a carved dragons head which rose high out of the water.

In 793 the Danes carried out their first raids on Britain. Their earliest raids were for plunder [`plΛnd] only. They came in spring and summer (in three or four ships) and returned home for the winter. Every year they went to different places, thus all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms faced the same dangerous enemy. In later years large Danish [`deini∫] fleets (more than three hundred ships) brought large armies to conquer and settle in the new lands. They didnt go home for the winter but they made large well-guarded camps, from which the Danes made many raids upon the villages in the area.

The Danish raids were successful because the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had neither a regular army nor a fleet in the North Sea to meet them. Soon the Danes conquered Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia. Only Wessex was left to face the enemy.

Wessex had united the small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and under the reign of King Alfred (871899) became the centre of resistance against the invaders. Alfred, who became known in English history as Alfred the Great, managed to raise an army and built the first British fleet. He made new rules for the army, in which every free man had to serve and to come provided with the proper weapons. Many places which could be easily attacked by the enemy were fortified [`fo:tifaid]. Earthen walls were built around them. These walls were protected by fighting men who owned lands in the neighborhood.

As a result of all these measures, the Anglo-Saxons won several victories over the Danes. The Danes left Wessex and a part of Mercia. They settled in the north-eastern part of England, a region that was from that time called the Danelaw , because it was ruled according to the law of the Danes.

At the end of the 10th century the Danish invasions were resumed [ri`zju:md]. The Anglo-Saxon kings were unable to organize any effective resistance and they tried to buy off the Danes. The Anglo-Saxon kings gave them money to leave them in peace. The result was that they came again in greater numbers the following year to demand more. In order to make this payment to the Danes in 991 the government imposed a heavy tax called Danegeld [`dein,geld], or Dane money.

At the beginning of the 11th century England was conquered by the Danes once more. The Danish King Canute [k`nu:t] (10171035) became king of Denmark, Norway and England. He made England the centre of his power. But he was often away from England in his kingdom of Denmark and so he divided the country into four parts called earldoms [`:ldmz]. They were Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia. An earl [`:l] was appointed by the king to rule over each great earldom. To win the support of the big Anglo-Saxon lords, Canute promised to rule according to the old Anglo-Saxon laws. He sent back most of his Danish followers to their own country. He usually chose Anglo-Saxon nobles for the high posts of earls and other royal officials. He became a Christian and sent monks [mΛŋks] from Canterbury to convert [kn`v:t] his subjects in Scandinavia to Christianity too. Supported by the Anglo-Saxon lords Canute ruled in England till he died. After the death of Canute his kingdom split up and soon afterwards an Anglo-Saxon king came to the throne (1042) and the line of Danish kings came to an end.




Norsemen ( Northmen ) ,



Woden ()







King Alfred (871899) ()





Canute [ k ` nu : t ] (10171035)

earldom ; earl

monk ; convert ( )


Great Britain in XIXVII centuries


1. The Norman Conquest of England

2. The ruling of the Plantagenets [plæn`tæd3inits] Dynasty [`dinsti]

3. King John and Magna Carta [,mægn`ka:t]

4. The birth of the British Parliament

5. The struggle of Scotland for its independence

6. The Hundred Years War

7. The war of White and Red Roses in England

8. The Tudors England

9. The Stuarts England

10. The Civil War, the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution

1. The Norman Conquest of England

In 1066 William, the Duke of Normandy [`no:mndi] (the northern territory of France), began to gather an army to invade Britain. His father, Robert, had been Canutes brother and a cousin of Edward the Confessor , the King of England, so William believed he was King Edwards rightful heir . But Saxon nobles did not want a French king, and after Edwards death they proclaimed a young Saxon named Harold [`hærld] King of England. Harold was the second son of the earl of Wessex, one of the most powerful English nobles of the time. Everything in Harolds career suggested that he would have made a ruler in the best Saxon tradition brave, vigorous [`vigrs], honourable and generous.

When Harold was crowned king in London, William immediately began to make preparations to invade England. He gathered a great army and sailed across the English Channel on hundreds of ships. Harolds army met him on the English coast. There was a great battle at Hastings [`heistiŋz] on October 14, 1066. Harolds soldiers fought bravely, but Williams army was stronger. Harold was killed and with his death the battle was lost.

William marched north and took London. He was crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. Thus the Norman duke became king of England William I or, as he was generally known, William the Conqueror . He ruled England 21 years (10661087).

During the first five years of his reign the Normans had to put down many rebellions [ri`beljnz] in different parts of the country. The free peasants [`peznts] fought fiercely for their freedom against the invaders. To protect himself from attacks of the Saxons, William ordered to build a strong tower on the left bank of the Thames. It was called the White Tower because it was built of white stone. Later other buildings were added and the whole place was surrounded by a stone wall to form a strong fortress which we know now as the Tower of London.

William the Conqueror took lands from Saxon nobles and gave them to his Norman barons who became new masters of the land. So the native English aristocracy [,æris`tokrsi] was replaced by a French aristocracy. Great nobles, or barons, were responsible directly to the king; lesser lords, each owing a village were directly responsible to a baron. Under them were the peasants, tied by a strict system of mutual [`mju:tjul] duties and obligations to the local lord, and forbidden to travel without his permission. This was the beginning of the English class system.

The peasants were the English-speaking Saxons. The lords and the Barons were the French-speaking Normans. For a very long time two languages were spoken in the country. Norman-French was the official language of the court, law and government administration. Common Saxon people spoke Anglo-Saxon. The existence of two words for the large farm animals in modern English is a result of the class divisions established by the Norman conquest. There are the words for living animals (e.g. cow, calf, pig, sheep ), which have their origins in Anglo-Saxon, and the words for the meat from the animals (e.g. beef, veal, pork, mutton ), which have their origins in the French language that the Normans brought to England. Only the Normans normally ate meat; the poor Anglo-Saxon peasants did not.

As a result of the Conquest, the Anglo-Saxon language changed greatly under the influence of the French language. The two languages gradually formed one rich English language which already in the 14th century was being used both in speech and in writing.

William the Conqueror sent groups of men all over the country to make lists of all the population together with the information of how much land every family had and how much cattle and what other property they had on their land. All this information was put into a book which was called the Domesday Book [`du:mzdei,buk]. Thus, for the first time in the history of England, it was possible to collect the right taxes for the king.


William, the Duke of Normandy ,

Edward the Confessor




vigorous ,


Westminster Abbey

William the Conqueror

rebellion ,




the Domesday Book


2. The ruling of the Plantagenets [plæn`tæd3inits] Dynasty

William I left three sons. Robert, the elder son, became the Duke of Normandy after his fathers death.

The middle one, also called William, became the King of England William II (10871100) and was known as Rufus [`ru:fs] (that means the Red) from the redness of his face. Politically and military successful, Rufus was unpopular with the Church because of his treatment of it, though he had a very high reputation in knightly circles. He was killed by an arrow in 1100, while hunting. It was probably a hunting accident.

Rufus was succeeded in England by his younger brother Henry I (11001135). In 1101 Robert, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England. The two brothers met in battle in 1106. Robert was beaten and became his brothers prisoner until his death in 1134. Henry was the master of both England and Normandy. He was a powerful ruler.

Henry had one son, William, who was drowned [draund] in 1120, and a daughter, Matilda [mo`tild]. She was the most prominent woman in early 11th-century England. She had married Henry V, the Holy Roman Emperor [`empr] , on his death she married Geoffrey [`d3efri] Plantagenet [plæn`tæd3init], count of Anjou [a:ŋ`3u:].

In 1135 when Henry I died, Matilda was pushed aside by Stephen [`sti:vn], son of Adela [`ædil], the daughter of William the Conqueror. Stephen was King from 11351154, but throughout that time he was opposed [`pouzd] by Matilda, who wanted the throne first herself and then her son Henry. There was Civil War until 1153, when it was agreed that Stephen should rule until his death. In the death of Stephen it was agreed that Henry should become King.

Henry II came to the throne in 1154. He was master of a great empire. He was Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou, Tourain [tu:`ren] and Maine [mein]. In 1152 he married Eleanor [`elin] of Aquitaine [`ækwi,tein], who brought him large parts of the south of France. She was famed for her beauty, brilliant mind, and courage.

Henry II was highly intelligent, active and hot-tempered. His aim was to restore [ri`sto:] England to what it had been under Henry I. He retook lost territories, and destroyed castles, built without his permission. He improved the economy [i:`konmi] and legal system, creating the Kings Court, which travelled around his country so that freemen could seek justice there. He began the use of Westminster as a centre of government.

Henry II is best remembered by his quarrel with Thomas [`toms] Becket [`bekit], Archbishop [`a:t∫i`bi∫p] of Canterbury [`kæntbri] . Becket was initially Henrys friend. But he resisted [ri`zistid] Henrys attempts to reduce [ri`dju:s] the Churchs power. In 1170, Henry in a rage, begged for someone to get rid of Becket. At once four knights rode away and murdered Becket in his cathedral. Becket was later made a saint [seint].

When Henry died in 1189 he was succeeded as King by his son Richard, called Richard the Lion-Hearted . One of the historians [his`to:rinz] says: He played a small part in the affairs of England and a large part in the affairs of Europe. Richard spent only two short spells in the country, one of three months and one of two months. Richard was famous for his good education and courage. He was a man of excellent manners, kind to his friends and cruel to his enemies. He spent most of his time taking part in crusades [kru`seidz] in Palestine [`pælistain]. Richard the Lion-Hearted was killed in one of the battles in France in 1199, and the English throne passed to his brother John.





to be drowned



the Holy Roman Emperor

Geoffrey Plantagenet




Civil War

Count of Anjou, Tourain and Maine ,

Eleanor of Aquitaine

restore ,

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury ,



Richard the Lion-Hearted



3. King John and Magna Carta

John was unpopular because of his history of plotting against family members: he killed his 16-year-old nephew Arthur, who had the best claim to the throne, being the son of Johns elder brother Jeffrey.

John was faced with three main problems. The power of the English nobility [nou`biliti] was increasing ; the possessions [p`ze∫nz] of the English kings in France were daily becoming more difficult to defend; and the Church was eager to gather into its hands as much power as possible. John attempted to maintain [men`tein] his positions. But he was unlucky in war and lost most of Englands land, so he lived up to his nickname, Lackland.

In 1215 the richest and most powerful sections of English society the aristocracy [,æris`tokrsi], the Church and the merchants [`m:t∫nts] formed a coalition [,kou`li∫n] against the King. At Runnymede [`rΛni,mi:d], an island in the Thames Johns opponents [`pounnts] made him sign a document called the Great Charter [`t∫a:t] (Magna Carta [,mægn`ka:t] in Latin), in which the king agreed to follow certain rules of government. The document officially stated certain rights and liberties [`libtiz] of the people, which the king had to respect. And it defined and limited royal rights. Magna Carta was a long list of everything that was wrong with government as John applied it. Baronial [b`rounil] liberties were protected and freemen were provided with some guaranties [`gærntiz] against arbitrary [`a:bitrri] royal actions. The crown alone would not be able to determine its rights. So Magna Carta could be called The cornerstone of English liberties.

John had no intention of agreeing Magna Carta without a fight. The war with the barons continued. In 1216 King John died of a fever. His son Henry became the King Henry III. England was deep in war.


nobility ,

increase ,







Great Charter (Magna Carta)


apply . ,




determine ,

4. The birth of the British Parliament

Henry was only nine years old when he became king. So William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke [`pembruk], acted as a Regent [`ri:d3nt]. He ruled the country for the young king. Marshal was famed throughout the Christian world for his courage, physical power and skill in fighting, and also for his honourable nature. He served Henry II, Richard I and John with utter loyalty [`loilti]. Peers [piz] and churchmen respected his wisdom and asked his advice.

Henry III was a weak king, foolish and dishonourable . Unlucky in war he failed to regain [ri`gein] Englands territories in France, lost by King John. Henrys wife, Eleanor, was French. She brought French nobles to the English court. Henry showed special favour to these Frenchmen, often giving them English land. This made him hated by the English barons. The high taxes Henry demanded , and his wasting money on useless wars, made him very unpopular.

At Easter 1258 a group of barons rebelled [ri`beld]. Civil war broke out. Henry and his son, Prince Edward, commanded the royalist forces, and Simon de Montfort [`saimn d `montft || Fr. mo:n`fo:r], Earl of Leicester [`lest], Henrys brother-in-law (he was married to Kings sister Eleanor), led the barons. In April 1264 the King and Edward were badly defeated , and they were taken prisoner by the barons. Simon became ruler of England.

The great act of Simon, while he ruled, was to summon [`sΛmn] a Parliament in June 1264. Parliament was established as a regular form of government. Parliaments were meetings of the most important men in the country to exchange views and offer advice. Parliaments origins are unclear but the calling together of barons and prelates [`prelits] to exchange views and give advice to the monarch [`monk] was not a great departure from the Kings traditional practice of consulting the great men of the kingdom. The great barons, out of whom the House of Lords was formed, came in person, and as the small freeholders [`fri:,holdz] were too many to do the same, a few of their number came to act for them. Simon brought the towns in by having each city send two of its citizens. Simons Parliament was not full and free. The number of earls and barons was small, only those being called who were friends of his. On the other hand, there was a large body of clergy [`kl:d3i], as among them his friends were many.

The barons disliked the great power Simon wielded [wi:ldid]. He was killed in 1265. Henry III spent his last years enjoying his happy and long marriage, and encouraging the arts. He was a lover of architecture and many beautiful cathedrals were built or improved during his reign. Henry rebuilt Westminster Abbey, where he was buried when he died in 1272.


William Marshal,Earl of Pembroke ,





regain ,




Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester ,

defeat ,




freeholder ,


wielded ,




5. The struggle of Scotland for its independence

Edward I, the son and successor of King Henry III, might be taken as a pattern of the medieval [,medi`i:vl] King. He was strong and tall, a fine soldier, a good horseman, and fond of hunt. He ruled the realm [relm] well and wisely. He was a determined monarch, firm in the defence of his rights.

Edward devoted his first years as King to Wales. The Prince of Wales, Llywelyn [l`welin], was called on to do homage [`homidg]. But the prince didnt come. He and his people still hoped to win their freedom. In 1282 Edward defeated Llywelyns army and killed him and his brother, the last of the Welsh royal line. As a recompense [`rekmpens] Edward offered his baby son to the Welsh people to be their prince. It is said that Edward promised the Welsh a prince who speaks no English; the baby prince couldnt speak at all. In 1301 the young prince was officially created Prince of Wales and this title has been held by successive [sk`sesiv] heirs to the throne ever since.

