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Mathew Steel

Complicated History - The United Kingdom, Britain, & The British Isles

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Throughout my short eighteen years of life the discussion of the United Kingdom and Britain has come up on numerous occasions. Whether it be arguing if Wales is a country or a principality, or whether it's the confusion between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. Are the Irish also British? Is Wales in England? Are the United Kingdom and Britain synonymous? Will I ever successfully boil an egg? Yes! No! Why are we shouting? These are all good questions that often leave the one asking the questions confused, and the one answering even more so.?


That is why, my good friends of Stronghold Nation, I have decided to create this not-so-short topic on the matter, in which I will do my very best from my personal knowledge, as well as extra research, to correct common misconceptions, and simply explain why there is so much to know!



The United Kingdom

For the sake of my well-being, I'll refer to the United Kingdom as the UK throughout the rest of this post. Nonetheless, let's begin! The first fact you should learn is that the UK should technically be UKGBNI, as it's actually short for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Notice, Great Britain AND Northern Ireland, this will help later on! The UK is in fact a sovereign state, in the same way that the USA is.


"Tom, what's a sovereign state?" I hear you ask! It's actually rather simple - a sovereign state is a territory ruled by its own government, and not by any other powers. Whereas a country is seen as a piece of physical land, a sovereign state is a concept, an entity, and can be marked theoretically on a map.


Now that we know this, let's move on to explaining the history of the UK. The UK has come a long way over numerous centuries to become what it is today, and so, there is much to learn!



- The History of the UK -


Around 925 (c. 925, for those of you who will cringe at my terminology) - The Kingdom of England is alive and well having being formed by Anglo-Saxon tribes across England at the time.



1536 - The Kingdom of England and Wales - King Henry VIII's (8th) want for power was as great as his appetite and in a result of this this bill was enacted, making England and Wales effectively the same country, under the same ruling and laws.



1707 - Kingdom of great Britain - The Kingdom of England and Wales starts to get a little lonely, they want a new friend, they look North to offer Scotland a place in their cool new gang. Scotland accepts and so forms The Kingdom of Britain.



1801 - United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland - The fellas to the West are feeling slightly left out and so they decide to join The Kingdom of Britain, renaming it once again to The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.



1922 - United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Woah, what happened? Well, in result of the Irish Civil War (which you can read more about here - http://www.theirishstory.com/2012/07/02/the-irish-civil-war-a-brief-overview/#.WgxrK0q6-bg), Northern Ireland was kept under rule of the UK, whereas the rest of Ireland, now known as The Republic of Ireland, decided against this. This is the UK we know now.




Great Britain (or Britain)

Once again, let's put straight some of these misconceptions. Great Britain, despite popular belief, is NOT a country, it is a landmass. It consists of the British Isles, England, Wales, and Scotland. The origin of the "Great" has been long-discussed, but really, it isn't overly important. However, if you wish to know, it's because it is the largest landmass within the British Isles. The name "Britain" derives from the Roman word Britannia.





The British Isles

Here is the simplest part - The British Isles consists of Great Britain, Ireland, The Isle of Man, The Channel Islands, The Isles of Scilly, and over 6,000 smaller islands which I do not have the time nor patience to list.






Is Wales a country? - Yes. Wales was recognised as a country in December, 2011. However, it has been a country for hundreds of years prior to that. The last prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (or Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf, "Llywelyn our Last Prince) died in battle in 1282. Despite this, Wales was technically a country with the enactment of the Act of Union by Henry VIII in 1536.



What's the difference between The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland? - I don't wish to plagiarise, so I suggest you either watch this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCJMQgfHXNI, or read this article - https://www.aransweatersdirect.com/blogs/blog/102905857-what-is-the-difference-between-ireland-and-northern-ireland



Are the Irish also British? - We're stepping into a controversial topic here, so allow me to avoid bias as much as I can. Those born in the Republic of Ireland are given an Irish passport at birth, despite this, everyone else within The British Isles are given a British passport. Irish citizens can still apply for a British passport providing they are eligible to do so. It's really quite complex to answer. Technically, when The Republic of Ireland became separate from the UK in 1922, the British Nationality Law didn't change, but the conversation of the British subject was an ongoing discussion within the Republic of Ireland for many years before, and still to this day. I really struggle to give a definitive answer.



Is Wales in England? - Wales' history with England has changed over the centuries, as you can see. Today, Wales is not a part of England but is instead a part of the UK and Great Britain, along with The British Isles. It's certainly united with England, however, geographically, Wales has NEVER been IN England. Politically, it used to be, but not anymore.



Are the United Kingdom and Britain synonymous? - To those who are misinformed, the UK and Britain are seen as synonymous, yes. However, the two are not the same. Britain is of course the other name for Great Britain, but not for the UK, as the UK includes Great Britain.



Will I ever successfully boil an egg? - Most likely, but not for the foreseeable future.

Edited by Mathew Steel

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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Great post! Thanks @Mathew Steel!


The fields have eyes, and the woods have ears.

⁠— Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

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Well............(You can almost hear the Artillery Shell being loaded, huh?) :lol:


Actually very interesting series of ideas. Oh course my "Irish Blood" is quite "offended" (He He He). More over to the point, most people naturally smash together The History of The English into several Tribes who were polarized together into a Culture by first their own Wars, then Roman Invasion and Occupation and then of course Norman "modernization" (another Historical "laugh" inserted here!). With England coming into it's own as a Kingdom, as with all - other lands fell to them by conquest and desire (Scotland, Wales and Ireland). The "Study" can be quite complicated.....especially if your not English.


Of course the issue of National Identity comes into play as well. Despite being part of a United Kingdom, these other Nations were of all things, independent. Daunting and proud, English Studies (obviously), have always been among my Historical favorites.


Good observations, Young Lord! And by the by......... Scramble 'em!

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Funny you call that a "not so short post." That's pretty short for such a complex subject but was a great read.

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Thank you all for the kind words! :)


That's pretty short for such a complex subject but was a great read.


Why thank you very much! I'm glad it was more concise than I thought :D

"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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