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The Danish coast line of 7, km and the fact that no point is more than 50 km from the sea were advantages in an age in which transport by sea was more economical than land transport. The year of the Lutheran Reformation conventionally marks the end of the Middle Ages in Danish historiography. Only around did population growth begin to pick up after the devastating effect of the Black Death. Growth thereafter was modest and at times probably stagnant with large fluctuations in mortality following major wars, particularly during the seventeenth century, and years of bad harvests. About percent of the population lived from subsistence agriculture in small rural communities and this did not change.

Exports are estimated to have been about 5 percent of GDP between and The main export products were oxen and grain. The period after was characterized by a long lasting slump with a marked decline in exports to the neighboring countries, the Netherlands in particular. The institutional development after the Black Death showed a return to more archaic forms. Unlike other parts of northwestern Europe, the peasantry on the Danish Isles afterwards became a victim of a process of re-feudalization during the last decades of the fifteenth century. A likely explanation is the low population density that encouraged large landowners to hold on to their labor by all means.

Freehold tenure among peasants effectively disappeared during the seventeenth century. Institutions like bonded labor that forced peasants to stay on the estate where they were born, and labor services on the demesne as part of the land rent bring to mind similar arrangements in Europe east of the Elbe River. One exception to the East European model was crucial, however.

The demesne land, that is the land worked directly under the estate, never made up more than nine percent of total land by the mid eighteenth century. Although some estate owners saw an interest in encroaching on peasant land, the state protected the latter as production units and, more importantly, as a tax base. Bonded labor was codified in the all-encompassing Danish Law of Christian V in It was further intensified by being extended, though under another label, to all Denmark during , as a means for the state to tide the large landlords over an agrarian crisis.

One explanation for the long life of such an authoritarian institution could be that the tenants were relatively well off, with acres of land on average. Another reason could be that reality differed from the formal rigor of the institutions. Following the Protestant Reformation in , the Crown took over all church land, thereby making it the owner of 50 percent of all land. The costs of warfare during most of the sixteenth century could still be covered by the revenue of these substantial possessions. About 50 years later, after a major fiscal crisis had led to the sale of about half of all Crown lands, the revenue from royal demesnes declined relatively to about one third, and after the full transition from domain state to tax state was completed.

The bulk of the former Crown land had been sold to nobles and a few common owners of estates. Consequently, although the Danish constitution of was the most stringent version of absolutism found anywhere in Europe at the time, the Crown depended heavily on estate owners to perform a number of important local tasks.

The driving force of Danish economic growth, which took off during the late eighteenth century was population growth at home and abroad — which triggered technological and institutional innovation. Whereas the Danish population during the previous hundred years grew by about 0. Like elsewhere in Northern Europe, accelerating growth can be ascribed to a decline in mortality, mainly child mortality. Probably this development was initiated by fewer spells of epidemic diseases due to fewer wars and to greater inherited immunity against contagious diseases.

Land reforms that entailed some scattering of the farm population may also have had a positive influence. Prices rose from the late eighteenth century in response to the increase in populations in Northern Europe, but also following a number of international conflicts. This again caused a boom in Danish transit shipping and in grain exports.

Population growth rendered the old institutional set up obsolete. Landlords no longer needed to bind labor to their estate, as a new class of landless laborers or cottagers with little land emerged. The work of these day-laborers was to replace the labor services of tenant farmers on the demesnes. The old system of labor services obviously presented an incentive problem all the more since it was often carried by the live-in servants of the tenant farmers. Thus, the labor days on the demesnes represented a loss to both landlords and tenants Henriksen Part of the land rent was originally paid in grain.

Some of it had been converted to money which meant that real rents declined during the inflation. The solution to these problems was massive land sales both from the remaining crown lands and from private landlords to their tenants. As a result two-thirds of all Danish farmers became owner-occupiers compared to only ten percent in the mid-eighteenth century. This development was halted during the next two and a half decades but resumed as the business cycle picked up during the s and s.

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  4. It was to become of vital importance to the modernization of Danish agriculture towards the end of the nineteenth century that 75 percent of all agricultural land was farmed by owners of middle-sized farms of about 50 acres. Population growth may also have put a pressure on common lands in the villages.