Edward was determined to conquer Scotland as well as Wales.

The feudal [fju:dl] system did not develop in the Highlands where the tribal clan system continued. Although Scottish kings had sometimes accepted the English king as their overlord, they were strong enough to defend their country. But in 1290 a crisis [`kraisis] took place over the succession to the Scottish throne. On a stormy night in 1286 Alexander III King of Scotland was riding home along a path by the sea in the dark. His horse took a false step, and the king was thrown from the top of the cliff. He left no heir, but there was a crowed of men who had any claim to the Scottish throne. Of these, the best known are John de Balliol [`beiljl] and Robert Bruce [bru:s], both of Norman blood, who held lands in England and Scotland. Edward was called on to say who should be king, and he settled on Balliol, but made him acknowledge him as head king.

There was a fight between France and England, and the Scots sided with France. But they were defeated and Balliol was forced to give up the crown to Edward, who brought away the Scottish crown jewels and with them a relic [`relik] whose loss was deeply felt. At Scone Abbey [sku:n || skoun] there was a piece of rock, called Stone of Destiny [`destini], on which the Scottish king stood when he was crowned. It was said where that stone was the Scottish king should reign. Edward placed it on a throne in Westminster Abbey, where the stone and chair still are seen and on them all the Kings of England have since been crowned.

Edwards treatment of the Scots led to the creation a popular resistance [ri`zistns] movement . At first it was led by William Wallace [`wolis], a Norman-Scottish knight. But after one victory against English army, Wallaces peoples army was destroyed by Edward in 1297. Wallace was captured [`kæpt∫d], brought to London and executed . He gained by his death the martyr s [`ma:tz] crown.

Edward tried to make Scotland a part of England, as he had done with Wales. Soon Scottish nobles accepted him, but the people refused to be ruled by the English king. A new leader took up the struggle. This was Robert Bruce. He was able to raise an army and defeat the English army in Scotland. Edward I gathered another great army and marched against Robert Bruce, but he died on the way north in 1307. On Edwards grave were written the words Edward, the Hammer of the Scots. One historian said that Edward had intended to hammer the Scots into the ground and destroy them, but in fact he had hammered them into a nation.

After Edwards death Bruce had enough time to defeat his Scottish enemies, and make himself accepted as king of the Scots. He then began to win back the castles still held by the English. When the son of his old enemy Edward II invaded Scotland in 1314 Bruce destroyed his army near Stirling Castle . This battle assured Scottish independence for a further three centuries.










John de Balliol

Robert Bruce


Scone Abbey

Stone of Destiny

resistance movement

William Wallace




Stirling Castle

6. The Hundred Years War

In the first half of the 14th century the king of England was Edward III (13271377). He was a powerful king. And he was wise, courageous and ruthless [`ru:θlis].

Edward III possessed the ability and determination to restore royal authority [o:`θoriti] in England. His reign was a long and great one. He reformed the law, improving justice for ordinary people. He made English, not French the official language of law and Parliament. He was successful in his dealings with the barons; he had no favourites , and he brought many of the leading barons into the royal circle as Knights of the Order of the Garter [`ga:t], which he established in 1348.

Edward III was a great and popular soldier. His war was wholly [`houli] with France. Through his mother Isabella [,iz`bel], the only surviving child of the French king Philip IV [`filip], he had a claim to the throne of France. This claim was not allowed by the French, who claimed that women by the Salic law [`sælik] were shut out from the throne. So in 1337 Edwart III claimed the right to the French Crown and declared war on France. Thus began the war, later called the Hundred Years War, which did not finally end until 1453, with the English Crown losing all its possessions in France except for Calais [`kælei], a northern French port.

In 1346 Edward invaded France. At first the English were far more successful than the French on the battlefield. The English army was experienced through its wars in Wales and Scotland. It had learnt the value of being lightly armed, and rapid [`ræpid] in movement. Its most important weapon was the Welsh longbow [`loŋbou]. It was very effective on the battlefield because of its quick rate of fire. Such arrows could go through most armours. The value of the longbow was proved in two victories, at Crecy [`kresi] in 1346 and at Poitiers [`pwa:tjei] in 1356, where the French king himself was taken prisoner. The English captured [`kæpt∫d] a huge quantity of treasure, and it was said that after the battle of Poitiers every woman in England had a French bracelet [`breislit] on her arm. The French king bought his freedom for 500 000 pounds, an e`normous amount of money in those days.

By the treaty [`tri:ti], in 1360, Edward III gave up his claim to the French throne because he had re-established control over areas previously held by the English Crown. The French recognized his ownership of all Aquitaine [,ækwi`tein], including Gascony [`gæskni]; parts of Normandy [`no:mndi] and Brittany [`britni], and newly captured [`kæpt∫d] port of Calais [`kælei].

But the war did not end, the fighting soon began again. Most of this land, except for the port of Calais [`kælei], was taken back by French forces during the next fifteen years.

Henry V (14131422), the second king from the House of Lancaster [`læŋkst], reopened war with France. In 1415, Henry and his army sailed to France. Henry V was a brilliant leader. he arranged his army so intelligently, and inspired them so powerfully, that at the battle of Agincourt [`æd3inko:], they defeated a mounted [`mauntid] French army three to five times the size of the English force. Only about 500 English soldiers were killed, compared with about 7 000 French soldiers. More brilliant victories followed, until in 1419 the French king made peace. The two kings signed a treaty, which allowed Henry to keep all the land he conquered. It also gave him the French kings daughter, Catherine, in marriage, and made him heir to the French throne. But Henry died before he could be crowned King of France.

In 1428 the English laid siege [si:d3] to Orleans [`o:rli:nz], and its fall seemed at hand, when France was saved as if by miracle [`mirkl]. From the town of Domremy [do:nr`mi:] came a girl of sixteen years, Joan of Arc [,d3oun v `a:k], who claimed she had been sent by God. She led a force to Orleans, and with but a few men reached the city and defeated the English. Later she was captured [`kæpt∫d] and burnt after being found guilty of witch-craft and heresy [`hersi]. She was made a saint in 1920.

To England nothing was left but Calais [`kælei] and thus ended the Hundred Years War.



authority .


Knight of the Order of the Garter


Philip IV IV

Salic law






enormous amount


re - establish






the House of Lancaster



lay siege




Joan of Arc



7. The war of White and Red Roses in England

The Hundred Years War, in which England lost practically all its lands in France, ended in 1453, but there was no peace in the country. Long before the end of this war, a feudal [fju:dl] struggle had broken out between the descendants [di`sendnts] of Edward III. During the reign of Richard II (13771399), the last king of the Plantagenet [plæn`tæd3init] dynasty [`dinsti], Henry Bolingbroke [`boliŋbruk], Duke of Lancaster [`læŋkst], seized [si:zd] the crown and became the first king of the Lancaster dynasty, Henry IV (13991413).

The interests of the House of Lancaster supported by the big barons collided [k`laidid] with the interests of the lesser barons and merchants [`m:t∫nts] of the towns, who supported the House of York . The feudal struggle grew into an open war between the Lancastrians [,læŋ`kæstrinz] and the Yorkists [`jo:kists]. The Lancasters had a red rose in their coat of arms , the Yorks had a white rose. Thats why the war between them got the name of the War of the Roses . This war, which lasted for thirty years (14551485), turned into a big struggle for the Crown, in which each party murdered every likely heir to the throne of the opposite party. It was a dark time for England, a time of anarchy [`ænki], when the kings and nobles were busy fighting and murdering each other and had no time to take care of the common people, who suffered greatly.

Henry VI, the last king from the House of Lancaster, was a gentle man, but weak both physically and mentally. In 1461 Edward, the new duke of York and leader of the Yorkists, marched to London at the head of an army. Henry VI was put to the Tower of London and Edward himself crowned king.

In 1470 the Lancastrians revolted [ri`voultid] against Edward IV, and Henry VI was briefly reinstated [`ri:in`steitid] as king. But soon the Lancasterians were defeated and Henry VI was murdered.

Edward IV was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son, Edward V. As the king was too young to rule himself, his uncle, Richard Gloucester [`glost], was made Protector . But Gloucester was going to take the throne for himself. He claimed that his brothers marriage had been unlawful and that his children were bastards [`bæstdz]. Edward V and his younger brother Richard, the Duke of York, were put to the Tower of London. There the boys were murdered and their bodies were buried at the staircase foot. Years afterwards the bones of two boys, of the age of the young princes, were found in the White Tower beneath the stairs. They were brought to Westminster and buried as Edward V and Richard, Duke of York.

Richard Gloucester became King Richard III. His reign was short. The War of the Roses ended with the battle of Bosworth [`bozwθ] in 1485. King Richard III of the House of York was killed in the battle, and, right in the field, Henry Tudor [`tju:d], Earl of Richmond [`rit∫mnt], of the Lancastrian line, was proclaimed King of England.

Henry Tudor was the head of the House of Lancaster. A year later, in 1486, he married the Yorkist heiress Princess Elizabeth [i`lizbθ] of York . This marriage was of great political importance. It meant the union of the red rose of the House of Lancaster with the white rose of the House of York.

England now had a new dynasty, the Tudors.



Henry Bolingbroke , Duke of Lancaster ,

seize ,

collide ( with ) ()

the House of York



coat of arms



Richard Gloucester


bastard , ,

Henry Tudor , Earl of Richmond ,

Elizabeth of York

8. The Tudors England

Henry VII was a strong, learned and thoughtful king, who was very good at making and keeping money. Henry created the court of justice, which was named the Court of the Star Chamber after the stars painted on its ceiling. His long rein (14851509) brought peace and prosperity [prs`periti] after many troubled years.

The power of English monarch [`monk] increased in this period. The Tudor [`tju:d] dynasty [`dinsti] (14851603) established a system of government departments, staffed by professionals who depended for their position on the monarch. Parliament was traditionally split into two Houses. The House of Lords consisted of the feudal [fju:dl] aristocracy [,æris`tokrsi] and the leaders of the Church; the House of Commons consisted of representatives from the towns and the less important landowners in rural [`rurl] areas. It was now more important for monarchs to get the agreement of the Commons for policy-making because that was where the newly powerful merchants [`m:t∫nts] and landowners (the people with the money) were represented.

Henry VII had two sons. Arthur, the elder son, had died young, and so his brother, Henry, became the next king (15091547). Henry VIII was handsome and charming, and was welcomed by people. He married Arthurs young widow, a Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon [,kæθerin v `ærgn], and seemed destined [`destind] for a happy rein. But being quite unlike his father, Henry was wasteful with money. He spent so much on maintaining [mein`teiniŋ] a rich court and on wars, that his fathers carefully saved money was soon gone.

Henry had been married to Catherine of Aragon for twenty years but they still had not a son who could be the heir to the throne. They had only one daughter, Mary. Henry thought that England would be weak if there were no king to follow him and he didnt want his country to have civil war again. Catherine was nice and clever and was a true friend to her husband but she failed to give him a son. So Henry decided to divorce Catherine and marry again.

He met Anne Boleyn [`æn bu`li:n / b `lin], the Queens lady-in-waiting , and fell madly in love with her. Henry asked the Pope [poup] to give him a divorce and explained that Catherine had first been his elder brothers wife. He thought that it had been a sin to marry his brothers widow and that the absence of sons was his punishment. But the Pope did not allow divorce, and so Henry officially denied the Popes authority and divorced Catherine. He also proclaimed Mary, the daughter he had by this marriage, illegitimate [,ili`d3itimit].

In 1531 Henry broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself head of the Church of England, independent of Rome. He closed the monasteries [`monstriz] in England and took their treasures. Yet he was not sympathetic [,simp`θetik] to Protestants [`protistnts], believing himself a Catholic despite his action. Henrys break with Rome was purely political. He simply wanted to control the Church and to keep its wealth in his own kingdom. He did not approve the new ideas of Reformation Protestantism [,ref`mei∫n `protistntizm] introduced by Martin Luther [`ma:tin `lu:θ] in Germany and John Calvin [`kælvin] in Geneva [3 `ni:v]. Between 1532 and 1536 Parliament passed several Acts, by which England officially became a Protestant country, even though the popular religion was still Catholic.

Henry married five more times after his divorce from Catherine. His second wife, Anne Boleyn, didnt give him a son, but another daughter, Elizabeth. When Henry got tired of Anne Boleyn he had her executed [`eksikju:tid] and proclaimed their daughter, Elizabeth, illegitimate. Ten days after Anne Boleyns execution the king married his third wife, Jane Seymour [`seim], who gave him a son, but died twelve days later. Then he married Anne of Cleves [`kli:vz] and divorced her for being too ugly. His fifth wife, Catherine Howard [`haud] was beheaded in the Tower, but the last one, Catherine Parr [pa:] was lucky enough to survive the king.

Divorced, beheaded, died,

Divorced, beheaded, survived.

Henry died in 1547, leaving three children: Mary by Catherine of Aragon, Elizabeth by Anne Boleyn and Edward, the Prince of Wales, by Jane Samour.

Edward VI, was only a child of nine years old when his father died and he became king, so the country was ruled by a council, all the members of which were Protestants. The boy king Edward VI is memorable for opening new grammar schools which replaced the monastery schools, which had been closed by his father. Unfortunately the rein of this clever and kind boy was short. He died in 1553, when he was only sixteen.

Everybody knew that his sister Mary was next in line to the throne. She was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, a true catholic. It was clear that if she succeeded [sk`si:did], the Roman Catholic religion would be established again in England. This possibility troubled the minds of those who showed themselves good Protestants during the reign of Edward VI. They got a lot of money from the sale of monastery lands. It was very important for them to have a Protestant monarch inherit [in`herit] the English throne. So a group of nobles tried to put Edwards second cousin, Lady Jane Grey, a strict Protestant, on the throne. But Lady Jane was Queen for only nine days. Mary succeeded in entering London and took control [kn`troul] of the kingdom. On the 19 July 1553 the Regency Council [`ri:d3nsi `kaunsl] declared Princess Mary queen. Lady Jane was imprisoned and executed.

Marys first acts as queen were to re-establish the Catholic Church. At first, she behaved fairly towards convinced Protestants, letting them leave the country. But when Mary made an attempt to bring England back to the Catholic Church she met with resistance [ri`zistns]. Then the Queen began burning the Protestants. She executed over 300 people. This earned her the nickname Bloody Mary .

