Seán Lang

Seán Lang, PhD, is the author of the best-selling European History For Dummies. He is a senior university lecturer in history and has been teaching history to school, college, and university students for more than two decades.

Articles From Seán Lang

page 1
page 2
17 results
17 results
British History For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-08-2022

British history is full of wonderful people (quite a few of whom were clearly stark raving mad, but that’s history for you) and exciting events – all of which helped make Britain the sort of place it is today. This Cheat Sheet sets out the lie of the land, and identifies the leaders and the events that mattered.

View Cheat Sheet
First World War For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-11-2022

Getting a bit lost in the battles and events of the First World War isn’t hard, so this Cheat Sheet offers up a handy timeline that puts some of the war’s key events into order for you. It shows how events in different theaters of war related to each other and gives you a bird’s-eye view of the way the war developed as a whole. You'll also find a map that shows you locations of the war zones and key battles.

View Cheat Sheet
The British Isles: The Lie of the Land

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The islands of Britain and Ireland are normally referred to as ‘the British Isles’ – not a politically accurate term (Ireland is not ‘British’) but no-one has yet come up with a workable alternative.

View Article
British Prime Ministers 1721–Present

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The office of Prime (or ‘first’) Minister developed in the eighteenth century, when the First Lord of the Treasury came to be regarded as the official head of the government. The first person who is generally regarded as having acted as Prime Minister was Sir Robert Walpole. Sir Robert Walpole 1721–1742 Whig Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington 1742–1743 Whig Henry Pelham 1743–1754 Whig Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle 1754–1756 Whig William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire 1756–1757 Whig Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle 1757–1762 Whig John Stuart, Earl of Bute 1762–1763 Tory George Grenville 1763–1765 Whig Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham 1765–1766 Whig William Pitt, Earl of Chatham 1766–1768 Whig Augustus Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton 1768–1770 Whig Frederick North, Lord North 1770–1782 Tory Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham 1782 Whig William Petty-Fitzmaurice, Earl of Shelburne 1782–1783 Whig William Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland 1783 Whig–Tory coalition William Pitt (the Younger) 1783–1801 Tory Henry Addington1801–1804 Tory William Pitt (the Younger) 1804–1806 Tory William Wyndham Grenville, Lord Grenville 1806–1807 Whig–Tory coalition (The Ministry of All the Talents) William Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland 1807–1809 Tory Spencer Perceval1 809–1812 Tory (assassinated) Robert Jenkinson, Lord Liverpool 1812–1827 Tory George Canning 1827 Tory Frederick John Robinson, Lord Goderich 1827–1828 Tory Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington 1828–1830 Tory Charles Grey, Earl Grey 1830–1834 Whig William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne 1834 Whig Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington 1834 Tory Sir Robert Peel 1834–1835 Tory–Conservative William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne 1835–1841 Whig Sir Robert Peel 1841–1846 Tory–Conservative Lord John Russell 1846–1852 Whig Edward Smith-Stanley, Earl of Derby 1852 Tory–Conservative George Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen 1852–1855 Whig Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston 1855–1858 Whig Edward Smith-Stanley, Earl of Derby 1858–1859 Tory–Conservative Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston 1858–1865 Whig John Russell, Earl Russell 1865–1866 Whig–Liberal Edward Smith-Stanley, Earl of Derby 1866–1868 Tory–Conservative Benjamin Disraeli 1868 Conservative William Ewart Gladstone 1868–1874 Liberal Benjamin Disraeli (Earl of Beaconsfield from 1876) 1874–1880 Conservative William Ewart Gladstone 1880–1885 Liberal Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury 1885–1886 Conservative William Ewart Gladstone 1886 Liberal Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury 1886–1892 Conservative William Ewart Gladstone 1892–1894 Liberal Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery 1894–1895 Liberal Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury 1895–1902 Conservative Arthur Balfour 1902–1905 Conservative Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 1905–1908 Liberal Herbert Henry Asquith 1908–1916 Liberal David Lloyd George 1916–1922 Liberal–Conservative coalition Andrew Bonar Law 1922–1923 Conservative Stanley Baldwin 1922–1924 Conservative James Ramsay MacDonald 1924 Labour Stanley Baldwin 1924–1929 Conservative James Ramsay MacDonald 1929–1931 Labour James Ramsay MacDonald 1931–1935 National Government (Labour–Conservative–Liberal coalition) Stanley Baldwin 1935–1937 National Government (Conservative–Liberal) Neville Chamberlain 1937–1940 National Government Winston Spencer Churchill 1940–1945 Coalition (Conservative–Labour–Liberal) Clement Attlee 1945–1951 Labour Winston Spencer Churchill 1951–1955 Conservative Anthony Eden 1955–1957 Conservative Harold Macmillan 1957–1963 Conservative Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963–1964 Conservative Harold Wilson 1964–1970 Labour Edward Heath 1970–1974 Conservative Harold Wilson 1974–1976 Labour James Callaghan 1976–1979 Labour Margaret Thatcher 1979–1990 Conservative John Major 1990–1997 Conservative Anthony (Tony) Blair 1997–2007 Labour Gordon Brown 2007–2010 Labour David Cameron 2010– Coalition (Conservative–Liberal Democrat)

