Historic Themes

Pre Norman Britain; the , Celts, Romans, Saxons and Vikings: Before 1066

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There is a fascinating story to be told of the struggle between the Celts, the Romans, Scots, Picts Angles Saxons Jutes Danes for control of the British Isles. There is much to see: where legions once camped the hill forts defended by the Celts. The Saxon shore forts and the sites of the struggles of the Dark Ages. There are legends as well as history. Legends from the Norse sagas and the tales of King Arthur.

Norman Britian: 1066 and All That

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The Norman invasion is one of the best known military stories of England. But it is much more than 1066 and the battle of Hastings. The era involves the Danes and Noresmen as well as the Scots and Welsh. Even after the invasion there was fighting between the Normans and the Saxons and between Norman factions. for the next hundred years.

 Magna Carta  and   the Barons Wars: 1214-65

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When people think of Magna Carta they think of King John signing a legal document.  But the signing of Magna Carta was an episode ina  struggle for power between the king and the barons which lasted for over fifity years. Some of the more dramatic episodes included an invasion by a French King, dozens of sieges and pitched battles. It is a story of heroes and villeins, mercenaries, pirates and outlaws.
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The region of Edward 1st “Malleus Scotorum” the Hammer of the Scots saw England conquer  Wales and attempt to conquer Scotland. After Edwards death and the assumption of then throne by his son Edward II not only was this stopped by Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, but England faced an assault on northern England and its possessions ion Ireland.

The Hundred Years War: 1340-1453

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The Hundred years war defined both england and France. The battles of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt are landmarks for British military history. Orleans, Formigngy, and Castillaion are for the French. The Black Prince, Prince Hal Sir John Fasltolf the Jean D’arc the maid of Orleans and Bertrand du Glesclin are some of the personalities of this conflict

War of the Roses 1454-1487

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The Fourteenth century wars of the houses of Lancaster and York have become known as the Wars of the Roses.

The Tudor Wars 1485-1603

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During the reign of Henry VIII and his children there were a series of wars against France, Scotland and Spain and rebels at home and abroad. This also was the time of the Tudor occupation of Ireland.

The Stuarts and the Civil Wars 1640-67

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The series of wars which engulfed the British Isles for over a decade are probably the most costly in terms of the lives lost. They resulted in the ten year experiment of the military dictatorship of the Commonwealth.

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The overthrow of the Stuarts and their replacement by the house of Hannover resulted in wars and battles across Scotland and Ireland.  The lost cause of the catholic Jacobites the wild geese .

Between 1700-1800 the British and French waged a second hundred years war, in Europe and across the world.  Wars that stretched from Marlborough to the Duke of Wellington.

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For just under a century Britain truly ruled the waves.  Britain’s wars took place across the globe.  The military heritage of the Victorian era is in the museums and links to these Imperial events as well as the string of fortifications against occasional invasion scares.

The First World  War

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The First World War was the most costly war fought by the British Empire in terms of the numbers engaged and casualties. Britain was a training base for a vast army. Its cities were the targets for the world’s first strategic bombing campaign and its ports were bombarded by the German navy.

During the Second World war Britain was at various points a beleaguered island faced with invasion and starvation; a target for a merciless aerial attack, by manned aircraft, cruise missiles and rockets;  and then the launch pad for the largest air offensives and largest ever amphibious invasion as well as the attacks in the history of the world. It was a also the home to an industry with remarkable inventiveness in engineering and computing.

The Cold War

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The Cold war between the nuclear armed power blocs of NATO and the Warsaw Pact have left a substantial legacy. These include the air bases, the defences against nuclear attacks as well as the now retired weapons.  It is also possible to see much of the legacy of the espionage  war as fictionalised in the  books and films of Ian Fleming and John Le Carre.

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