The British History (from the Romans to 1945) summary



The British History (from the Romans to 1945) summary


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The British History (from the Romans to 1945) summary

The British History (from the Romans to 1945) B.A. exam is a 90-minute written exam, consisting of 70 multiple choice questions on the given period .

There are 20 questions related to documents of the given period from the Frank-Magyarics Handouts for British History document section (called „passages to quote”) (available both in the Campus library and in the printshop of Building D) and 10 questions on terminology also found in the glossary sections of Frank-Magyarics Handouts, the remaining 4o questions focus on the main political, constitutional, social and economic as well as religious and cultural events of the given period. Major dates, names and institutions to be remembered are underlined on handouts (1-1o) also available on the Internet under, Velich, handouts.

Compulsory literature: C.Roberts—D.Roberts: A History of England vol 1 and chapters running up to 1815 from vol 2 (Prentice-Hall, 1985) also available both in the campus library and in the printshop until 2o Dec.

Enjoy your study and please take your INDEX books with you for the exam. NOBODY CAN TAKE THE EXAM WITHOUT HIS or HER INDEX BOOK.




I tried to emphasize the most important events by underlining them

A. Home policy:

--the succession of Mary & William III(of Orange), securing protestantism in a peaceful, bloodless, thus the glorious „revolution”, the beginning of protestant constitutional monarchy manifested in the 

the Bill of Rights, 1689: (compulsory from the Frank-Magyarics documents) no billeting, no martial law, annual Parliament, no taxation without representation

--the Toleration Act (of religion) to reward, to tolerate the noncomformists (non-Anglicans)
--the constitutional settlement in the 1701 Act of Settlement – ensured the future protestant succession; a separate civil service founded; efficient taxation
-- the Bank of England (first joint-stock bank) founded in 1694 to help solvency, get state credit
-- increasing political split along the tory (conservatives) vs whig(liberal) line
-- John Locke's significance; royal mail & the first newspapers; freemasonry

--Queen Anne /1702--1714/ -- not a „significant monarch”, loved nothing but eating, country run by ministers like Godolphin, Marlborough, when most important event: England & Scotland united in 1707 (unification document to be studied from Frank-Magyarics Handouts, Documents) and securing
--the Hanoverian (protestant but German) succession, resulting the Georgian period /George I-- IV; 1714-- 183O/

--George I /1714--1727/
does not speak English, country run by party politicians, but the first real Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole,  was to act under

--George II /1727--1760/

-- Sir Robert Walpole, the first English PM & his cabinet /1721--42: peace, tax reforms & free trade elements/

--menwhile the Jacobites (the followers of the Stuarts to restore the Stuart absolutism) & their efforts also in Scotland & Ireland; but the Jacobite restoration attempt by the Old & the Young Pretenders/1715 & 1745/ failed
--religious renewal, against pluralism (having more than one religious title, office) including John Wesley, who founded the Methodist church (more Bible-based, a strict protestant movement, less middle-course than the Anglicanism from the 1730s)

B. Diplomacy:

Britain involved in four successive, partly colonial  wars:
--the Nine Years War /1688-1697/ -- a war between England in alliance with the Netherlands against France not recognising the new protestant couple, supporting the Stuarts ended by the Treaty of Ryswick recognising Mary and William III, but after 2 years of truce, the war continued as part of

--the War of the Spanish Succession /1702--1713/ --the famous English victories at Blenheim & Ramilles  by John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough; war ended by the Treaty of Utrecht  (1713--15), with an advanced technique of diplomacy; Gibraltar & Minorca were left on British hands

--the War of the Austrian Succession /1740--1748/ -- Britain fought Spain for commercial advantages in America; the war is also known as the War of Captain Jenkins' Ear

--the Seven Years War /1756--1763/ -- between Britain and France, the military skills of William Pitt, the Elder; war ended by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 with British colonial gains including India, Quebec

--with international mercenaries & bayonets emloyed; Britain emerged as a sea power; Britain fights France; damaging commerce, but having colonial gains

--the Balance of Power principle emloyed to support the weaker side in international wars to tip the balance



India -- the priority of the East India Company /Warren Hastings/
         -- after 1773 a governor-general nominated
         -- from 1784 a new board of   7 commissioners
--autocracy in India while Parliamentary oversight in Britain

the Industrial Revolution & its impact /rising population and fuel to boost production/

--- improved farming methods result in rural unemployment & in accelerated urbanization
--- British commerce doubled because of trading with America & Asia
--- better transportation & financial facilities
--- the cyclical fluctuations of the economy
--- the social consequences

George III /1760--1820, but the regency of the future George IV from 1810 to 182o/
-- the first popular Hanoverian monarch
-- the rise of radicalism /John Wilkes & John Dunning/
-- demonstrations lead to reforms:

  • the survey of all government offices & sinecures

        -- forerunners of movements for further financial, administrative & electoral                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  reforms
-- Catholics in the army after 1778
-- the significance of William Pitt, the Elder & William Pitt, the Younger
/an independent whig to dominate English politics 1784-1805/
-- abolitionism /William Wilberforce against colonial slave trade/
-- the unification Britain & Ireland in 1801(document to be studied from Frank-Magyarics documents)

Diplomacy: -- wars to overshadow the period

-- the consequences of the American War of Independence
-- the dilemmas caused by the French Revolution & the wars with France/1793--1801; 1802--1815/
-- the zenith of the British navy; Nelson' s victory at Trafalgar in 1805
-- difficulties overland; changing alliances; Britain' s allies preoccupied elsewhere, e.g. with the  partition of Poland; Britain often left alone against France; the French threat on British commercial interests
-- Napoleon's miscalculations with Egypt & Russia
-- Napoleon' s return from Elba; the importance of the Waterloo victory by Wellington in 1815 to end the ' 100 days'
-- the Vienna Settlement of 1815 /Lord Castlereagh for the balance of power & the Concert of Europe, but against the 'Holy Alliance' /
& the British war gains: Heligoland, Malta & the Ionian islands & further overseas possessions /the Cape Colony, Mauritius & Ceylon/

-- Lord Liverpool passed the Corn Law in 1815 to protect English landed interests


-- the Catholic Emancipation Act /1829/

WILLIAM IV /1830-37/
-- the First Reform Bill  of 1832 (later on to be succeeded by the 1867, 1872 and 1884 Reform Bills)
-- the First Factory Act /1833/

QUEEN VICTORIA /1837-1901/
-- the People's Charter /1838, 1842, 1847/, the 6 demands of Chartism
-- the first and second Opium Wars with China/1839-42, 1856-60/
-- Sir Robert Peel's Ministry
-- the repeal of the Corn Law /1845/
-- the Irish potato famine of 1845-46
-- the Great Exhibition of 1851—the Crystal Palace

  • the Crimean War /1854-56/ with Russia
  • Lord Palmerston

-- the Education Act of 1870
-- the Ballot Act of 1872 as part of the Reform Bills
-- Britain gets the Suez Canal /1875/
-- the Boer War /1899-1902/
-- the foundation of the Labour Party in 1900
-- the platform speeches of Gladstone  vs Disraeli


Queen Victoria(last monarch of Hanover) succeeded by Edward VII (of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) in 1901 & by George V   in 1910

till 1906 conservative government by Salisbury, then by Balfour as PM

-- Fisher' s navy reforms /the Dreadnoughts/
-- economic debate on tariff reform vs.  free trade
supported by J. Chamberlain's   vs. Balfour' s speeches

                                   resigns and forms the Tariff Reform League

split the Conservative Party               reunited the split Liberals

Balfour lost Labour support because of the scandal ''indentured Chinese labour to South Africa'' & the Taff Vale decision

--- Britain steps out of her splendid isolation by 1902 Anglo-- Japanese treaty
by 1904 Anglo-- French ENTENTE
by 1907 Anglo-- Russian Convention

         while supports conferences to pacify Europe & Anglo-German naval talks till 1911
/2nd Hague conference, London conferences as well as Imperial ones/

1906 elections --- Liberal victory --- Campbell-Bannermann PM till 1908, then Asquith PM
-''new liberalism''                          
-- social bills /Old Age Pension/, Haldane' s army reform

                             1909 People' s Budget by Lloyd George

                                    land tax to result a constitutional crisis

                                 new elections: Liberal, Labour & Irish coalition set up

            to limit the veto of the Lords                   to give Home Rule for Ireland

            Parliament Bill passed in 1911

budgets & social bills could          split the Conservative                fail because of Ulster
now pass                                                                                         & English Unionists
/Carson & Bonar Law/
John Redmond too weak to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 accept Irish partition

     prewar Europe:      --  weakening Turkey results 2 Balkan Wars /1912, 1913/
& discontent on the Balkan
-- agressive German foreign policy: Moroccon crisis /1906,1911/
by 1913 Germany wants war but awaits ideal timing
-- British peace conference offer turned down, hesitation by Grey
finally Britain enters World War I because of the violation of the Belgian                                                                                                                                                                                                                    neutrality & the Entente obligations



