Note for Life in Britain Test


About the UK

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Great Britain doesn’t refer to Northern Ireland, but Britain/British means everything in UK
  • There are also several islands which are closely linked with the UK but are not part of it: the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. These have their own governments and are called ‘Crown dependencies’. There are also several British overseas territories in other parts of the world, such as St Helena and the Falkland Islands. They are also linked to the UK but are not a part of it.
  • The UK is governed by the parliament sitting in Westminster.

UK value

The fundamental principles of British life include:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
  • Participation in community life.

If you wish to be a permanent resident or citizen of the UK, you should:

  • respect and obey the law
  • respect the rights of others, including their right to their own opinions
  • treat others with fairness
  • look after yourself and your family
  • look after the area in which you live and the environment.

In return, the UK offers:

  • freedom of belief and religion
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom from unfair discrimination
  • a right to a fair trial
  • a right to join in the election of a government.

gov, law and our role

  • 19th century, voters were men who were over 21 years of age and who owned a certain amount of property.
1830-1840, Chartists reform:
  • for every man to have the vote
  • elections every year
  • for all regions to be equal in the electoral system
  • secret ballots
  • for any man to be able to stand as an MP
  • for MPs to be paid.
  • update: The voting franchise was also extended to women over 30, and then in 1928 to men and women over 21. In 1969, the voting age was reduced to 18 for men and women.
  • constitution is unwritten
  • government includes: the monarchy/Parliament (the House of Commons and the House of Lords) /the Prime Minister/the cabinet/the judiciary (courts)/the police/the civil service/local government.
  • monarchy: King Charles III is the head of state of the UK.. He is also the monarch or head of state for many countries in the Commonwealth. — constitutional monarchy (appoints, advise, warn and encourage), ceremonial roles,
  • The system of government in the UK is a parliamentary democracy
  • Voters in each constituency elect their member of Parliament (MP) in a General Election. All of the elected MPs form the House of Commons.
  • the party with the majority of MPs forms the government. If one party does not get a majority, two parties can join together to form a coalition


