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The making of the Nation

From an values to medieval correspondences.

The history of England is the story of the gradual settlement and colonisation of the islands, which then developed into Great Britain. Its prehistoric inhabitants were the Iberians. Around 700 B.C. Celts began to arrive from north-west Germany. They worked the iron and they lived on fishing, hunting and agriculture. They were organised into tribes.

In 55 B.C. Julius Caesar invaded Britain, but the real (actual) conquest of the country took place in the years 43-47 A.D. under Emperor Claudius. The Romans introduced their civilisation and language. The most remarkable characteristic of Roman Britain was its towns, which is the basis of Roman administration and civilisation. These towns were connected by roads, many of which are still in existence to this day.

In 409 A.D. Emperor Honorius (with his soldiers and some Germanic tribes) invaded the island, destroying the Roman British towns. Germanic tribes: Angles, Saxons and the Jutes. Most Anglo-Saxon invaders were farmers looking for richer lands. They were organised in family groups. They exalted physical courage and personal freedom, but also beauty. In fact they made ornaments and beautiful jewellery. They were also very hospitable and enjoyed feasting and drinking.

Roman Britain had been Christian but they retreated westward as the Anglo-Saxons (Germanic religion) advanced. It survived in Wales, part of Scotland and above all in Ireland, but mainly in monastic form.

In 1066 William, Duke of Normandy, defeated the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold, at Hastings and was crowned King in Westminster Abbey.

The Normans introduced the French language and tradition. Feudalism was greatly developed. Under the feudal system the king was the owner of all the land, but this was held by vassals. The chief vassals were the barons. They created other vassals, the knights and the villains, owing service to them. The lord had responsibilities to his vassals and had to give them land and protection.

The 13th century marked the passage to a new phase of the Middle Ages characterised by the growth of trade, the circulation of money and a higher living standard.

The church played a fundamental role in medieval society. The church was the consolation for the afflicted, bread for the hungry, assistance for the oppressed.  The church became also the school, the meeting place, the centre of art and, still more important, of amusement.

Medieval civilization was essentially religious and transcendental, based on he belief that the life of the soul after death is the real one. The earthly life is just a period of preparation for it. The medieval world was dull of meaning, according to a providential in which man had to play the role he had been assigned. Allegory was he way the medieval mind worked (the abstract made concrete).

Ptolemy was an Egyptian astronomer and geographer. He thought that the etary system was Earth-centred, with the ets moving in circular orbits. The concentric spheres were thought to widen out from that of the earth to the Prime Mover (Primum Mobile). God was at the top, with the angels surrounding him.


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