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James I and his son Charles I were less skilled politically. Both believed in the ‘Divine Right of Kings’: the idea that the king was directly appointed by God to rule. They thought that the king should be able to act without having to seek approval from Parliament.
Jane Austen and Charles Dickens are famous novelists. Jane Austen’s books include Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Charles Dickens’ novels include Oliver Twist and Great Expectations.
Elizabeth became one of the most popular monarchs in English history, particularly after 1588, when the English defeated the Spanish Armada (a large fleet of ships), which had been sent by Spain to conquer England and restore Catholicism.
Bonfire Night, 5 November, is an occasion when people in Great Britain set off fireworks at home or in special displays. The origin of this celebration was an event in 1605, when a group of Catholics led by Guy Fawkes failed in their plan to kill the Protestant king with a bomb in the Houses of Parliament.
The major political parties in the UK include the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.
The 2010 coalition was formed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.
In the UK, there is a National Lottery for which draws are made every week. You can enter by buying a ticket or a scratch card. People under 16 are not allowed to participate in the National Lottery.
Baptists and Methodists are Protestant Christian groups. Other Protestant groups in the UK include the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, Presbyterians and Quakers.
There are 129 members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), elected by a form of proportional representation. The Scottish Parliament can pass laws for Scotland on all matters which are not specifically reserved to the UK Parliament. The matters on which the Scottish Parliament can legislate include:
Almost everybody in the UK who is in paid work must pay National Insurance Contributions. People who are self-employed must pay their own National Insurance Contributions.
The Industrial Revolution refers to the rapid development of factory-based production in Britain from the mid-18th century.
In the 19th century, Gilbert and Sullivan wrote comic operas, often making fun of popular culture and politics. These operas include HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. Gilbert and Sullivan’s work is still often staged by professional and amateur groups.
In 1969, the voting age was reduced to 18 for men and women.
Rowing is a popular sport in the UK, both as a leisure activity and as a competitive sport. There is a popular yearly race on the River Thames between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
The UK is part of the United Nations (UN), an international organisation with more than 190 countries as members.
The UN was set up after the Second World War and aims to prevent war and promote international peace and security. There are 15 members on the UN Security Council, which recommends action when there are international crises and threats to peace. The UK is one of five permanent members of the Security Council.
A lot of people have gardens at home and will spend their free time looking after them. Some people rent additional land called ‘an allotment’, where they grow fruit and vegetables.
In 1066, William of Normandy invaded England and defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.
The Union Flag comprises three crosses – the crosses of St George (England), St Andrew (Scotland) and St Patrick (Ireland).
The Union Flag consists of three crosses:
There is also an official Welsh flag, which shows a Welsh dragon. The Welsh dragon does not appear on the Union Flag because, when the first Union Flag was created in 1606 from the flags of Scotland and England, the Principality of Wales was already united with England.
The Brit Awards is an annual event that gives awards to musicians in a range of categories, such as best British group and best British solo artist.
Individual liberty is a fundamental principle of British life. British society is founded on fundamental values and principles, which all those living in the UK should respect and support.
The fundamental principles of British life include:
The UK is governed by the parliament sitting in Westminster. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also have parliaments or assemblies of their own, with devolved powers in defined areas.
Participation in community life and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs are fundamental principles of British life. British society is founded on fundamental values and principles, which all those living in the UK should respect and support.
There were few formal limits to the king’s power until 1215. In that year, King John was forced by his noblemen to agree to a number of demands. The result was a charter of rights called the Magna Carta (which means the Great Charter).
The Magna Carta established the idea that even the king was subject to the law. It protected the rights of the nobility and restricted the king’s power to collect taxes or to make or change laws.
The Tower of London was first built by William the Conqueror after he became king in 1066.
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