Her big mistake was her marriage to King Philip of Spain . The English people disliked her choice. They were afraid that this marriage would place England under foreign control. Parliament agreed to Marys marriage unwillingly and made a condition that Philip would be regarded as King of England only during Marys lifetime.

In 1557 Mary and Philip went to war against France, and in 1558 the French won Calais [`kælei], the last of Englands possessions in France. It was no great loss, but it was a blow to English pride. When Queen Mary was told about it, she said: When I am dead and my body is opened, you shall find Calais written on my heart.

The queen died in 1558, after reining not quite five years and a half, and in the forty-fourth year of her age.

Elizabeth I was twenty-six when she became queen. She wanted to find a peaceful answer to the problems of the English Reformation. She managed to bring together Catholics and Protestants; as a result the Protestantism in England remained closer to the Catholic religion than to other Protestant groups. She made the Church part of the state machine.

Her Catholic cousin, Mary Stuart [st(j)ut], the Queen of Scots , became a thread to her. Mary Stuart was a granddaughter of Henry VII by his daughter Margaret. For many true Catholics Elizabeth was still illegitimate [,ili`d3itimit] and they believed that Mary Stuart was the only lawful heir to the Tudor throne. As soon as Mary I of England died Mary Stuart claimed the right to the English Crown. Mary had a conflict with some of her nobles, who suspected her of helping in the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley [`da:nli]. She escaped to England and asked for Elizabeths help. In England Elizabeth kept her as a prisoner for nearly twenty years. During that time Mary was involved into several secret Catholic plots aimed at making her Queen of England. All these plots were discovered and finally Elizabeth agreed to Marys execution in 1587.

Elizabeth was a wise and careful monarch. She showed this by choosing excellent advisers, Sir William Cecil [`sesl], better known as Lord Burghley [`b:li] and his son Robert Cecil.

Elizabeth continued Henry VIIs work and encouraged foreign trade. She considered Spain her main trade rival [`raivl] and enemy. Spain had wanted for years to invade England, and at last got ready a great fleet of ships, an Armada [a:`ma:d]. It comprised 130 ships and 8 000 seamen. But though the Spanish fleet was larger than the English one, its ships were less effective in the northern waters. The English were at home off their own coasts, their ships were longer and narrower, so they were faster, and besides, their guns could shoot further than the Spanish ones. In July, 1588, the English defeated the Spanish fleet. Some Spanish ships were sunk, the remaining ships were blown northwards by the wind and many of them were wrecked on the rocky coasts of Scotland and Ireland. For England it was a glorious [`glo:ris] day.

Of great concern to Elizabeth was the fact that the war was costing a lot of money. It was financial [fai`næn∫l] considerations that held up Elizabeths conquest of Ireland, which was completed until 1603, the year of her death.

Elizabeth encouraged English traders to settle abroad and create colonies [`kolniz]. This policy led directly to Britains colonial [k`lounjl] empire of the 17th and 18th centuries. The first English colonists [`kolnists] sailed to America, one of the best known was Sir Walter Raleigh [`ro:li || `ra:li || `ræli], who brought tobacco [t`bækou] back to England. It was he who perpetuated [p`petjueitid] his Queens name by calling his colony Virginia [v`d3inj], in honour of The Virgin Queen . England also began selling West African slaves for the Spanish in America. By 1650 slavery had become an important trade.

The second half of the 16th century saw the development of trade with foreign lands. During Elizabeths reign so-called chartered [t∫a:td] companies were established. A charter gave the company the right to all the business in its particular trade or region. In return for this important advantage the charted company gave some of its profits [`profits] to the Crown. A number of these companies were established during Elizabeths reign: the Eastland Company to trade with Scandinavia [,skændi`neivj] and the Baltic [`boltik], the Levant [li`vænt] Company to trade with the Ottoman Empire [`otmn `empai], the Africa Company to trade in slaves and the East India Company to trade with India.

Elizabeth made England prosperous [`prosprs]. She managed money very well and gradually paid all Englands debts. In the 1570s she was able to reduce [ri`dju:s] taxes. Elizabethan [i,liz`bi:θn] age is called the golden age of England. It was the time of English Renaissance [ri`neisns]. There was a wonderful harvest of art, music, poetry and most importantly of theatre. Arts were greatly encouraged by the Queen herself. Edmund Spenser [`edmnd `spens] wrote the lyric poem The Fairy Queen in honour of Elizabeth. In the theatres plays of Shakespeare , Marlowe [`ma:lou] and Ben Jonson were performed. London was a lively city of 200 000 people, Oxford and Cambridge universities were great centers of Classical study.

In March, 1603 Elizabeth died. She never married and was childless. And according to her will, James, the son of Mary Stuart succeed her.



Catherine of Aragon

Anne Boleyn


the Pope ()


Roman Catholic Church -


Protestant ,

Reformation Protestantism

Martin Luther

John Calvin



Jane Seymour

Catherine Howard

to be beheaded

Catherine Parr


Regency Council


Bloody Mary

King Philip of Spain

Mary Stuart , the Queen of Scots ,

Lord Darnley

Sir William Cecil , Lord Burghley ,



financial considerations


colonial empire


Sir Walter Raleigh




The Virgin Queen -

chartered companies ,



Ottoman Empire



Elizabethan age

English Renaissance

Edmund Spenser

The Fairy Oueen



Ben Jonson

9. The Stuarts England

When James I (16031625) became the first English king of the Stuart dynasty, he was already king of Scotland, though the union of the two crowns did not go as far as James wanted. The administrations, Parliaments and courts of the two countries continued to function separately, and differences in culture and religion between England and Scotland were pronounced.

The religious situation in Britain was not simple and in the 17th century religion and politics were linked. There were people in the country who disagreed with the teachings of the Church of England. They said that the services of the Church of England had become too complicated and too rich and took too much money. They wanted to make the Church of England more modest, to purify [`pjurifai] it. These people were called Puritans [`pjuritnz].

James I adopted the Anglicanism [`æŋgli,sizm] of Elizabeths Church. In 1604 a great conference held at Hampton Court . James made it clear that he would make no changes in religion. He condemned [kn`demd] the Puritans. They could either conform [kn`fo:m] to Jamess wishes or leave the country. Many men had Puritan sympathies but obeyed the laws and they stood. Other Puritans left to establish colonies in North America, where they could worship as they wished.

The one positive result of the Hampton Court Conference was the setting up of a commission to make a new translation of the Bible [`baibl]. This, when completed in 1611, was known as King Jamess Bible .

Catholics, too, hoped for favours from James, whose mother, Mary Stuart, had been a devoted Catholic. Disappointed with the new monarch, a group of Catholics decided to blow up the king when James opened the new session of Parliament, but the plot was discovered, and Guy Fawkes [`gai `fo:ks] and other plotters were arrested and executed. Since then the deliverance of the king, Parliament and Protestantism has been celebrated each year on the 5th of November.

James was very unpopular. Parliament didnt improve his home and foreign policy. The sale of titles and monopolies [m`nopliz], which allowed the holder to control the sales distribution of a product, caused widespread irritation. Another source of friction between the king and the House of Commons was foreign policy. Peace was made with Spain in 1604 but this was unpopular. Commons, particularly the Puritan element, wanted England to support Protestantism on the Continent. So in 1624 they made James to declare war on Spain.

When Charles I (16251649) succeeded his father in 1625 Parliament refused to grant him the traditional taxes for life. Charles dissolved [di`zolvd] the Parliament in anger. A second Parliament was also dissolved quickly. Charles hoped that his third Parliament would be more cooperative [kou`oprtiv], but it went further in its opposition to the king, and in 1629 Charles dissolved the Parliament and determined never to call another. From 1629 until 1640 Charles ruled without Parliament.

In 1640 Charles got up a war with the Scots, but the Scottish army expelled [iks`peld] Charless forces from Scotland. The king needed money to fight the war, so in April 1640 he called a Parliament, known as the Short Parliament, which Charles threw out in twenty-three days. The Scots landed in England, and the king had to call a new Parliament, since famed as the Long Parliament one of the most famous Parliaments in English history.

In 1641, at a moment when Charles badly needed a period of quiet, the Irish rose and put the English in Ulster [`Λlst] to death. In London Charles and Parliament quarelled over who should lead an army to defeat the Irish. Many MPs were afraid to give an army to Charles: they thought that Charles would use the army to dissolve Parliament by force and to rule alone again. In 1642 Charles came with five hundred men to Parliament to arrest the head men there who opposed his acts. They were warned of his coming and got out of the way; as Charles said, the birds had flown.

London , where Parliaments influence was strong enough, locked its gates against the king and Charles moved to Nottingham [`notiŋm], where he gathered an army to defeat those MPs who opposed him. The Civil War had started.


James I . I




Hampton Court ( )


conform ,



Guy Fawkes



Charles I I

dissolve ()





10. The Civil War, the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution

Most of the House of Lords and a few of the House of Commons supported Charles. The Royalists [`roilists], known as Cavaliers [,kæv`liz], controlled most of the north and west. Parliament controlled the east and south-east, including London. Their short hair gave the Parliament soldiers their popular name of Roundheads .

The forces were not equal. Parliament was supported by the navy, by most of the merchants and by the population of London. So it controlled the most important national and international sources of wealth. The Royalists had no money. The soldiers of the Royalist army were unpaid, and as a result, they either ran away or stole from local villages and farms. In the end in the battle of Naseby [`neizbi] in 1645, the Royalist army was finally defeated. Charles kept up the fight till the following spring, when he gave in to the Scots, who in January 1647 handed him over to the English Parliament for ₤200,000. That was the end of the Civil War.

In January 1649 Charles I was executed. He became the first monarch in Europe to be executed after a formal trial for crimes against his people. The leader of the parliamentary army, Oliver Cromwell [`oliv `kromw()l], became Lord Protector of a republic with a military government.

Britain was a republic from 1649 till 1660, but from 1653 Britain was governed by Cromwell alone. He had more power than King Charles had had. But his efforts to govern the country through the army were extremely unpopular. His other innovations [,ino(u)`vei∫nz] were unpopular too: people were forbidden to celebrate Christmas and Easter, or to play games on Sunday.

When Cromwell died in September 1658 the Republic died with him. His son, Richard, resigned [ri`zaind] the title of Protector which he had inherited from his father. General Monk [mΛŋk], the leader of the army in Scotland, took control of the country. It was clear that the situation could be saved only by the restoration [,rest`rei∫n] of monarchy. In 1660 the surviving members of the Long Parliament invited Charles II (16601685) to return as king.

With the restoration of monarchy, Parliament once more became as weak as it had been in the time of James I and Charles I. However, the new king did not want to make Parliament his enemy. He punished only those MPs who had been responsible for his fathers execution. Many MPs were given positions of authority or responsibility in the new monarchy. But in general Parliament remained weak.

Charles II hoped to make peace between the different religious groups that existed in Britain at that time. He wanted to allow Puritans and Catholics to meet freely. But Parliament, whose members belonged to the Church of England, did not want to allow this. Charles himself was attracted to the Catholic Church. Parliament knew this, and many MPs were worried that Charles would become a Catholic.

The first political parties in Britain appeared in Charles IIs reign. One of these parties was a group of MPs who became known as Whigs [wigz], a rude name for a cattle driver. The Whigs were afraid of an absolute monarchy and of the Catholic faith with which they connected it. They also wanted to have no regular army. The other party, which opposed the Whigs, was nicknamed Tories [`to:riz], who were natural inheritors [in`heritz] of the Royalists of the Civil War, they supported the Crown and the Anglican [`æŋglikn] Church . These two parties, the Whigs and the Tories, became the basis of Britains two-party parliamentary system of government.

Charles II had fourteen children by his mistresses, but his wife, a Portuguese [,po:tju`gi:z] princess, bore no children. So after Charles IIs death in 1685 his younger brother James became king James II. He was a Catholic. He tried to revive the importance of the Catholic Church and gave Catholics important positions in government and Parliament.

Parliament was alarmed and angry. The Tories united with the Whigs against James. They decided that James II had lost his right to the crown. Jamess daughter Mary was a Protestant and she was married to the Protestant ruler of Holland [`holnd], William of Orange [`wiljm v `orind3]. Parliament invited William of Orange to invade England.

In 1688 William entered London. James was in danger and fled from England. The English crown was offered to William and Mary. The events of 1688 went down into history as the Glorious Revolution . (It was called glorious because it was bloodless.) It was established that a monarch could rule only with the support of Parliament. Now Parliament was much more powerful than the king. Its power over the monarch was written into the Bill of Rights in 1689. The Bill of Rights stated that the king could not raise taxes or keep an army without the agreement of Parliament. The king was given a sum for life and other sums as needed. There could be no possibility of the king making himself independent of Parliament.

Scotland was still a separate kingdom, although both countries had the same king. The English wanted England and Scotland to be united. Scotland wanted to remove the limits on trade with England from which it suffered economically. The English Parliament promised to remove these limits if the Scots agreed to the union with England. Finally, in 1707, the union of Scotland and England was completed by an Act of Parliament. The state got a new name: Great Britain. The separate parliaments of both countries stopped functioning. A new parliament, the Parliament of Great Britain, met for the first time.


Royalists ( )




Oliver Cromwell


resign . ,

Monk ()

restoration ()




Anglican Church

Portuguese princess


William of Orange

Glorious Revolution

Bill of Rights


Great Britain in XVIIIXX centuries


1. Great Britain in XVIII century

2. Great Britain in XIX century

3. Great Britain in XX century

1. Great Britain in XVIII century

Politically, this century was stable. Monarch and Parliament got on quite well together. Anne Stuart, who was King Jamess daughter, became queen after her sister Mary and William of Orange. Queen Anne (17021714) took more interest in drinking tea (a new fashion) and betting on horse races than in affairs of state. But none of Annes 17 children lived so there were problems connected with the succession.

King James had a granddaughter, Sophia [`soufi], who was a Protestant. She married the Elector [i`lekt] of Hanover [`hænv], also a Protestant. The British Parliament declared their son, George Hanover [`hænv], the heir to the English throne. When Queen Anne died in 1714, George Hanover ascended the English throne as George I, thus starting a new dynasty.

George I was a strange king. He was a true German and did not try to follow English customs. He could not speak English and spoke to his ministers in French. But Parliament supported him because he was a Protestant.