View Article
The Historical Periods of Britain

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The history of Britain is usually divided by historians into a series of periods. This list gives you some of the highlights of each period. Ancient Britain Neolithic Britain c12,000 BC–c2,750 BC The Beaker people and the Bronze Age c2,750 BC–750 BC Iron Age and La Tène culture c750 BC–43 AD Roman Britain 43 AD–410 The Middle Ages Anglo–Saxon raids and settlement 449–c550 Separate Anglo–Saxon Kingdoms c550–924 Anglo–Saxon England united 924–1066 Danish rule 1016–1042 Norman period 1066–1154 The Anarchy 1135–1148 The Plantagenets 1154–1399 Conquest of Ireland begins 1155 Scottish Wars of Independence 1296–1357 Hundred Years War with France 1337–1453 Wars of the Roses 1455–1485 Early Modern Britain Tudor period 1485–1603 English Reformation begins 1532 Union of Crowns of England and Scotland 1603 Expansion into America begins 1620 Civil Wars and Revolution 1642–1660 Royal Society incorporated 1662 Revolution Settlement 1688–9 and Union of England and Scotland 1707 create basis of modern British state The Modern Age Changes in agriculture begin 1730s Beginnings of industrialisation 1770s–1780s Wars in America and with France help to unify British state 1770s–1815 Victorian Age 1837–1901 Great Exhibition marks highpoint of Victorian era 1851 Imperial expansion in Africa 1880s–1890s Great War 1914–1918 Second World War 1939–1945 Height of industrial unrest 1960s–1980s Britain within the European Union 1970s–2000s

View Article
Rulers of England 924–1603

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The first king acknowledged as king of all England was the Saxon King of Wessex, Athelstan, who came to the throne in 924. Later, Edward I brought Wales under English rule and Henry VIII incorporated it into England. Elizabeth I, who died in 1603, was the last ruler of England not to rule Scotland as well. House of Wessex Athelstan 924–939 Edmund I 939–946 Edred 946–955 Edwy ‘the Fair’ 955–959 Edgar ‘the Peaceful’ 959–975 Edward ‘the Martyr’ 975–978 Ethelred II ‘the Unredy’ 978–1016 Danish Usurpation Sweyn Forkbeard 1014 House of Wessex Edmund II ‘Ironside’ 1016 Danes Cnut (Canute) 1016–1035 Harald I ‘Harefoot’ 1035–1037 (regent); 1037–1040 (king) Cnut II (Harthacnut) 1040–1042 House of Wessex Edward ‘the Confessor’ 1042–1066 Harold II Godwinsson 1066 Normans William I ‘the Conqueror’ 1066–1087 William II ‘Rufus’ 1087–1100 Henry I ‘Beauclerc’ 1100–1135 Stephen 1135–1154 Angevins–Plantagenets Henry II 1154–1189 Richard I ‘Coeur de Lion’ 1189–1199 John ‘Lackland’ 1199–1216 Henry III 1216–1272 Edward I 1272–1307 Edward II 1307–1327 Edward III 1327–1377 Richard II 1377–1399 House of Lancaster Henry IV 1399–1413 Henry V 1413–1422 Henry VI 1422–1461 House of York Edward IV 1461–1483 Edward V 1483 Richard III 1483–1485 Tudors Henry VII 1485–1509 Henry VIII 1509–1547 Edward VI 1547–1553 Lady Jane Grey 1553 Mary I 1553–1558 Elizabeth I 1558–1603