 1914 -- 1918 : shift from an old to a new Britain

--- the theories of the War Book vs. the Schlieffen Plan and the reality:

the western front halts on the Aisne  --- trench warfare /the battles of                                                                                                                                   Ypres, Newe Chapelle & Aubers Ridge bring no change in 1915, the 1916 offensive on the Somme fails, too/

the eastern front: Russia & the Monarchy face each other when Japan, Italy & Romania join the Entente, while Turkey & Bulgaria join the Dual Alliance, the Entente fail to take Gallipoli to open a backdoor

on the sea the Battle of Jutland was followed by an unrestricted                                                                                                                                                              submarine war /cause shortages, but make the U.S. enter the war/                                        

In Britain national unity required to solve the problems of
---  conscription : after volunteers conscription for single men after Jan, 1916, then from April, 1916 for men aged 18-41
---  supply : dilution introduced in factories, while also better work conditions, wage talks, war socialism
---  centralisation & good command : debate of/among the generals /Sir John French, Robertson, Haig, Jellico/ vs secretary for war /Kitchener, then Lloyd George/ on power & tactics, Asquith resigns, Lloyd George' s War Cabinet include Conservative and Labour MPs in Britain & Supreme War Council with France at Versailles
---  internal peace : the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland, question of coercion vs Home Rule reoccurs, by 1918 Irish MPs leave Westminster, alienated for good, de Valera becomes their acknowledged leader
               --- financial problems : money shortage, huge debt heaped up to finance war & replace sunk ships

the Liberals gradually split over free trade, conscription, Home Rule, the Maurice debate, have only victory left to fight for

1917 : the worst year of the war : offensive on the western front fails /Passchendaele/
                                                     the Monarchy breaks through the Italian line at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Caporetto
                                                     Russia signs an armistice after Lenin' s revolution
                                                     free trade breaks down, war socialism does not work                                                                                                                                                                                                                        properly in Britain
                           /only Palestine & the oil fall into British hands, promise to the Jews/

1918: last German offensive fails to break through the Marne, Germany appeal to President Wilson for peace, the 14 points
             by 9 November, 1918 : William II abdicate, Republic in Berlin

                11 November, 1918 : final armistice, Britain celebrates victory, decide on new elections


--- 1918: after the armistice new /coupon/ elections in Britain to keep up the coalition

the Treaty of Paris & Versailles vs Wilson's 14 points & the League of Nations

Lloyd George: against too soft or too harsh terms for Germany, preoccupied with the fleets & with Belgium

---the question of war compensation --- whether to accept compensation only for civilian damages or to include war pensions as well, Anglo-French debate, final agreement on 6.6 billion pounds, decreased by the Dawes plan in 1924

1918-21 reconstruction boom /though staple industries never to fully recover/ & higher standard of living
             widespread landsales & their social consequences
During the reconstruction: --- 1918: Fisher' s Education Act passed
                                          /in spite of public hostility towards education/
                                          --- 1919: Ministry of Health set up by Addison

after 1921 slump /partly due to the monetary policy of the Bank of England/
gradually rising unemployment & strikes for higher wages, shorter work hours, while miners for nationalization /Black Friday/

disagreement about economic policy: free trade vs tariffs
                                                            capital levy & the welfare costs

1920 : Home Rule finally passed for Ireland but with a limited autonomy

                       --- order broke down, fights /IRA vs Black & Tans/
by 1921 Bonar Law retired, Lloyd George's promising peace talks, agreement signed in 1921/the Irish Free State of 26 counties with dominion status/, however excluding de Valera, who denounced the agreement --- civil war

--- trouble in India: General Dyer's use of arms in 1919 alienate population
                              Gandhi's rise & programme of civil disobedience

the 1922 elections in Britain end the coalition,
                 conservative victory: Bonar Law PM /1922-23/ -- attempts to arrange better                                                                                                                                                                                                                          terms for the U.S. loans & solve housing shortage
                                                   Baldwin PM /1923-24/ --- the Ruhr conflict
                                                              & high unemployment in Britain,

1924 new elections: first Labour victory : Ramsay McDonald PM
       -- ''free breakfast table'', higher unemployment benefit, Wheatley' s Housing Act
       --  successful & less secret diplomacy
    however fails within a year, Baldwin PM again -- duties reimposed, British export more expensive, wage cuts & strikes /1926/ follow, but also further building & welfare programme

    Lloyd George' s 1926 new national development programme fails to convince people 

             1929 elections Labour victory again, McDonald PM again
                            talks with Russia continued, pacifying policy in Egypt & in India
                            at home rationalization & public works crippled by the Depression
Mosley's suggestions not considered, by May, 1931 world trade collapsed, British interest-rates  to be increased, expenditure to be cut --- Labour did not want to take responsibility, National Government formed



the 1929 Hague Conference restored Germany to equality
McDonald /Labour PM 1929-31, then head of the National Government till 1935/                                       signed a naval agreement with the U.S. & Japan, while                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pacifier in Europe /Anglo-French, Anglo-Russian talks/
                        in the Commonwealth