  • The first people to live in Britain were hunter-gatherers
  • Britain only became permanently separated from the continent by the Channel about 10,000 years ago.
  • The first farmers arrived in Britain 6,000 years ago. The ancestors of these first farmers probably came from south-east Europe. These people built houses, tombs and monuments on the land.
    • One of these monuments, Stonehenge, still stands in what is now the English county of Wiltshire.
    • Other Stone Age sites have also survived. Skara Brae on Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland, is the best preserved prehistoric village in northern Europe
  • Bronze Age\metalworkers; live in roundhouses; tomb called round barrows
  • Iron Age;
    • defended sites called hill forts
    • A very impressive hill fort can still be seen today at Maiden Castle, in the English county of Dorset. 
    • language: Celtic language family
    • They made the first coins to be minted in Britain, some inscribed with the names of Iron Age kings. This marks the beginnings of British history.
  • Roman invasion
    • Julius Caesar led a Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC. This was unsuccessful and for nearly 100 years Britain remained separate from the Roman Empire.
    • In AD 43 the Emperor Claudius led the Roman army in a new invasion. This time, there was resistance from some of the British tribes but the Romans were successful in occupying almost all of Britain. One of the tribal leaders who fought against the Romans was Boudicca, the queen of the Iceni in what is now eastern England. She is still remembered today and there is a statue of her on Westminster Bridge in London, near the Houses of Parliament.
    • Areas of what is now Scotland were never conquered by the Romans, and the Emperor Hadrian built a wall in the north of England to keep out the Picts (ancestors of the Scottish people).  Parts of Hadrian’s Wall, including the forts of Housesteads and Vindolanda, can still be seen, a UNESCO Heritage Site.
  • Anglo-Saxons invasion
    • The Roman army left Britain in AD 410 to defend other parts of the Roman Empire and never returned. Britain was again invaded by tribes from northern Europe: the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons. The languages they spoke are the basis of modern-day English
    • by about AD 600, Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were established in Britain. These kingdoms were mainly in what is now England.
    • The burial place of one of the kings was at Sutton Hoo in modern Suffolk. This king was buried with treasure and armour, all placed in a ship which was then covered by a mound of earth.
    • Parts of the west of Britain, including much of what is now Wales, and Scotland, remained free of Anglo-Saxon rule.
    • Christianity:
      • The Anglo-Saxons were not Christians when they first came to Britain but, during this period, missionaries came to Britain to preach about Christianity.
      • Missionaries from Ireland spread the religion in the north. The most famous of these were St Patrick, who would become the patron saint of Ireland, and St Columba, who founded a monastery on the island of Iona, off the coast of what is now Scotland.
      • St Augustine led missionaries from Rome, who spread Christianity in the south. St Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • the vikings
    • came from Denmark, Norway and Sweden
    • form their own communities in the east of England and Scotland
    • united under King Alfred the Great, A-S defeated the vikings
    • Many of the Viking invaders stayed in Britain – especially in the east and north of England, in an area known as the Danelaw (many place names there, such as Grimsby and Scunthorpe, come from the Viking languages)
    • Anglo-Saxon kings continued to rule what is now England, except for a short period when there were Danish kings. The first of these was Cnut, also called Canute.
    • the north unite under one king, Kenneth MacAlpin. The term Scotland began to be used to describe that country.
  • Norman conquest
    • In 1066, an invasion led by William, the Duke of Normandy (in what is now northern France), defeated Harold, the Saxon king of England, at the Battle of Hastings. Harold was killed in the battle. William became king of England and is known as William the Conqueror. The battle is commemorated in a great piece of embroidery, known as the Bayeux Tapestry, which can still be seen in France today. (the linen cloth is nearly 70 metres (230 feet) long and is embroidered with coloured wool )
    • Norman French, the language of the new ruling class, influenced the development of the English language as we know it today.
    • Initially the Normans also conquered Wales, but the Welsh gradually won territory back. The Scots and the Normans fought on the border between England and Scotland; the Normans took over some land on the border but did not invade Scotland.
    • William sent people all over England to draw up lists of all the towns and villages. The people who lived there, who owned the land and what animals they owned were also listed. This was called the Domesday Book. It still exists today and gives a picture of society in England just after the Norman Conquest.
  • middle ages (constant wars)
    • English kings fought with the Welsh, Scottish and Irish noblemen for control of their lands. In Wales, the English were able to establish their rule. In 1284 King Edward I of England introduced the Statute of Rhuddlan, which annexed Wales to the Crown of England.
    •  In 1314 the Scottish, led by Robert the Bruce, defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn, and Scotland remained unconquered by the English.
    • At the beginning of the Middle Ages, Ireland was an independent country. The English first went to Ireland as troops to help the Irish king and remained to build their own settlements. By 1200, the English ruled an area of Ireland known as the Pale, around Dublin.
    • wars abroad: Many knights took part in the Crusades, in which European Christians fought for control of the Holy Land. English kings also fought a long war with France, called the Hundred Years War (even though it actually lasted 116 years). One of the most famous battles of the Hundred Years War was the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, where King Henry V’s vastly outnumbered English army defeated the French.
    • black death
      • The Normans used a system of land ownership known as feudalism. The king gave land to his lords in return for help in war. Landowners had to send certain numbers of men to serve in the army. (peasants as serfs, but in northern Scotland and Ireland, clans owned the lands).
      • 1348 plague started–One third of the population of England died and a similar proportion in Scotland and Wales.–less needs for food, shortage of labour, higher wage demand, owners of larger lands(gentry), middle class developed from people migrating to towns.
    • legal & political change
      • parliament developed from the king’s council of advisers, which included important noblemen and the leaders of the Church.
      • limit to king’s power started: 1215, King John was forced by his noblemen to agree to a number of demands–Magna Carta (which means the Great Charter), even the king was subject to the law: power restricted to collect taxes or to make or change laws; noblemen involved in decision-making.