The power of the government during the reign of George I was increased because the new king did not seem very interested in his kingdom. In 1716 the special Act extended the life of Parliament from three to seven years. In order to govern, the Crown was obliged to secure the confidence of the house of Commons. This was body of 558 Members 489 English, 24 Welsh and 45 Scottish. They were all wealthy landlords and rich merchants. Family groupings in the Commons were very important. Great lords probably controlled a number of parliamentary seats. The noblemen themselves sat in the House of Lords, but their sons and relatives, or men whom they favoured with their patronage [`pætrnid3], sat in the Commons.

But the largest group in the Commons was not dependent on great lords or the king. Each county and each town sent two representatives to Parliament. These were independent Members, country gentlemen who represented the area where they lived and had their own property. They prided themselves on their independence, and voted for or against measures as they saw fit. They had a deep loyalty [`loilti] to the Crown and would give the kings government their support unless they believed it was in serious error. Many of these members were Tories. In the 19th century the Tories became the Conservatives [kn`s:vtivz] and the Whigs became the Liberals [`librlz].

The greatest political leader of the time was Robert Walpole [`wo:lpoul]. He is considered Britains first Prime Minister. He was determined to keep the Crown under the firm control of Parliament. Walpole developed the political results of the Glorious Revolution. He insisted that the power of the king should always be limited by the constitution. The limits to royal power were these: the king could not be a Catholic; the king could not remove or change laws; the king depended on Parliament for his money and for his army.

The most important political enemy of Walpole was William Pitt the Elder , later Lord Chatham [`t∫ætm]. Chatham was sure that in order to be economically strong in the world, Britain should develope international trade. Trade involved competition. France was the main rival of Britain because it had many colonies. Chatham was certain that Britain must beat France in the competition for overseas markets. He decided to seize a number of French trading ports abroad. Walpole was against the war because it took a lot of money.

The war with France broke out in 1756 and went on all over the world. In Canada the British took Quebec [kwi`bek] in 1759 and Montreal [,montri`o:l] the following year. This gave the British control of the important fish, fur and wood trades. In India the army of the British East India Company defeated French armies both in Bengal [`beŋgo:l] and in the south near Madras [m`dra:s]. Soon Britain controlled most of India.

During the rest of the century Britains international trade increased rapidly. By the end of the century the West Indies [`west`indjz] were the most profitable [`profitbl] part of Britains new empire. They formed one corner of a profitable trade triangle [`traiæŋgl]. Knives, swords and cloth made in British factories were taken to West Africa and exchanged for slaves. The slaves were taken to the West Indies where they worked on large plantations growing sugar. From the West Indies the ships returned to Britain carrying great loads of sugar which had been grown by the slaves.

In 1764 there was a serious quarrel over taxation [tæk`sei∫n] between the British government and the colonies in America. The population of the British colonies in America was rapidly growing. In 1700 there had been only 200 000 colonists, but by 1770 there were already 2,5 million. American colonists paid high taxes, but they had not their own representatives in British Parliament. In 1773 a group of colonists at the port of Boston [`bostn] threw a shipload of tea into the sea because they did not want to pay a tax on it which the British government demanded. The event became known as the Boston tea-party . The British government answered by closing the port. The colonists rebelled [ri`beld]. The American War of Independence began. The war in America lasted from 1775 until 1783. The result was a complete defeat of the British forces. Britain lost all its colonies in America, except Canada.

The countryside changed greatly during the 18th century. Areas of common land, which had been available [`veilbl] for use by everybody in a village for the grazing [`greiziŋ] of animals since Anglo-Saxon times, disappeared as landowners incorporated [in`ko:preitid] them into large and more efficient [i`fi∫nt] farms. When common lands were enclosed, the villagers had nowhere to grow their crops, so they could not feed their families. Then they left their villages and went to the towns to find work. They provided the cheap working force that made possible the Industrial Revolution.

By the early 18th century simple machines had already been invented. By the middle of the 18th century industry began to use coal for change iron ore [o:] into good quality iron of steel. This made Britain the leading iron producer in Europe. Increased iron production made it possible to manufacture new machinery for other industries. One invention led to another: in 1764 a spinning machine was invented which could do the work of several hand spinners. The weaving machine invented in 1785 revolutionized [,rev`lu:∫naizd] clothmaking . It allowed Britain to make cheap cloth, and Lancashire [`læŋk∫i] cloths were sold in every continent.

Factories supplied with machinery did not need so many workers as before, and that created a serious problem: a lot of workers became unemployed . Riots [`raits] occurred, led by the unemployed who had been replaced at the factories by machines. In 1799 some of these rioters [`raitz], known as Luddites [`lΛdaits], began breaking up the machinery which had put them out of work. The situation in the country was very tense. People were afraid of a revolution like the one in France.

Britain avoided the revolution partly because of a new religious movement. This movement did not come from the Church of England. The new movement met the needs of the growing industrial working class. It was led by the founder of the Methodist [`meθdist] Church John Wesley [`wesli]. It was organized in small groups all over the country. Methodism gave ordinary people a sense of purpose and dignity [`digniti].



Elector of Hanover

George Hanover

ascended the English throne





Robert Walpole

William Pitt the Elder, Lord Chatham ,





West Indies -





shipload of tea

the Boston tea-party


available ,

for the grazing

incorporate , ( )


iron ore

spinning machine

weaving machine

revolutionized clothmaking

Lancashire cloths





Methodist Church

John Wesley



2. Great Britain in XIX century

In the 19th century Britain was more powerful and self-confident than ever. Having many colonies, Britain controlled large areas of the world. The Industrial Revolution created great wealth. Britain was the workshop of the world. British factories were producing more than any other country in the world. It gave work to the massively increased population. The rapid growth of the middle class caused a change in the political balance. The role played by the middle class in politics and government was increasingly growing.

When the century began the country was locked in a war with France, during which an invasion [in`vei3n] by a French army was a real possibility. Britain decided to fight France at sea because it had a stronger navy and because its own survival depended on control of its trade routes. The commander of the British fleet, Admiral Horatio Nelson [ho`rei∫iou `nelsn] won brilliant victories over the French navy, near the coast of Egypt [`i:d3ipt], at Copenhagen [,koupn`heign], and finally near Spain, at Trafalgar [tr`fælg] in 1805, where he destroyed the French-Spanish fleet. Nelson was killed at Trafalgar, but became one of Britains greatest national heroes.

Another British hero, Arthur Wellington [`weliŋtn], was the commander of the British Army. After several victories over the French in Spain, he invaded France. With the help of the Prussian [`prΛ∫n] army, Wellington finally defeated Napoleon [n`pouljn] at Waterloo [,wot`lu:] in Belgium [`beld3m] in June 1815.

After the defeat of Napoleon Britain enjoyed a strong place in Europe. Its strength was in industry and trade, and in the navy which protected this trade. Britain had its ports on some islands in the Mediterranean [,medit`reinjn] Sea , in the Indian Ocean, in the south and west of Africa, in Ceylon [si`lon] and Singapore [`siŋgpo:].

In the 19th century Britain was engaged in many colonial [k`lounjl] wars, the purpose of which was to establish its influence in different parts of the world and to ensure the safety of its trade routes. By the end of the 19th century Britain controlled the biggest empire in the world.

One section of this empire was made up of Canada, Australia [os`treilj] and New Zealand [`zi:lnd], where settlers from the British Isles formed the majority of the population. These countries had complete internal [in`t:nl] self-government but recognized the overall [`ouvro:l] authority of the British government.

Another part of the empire was India, a large country with a culture more ancient [`ein∫nt] than Britains. Tens of thousands of British civil servants and troops were used to govern it. At the head of the administration was a viceroy [`vaisroi] (governor [`gΛvn]) whose position within the country was similar to the monarchs position in Britain itself. Because India was so far away, and the journey from Britain took so long, these British officials spent most of their working lives there and so developed an Anglo-Indian way of life. They imposed British institutions and methods of government on the country, and returned to Britain when they retired.

Large parts of Africa also belonged to Britain.

The empire also included numerous smaller areas and islands. Some, such as those in the Caribbean [,kæri`bi:n] , were the result of earlier British settlement, but most were acquired because of their position along trading routes.

But even at the moment of its greatest power Britain was already beginning to spend more on its empire than to take from it. And by the time when the colonies began to demand their freedom in the 20th century, the empire had become a heavy load.

There were great changes in Britains social structure. Most people now lived in towns and cities. They no longer depended on country landowners for their living but rather on the owners of industries. The factory owners held the real power in the country, along with the new and growing middle class of tradespeople . The middle class was made up of people of different wealth, social position and kinds of work. It included those who worked in the Church, the Law, medicine, the civil service, the diplomatic service, banks, and also in the army and navy. Typical of the middle class of the 19th century were self-made men, who came from poor families. They believed in hard work, a regular style of life, and were careful with money. This is the set of values which we now call Victorian .

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. During her reign, the modern powerlessness of the monarch was confirmed. Victoria was often forced to accept as Prime Ministers people she personally disliked. But she herself became a popular symbol of Britains success in the world. As a hard-working, religious mother of nine children, devoted to her husband, Prince Albert, she was regarded as the personification of contemporary morals. The idea that the monarch should set an example to the people in such matters was unknown before this time and created problems for the monarchy in the twentieth century.

Despite reform, the nature of the new industrial society forced many people to live and work in very unpleasant conditions. Queen Victoria really cared about working people, believing that they were the heart of Britain. Her reign saw the limiting of the working day to ten hours, the introduction of basic education for all, and other measures aimed at improving the conditions of the poor.

Victoria lived so long, and had so many children and grandchildren, that she was a senior figure in all the royal families of Europe. She was even called the grandmother of Europe. This was one of the reasons why, after the Crimean [krai`min] War , her reign saw a long period of peace in Europe. By the time Victoria died in 1901, Britain was the most powerful nation in the world at the head of a vast empire, and with influence in the rest of Europe.


Admiral Horatio Nelson




Arthur Wellington





Mediterranean Sea




New Zealand


viceroy ( governor ) - ()

the Caribbean



Crimean War

3. Great Britain in XX century

At the beginning of the 20th century Britain was still one of the greatest world powers. In the middle of the century, it was still one of the Big Three, it was considerably weaker than the United States or the Soviet Union. By the end of the century Britain was just an ordinary country, and economically [,i:ko`nomikli] poorer than a number of other European countries.

One of the reasons for Britains decline [di`klain] in the 20th century was the costs of two world wars. Another reason was that Britain could not spend as much money on developing its industry as other industrial nations did: at first it needed a lot of money for keeping up the empire, and when the empire fell apart, as much money was needed to solve numerous economic [,i:k`nomik] problems connected with maintaining friendly relations within the British Commonwealth [`komnwelθ] of Nations .

The most important events of this century are:

1901 Queen Victoria dies and her son, Edward, becomes King Edward VII. [He had been very strictly brought up, and both his parents disliked him. In spite of this, he was a kind man and was very popular, for he was deeply concerned about the conditions of the poor, and the gap between rich and poor.]

1902 Nationwide selective [si`lektiv] ( , ) secondary education is introduced.

1906 Emmeline Pankhurst [`emi:lin `pa:nkh:st] starts the Suffragette [,sΛfr`d3et] Movement , demanding that women be given the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

1908 The first old-age pensions are introduced.

1910 Edward VII dies and his son, George, becomes King George V. [He was shy and disliked ceremonies. He took his duty very seriously. In 1917 he gave up his family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha [`sæks`koub:g`gouθ] and took the surname Windsor [`winz], after Windsor Castle. He did this because his original name was German, and Britain and Germany were at war.]

1911 The power of the House of Lords is severely reduced ( ).

Sick pay for most workers is introduced.

1914 Britain declares war on Germany. Until the 1940s, the First World War was known in Britain as the Great War.

1916 The Easter Rising in Ireland against British rule is suppressed. Its leaders are executed.

1918 The First World War is over. [Germany surrendered [s`rndrid] in November.]

The right to vote is extended to include women over the age of thirty.

1919 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is founded to free Ireland from British rule.

1920 The British government partitions [pa:`ti∫nz] ( ) Ireland.

1921 The British government agrees to the independence of southern Ireland. But it also insists that Northern Ireland should remain united with Britain. Treaty between Britain and the Irish Parliament in Dublin is signed.

1922 The Irish Free State is born.

1924 The Labour Party [`leib] forms a government for the first time.

1926 General Strike. [The general strike was organized by trade unions and lasted nine days. The government widely used the police force. Many strikers were arrested and the strike was finally broken.]

1928 The right to vote is extended again. All men and women over the age of twenty-one can now vote.

19301933 Over three million workers are unemployed because of the Great Depression .

1936 George Vs younger son, the Duke of York , becomes King George VI. [His elder brother, Edward, was a popular Prince of Wales. Unfortunately, at the time of his fathers death, Edward was in love with a married woman, the American Mrs Simpson [`simp sn]. In October 1936 she and her husband divorced, and Edward seemed set on marrying her. It was impossible, as he was now head of the Church of England, and the Church did not approve of divorce. So his younger brother became king.]

1939 Britain declares war on Germany.

1940 German planes make bombing [bomiŋ] raids against British cities, railways and factories.

1944 D-Day: the day of the invasion [in`vei3n] of France by Allied [`laid] forces , which was the beginning of the end for Germany.

Free compulsory secondary education (up to the age of fifteen) is established and secondary modern schools are set up.

1945 The Second World War is over. [In May Germany surrendered.]

1946 The National Health Service is established.

Coal mines and railways are nationalized [`næ∫nlaizd].

1949 Ireland becomes a republic.

1953 George VI dies and his elder daughter becomes Queen Elizabeth II.

1959 The first motorway is open.

1963 The school leaving age is raised to sixteen.

1968 The age of majority (the age at which somebody legally becomes an adult [`dΛlt]) is reduced from twenty-one to eighteen.

1971 Decimal [`desiml] currency is introduced.

1973 Britain joins the European Economic [,i:k`nomik] Community .

1979 Britains first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher [`θæt∫], the leader of the Conservative Party, was elected.

1982 Falklands [`fo:klndz] War . [A war between Britain and Argentina [,a:d3n`ti:n] in the Falkland Islands. Falkland Islands are a group of islands in the SW Atlantic ocean near Argentine, under British control. Britain declared war after Argentina seized the Falkland Islands. The British forces recaptured [`ri`kæpt∫d] the Falklands.]