    At any rate enclosure begun in the s, accelerated in the s supported by legislation and was almost complete in the third decade of the nineteenth century. The initiative for the sweeping land reforms from the s is thought to have come from below — that is from the landlords and in some instances also from the peasantry.

    The absolute monarch and his counselors were, however, strongly supportive of these measures. The desire for peasant land as a tax base weighed heavily and the reforms were believed to enhance the efficiency of peasant farming. Besides, the central government was by now more powerful than in the preceding centuries and less dependent on landlords for local administrative tasks.

    Production per capita rose modestly before the s and more pronouncedly thereafter when a better allocation of labor and land followed the reforms and when some new crops like clover and potatoes were introduced at a larger scale. Most importantly, the Danes no longer lived at the margin of hunger. No longer do we find a correlation between demographic variables, deaths and births, and bad harvest years Johansen A liberalization of import tariffs in marked the end of a short spell of late mercantilism. Further liberalizations during the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century established the Danish liberal tradition in international trade that was only to be broken by the protectionism of the s.

    Following the loss of the secured Norwegian market for grain in , Danish exports began to target the British market. The great rush forward came as the British Corn Law was repealed in The export share of the production value in agriculture rose from roughly 10 to around 30 percent between and In absolute monarchy was peacefully replaced by a free constitution. The long-term benefits of fundamental principles such as the inviolability of private property rights, the freedom of contracting and the freedom of association were probably essential to future growth though hard to quantify.

    During this period Danish economic growth outperformed that of most other European countries. A convergence in real wages towards the richest countries, Britain and the U. Denmark became a net importer of foreign capital from the s and foreign debt was well above 40 percent of GDP on the eve of WWI. Overseas emigration reduced the potential workforce but as mortality declined population growth stayed around one percent per annum.

    The increase in foreign trade was substantial, as in many other economies during the heyday of the gold standard. Thus the export share of Danish agriculture surged to a 60 percent. The background for the latter development has featured prominently in many international comparative analyses.

    Part of the explanation for the success, as in other Protestant parts of Northern Europe, was a high rate of literacy that allowed a fast spread of new ideas and new technology. The driving force of growth was that of a small open economy, which responded effectively to a change in international product prices, in this instance caused by the invasion of cheap grain to Western Europe from North America and Eastern Europe.

    Like Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium, Denmark did not impose a tariff on grain, in spite of the strong agrarian dominance in society and politics. Proposals to impose tariffs on grain, and later on cattle and butter, were turned down by Danish farmers. The majority seems to have realized the advantages accruing from the free imports of cheap animal feed during the ongoing process of transition from vegetable to animal production, at a time when the prices of animal products did not decline as much as grain prices.

    The dominant middle-sized farm was inefficient for wheat but had its comparative advantage in intensive animal farming with the given technology. The move from grain exports to exports of animal products, mainly butter and bacon, was to a great extent facilitated by the spread of agricultural cooperatives. This organization allowed the middle-sized and small farms that dominated Danish agriculture to benefit from the economy of scale in processing and marketing.

    The newly invented steam-driven continuous cream separator skimmed more cream from a kilo of milk than conventional methods and had the further advantage of allowing transported milk brought together from a number of suppliers to be skimmed. From the s the majority of these creameries in Denmark were established as cooperatives and about 20 years later, in , the owners of 81 percent of all milk cows supplied to a cooperative Henriksen The Danish dairy industry captured over a third of the rapidly expanding British butter-import market, establishing a reputation for consistent quality that was reflected in high prices.

    Furthermore, the cooperatives played an active role in persuading the dairy farmers to expand production from summer to year-round dairying. Year-round dairying resulted in a higher rate of utilization of agrarian capital — that is of farm animals and of the modern cooperative creameries.

    Not least did this intensive production mean a higher utilization of hitherto underemployed labor. A disorganized Easter Rising in was brutally suppressed by the British, which had the effect of galvanizing Nationalist demands for independence. Historian Arthur Marwick sees a radical transformation of British society resulting from the Great War, a deluge that swept away many old attitudes and brought in a more equalitarian society.

