Become an island more than 450.00 years ago, England, enlarged in Great Britain then United Kingdom over the conquests has transformed into an imperial thalassocracy reigning over the world. Today isolated since Brexit, it must also face a possible rupture of the secular links built with the other nations of the Kingdom. the magazine The storydedicates an issue of "Collections" to him.
Since the crushing of Wales in the 30th century, it is in war that the English have built the United Kingdom. this first "British empire", built in violence, nevertheless ended up forging a common identity at the end of the eighteenth century. At the foundation of this British nation, Protestantism, colonial pride, liberalism but also a common hatred: that of France perceived as the country of despotism.
In the Middle Ages however, after the conquest of William the Conqueror in 1066, the English nobility was also a Norman nobility and spoke French, the language of the elites, the law and the literati. With the rise to the throne in 1154 of Henri II Plantagenêt, reigning at the same time over England, Aquitaine and Normandy, a cross-Channel empire took shape. This consubstantial link between the island and the mainland ended with the Hundred Years War. And rivalry with France was for a long time the cement of the nation under construction.
After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the antagonism between the two countries took on a new dimension. In America and as far as India, it is now a question of struggling for world predominance. It was a "total war" which ended in 1815 with the defeat of France.
Cradle of the industrial revolution, Great Britain becomes in the nineteenth century the first world power. The English then built with the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish the largest colonial empire, bringing together 400 million people. In the aftermath of World War II, the Empire gave way to the Commonwealth of Nations. But the United Kingdom can still count on its rock groups, its football teams, the solidity of its institutions or the charisma of the Queen to impose on the world.
The English: the imperial nation. Les Collections de L'Histoire, October 2017. On newsstands and by subscription.