1994 Channel tunnel opens.

1997 Tony Blair [`touni`ble] becomes Prime Minister.


decline ,

the British Commonwealth of Nations

selective ,

Emmeline Pankhurst

Suffragette Movement

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha - -




Labour Party

the Great Depression

Duke of York

Mrs Simpson

Allied forces ( )


European Economic Community

Margaret Thatcher

Falklands War

Tony Blair


The political system of Great Britain


1. The Monarchy

2. The Parliament

3. The Government

4. The Law

1. The Monarchy

Great Britain is a parliamentary [,pa:l`mentri] monarchy. Other countries have citizens, but in Britain people are legally described as subjects of Her majesty the Queen. Officially the head of the state is the king or queen. The power of the monarch is not absolute but constitutional. The monarch acts only on the advice of the ministers.

The now reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is a descendant of the Saxon king Egbert [`egbt], who united all England under his sovereignty [`sovrnti] in 829. The Queens title in the United Kingdom is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other Realms and Territories. Head of the Commonwealth [`komnwelθ], Defender of the Faith.

Rules of descent [di`sent] provide that the sons of the Sovereign [`sovrin] are in order of succession to the throne according to the seniority [,si:ni`oriti], or, if there are no sons, the daughters in order of seniority. There is no interregnum [,int`regnm] , between the death of one Sovereign and the accession [æk`se∫n] of another. The automatic [,o:t`mætik] succession is often summoned up [`sΛmnd] in the phrase The King is dead; long live the King! Immediately after the death of a monarch an Accession [æk`se∫n] Council issued [`i∫u:d] the proclamation [,prokl`mei∫n] for the new Sovereign.

The coronation of the Sovereign follows some months after the accession. The ceremony has remained much the same in substance [`sΛbstns] for nearly a 1,000 years. It consists broadly of recognition [,rekg`ni∫n] and acceptance [k`septns] of the new monarch by the people; the taking by the monarch of an oath [ouθ] , of royal duties; the anointing [`nointiŋ] and crowning; and the rendering of homage [`homidg] by the Lords Spiritual [`spiritjul] and Temporal [`temprl] . The coronation service, conducted by the Archbishop [`a:t∫`bi∫p] of Canterbury [`kæntbri], is held at Westminster Abbey in the presentce of representatives of the peers [piz], the Commons, the prime Minister and leading citizens of the other Commonwealth countries, and representatives of foreign states.

The Queen reigns but does not rule. The UK is governed by Her Majestys Government in the name of the Queen. There are still many important acts of government which require the participation [pa:,tisi`pei∫n] of the Queen.

The Queen summons [`sΛmnz], prorogues [pr`rougz] and dissolves [di`zolvz] Parliament. Normally she opens the new session with a speech from the throne which outlines her Governments programme . When she is unable to be present, the Queens speech is read by Lord Chancellor [`t∫a:nsl].

Before a bill which has passed all its stages in both Houses of Parliament becomes a legal enactment [i`næktmnt] , it must receive the Royal Assent [`sent] , which is declared to both Houses by their Speakers.

The Queen is the fountain [`fauntin] of justice and as such can, on the advice of the Home Secretary , pardon or show mercy to those convicted [kn`viktid] of crimes under English law. There is a principle of English law that the monarch can do nothing that is legally wrong. In other words, the Queen is above the law.

As the fountain of honour the Queen confers [kn`f:z] ( ) peerage [`pirid3] , knighthood and other honours. Twice a year, an Honours List is published. The people whose names appear in the list are then summoned to Buckingham Palace where the titles are given to them by the Queen in a special ceremony. The present honours system is so complicated that few understand it. The honours themselves largely belong to two obsolete [`obsli:t] institutions: feudal chivalry [`∫iv lri] which is 500 years out of date, and the British Empire, which is more than 50 years out of date. They are awarded [`wo:did] partly for achievement, but the grade of award is determined by social [`sou∫l] status [`steits]. A senior [`si:nj] diplomat [`diplmæt] might be appointed KCMG (Knight Commander [k`ma:nd] of the Order of St Michael and St George), known irreverently [i`revrntli] Kindly Call Me God. There is only one higher rank for a diplomat, GCMG (Grand Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George), it is known as God Calls Me God. A middle-rank civil servants efforts [`efts] may be recognised with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) or MBE (Member of the British Empire). A high proportion [pr`po:∫nz] of honours are given to politicians [,poi`ti∫n] and civil servants, but they are also given to business people, sports stars, rock musicians and other entertainers.

The Queen makes appointment to many important state offices. She appoints or dismisses Government ministers, judges, members of diplomatic corps [ko:]. As Commander-in-Chief of the armed services (the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force) she appoints officers, and as temporal [`temprl] head of the established Church of England she makes appointments to the leading positions in the Church.

The Queen has the power to conclude treaties [`tri:tiz] , to declare war and make peace, to recognise foreign states and governments, and to annex [`æneks] , and cede [si:d] , territory.

An important function of the Sovereign is the appointment of a Prime Minister. Normally the appointment is automatic [,o:t`mætik] since it is a convention [kn`ven∫n] , of the constitution that the sovereign must invite the leader of the party commanding a majority [m`d3riti] in the House of Commons to form a government. If no party has a majority, or if the party having a majority has no recognized leader, the Queen has the duty of selecting a Prime Minister. In such circumstances she would be entitled [in`taitld] to consult anyone she wished.

The members of the Royal family are:

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Died at the age of 101 in 2002. Her tours of bombed [bomd] areas of London during the Second World War with her husband, King George VI, made her popular with the British people. She remained the most consistently popular member of the royal family until her death.

Queen Elizabeth II . Was born in 1926 and became Queen in 1952 on the death of her father, George VI. She is one of the longest-reigning monarchs in British history. She is widely respected for the way in which she performs her duties and is generally popular.

Prince Philip Mountbatten [maunt`bætn], the Duke of Edinburgh [`edinbr]. Married the present Queen in 1947.

Princess Margaret , the Queens younger sister, died in 2002.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales . Was born in 1948. As the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he is heir to the throne. He is concerned about the environment [in`vairnmnt] and about living conditions in Britains cities. he sometimes makes speeches which are critical of aspects of modern life.

Princess Diana [dai`æn]. Married Prince Charles in 1981. The couple separated in 1992. Princess Diana died as the result of a car accident in 1997.

Princess Anne, the Queens daughter (also known as the Princess Royal), was born in 1950. She separated [`sepreitid] from her husband after they had one son and one daughter. She married again in 1992. She is widely respected for her charity work.

Prince Andrew [`ændru:], the Duke of York . Was born in 1960 and is the Queens second son. He is divorced from his wife, Sarah Ferguson [`ser `f:gsn]. They have two daughters.

Prince Edward, the Queens youngest son, was born in 1964. He is involved in theatrical production. He is married to Sophie Rhys-Jones [ri:s] in 1999. He and his wife are the Duke and Duchess of Wessex.

Prince William (born 1982) and Prince Henry (born 1984) are the sons of Charles and Diana. William is next in line to the throne after his father.




Rules of descent



interregnum ,



summon up

issue ,


in substance



oath ,


Lord Spiritual and Temporal ( ) ( , - )






Lord Chancellor

legal enactment ,

the Royal Assent

fountain of justice

Home Secretary

convicted of crimes

fountain of honour

confer ()



Honours List

Buckingham Palace ( )



annex ,

cede ,

convention ,

to be entitled

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Queen Elizabeth II

Prince Philip Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh

Princess Margaret

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales

Princess Diana

Princess Anne

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York

Sarah Ferguson

Prince Edward

Sophie Rhys-Jones

the Duke and Duchess of Wessex

Prince William

Prince Henry

2. The Parliament

Power in Great Britain is divided among three branches: the legislative [`leg3isltiv] branch, the executive [ig`zekjutiv] branch and the judicial [d3u`di∫l] branch.

The legislative branch is represented by Parliament. The British parliament is divided into two houses the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The House of Lords consists of hereditary [hi`reditri] and life peers and peeresses [`pirisiz], a certain number of Irish and Scottish peers, the Archbishops [`a:t∫i`bi∫ps] of Canterbury [`kæntbri] and York, and some bishops of the Established Church of England. Full membership of the House of Lords is over 1000. Members of the House of Lords are not elected. They are members as of right. In the case of some of them, this right is the result of their being the holder of an inherited [in`heritid] title. But since 1958 a new practice has appeared: the practice of creating new peers. They are called life peers, because their children do not inherit their titles like the children of hereditary peers. New peers are created by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. The life peerage system has established itself as a mean of finding a place in public life for distinguished retired politicians who may no longer wish to be as busy as MPs in the Commons, but who still wish to voice their opinions in a public forum [`fo:rm]. Political parties are especially keen to send their older members who once belonged to the leadership of the party to the House of Lords. Informally, this practice has become known as being kicked upstairs. As a result of the life peerage system there are more than 300 people in the House of Lords are life peers.

The House of Lords sits, on average , for about 140 days in each session. The Lord Chancellor [`t∫a:nsl] is the chairman and sits on a special seat called the Woolsack. A peer who attends a debate [di`beit] receives salary in addition to travelling expenses. Of all the parliaments in the world, the lowest quorum [`kwo:rm] needed to adopt a decision is in the British House of Lords. A decision is held to be accepted if a quorum of three Lords is present.

The House of Lords has little real power any more. All proposals [pre`pouzlz] must have the agreement of the Lords before they can become law. But the power of the Lords to refuse a proposal for a law which has been agreed by the Commons is now limited. After a period which can be as short as six months the proposal becomes law anyway, whether or not the lords agree.

The modern House of Lords is a forum for public discussion. Because its members do not depend on party politics for their position, it is sometimes able to bring important matters that the Commons has been ignoring into the open. More importantly, it is the place where proposals for new laws are discussed in much more detail than the busy Commons has time for.

There are 659 members in the House of Commons . They are elected by a general election. There must be a general election every five years, but the Government can order a general election at any time within the period if it is so wished. The United Kingdom is divided into 659 areas called constituencies [kn`stitjunsiz] . Each constituency is guaranteed [,gærn`ti:d] one representative in the House of Commons. A person may represent a constituency even if he does not live there. MPs are elected by direct and secret ballot [`bælt]. Citizens of 18 and over have the right to vote. At a general election a person votes for the Labour candidate or for the Conservative candidate, or for the candidate of some other party because of his preference [`prefrns] for one party rather than the others. Elections in Britain are decided on a simple majority on each constituency the candidate with the most votes is elected.

The British political scene is dominated by a two-party system : one party in power, the other in opposition. They are the Conservative and the Labour Parties.

Conservative party.

History: developed from the group of MPs known as the Tories in the early nineteenth century and still often known informally by that name.

Traditional outlook: stands for hierarchical [hai`ra:kikl] authority and minimal [`miniml] government interference [,int`firns] in the e`conomy; likes to reduce income tax ; gives high priority [prai`oriti] to national defense and internal [in`t:nl] law and order.

Organization: leader has relatively great degree of freedom to direct policy.

Votes: the richer sections of society, plus a large minority [mai`noriti] of the working class.

Money: mostly donations [dou`nei∫nz] from business people.

Labour party.

History: formed at the beginning of the twentieth century from an alliance [`lains] of trade unionists [`ju:njnists] and intellectuals [,inti`lektjulz]. First government in 1923.

Traditional outlook: stands for equality [i:`kwoliti], for the weaker people in society and for more government involvement in the e`conomy; more concerned to provide full social services than to keep income tax low.

Organization: in theory, `politics have to be approved by annual [`ænjul] conference; in practice leader has more power than this implies.

Votes: working class, plus a small middle-class intelligentsia [in,teli`dgentsi ].

Money: more than half from trade unions.

Among the other parties one can mention the Liberal Party, the Scottish National Party, the Welsh Nationalist Party, British National Party (it was previously called the National Front, which was formerly the Communist Party), the Green Party.

A session of the House of Commons lasts for about 160170 days. Parliament has intervals during its work. By present custom, a session is divided into 5 periods: from November (when the session is opened) till Christmas, from January till Easter, from Easter till Whitsun [`witsn] , , from Whitsun till end of July, and 10 days in October. Members of Parliament are paid for their parliament work and have to attend the seatings.

Most MPs are full-time politicians, and do another job, if at all, only part-time. The House does not sit in the morning. From Monday to Thursday, the House does not start its business until 14.30. On Friday it starts in the morning, but then finishes in the early afternoon for the week-end. The average modern MP spends more time at work than any other professional in the country. From Monday to Thursday, the Commons never finishes its work before 22.30 and sometimes it continues sitting for several hours longer. Occasionally, it debates [di`beits] through most of the night. MPs mornings are taken up with committee work, research, preparing speeches and dealing with the problems of the people they represent. It does not leave MPs much time for their families. Politicians have a higher rate of divorce than the national average (which is already high).

The opening of Parliament is an occasion of very picturesque ceremony. First, the Queens servant, called Black Rod ( ) knocks on the door of the House of Commons and demands that the MPs let the Queen come in and tell them what her government is going to do in the coming year. The Commons always refuse her entry. This is because, in the seventeenth century, Charles I once burst in to the chamber [`t∫eimb] and tried to arrest some MPs. Ever since then, the monarch has not been allowed to enter the Commons. Instead, the MPs agree to come through to the House of Lords and listen to the monarch in there. By tradition they always come through in pairs, each pair comprising [km`praiziŋ] MPs from two different parties. So the Queen goes to the House of Lords and reads a speech. The members of the House of Commons listen to the Queen standing at the entrance to the House of Lords. After the Queens speech MPs go to the House of Commons and start their work.

The party that has won the general election makes up the majority in the House of Commons, and forms the Government. The party with the next largest number of members in the House, or sometimes a combination of other parties forms the official Opposition, and Leader of the Opposition (Leader of Her Majestys Opposition) is a recognized post in the House of Commons. He even gets a salary to prove the importance of this role. He or she chooses a shadow cabinet a group of politicians in the opposition party who each study and speak about the work of a particular minister in the government.

The members sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and the other for the opposition. Although MPs do not have their own person seats in the Commons, there are two seating areas reserved for particular MPs. These areas are the front benches on either side of the House. These benches are where the leading members of the governing party (i.e. ministers) and the leading members of the main opposition party sit. These people are known as frontbenchers. MPs who do not hold a government post or a post in the shadow cabinet are known as backbenchers.