View Article
Rulers of England and Scotland 1603–1707

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

King James VI of Scotland inherited the throne of England in 1603. Although this is called ‘the Union of the Crowns’, in fact the crowns of England and Scotland remained separate until the Act and Treaty of Union of 1707 joined them in the new Kingdom of Great Britain. House of Stuart James I (James VI of Scotland) 1603–1625 Charles I 1625–1649 Commonwealth and Protectorate Commonwealth (Republic) 1649–1654 Oliver Cromwell 1654–1658 (Lord Protector) Richard Cromwell 1658–1659 (Lord Protector) Commonwealth (Republic) 1659–1660 House of Stuart Charles II 1660–1685 James II (James VII of Scotland) 1685–1688 William III and Mary II 1689–1702 Anne 1702–1714

View Article
Rulers of Great Britain 1707–1801 and of the United Kingdom 1801–Present

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The Act and Treaty of Union of 1707 between the Parliaments of England and Scotland created a Kingdom of Great Britain which consisted of England (which incorporated Wales) and Scotland. In 1801 the Act of Union, passed by the British and Irish Parliaments, created a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After the 1922 Anglo–Irish Treaty this became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the name the country retains to this day. House of Hanover George I 1714–1727 George II 1727–1760 George III 1760–1820 George IV 1820–1830 William IV 1830–1837 House of Saxe–Coburg–Gotha Victoria 1837–1901 Edward VII 1901–1910 House of Windsor George V 1910–1936 Edward VIII 1936 George VI 1936–1952 Elizabeth II 1952–

View Article
Rulers of Scotland 843–1625

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The first king who is generally regarded as having ruled over all of Scotland was Kenneth MacAlpin, who had managed to conquer both the Picts and the Scots by 842. No-one knows exactly when he was declared king, so 843 is an approximation. All the kings of Scotland until the thirteenth century were descended from Kenneth MacAlpin whether through the male or female line, though different branches of the royal house were often deadly rivals for the throne. The last king of a separate Scotland was James VI, who died in 1625. In 1603, he also became King of England as King James I. House of MacAlpin Kenneth MacAlpin c.843–c.858 Donald I 859–862 Constantine I 862–876 Interregnum Interregnum – no overall king 876–877 House of MacAlpin Aed c.877–878 Eochaid 878–889 and Giric 878–889 (probably shared the throne) Donald II 889–900 Constantine II 900–c.943 Malcolm I MacDonald c.943–954 Indulf 954–962 Dubh ‘the Black’ 962–966 Culen 966–971 Kenneth II 971–995 Constantine III ‘the Bald’ 995–997 Kenneth III 997–1005 Malcolm II 1005–1034 Duncan I 1034–1040 House of Moray Macbeth 1040–1057 Lulach 1057–1058 House of MacAlpin Malcolm III Canmore 1058–1093 Donald III Bane 1093–1094 Duncan II 1094 Donald III Bane 1094–1097 (resumed the throne) Edgar 1097–1107 Alexander I 1107–1124 David I 1124–1153 Malcolm IV ‘the Maiden’ 1153–1165 William ‘the Lion’ 1165–1214 Alexander II 1214–1249 Alexander III 1249–1286 Margaret, ‘the Maid of Norway’ 1286–1290 Interregnum English overlordship (Edward I) 1290–1292 House of MacAlpin John Balliol 1292–1296 (abdicated) English invasion and Occupation Edward I of England 1296–1306 House of Bruce Robert I de Brus (Bruce) 1306–1329 David II 1329–1371 House of Stewart Robert II ‘the Steward’ 1371–1390 Robert III (John Stewart) 1390–1406 James I 1406–1437 James II 1437–1460 James III 1460–1488 James IV 1488–1513 James V 1513–1542 Mary, Queen of Scots 1542–1567 James VI 1567–1625 (became James I of England, 1603)