      • England: king called parliaments to consult nobles (esp raising money). 2 houses: The nobility, great landowners and bishops sat in the House of Lords. Knights, who were usually smaller landowners, and wealthy people from towns and cities were elected to sit in the House of Commons (small number of pp were allowed to elect).
      • Scotland: 3 houses, Estates: the lords, the commons and the clergy.
      • law/legal system: The principle (that judges are independent of the government). In England, judges developed ‘common law’ by a process of precedence (that is, following previous decisions) and tradition. In Scotland, the legal system developed slightly differently and laws were ‘codified’ (that is, written down).
    • national culture and identity: After the Norman Conquest, the king and his noblemen had spoken Norman French and the peasants had continued to speak Anglo-Saxon–combined into one English language.
      • By 1400, in England, official documents were being written in English, and English had become the preferred language of the royal court and Parliament.
      • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: It was one of the first books to be printed by William Caxton, the first person in England to print books using a printing press.
      • In Scotland, many people continued to speak Gaelic and the Scots language also developed. John Barbour, who wrote The Bruce about the Battle of Bannockburn, wrote in Scots language.
      • England: a trading nation–English wool became a very important export; with travellers–weavers from France, engineers from Germany, glass manufacturers from Italy and canal builders from Holland.
    • wars of roses
      • In 1455, a civil war was begun to decide who should be king of England.
      •  fought between the supporters of two families: the House of Lancaster and the House of York. 
      • symbol of Lancaster was a red rose and the symbol of York was a white rose.
      • ended with the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. King Richard III of the House of York was killed in the battle and Henry Tudor, the leader of the House of Lancaster, became King Henry VII. Henry then married King Richard’s niece, Elizabeth of York, and united the two families. Henry was the first king of the House of Tudor. The symbol of the House of Tudor was a red rose with a white rose inside it as a sign that the Houses of York and Lancaster were now allies.
  • The Tudors and Stuarts
    • Henry VI: centralising power(strengthened the central administration of England, reduced powers of nobles)
    • Henry VIII: continued with centralising powers; was most famous for breaking away from the Church of Rome and marrying1 six times.
      • established the Church of England: To divorce his first wife, Henry needed the approval of the Pope. When the Pope refused, Henry established the Church of England. In this new Church, the king, not the Pope, would have the power to appoint bishops and order how people should worship.
      • reformation: Reformation was happening across Europe. This was a movement against the authority of the Pope and the ideas and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestants formed their own churches. They read the Bible in their own languages instead of in Latin; they did not pray to saints or at shrines; and they believed that a person’s own relationship with God was more important than submitting to the authority of the Church. Protestant ideas gradually gained strength in England, Wales and Scotland during the 16th century.
      • during the reign of Henry VIII, Wales became formally united with England by the Act for the Government of Wales
      • Henry VIII was succeeded by his son Edward VI, who was strongly Protestant. During his reign, the Book of Common Prayer was written to be used in the Church of England. A version of this book is still used in some churches today. Edward died at the age of 15 after ruling for just over six years, and his half-sister Mary became queen. Mary was a devout Catholic and persecuted Protestants (for this reason, she became known as ‘Bloody Mary’). Mary also died after a short reign and the next monarch was her half-sister, Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
    • Queen Elizabeth I: (Elizabeth I was the younger daughter of Henry VIII)
      •  re-established the Church of England as the official Church in England.
      • finding a balance between the views of Catholics and the more extreme Protestants.
      • 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.
    • The Reformation in Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots
      •  In 1560, the predominantly Protestant Scottish Parliament abolished the authority of the Pope in Scotland and Roman Catholic religious services became illegal. A Protestant Church of Scotland with an elected leadership was established.
      • The queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart, a Catholic was suspected of a murder involving her husband. She gave her throne to her protestant son, James VI.
    • Literature
      •  a time of growing patriotism
      • Francis Drake, whose ship the Golden Hind,  was one of the first to sail right around (‘circumnavigate’) the world.
      • William Shakespeare
        •  He was one of the first to portray ordinary Englishmen and women.
        • Once more unto the breach (Henry V)
        • To be or not to be (Hamlet)
        • A rose by any other name (Romeo and Juliet)
        • All the world’s a stage (As You Like It)
        • The darling buds of May (Sonnet 18 – Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day).
        • The Globe Theatre in London is a modern copy of the theatres in which his plays were first performed.
    • James VI and I
      • Elizabeth I never married and so had no children of her own to inherit her throne. When she died in 1603 her heir was James VI of Scotland. He became King James I of England, Wales and Ireland but Scotland remained a separate country.
      • One achievement of King James’ reign was a new translation of the Bible into English. This translation is known as the ‘King James Version’ or the ‘Authorised Version’.
  1. The six wives of Henry VIII
    Catherine of Aragon – Catherine was a Spanish princess. She and Henry had a number of children but only one, Mary, survived. When Catherine was too old to give him another child, Henry decided to divorce her, hoping that another wife would give him a son to be his heir.
    Anne Boleyn – Anne Boleyn was English. She and Henry had one daughter, Elizabeth. Anne Boleyn was unpopular in the country and was accused of taking lovers. She was executed at the Tower of London.
    Jane Seymour – Henry married Jane Seymour after Anne Boleyn’s execution. She gave Henry the son he wanted, Edward, but she died shortly after the birth.
    Anne of Cleves – Anne was a German princess. Henry married her for political reasons but divorced her soon after.
    Catherine Howard – Catherine Howard was a cousin of Anne Boleyn. She was also accused of taking lovers and executed.
    Catherine Parr – Catherine Parr was a widow who married Henry late in his life. She survived him and married again but died soon after. ↩︎