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England

England (450- ) is a country in Britain. It takes up most of Britain, leaving only Scotland in the north and Wales in the west.

Some people use the words English and British as if they meant the same thing. Mainly they are the same thing since two-thirds of the British are English. But even so England is only one part of Britain.

The same goes for the United Kingdom: it is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England is only one part of it, though it is by far the largest part.

England’s main city is London in the south-east. In the 1800s and early 1900s it was the centre of the vast British Empire. It gave the world the English language.

The main city in the north was once York, which used to guard the Roman empire. Birmingham is now the largest city in the north. Even so, Greater London has seven times more people.

England’s two famous universities are Oxford and Cambridge.

England was born when the Roman empire was falling in the west. In 450 the Angles, Saxons and Jutes started crossing the sea from Germany and settled in Britain.

Their new land came to be known as Anglia in Latin, named after the Angles. The people who lived there called it England in their Anglish tongue – English, that is.

In the 800s the Danes (Vikings) came, in the 900s the Norwegians came (also Vikings) and in 1066 it was the Norman French (Frenchified Vikings). The English that we speak today came from a mash-up, of Old English, Old Norse and Norman French (with a heavy sprinkling of Latin). It is no longer the once perfect English of milkmaids and farmers.

In the 1400s England was torn apart by the War of the Roses between the houses of York (the white roses) and Lancaster (the red roses). Lancaster won when Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485).

In the 1600s the English began to spread overseas: northern Ireland, and North America starting in the 1600s, Australia in the late 1700s and New Zealand and South Africa in the 1800s.

English society was planted in America four times:

  1. 1629-1640: Massachusetts from East Anglia. Spread to New England, upstate New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington states. Yankee.
  2. 1640-1675: Virginia and Maryland from southern England. Spread to the Deep South. Owned slaves. Dixie.
  3. 1675-1725: Pennsylvania from the North Midlands. Spread to the Midwest and California. Corny.
  4. 1717-1775: Appalachia from Northumbria and northern Ireland (English and Scottish). Spread to Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Cowboy.

Most Americans are no longer English by blood. Many come from Germany, West Africa, Ireland, Mexico, Italy and other places. That is why America has pizza, jazz and Santa Claus.

Some Americans are Anglophiles: they like things English and think they are better than what America has, even though much of what America has is English too.

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