Important member in the House of Commons is the Speaker. The Speaker is the person who chairs and controls discussion in the House, decides which MP is going to speak next and makes sure that the rules of procedure [pr`si:d3] are followed. If they are not, the Speaker has the power to demand a public apology from an MP or even to ban [æ] an MP from the House for a number of days. The Speaker is, officially, the second most important commoner (non-aristocrat [`æristkræt]) in the kingdom after the Prime Minister. The Speaker is elected at the beginning of each new Parliament. Hundreds of years ago, it was the Speakers job to communicate the decisions of the Commons to the King (that is where the title speaker comes from). As the King was often very displeased with what the Commons had decided, this was not a pleasant task. As a result, nobody wanted the job. They had to be forced to take it. These days, the position is much safer one, but the tradition of dragging an unwilling Speaker to the chair has remained. In 1992 the first woman Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, was appointed, so that MPs had to get used to addressing not Mr. Speaker, as they had always done in the past, but Madam Speaker instead. Once a Speaker has been appointed, he or she agrees to give up all party politics. the Speaker cannot debate or vote with other members unless the voting is equal, in this case the Speaker votes with Government.

Each parliamentary day begins with Question time, lasting an hour. During this time MPs are allowed to ask question to government ministers. Questions to ministers have to be tabled (written down on the table below the Speakers chair) in 48 hours ahead, so that ministers have time to prepare their answers. After the minister has answered the tabled question, the MP who originally tabled it is allowed to ask a further question relating to the ministers answer. In this way, it is sometimes possible for MPs to catch a minister unprepared.

After Question time, the main debate of the day takes place. During many of the debates, MPs come and go because they are often wanted on business in other parts of the building, but during important debates they remain in the House, and the sittings may go on until late at night.

Parliaments main function is to make laws. The procedure of making new laws is as follows: a member of the House of Commons proposes a bill, which is discussed by the House. If the bill is approved, it is sent to the House of Lords, which, in case it does not like it, has the right to veto [`vi:tou] it for one year. If the House of Commons passes the bill again the following year, the House of Lords cannot reject it. Finally the bill is sent to the Queen for the royal assent [`sent], after which it becomes a law. Royal assent has not been refused since 1707.







forum ,

on average






hierarchical authority


income tax



alliance ,

trade unionist -

intellectual ,



Whitsun ,

shadow cabinet




3. The Government

The executive [ig`zekjutiv] branch is headed by the Prime Minister . After each general election the King or Queen invites the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons to become Prime Minister and form the Government. The Prime Minister has an official London House while he (or she) is in office; it is 10, Downing Street.

The Prime Minister selects the ministers to compose the government. Most of the ministers are chosen from the House of Commons, but a few must be in the House of Lords, so that government plans can be explained there. Government usually consists of about 100 ministers.

Most ministers are in charge of departments which keep them busy. Most heads of government departments have the title Secretary of State, e.g. Secretary of State for the Environment. The minister in charge of Britains relations with the outside world is known to everybody is the Foreign Secretary. The one in charge of law and order inside the country is the Home Secretary. Another important person is the Chancellor of the Exchequer [`t∫a:nsl v ði `t∫ek], who is the head of the Treasury, the department which deals with the money collected and spent by the Government. The Prime Minister himself often takes charge of one of the departments. He usually First Lord of the Treasury , , .

The new appointed ministers are presented to the monarch for the formal approval. The most important ministers of the government (about twenty) form the Cabinet . The Cabinet is a kind of inner government within the Government. Over the years the membership of the Cabinet has varied [`verid] in size between 17 and 23 and includes the Lord President of the Council - , the Lord Chancellor [`t∫a:nsl], the Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Chancellor of the Exchequer [`t∫a:nsl v ði `t∫ek], the Home Secretary, etc.

The Cabinet directs the administration, controls the process of lawmaking, and dominates the House of Commons. It decides what subjects shall be debated in the House.

Members of the Cabinet make joint decisions or advise the Prime Minister. All ministers must agree on the policy of the Cabinet. If a minister finds he cannot agree, he resigns [ri`zainz] . The Prime Minister himself may require a minister to resign. Within the Cabinet the Prime Minister is meant to be first among equals. In fact Prime Ministers have much more power. Ministers must obey their will, or persuade the Prime Minister of their own point of view.

Cabinet Government is the main feature of the British political system. So the leading role is played not by the Monarch, who remains head of state, or Parliament, which is officially the supreme lawmaking body, but the Cabinet.

Although government is essentially political, it depends upon a permanent body of officials, the Civil Service. Over half a million men and women are employed in the huge number of offices. Governments come and go, but the civil service remains. Civil servants serve ministers from any parties in power, so they know the secrets of the previous government which the present minister is unaware of. The most senior civil servant in a government department has the title of Permanent Secretary.

Unlike politicians, civil servants, even of the highest rank, are unknown to the larger public. But for those who belong to it, the British civil service is a career. There are different grades in the civil service. The lowest grade is composed of the clerks and typists who deal with letters, or prepare the information required for their seniors or for the members of the public. In charge of them in the next, higher rank, are the men and women in the Executive [ig`zekjutiv] Grade. Their duty is to carry out the details of legislation [,led3is`lei∫n]. The highest grade of all is the Administrative [d`ministrtiv] Grade, composed of the chief officials who advise the minister in charge of a department and decide how laws are to be implemented [`implimentid]. These most senior positions are usually filled by people who have been working in the civil service for twenty years or more. These people get a high salary (higher than that of their ministers) and stand a good chance of being awarded an official honour.

The heart of the civil service is the Cabinet Office, whose secretary is the most senior civil servant at any given time.

The system of local government is very similar to the system of the national government. There are elected representatives, called councillors [`kaunsilz] (the equivalent of MPs). They meet in a council chamber in the Town Hall or County Hall (the equivalent of Parliament), where they make policy which implemented [`implimentid] by local government officers (the equivalent of civil servants).

There is no system in Britain whereby a national government official has responsibility for a particular geographical area. There is no one like a prefect [`pri:fkt] or governor [`gΛvn]. Local councils have traditionally been fairly free from constant central interference [,int`firns] in their day to day work. So they manage nearly all public services.

Local councils allowed to collect one kind of tax. This is a tax based on property. All other kinds are collected by central government.


Chancellor of the Exchequer ( )

First Lord of the Treasury , ,

Lord President of the Council - ,






4. The Law

The judicial [d3u`di∫l] branch interprets [in`t:prits] the laws.

There is no police force in Britain. All police employees [,emploi`i:z] work for one of the forty or so separate forces which each have responsibility for a particular geographical area. Originally, these were set up locally. Each police officer had his own beat , a particular neighborhood which it was his duty to patrol [p`troul]. He usually did it on foot or sometimes by bicycle. The local bobby was a familiar figure on the streets, a reassuring presents that people felt they could trust absolutely.

Later, central government gained some control over them. It inspects them and has influence over senior appointments within them. In return, it provides about half of the money to run them. The other half comes from local government.

The exception to this system is the Metropolitan [,metr`politn] Police Force ( , , City of London Police Force), which polices [p`li:siz] Greater London. The Met is under the direct control of central government. It also performs certain national police functions such as the registration of all crimes and criminals in England and Wales and the compilation [,kompi`lei∫n] of the missing persons register. New Scotland Yard is the famous building which is the headquarters of its Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Since the middle years of the twentieth century, the police in Britain have lost much of their positive image. In 1980s there were a large number of cases in which it was found that the police officers had lied and cheated [`t∫I:tid] in order to get people convicted of crimes. As a result, trust in the honesty of the police has declined [ai]. Police officers are no longer known as bobbies but have become the cops or the pigs.

Nevertheless, the relationship between police and public in Britain compares quite favourably with that in some other European countries. Police officers often still address members of the public as sir or madam. They still do not carry guns in the course of normal duty, although all police stations have a store of weapons.

The system of justice in England and Wales (there are separate ones for Scotland and Northern Ireland), in both civil and criminal cases, is an adversarial [,ædv:`seril] system . In criminal cases there is no such things as an examining magistrate [`mæd3istreit] who tries to discover the real truth about what happened. In formal terms it is not the business of any court to find out the truth. Its job is simply to decide yes or no to a particular proposition [,prop`zi∫n] (in criminal cases, that a certain person is guilty of a certain crime) after it has heard arguments and evidence from both sides (in criminal cases these sides are known as the defence and the prosecution [,prosi`kju:∫n]).

There are basically two kinds of court. More than 90 % of all cases are dealt with in magistrates courts . Every town has one of these. In them a panel [`pænl] of magistrates (usually three) passes judgement [`d3Λd3mnt]. In cases where they have decided somebody is guilty of a crime, they can also impose [im`pouz] a punishment .

If it is someones first offence [`fens] and the crime is a small one, even a guilty person is often unconditionally [`Λnkn`di∫nli] discharged [dis`t∫a:d3d]. He or she is set free without punishment.

The next step up the ladder is a conditional discharged . This means that the guilty person is set free but if he or she commits another crime within a stated time, the first crime will be taken into account.

He or she may also be put on probation [pr`bei∫n], which means that regular meeting with a social worker must take place.

A very common form of punishment for minor offences is a fine , which means that the guilty person has to lay a sum of money.

Another possibility is that the convicted person is sentenced to a certain number of hours of community service .

Wherever possible, magistrates and judges try not to imprison people. This costs the state money, the countrys prisons are already overcrowded and prisons have a reputation for being schools for crime. Even people who are sent to prison do not usually serve the whole time to which they are sentenced. They get remission [ri`mi∫n] of their sentence for good behaviour.

There is no death penalty [`penlti] in Britain, except for treason.

For murders, there is a life sentence . However, life does not normally mean life.

Magistrates, who are also known as Justices of the Peace (JPs) , are not trained lawyers. They are just ordinary people of good reputation who have been appointed to the job by a local committee. They do not get a salary or a fee for their work (though they get paid expenses).

Even serious criminal cases are first heard in a magistrates court. In these cases, the Jps only need to decide that it is possible that the accused [`kju:zd] may be guilty. They then refer the case to a higher court. In most cases this will be a crown court, where a professional lawyer acts as the judge and the decision regarding guilt or innocence is taken by a jury [`d3uri]. Juries consist of twelve people selected at random [`rændm] from the list of voters. They do not get paid for their services and are obliged to perform this duty. In order for a verdict to be reached, there must be agreement among at least ten of them. If this does not happen, the judge has to declare a mistrial [mis`trai l] and the case must start all over again with a different jury. The judges job is to impose a punishment on those found guilty of crimes. A convicted person may appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal (generally known as the Appeal Court) in London either to have the conviction [kn`vik∫n] quashed [kwo∫t] or to have the sentence reduced. The highest court of all the Britain is the House of Lords.

Scotland has its own legal system, separate from the rest of the UK. The basis of its law is closer to Roman and Dutch law. A very noticeable feature is that there are three, not just two, possible verdicts. As well as guilty and not guilty, a jury may reach a verdict of not proven [`pru:vn], which means that the accused person cannot be punished but is not completely cleared of guilt either.

There are two different kinds of lawyer in Britain. One of these is a solicitor [s`lisit]. Solicitors handle most legal matters for their clients, including the drawing up of documents (such as wills, divorce papers and contracts) and presenting their clients cases in magistrates courts. If the trial is to be heard in a higher court, the solicitor normally hires the services of the other kind of lawyer a barrister [`bærist]. There are only about 5000 barristers in the UK, and they are the senior branch of the legal profession. The only function of barristers is to present cases in court.





bobby ( Bobby . Robert ; , 1829)

Metropolitan Police Force ( , , City of London Police Force)


Criminal Investigation Department (CID)


adversarial system , ( )

magistrate -

proposition ,


magistrates court

panel of magistrates -

pass judgement

impose a punishment

offence , ,

unconditionally discharged -

conditional discharged ( )

on probation


community service


death penalty


life sentence

Justice of the Peace ( JP )



at random

mistrial ,


conviction ,


not proven

solicitor ú



The media [`mi:dj]


1. The Press

2. Radio and television

1. The Press

Britain 's first newspapers appeared over 300 years ago. British people are the worlds third biggest newspaper buyers; only the Japanese and the Swedes buy more.

Newspaper publication is dominated [`domineitid] by the national press: nearly 80 % of all households buy a copy of one o f the national papers every day. There are more than eighty local and regional daily papers; but the total circulation [,s:kju`lei∫n] of all of them together is much less than the combined circulation of the national dailies. The only non-national papers with significant [sig`nifiknt] circulation are published in the evenings, when they do not compete with the national papers, which always appear in the morning. Most local papers do not appear on Sundays, so on that day the dominance [`dominns] of the national press is absolute. The Sunday papers are so-called because that is the only day on which they appear. Some of them are published by the same company but employing separate editors and journalists. The Sunday papers sell slightly more copies than the dailies and are thicker.

Local papers give information about films, concerts, and other things that are happening in the local neighbourhood, including, for example, information about local people who have been married or died recently. There are also many free local papers which are delivered to peoples homes whether they ask for them or not. These papers contain a lot of advertisements and also some news.

Each of the national papers can be characterized as belonging to one of two distinct [dis`tiŋkt] categories [`kætigriz]. The quality papers, or broadsheets [`bro:d∫i:ts] , cater [`keit] , , . for the better educated readers. The popular papers or tabloids [`tæbloidz], sell to a much large readership. The tabloids contain far less print than the broadsheets and far more pictures. They use larger headlines and write in a simple style of English. While the broadsheets devote much space to `politics and other serious news, the tabloids concentrate on human interest stories, which often means sex and scandal. However, the broadsheets do not completely ignore sex and scandal or any other aspect of public life. Both types of paper devote equal amount of attention to sport. The difference between them is in the treatment of the topics they cover, and in which topics are given the most prominence [`prominns]. The reason that the quality newspapers are called broadsheets and the popular ones tabloids is because they are different shapes. The broadsheets are twice as large as the tabloids.

The daily broadsheets are: Daily Telegraph [`teligra:f], Guardian [`ga:djn], Independent [,indi`pendnt], Times, Financial [fai`næn∫l] Times. The Sunday broadsheets are: Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Observer, Independent on Sunday.

The daily tabloids are: Sun, Daily Mirror [`mir], Daily Mail, Daily Express [iks`pres], Star. The Sunday tabloids are: News of the World, Sunday Mirror, People, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Express, Sunday sport.

The way politics is presented in the national newspapers reflects the fact that British political parties are essentially parliamentary [,pa:l`mentri] organizations. Although different papers have differing political outlooks, none of the large newspapers is an organ of a political party.

Most of newspapers are right-wing . These are the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Daily Mail and the Sun. The Times , the oldest newspaper in Britain, did not formerly have one strong political view but it is now more right-wing. The Guardian is slightly left-wing . The Independent does not support any one political party, and neither does Financial Times , which concentrates on business and financial news. The Daily Mirror is left-wing.