View Article
Ten Great British Places to Visit

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If the Diamond Jubilee 2012 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth or the London Olympics inspires you to visit the UK, here are some suggestions for your trip. You don’t need anyone to tell you to visit the Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial (the site of the Diamond Jubilee concert), Tower of London or Stratford on Avon: You know that. Instead, here are some not-so-common ideas for places to visit if you’re looking for a sense of the history. Skara Brae Skara Brae is up in the Orkneys, and putting it down on your travel list is worthwhile for that reason alone – if you haven’t been up to the Orkneys, you haven’t lived. Skara Brae is a beautifully preserved Neolithic village, one of the most complete examples. At Skara Brae, you get a real sense of going back in time to the distant dawn of civilisation, when humankind emerged from the grip of the ice and first made inroads into the environment. Iona The isle of Iona was the haven of peace where St Columba set up a community of monks, and a religious community still exists there today. The abbey was founded much later on by the Benedictines, and you can find the ancient Kings of Scots all buried there, too. The place still has a sense of quiet and peace: You don’t go so much as a tourist as you do a pilgrim. Hadrian’s Wall Just reading about Hadrian’s Wall doesn’t do it justice: You have to experience the Wall for yourself. The best way is to put on a pair of stout shoes and start hiking, but you can visit by bus or car, too. Hadrian was no fool: His wall goes through some of the most beautiful countryside in England, but the cities at either end, Carlisle and Newcastle upon Tyne, are well worth visiting, too. If the weather’s wet (which it usually is) think how the Romans would have felt, stuck up there in the cold instead of sunning themselves in Tuscany. (Or, if you prefer, think how you’re feeling, stuck up there in the cold instead of sunning yourself in Tuscany.) Durham American writer Bill Bryson was bowled over by the city of Durham and couldn’t understand why the British didn’t shout about it more. Durham is a World Heritage Site, and seeing why isn’t difficult. Durham Cathedral has one of the most dramatic sites you can get, right on top of a cliff with the river Wear running round three sides of it. Then when you come out of the cathedral, you find a castle sitting just next door. Durham’s a beautiful medieval town, small but with a proud history. Stirling Castle Stirling Castle is just where a castle should be, high up on a rock where you can pour boiling oil on people’s heads. If you wanted to control Scotland, Stirling was more important than Edinburgh, so the castle was forever changing hands between the English and the Scots. Edward I had to take Stirling Castle twice. The castle has a magnificent renaissance Great Hall built by James IV, and the town’s well worth visiting, too. And Stirling Castle’s not all. Base yourself in Stirling, and you’ve got three battlefields all within easy reach: Stirling Bridge (1297, Scots beat the English), Bannockburn (1314, Scots trash the English), and Sheriffmuir (1715, Scottish Jacobites beat pro-English Scots but forget to tell anyone, so everyone thinks they lost). Pack a copy of Robert Burns before you set off. Beaumaris Beaumaris Castle on the Isle of Anglesey is just how you imagine a castle: Round towers and a moat. The castle is right on the sea, so you get lovely views, and the site’s just the place for a sailing holiday. You may even learn some Welsh. Croeso. Armagh If you haven’t been to Northern Ireland, then you have a treat in store. The area is breathtakingly beautiful, and knowing what’s best to choose is difficult. See the famous Giant’s Causeway on the Antrim coast, or the city walls of Londonderry, and all of Belfast is worth exploring. But the City of Armagh gets the prize because you probably wouldn’t think of it otherwise. The city is small enough to ‘do’ easily, and it has two cathedrals (one Protestant, one Catholic – that’s Ulster for you!). Armagh is the ancient seat of the Kings of Ulster, and the famous Brian Boru is buried here. Beautifully elegant Georgian terraces and an eighteenth century observatory can be seen in Armagh, all in the lovely local stone that glows in the sun. Chatsworth House You can find lots of mansions in beautiful parkland that will take your breath away with their sweeping drives and their deer parks and lakes, but Chatsworth House in Derbyshire takes some beating. Chatsworth’s huge, for one thing, and lies in a gorgeous setting in the Peak District. Chatsworth is the home of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire. The rooms are superb, and a magnificent eighteenth-century water cascade flows outside that makes the hillside look as if it’s dancing. If you can only manage one stately home, make it this one. Ironbridge This site’s a beautiful little valley in Shropshire, as well as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. If you find yourself switching off at the words ‘Industrial’ and ‘Revolution’, think again. You can also visit a Victorian town at Blist’s Hill. Not to mention the elegant iron bridge that gives the town its name. The whole valley is a World Heritage Site and rightly so. Coventry Cathedral Coventry was pretty impressive even before the terrible night in November 1940 when it was flattened by the Luftwaffe. The cathedral, founded by Leofric of Mercia and his famous wife Lady Godiva, was the pride of the town. When the Germans bombed Coventry, they were trying to destroy something of England’s sense of its heritage and identity. The city was so badly destroyed that the British never forgot it. After the war, Coventry became a symbol of how Britain was going to pick herself up and face the future. Well-paid jobs were available in Coventry’s big car factories, and the city centre was rebuilt in the latest futuristic style. Best of all was what they did with the cathedral. Instead of demolishing the ruins, they left them as a permanent memorial, and built a totally new cathedral next to them. The theme was peace and reconciliation, and Coventry forged strong links with its devastated counterpart, Dresden. Coventry’s two cathedrals remain a monument to British hopes for the future.

View Article
page 1
page 2