1931 -- watershed of interwar period :
       1920s free trade & gold standard vs 1930s planning, repudiated war-debts, cut                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           bank rates

1930s successive international failures:

1931 -- Japan invades Manchuria
1933 -- world economic conference fail because of dollar devalued /New Deal/
        -- Hitler elected Chancellor of Germany
1935 -- Abyssinian crisis  --- Britain to choose between the League of Nations or the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Streza Front

British wavering between appeasement /Neville Chamberlain/ and rearmament /Churchill/ allowed Hitler to take the Rhineland
                                             absorb Austria /Anschluss/
                                             to support Franco in Spain
                                             to occupy the Sudetenland /Munich settlement/

But in March, 1939 a guarantee was given to Poland, Greece, Romania & to Turkey against Germany, though Anglo-Russian talks too slow, the Soviet Union signs a treaty with Germany

English economy losing ground:

--- new industries of  South England & of the Midlands not fast-growing enough to replace old staple ones  /--- high unemployment : permanent & also cyclical, 10-22%/
--- acc. to Keynes overvalued pound made export too expensive, while agriculture was too much subsidized, instead of relying on cheap food import

--- lack of investment in new plants --- third generation of proprietors spend too much                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       time buying honours & becoming gentlemen,
                                                        ---  trade unions also opposed it
--- education system is also blamed

Social Changes:

longer life expectations & improving living standards for the majority vs surviving primary poverty, in spite of smaller families, redistribution, insurance, pension & better housing conditions

--- surveys by Seebohm Rowntree & by Sir Boyd Orr


British Parliament unanimous about the war declaration on 3 Sept, 1939
   / the support of the colonies, except for the neutral Ireland/
  Anglo-French warplans /'' knocking down the props''/ fail on Italian non-belligerence, expectations & failures of the blockade, and its impact on British economy

Meanwhile Russian entry into Poland, the 3 Baltic states & Finland
               --- reaction of the League of Nations & within Britain

Denmark & the Norwegian ports taken by Hitler --- panic in Britain
                                                                            --- Amery's attack on Chamberlain
  when Holland & Belgium also invaded, Chamberlain resigns --- Churchill PM

Churchill' s '' bloood, toil, sweat & tears'' for victory, new war cabinet,
Churchill to run the military, Chamberlain to run the civilian side of the war
wants a backdoor
when Belgium capitulates, ''operation Dynamo'' to rescue the Expeditionary Force
France alone fails to hold the Somme, by 22 June, 1940 Reynaud signs an armistice

Britain left alone, while Italy joins Hitler -- still Hitler' s peace-proposal refused, German invasion imminent -- Home Guard & diff. measures for precaution
                              -- Beaverbrook to achieve air-superiority
                              -- the French fleet destroyed -- alienates France
                              -- European governments in Britain to organise resistance                                                                                                                                                                                                     -- but Churchill cannot persuade Stalin or Roosevelt to                                                                                                                                                                                                       enter the war, though Anglo-American lend-lease agreement signed                                                                                                                                                                the Battle of Britain starts on 10 July/13 August?/, 1940
However the Germans could not have air-superiority, the fighter bases in Kent saved by London' s bombardment from 7 Sept, 1940 /signal Cromwell also sent out/
By 17 Sept, 1940 Hitler postponed the invasion

 the Battle of the Atlantic /March-july, 1941/ --  shortages in Briain, war-socialism
also fights in North Africa, Rommel's Africa Corps vs. Wavell's ''Battleaxe'', then Auchinlek postpones the desert offensine due to the invasion on Soviet Russia in June 

 9 December, 1941: the U.S. enters the war /after Pearl Harbour/
the Anglo-American Arcadia Conference determines military aims, first Italy to be defeated, /different priorities by British parties/

spring, 1942 :-- Singapore, Burma fell, British fears to lose India, /Gandhi, Nehru                                                                                                                                                                             imprisoned/-- German & British cities bombed
summer, 1942: -- Rommel's offensive in North Africa, but Eisenhower's & Montgomery's victory at Alamein on 23 October, 1942
Jan, 1943 Casablanca conference: '' unconditional surrender'', security for Stalin
Nov, 1943 -- Teheran: second landing in Italy, D day agreed /Sicily's slow conquest, the Germans overrun Rome, delays D-day till 6 June,1944
By July, 1944 : the Americans broke the German lines, still unexpected German rocket-attacks on London
Sept, 1944  -- Quebec : Britain promises to fight in the Pacific & receives further loans
Febr, 1945  -- Yalta : agreement to end the war quickly
7 May, 1945 : Germany surrendered, Churchill resigns, caretaker government, then the  July elections bring Labour victory, Attlee PM. to attend the Potsdam conference



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