What counts for the newspaper publishers is business. All of them are in the business first and foremost to make money. As newspapers receive no government subsidy [`sΛbsidi], their primary concern is to sell as many copies as possible and to attract as much advertising [`ædvtaiziŋ] as possible. The British press is controlled by a rather small number of extremely large companies. This fact helps to explain two notable features.

One of these is its freedom from interference [,int`firns] from government influence. The press is so powerful in this respect that it is sometimes referred to as the fourth respect (the other three being the Commons, the Lords and the monarch). This freedom is ensured because there is a general feeling in the country that freedom of speech is a basic constitutional right.

The other feature of the national press which is partially the result of the commercial interests of its owners is its shallowness. Few other European countries have a popular press which is so low. Sometimes newspapers pages are full of stories about the private lives of famous people. Sometimes their stories are not articles at all, they are just excuses to show pictures of almost naked women.

The British press is not only newspapers, there are a lot of different magazines catering [`keitriŋ] for almost every imaginable taste and specializing in almost every imaginable pastime. Among these publications there are a few weeklies dealing with news and current affairs. The best selling weeklies are those giving details of the forthcoming [fo:θ`kΛmiŋ] weeks television and radio programmes : Whats On TV , the Radio Times and TV Times. Second to them in popularity are womens magazines: Take a Break, Womans Weekly, Womans Own, Woman, Womans Realm. Among mens magazines, the most popular are Loaded, GQ and Esquire [is`kwai]. The leading opinion journals are The Economist, the New Statesman and Society, the Spectator and Private Life.







cater , , .

tabloid , ( )

prominence .

Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times, Observer

right - wing . ()

left - wing . ()




forthcoming ,


2. Radio and television

In 1936 the government established the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) [`bro:dka:stiŋ ,ko:p`rei∫n] to provide a public service in radio . It also began broadcasting that year on the recently invented television. In 1955 the establishment of independent and commercial television and radio removed the BBCs broadcasting monopoly [m`nopli].

In spite of its much reduced evening audience, BBC radio still provides an important service. Its five radio stations (BBC radio 15) provide: non-stop pop music, light entertainment, classical music, arts programmes and academic material (some for Open University courses), news and comment and discussion programmes, sport.

Radio 1 began broadcasting in 1969. Devoted almost entirely to pop music, its birth was a signal that popular youth culture could no longer be ignored by the countrys established institutions. In spite of recent competition from independent commercial radio stations, it still has over ten million listeners.

Radio 2 broadcasts mainly light music and chat shows.

Radio 3 is devoted to classical music.

Radio 4 broadcasts a variety of programmes, from plays and comedy shows to consumer [kn`sju:m] advice programme and in-depth news coverage .

Radio 5 is largely given over to sports coverage and news.

The BBC additionally runs 38 local stations, providing material of local interests.

Two particular radio programmes should be mentioned. Soap operas are normally associated with television. but The Archers [`a:t∫z] is actually the longest-running soap in the world. It describes itself as an everyday story of country folk. Its audience is mainly middle-class with a large proportion [pr`po:∫n] of elderly people. Another popular programme is the live commentary of cricket Test Matches in summer.

Commercial radio offers three nationwide [,nei∫n`waid] services: Classic FM, which broadcasts mainly classical music; Virgin 1215, broadcasting popular music; and Talk Radio UK, a speech-based service.

In addition there are 180 independent local radio stations which provide news, information, music and other entertainment, coverage [`kΛvrid3] of local events, sports commentary, chat shows and phone-in programmes.

An important but separate part of the BBCs work is its external services . The BBC World Service broadcasts by radio in English and 43 other languages. The service is funded separately from the rest of the BBC, by the Foreign Office. Although the BBC has freedom in the content [`kontnt] of what it broadcasts, the government decides in which foreign languages it should broadcast, and the amount of funding it should receive. As such, the service is a promotional [pr`mou∫nl] part of British foreign policy.

Television is the most popular form of entertainment in Britain. It is also independent from government interference [,int`firns]. There is no advertising on the BBC. But Independent Television (ITV), which started in 1954, gets its money from advertisements in screens. It consists of a number of privately owned companies, each of which is responsible for programming [`prougræmiŋ] in different parts of the country on the single channel given to it. But ITV news programmes are not made by individual television companies. Independent Television News (ITN) is owned jointly by all of them. For this and other reasons, it has always been protected from commercial influence. There is no significant [sig`nifiknt] difference between the style and `content of the news on ITV and than on the BBC.

There are four channels which all viewers in the country receive: BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV and Channel 4.

Table 1. The Four channels





Channel 4











Early weekday mornings

A rather relaxed style of news magazine punctuated [`pΛŋktjueitid] with more formal news summaries

Open University programmes

A very informal breakfast show

Mornings and early afternoons

Popular discussion programmes, quizzes, soaps and a relaxed type of magazine programme, usually with a male-female pair of pre`senters

Educational programmes, some aimed at schools and others with a more general educational purpose

Late afternoons

Childrens programmes, which vary greatly in style and content

General documentary and features (feature film a full-length cinema film with an invented story and professional actors)


News (including regional news programmes) and the most popular soaps, dramas, comedies, films and various programmes of light entertainment and general interest

Documentaries and programmes appealing to minority [mai`noriti] interests; drama and alternative comedy; comparatively serious and in-depth news programmes

Late at night

Open University


Much of weekend afternoons are devoted to sport. Saturday evenings include the most popular live [ai] variety show

Channel 5 is a commercial channel, which is received by about two-thirds of British households. Started in 1997. Its emphasis [`emfsis] is on entertainment but it makes all other types of programme too. Of particular note is its unconventional presentation of the news, which is designed to appeal to younger adults [`ædΛlts / `dΛlts]. There is also a Welsh language channel for viewers in Wales.


British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ( - - )


consumer advice programme

in-depth news coverage

The Archers

nationwide services

coverage ( , )

external services

promotional , .

emphasis ,


A social profile


1. The Family

2. The Class System

3. Gender [`dgend]

4. Religion

1. The Family

In recent years there have been many changes in family life. Even the stereotyped nuclear family of father, mother and two children is becoming less common. Since the law made it easier to get a divorce, the number of divorces has considerably increased: one marriage in every three now ends in divorce. Britain has a higher rate of divorce than anywhere else in Europe except Denmark. As a result, there are a lot of one-parent families. The great majority of single parents are women. One in three children under the age of five has divorced parents. Forty per cent of children experience the divorce of their parents before the age of 18. Single-parent families often experience isolation [,ais`lei∫n] and poverty [`povti].

However, the increased number of divorces does not mean that marriage and the family are not popular: the majority of divorced people marry again, and they usually take responsibility for the children in their second family.

Though the family unit i s still the basic living arrangement for most people, the number of people living alone has risen [`rizn] significantly, from one in 10 in 1951 to one in three in the twenty-first century. Some women prefer independence, which they fear they will lose by marriage. In the period 197991 the proportion [pr`po:∫n] of single, widowed, divorced or separated women aged between 18 and 49 increased from 11 to 23 per cent of women in that age group.

There is an increasing proportion of men and women living together before marriage. About one in four of the couples living together never do get married. The proportion of children born outside marriage has risen [i] dramatically. But about three-quarters of all births outside marriage are officially registered [`redgistd] by both parents and more than half of the children | concerned are born to parents who are living together at the time.

Extended families are not typical, except among some racial [`rei∫l] minorities [mai`noritiz]. It is unusual for adults of different generations within the family to live together. The average number of people living in each household | in Britain is lower than in most other European countries. The proportion of elderly people living alone is similarly high. Members of a family grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins keep in touch, but they see each other less than before. Significant family events such as weddings, births and funerals are not automatically accompanied by large gatherings of people. It is still common to appoint people to certain roles on such occasions, such as best man at a wedding, or godmother and godfather when a child is born. But for most people these appointments are of sentimental significance [sig`nifikns] only. They do not imply lifelong responsibility. In fact, family gatherings of any kind beyond [bi`jond] the household unit are rare. For most people, they are confined [kn`faind] to the Christmas period, which is the traditional season for reunions, and relatives often travel many miles in order to spend the holiday together.


nuclear family a family unit that consists only of husband, wife and children



racial minorities



2. The class system

Historians say that the class system has survived in Britain because of its flexibility [,fleksi`biliti]. It has always been possible to buy or marry or even work your way up, so that your children belong to a higher social class than you do. As a result, the class system has never been swept away by a revolution.

People in modern Britain are very conscious [`kon∫s] of class differences. They regard it | as difficult to become friends with somebody from a different class. It results from the fact that the different classes have different sets of attitudes and daily habits. Typically, they tend to eat different food at different times of day and call the meals by different names, they like to talk about different topics using different styles and accents of English, they enjoy different pastimes and sports, they have different values about what things in life are most important and different ideas about the correct way to behave. Stereotypically [,steri`tipikli], they go to different kinds of school.

The sense of social class or group is affected by social circle as well as education and wealth. A relatively poor but highly educated family may find itself associating [`sou∫ieitiŋ] with wealthier but similarly highly educated friends. A traditional landowning but less highly educated gentry [`dgentry] family will probably associate [∫] with other landowners of similar education level.

An interesting feature of the class structure in Britain is | that it is not always possible to guess the class to which a person belongs by looking at his or her clothes, car or bank balance. The most obvious [`obvis] and immediate sign comes when a person begins speaking. And what the speaker says is less important than the way that he or she says it. The English grammar and vocabulary which is used in public speaking, radio and television news `broadcasts, books and newspapers is known as standard British English. Most working-class people use lots of words and grammatical forms in their everyday speech which are regarded as non-standard. Nearly everybody in the country is capable of using standard English (or something very close to it) when they judge that the situation demands it. They are taught to do so at school. But most people cannot change their accent to suit the situation. So a persons accent is the clearest indication of his or her class.

The most prestigious [pre`stidgs] accent in Britain is known as Received Pronunciation (or RP). The combination of standard English spoken with an RP accent is usually called BBC English or Oxford English (re`ferring to the university, not the town) or the Queens English. RP is not associated [∫] with any particular part of the country. Anyone with an RP accent is assumed [`sju:md] to be upper or upper-middle class. The vast majority of people speak with an accent which is geographically limited. In England and Wales, anyone who speaks with a strong regional accent is automatically [,o:t`mætikli] assumed to be working class. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the situation is slightly different; in these places, some forms of regional accent are almost as prestigious [pre`stidgs] as RP.

Traditionally there are three social classes in Britain: upper class, middle class and working class. But market researchers [ri`s:t∫z] in 1950s applied six classes to Britain, and they have tended to be used ever since. They are:

1. Upper middle class (senior civil servants, professional senior management [`mænidgmnt] and finance [`fainæns]);

2. Middle class (middle managerial [,mæni`dgiril]);

3. Lower middle class (junior managerial, non-manual [`mænjul] workers);

4. Skilled working class;

5. Semi-skilled or unskilled working class;

6. Residual [ri`zidjul] (dependent on state benefit [`benifit], unemployed, occasional part-time).

Most people generally mix socially with the same kind of people as their work colleagues, and usually live in streets or neighbourhoods which reflect that social grouping. This suggests a static situation, but there is major movement between classes. Many people move from one category [`kætidri] to another during their working lives. Marriage outside ones class is much more common than it used to be. The working class is rapidly declining [di`klain] . But the middle class is growing. There has been a great increase in the number of people from working-class origins | who are houseowners and who do traditionally middle-class jobs. The lower and middle classes have drawn closer to each other in their attitudes.




gentry .





category , ,

3. Gender

In terms of everyday habits, British society probably expects a sharper difference between the sexes than most other European societies do. In spite of having a female monarch and having had a female Prime Minister for over a decade, the female sex in Britain gets less than its fair share of power, freedom and wealth.

In the early nineties, only about 5% of MPs were women, only 20% of lawyers in Britain were women, less than 10% of accountants were women, only 3% of company directors were women. In 1995 the first woman ever was appointed as a police Chief Constable. In 1996 only 7 per cent of university professors were women. In 1997 only 6 per cent of High Court and Circuit [`s:kit] judges were women. In order to succeed in such spheres women must be outstandingly better than men.

Women are also paid less than men. On average, women earn 31 per cent less than men. The average hourly [`auli] wage for full-time women workers is ₤7, only 80 per cent of what men earn.

Although men take a more active domestic role than they took forty years ago, women still do about 8 hours more domestic work weekly than men. Most people assume [`sju:m] that a familys financial [fai`næn∫l] situation is not just the responsibility of the man. But everyday care of the children is still seen as mainly womans responsibility. Although almost as many women have jobs as men, nearly half of the jobs done by women are part-time. In fact, the majority of mothers with children under the age of twelve either have no job or work only during school hours.

In recent years the situation has slightly changed. More women succeed in business. Nearly every institution in the country has opened its doors to women now. One of the last to do so was the Anglican Church, which, after much debate [di`beit], decided in favour of the ordination [,o:di`nei∫n] of women priests in 1993. However, there are a few institutions which still dont accept female members for example, the O xford and Cambridge Club in London, an association [`sousi`ei∫n] for graduates of these two universities.


circuit court

ordination ,

4. Religion

There are numerous religious groups in Great Britain practising their faiths in the country today.

The Church of England or the Anglican [`æŋglikn] Church is a Protestant Church and the official state religion of England (although membership is not, of course compulsory). The Queen is the Head of the Church of England and she, with the advice of the Prime Minister appoints the senior members of the clergy the archbishops [`a:t∫`bi∫p], bishops and deans.

The Church is divided into two provinces [`provinsiz] ( . ) Canterbury [ `kæntbri ] and York each with its own archbishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior official in the Church of England. The two provinces are divided into a number of dioceses [`daisisiz], each with its own bishop; and the dioceses are further split into parishes [`pæri∫]. There are 13 250 parishes in England alone, and every parish has its own church with its own priest or vicar . In 1992 women were first permitted to become priests.

The Church of Scotland is recognized as the official religion of Scotland. It is a Protestant Church and is a Presbyterian [,prezbi`tirin] organization. This means that there is no hierarchy [`haira:ki] of archbishops and bishops.

The Church of Scotland is governed by its ministries [`ministriz] (parish priests) and elders (elected representatives), all of whom are considered to hold equal rank [ræŋk]. Women are allowed to become ministries in the Presbyterian Church.

The Roman Catholic Church . About 10% of the population of Britain are Roman Catholics including more than one-third of the population of Northern Ireland. Recent years have seen attempts to create some form of unity between the Catholic Church and the Church of England, but there are many problems, not least of which is the fact that the Church of England accepted the idea of admitting women to the priesthood, which is totally unacceptable to the Roman Church.

The Free Churches . There are several Protestant churches in Britain which, unlike the churches of England and Scotland, are not officially recognized as state religions. They are called the Free Churches, the most important of which are the Methodists [`meθdists], Baptists [`bæptists], and the United Reform Church . These churches are particularly strong in the old Celtic areas of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and south-west England. Most of them allow women to become ministries.

As well as these churches there are various other Christian communities such as Orthodox [`o:θdoks] and Armenian [a:`mi:njn] Christians.

Non-Christian Religions . There are large numbers of Commonwealth citizens in Britain whose ancestors came from such countries as India, Pakistan [,pa:kis`ta:n], and Bangladesh [`bæŋgl`de∫]. Many of these people are Sikhs [si:k], Muslims [`muslimz], Hindus [hindu:] and Buddhists [`budists]. There are also about 400 000 Jews [dgu:z] living in Britain one of the largest Jewish [`dgu(:)i∫] community in Europe.


province .

diocese ; ,

parish ;

vicar ,

Presbyterian Church , , ,


ministry , .

Methodist Church

Baptism , 17 . ,

United Reform Church . 1972 .

Orthodox Church



Sikh , XV .


Hindus ,

Buddhism . V IV . . .


The Arts in Great Britain


1. The arts in society

2. Annual arts festivals

3. Theatre and cinema

4. Music

5. Literature

6. The fine arts

1. The arts in society

The arts is an umbrella term for literature, music, painting, sculpture, crafts, theatre, opera, ballet, film. It usually implies seriousness, so that particular examples of these activities | which are regarded as light | may be referred to | simply as entertainment instead. The term art or fine arts , is often used to refer to those arts which use space, but not time, for their appreciation [,pri:∫i`ei∫n] (such as painting and sculpture). The word artist can sometimes refer to a person working in the fine arts, and sometimes to a person working in any field of the arts.

Britain s artistic and cultural heritage [ `heritidg ] is one of the richest in the world. The origins of English literature can be traced back to medieval [,medi`i:vl] times, while over the centuries Britain has amassed [`mæst] some of the finest collections of works of art of all kind. The performing arts also have a long and distinguished history.

Nevertheless, interest in the arts in Britain used to be largely confined to a small élite [ei`li:t]. Most British people prefer their sport, their television and videos, and their other free-time activities to anything connected with the arts.

The arts in Britain are met with a mixture of public apathy [`æpθi] and private enthusiasm [in`θju:ziæzm]. Publicly, the arts are accepted but not actively encouraged. Government financial support for the arts is one of the lowest of any western country. In schools, subjects such as art and music, tend to be pushed to the side lines. In addition, the arts are not normally given a very high level of publicity [pΛb`lisiti] . Television programmes on cultural subjects are usually shown late at night. Each summer, many high-quality arts festivals take place around the country, but the vast majority of people do not even know of their existence. London has some of the finest collections of painting and sculpture in the world, but tourist brochures [`brou∫uz] give little space to this aspect of the city. Some British artists have international reputations, and yet most people in Britain dont ever know their names.

There appears to be a general assumption [`sΛmp∫n] in Britain that artistic creation is a personal affair, not a social one. It is not something for which society should feel responsible. In Britain hundreds of thousands of people are involved in one or other of the arts, but with a more-or-less amateur [`æmt:] or part-time status [`steits]. Every town in the country has at least one amateur dramatic society, which regularly gives performances. All over the country, thousands of people learn handicrafts (such as pottery) in their free time, and sometimes sell their work in local craft shops. There are thousands of musicians of every kind, performing around the country for very little money and making their own recordings in very difficult circumstances. Some amateur British choirs, such as the Bach [ba:k] Choir of London and Kings College Chapel [`t∫æpl] Choir in Cambridge, are well-known throughout the world.

The main characteristic of British work in the arts is its lack of identification [ai,dentifi`kei∫n] with wider intellectual [,inti`lektjul] trends . It is not usually ideologically [`aidi`lodgikli] committed, nor associated [`sou∫ieitid] with particular political movements. British playwrights and directors, novelists [`novlists] and poets tend to be individualistic [,individju`listik], exploring [iks`plo:riŋ] emotions rather than ideas, the personal rather than political. It is quite common for British playwrights and novelists to claim that they just record what they see and they do not consciously intend any social or symbolic [sim`bolik] message. Similarly, British work in the arts also tends to be individualistic within its own field. Artists do not usually consider themselves to belong to this or that movement. In any field of the arts, even those in which British artists have strong international reputations, it is difficult to identify a British school.

The style of the arts also tends to be conventional. The avant-garde [,ævo:ŋ`ga:d // ,æva:ŋ] exists, of course, but, with the possible exception of painting and sculpture, it is not through such work that British artists become famous. In the 1980s, Peter Brook was a highly successful theatre director. But when he occasionally directed avant-garde productions, he staged them in Paris!


umbrella term


amass ()

é lite







2. Annual arts festivals

Annual festivals of music and drama are very popular in Britain. Some of them are famous not only in Britain, but all over the world. The most well-known art festivals are:

Aldeburgh [`o:ldbr]. Is held every summer in June. Classical music. Relatively informal atmosphere.

Edinburgh International Festival . Is held during three weeks in late August and early September. All the performing arts, including avant-garde [,ævo:ŋ`ga:d // ,æva:ŋ]. More than ten different performances every day around the city. World famous.

The Promps (promenade [,prom`na:d] concerts). JulySeptember. London. Classical music. Promps is short for promenades, so-called because most of the seats are taken out of the Albert Hall, where the concerts take place, and the audience stands or walks around instead.

Glyndebourne [`glaindbo:n]. All summer. Is held in a 16-century country house (Glyndebourne) in a village in Sussex. An annual opera festival. Is attended by rich, upper-class people.

Royal National Eisteddfod [ai`stedfd]. July. Wales. Music, poetry and dance from many different countries. Mostly in the form of competition.

Glastonbury and Reading [`glæstnbri] [`rediŋ]. Probably the two most well-established rock music festivals.

Bradford and Cambridge [`brædfd]. Folk music festivals.

International Shakespeare Festival . Is held in the Aldwych [`o:ldwit∫] Theatre in London. During the festival famous companies from abroad perform Shakespeares plays.





Glastonbury and Reading

Bradford and Cambridge

Aldwych Theatre

3. Theatre and cinema

Britain is one of the worlds major centers for theatre, and has a long and rich dramatic tradition. There are many companies based in London and other cities and towns, as well as numerous touring companies which visit theatres, festivals, arts centers and social clubs. Every large town in the country has its theaters. Even small towns often have repertory [`reptri] theatres, where different plays are performed for short periods by the same group of professional actors (a repertory company).

Britain has about 300 theatres intended for professional use which can seat between 200 and 2,300 people. Some are privately owned but most are owned municipally [mju:`nisipli]. In summer there are also open air theatres. 15 of many Londons theatres are permanently occupied by subsidized [`sΛbsidaizd] companies . These includes:

the Royal National Theatre, which stages a wide of modern classical plays;

the Royal Shakespeare Company, which presents mainly by Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as some modern work;

the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane [`sloun] Square , London, which stages the work of many talented new playwrights.

Among the best-known British actors and actresses, who played or play at the West End theatres are Sir Laurence [`lorence] Olivier [`liviei], Sir John Gielgud [`gi:lgud], Sir Alec [`ælik] Guinness [`ginis], Sir Michael Redgrave [`redgreiv] and his daughter Vanessa [v`nes] Redgrave , Sir Ian [`i:n] McKellen [m`keln], Dame Judy [`dgu:di] Dench [dent∫], Dame Maggie Smith . Many British directors who enjoy international reputation include Sir Peter Hall , Trevor [`trev] Nunn , Jonathan [`dgonθn] Miller , Terry Hands . As a rule, the plays are magnificently staged costumes, dresses, scenery, everything being done on the most lavish [`lævi∫] scale.

Successful plays can sometimes run without a break for many years. In the second half of the twentieth century, the two longest-running theatrical productions were The Mousetrap (from a novel by Agatha Christy) and the comedy No Sex Please, Were British. Both played continuously for more than fifteen years.

Contemporary British playwrights who have received international recognition include:

Harold Pinter [`pint] The Caretaker and The Homecoming; Tom Stoppard [`sto`pa:d] Rosencrantz [`rouznkrænts] and Guildenstern [`gildnst:n] are Dead ; Caryl Churchill [`t∫:t∫il] Serious Money; and Peter Shaffer [`∫æf] Amadeus [æm`deis].

The musicals of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber [`web] have been highly successful in Britain and overseas; well known examples include Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita [e`vi:t] and Cats.

British theatre has such a fine acting tradition that Hollywood is forever raiding its talent for people to star in films. British television does the same thing. Moreover, Broadway [o:], when looking for its next blockbuster [`blok,bΛst] musical, pays close attention to London productions. In short, British theatre is much admired. As a consequence [`konsikwns] , it is something that British actors are proud of. Many of the most well-known television actors, though they might make most of their money in television, continue to see themselves as first and foremost [`fo:moust] theatre actors.

In contrast [`kontræst], the cinema in Britain is often regarded as not quite part of the art at all it is simply entertainment. Partly for this reason, Britain is unique among the large European countries in giving almost no financial [fai`næn∫l] help to its film industry. British film directors often have to go to Hollywood because the resources [ri`so:siz] they need are not available [`veilbl] in Britain. As a result, comparatively few films of quality are made in the country.


repertory theatre

( owned ) municipally .

subsidized companies


Sloane Square a fashionable, expensive place to live in London

Sir Laurence Olivier

Sir John Gielgud

Sir Alec Guinness

Sir Michael Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave

Sir Ian McKellen

Dame JudyDench

Dame Maggie Smith

Sir Peter Hall

Trevor Nunn

Jonathan Miller

Terry Hands

Harold Pinter

Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Caryl Churchill

Peter Shaffer


Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

4. Music

People in Britain are interested in a wide range of music, from classical to different forms of rock and pop music.

Classical music in Britain is a minority [mai`noriti] interest. Few classical musicians, whether British or foreign, become well-known to the general public. Despite this, thousands of British people are dedicated musicians. Seasons of orchestral and choral [`korl] concerts are promoted [pr`moutid] every year in many large towns and cities.

The leading symphony orchestras are the London Philharmonic [,fila:`monik], the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and many others. There are also chamber [`t∫eimb] orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Regular seasons of opera and ballet are held at the Royal Opera House at Covent [`kovnt] Garden , London.

While Britains classical music performances compared well with top international standards, it is in the field of popular music that Britain achieved a particular pre-eminence [pri(:)`eminns]. In the 1960s, British artists had a great influence on the development of music in the modern, or pop idiom [`idim] . The Beatles and other British groups were responsible for several innovations [,inou`vei∫nz] which were then adopted by popular musicians in the USA and the rest of the world. These included the writing of words and music by performers themselves, and more active audience participation. Since 1960s, popular music in Britain has been an enormous and profitable [`profitbl] industry. The Beatles were awarded the honour of MBE (Members of the British Empire) for their services to British exports. Britain remains at the forefront [`fo:frΛnt] , of pop music.




Covent Garden -



5. Literature

Although the British are comparatively uninterested in formal education, and although they watch a lot of television, they are nonetheless enthusiastic [in,θju:zi`æstik] readers.

Many people in the literary world say that British literature lost its way at the end of the twentieth century. A lot of the exciting new literature written in English and published in Britain in recent years has been written by people from outside Britain. The Booker Prize is the most important prize in Britain for a work of fiction. But most of its winners are writers from former British colonies such as Canada, India, Ireland.

Although many of the best serious British writers manage to be popular as well as profound [pr`faund] , the vast majority of the books that are read in Britain could not be classified as serious literature. Britain is the home of what might be called middlebrow [au] literature. That is, mid-way between serious, or highbrow literature and popular, or pulp [pΛlp] , fiction. For example, the distinctly . British genre [`3a:nr] of detective fiction is regarded as entertainment rather than literature but it is entertainment for intelligent readers.

There are many British authors, mostly female, who write novels which are sometimes classified as romances [rou`mænsiz] but which are actually deeper and more serious than that term often implies. The list includes such writers as Daphne [`dæfni] Du Maurier [d(j)u:`mo:ri,ei], Mary Stewart [`stju:t], Victoria Holt and some others. And yet they continued to be read, year after year, by hundreds of thousands of people.

The British publisher which sells more books than any other is Miller & Boon, whose books are simple stories about romance, where she is young and pretty, he is tall, dark and handsome, with a very firm jaw; whatever happens during the story, they end up in each others arms forever.

At the end of the twentieth century, poetry is still popular in Britain. Books of poetry sell in comparatively large numbers. Many poets are asked to do readings of their work on radio and at arts festivals.


The Booker Prize


Daphne Du Maurier

Mary Stewart

Victoria Holt

6. The fine arts

Painting and sculpture are not as widely popular as music in Britain. Small private art galleries, where people might look at paintings with a view to buying them are rare. Nevertheless, London is one of the main centers of international collectors world. The two major auction [`o:k∫n] houses of Sothebys [`sΛðbiz] and Christies [`kristiz] are world-famous.

The major museums in London are British Museum (the national collection of antiquities [æn`tikwitiz]), the Victoria and Albert Museum, which houses the worlds largest display of the decorative [`dekrtiv] arts, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. There are numerous other small, specialist museums in London and throughout the rest of the country. Most of major museums publish guides to their collections, pointing out their most highly-prized exhibits [ig`zibits], which are often illustrated in the guides.

Art galleries in London which house permanent collections include the National Gallery, the adjoining National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate Britain, which is the nations [ei] gallery of British art from 1500 to the present day. These galleries also hold special temporary exhibitions. The Hayward [`heiwd] Gallery and the Royal Academy put on a series of shows, some of which are extremely popular. The Royal Academy is famous for its annual [`ænjul] Summer Exhibition. Outside London there is a Burrell [`bΛrl] Collection near Glasgow and the Tate Galleries in Liverpool and St Ives . Most major towns and cities have their own museums and art galleries.


auction house

Sothebys and Christies large auction houses with branches in London and New York, where valuable paintings, furniture, etc., are sold

antiquity ,

Hayward Gallery an art gallery on Londons South Bank

Burrell Collection an art collection in Glasgow, given to the city by Sir William Burrell

St Ives a small town on the coast of Cornwall, popular with tourists and painters

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