    He sees the famous literary pessimism of the s as misplaced, arguing there were major positive long-term consequences of the war to British society. He points to an energized self-consciousness among workers that quickly built up the Labour Party, the coming of partial woman suffrage, and an acceleration of social reform and state control of the economy. He sees a decline of deference toward the aristocracy and established authority in general, and the weakening among youth of traditional restraints on individual moral behavior.

    The chaperone faded away; village druggists sold contraceptives. Marwick says that class distinctions softened, national cohesion increased, and British society became more equal. As a leisure, literacy, wealth, ease of travel, and a broadened sense of community grew in Britain from the late 19th century onward, there was more time and interest in leisure activities of all sorts, on the part of all classes.

    Tourists flocked to seaside resorts; Blackpool hosted 7 million visitors a year in the s. There were class differences with upper-class clubs, and working-class and middle-class pubs. Participation in sports and all sorts of leisure activities increased for the average Englishman, and his interest in spectator sports increased dramatically. By the s the cinema and radio attracted all classes, ages and genders in very large numbers, with young women taking the lead.

    They sang along at the music hall, fancied their pigeons, gambled on horse racing, and took the family to Blackpool in summer.

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    The cartoon realization of this life style Andy Capp began in Political activists complained that working-class leisure diverted men away from revolutionary agitation. The British film industry emerged in the s when cinemas in general broke through in the western world, and built heavily on the strong reputation of the London legitimate theatre for actors, directors and producers. It bought up the top talent, especially when Hollywood came to the fore in the s and produced over 80 percent of the total world output. Efforts to fight back were futile—the government set a quota for British made films, but it failed.

    Hollywood furthermore dominated the lucrative Canadian and Australian markets. Bollywood based in Bombay dominated the huge Indian market. There was a revival of creativity in the —45 era, especially with the arrival of Jewish filmmakers and actors fleeing the Nazis. In Liverpool 40 percent of the population attended one of the 69 cinemas once a week; 25 percent went twice. Traditionalists grumbled about the American cultural invasion, but the permanent impact was minor.

    In radio, British audiences had no choice apart from the upscale programming of the BBC, a government agency which had a monopoly on broadcasting. John Reith — , an intensely moralistic engineer, was in full charge. His goal was to broadcast, "All that is best in every department of human knowledge, endeavour and achievement The preservation of a high moral tone is obviously of paramount importance. The British showed a more profound interest in sports, and in greater variety, than any rival.

    They gave pride of place to such moral issues as sportsmanship and fair play. New games became popular almost overnight, including golf, lawn tennis, cycling and hockey. Women were much more likely to enter these sports than the old established ones. The aristocracy and landed gentry, with their ironclad control over land rights, dominated hunting, shooting, fishing and horse racing.

    Test matches began by the s; the most famous are those between Australia and England for The Ashes. As literacy and leisure time expanded after , reading became a popular pastime. New additions to adult fiction doubled during the s, reaching new books a year by Libraries tripled their stock, and saw heavy demand for new fiction. The first titles included novels by Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie. They were sold cheap usually sixpence in a wide variety of inexpensive stores such as Woolworth's. Penguin aimed at an educated middle class "middlebrow" audience.

    It avoided the downmarket image of American paperbacks. The line signalled cultural self-improvement and political education. Romantic fiction was especially popular, with Mills and Boon the leading publisher. The story line in magazines and cinema that most appealed to boys was the glamorous heroism of British soldiers fighting wars that were exciting and just. Two major programmes that permanently expanded the welfare state passed in and with surprisingly little debate, even as the Conservatives dominated parliament.

    Act set up a system of government housing that followed the campaign promises of "homes fit for heroes. The Treasury subsidized the low rents. In England and Wales , houses were built, and the Ministry of Health became largely a ministry of housing. The Unemployment Insurance Act passed at a time of very little unemployment.

    It set up the dole system that provided 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to practically the entire civilian working population except domestic service, farm workers, and civil servants. Funded in part by weekly contributions from both employers and employed, it provided weekly payments of 15s for unemployed men and 12s for unemployed women.

    Historian Charles Mowat calls these two laws "Socialism by the back door", and notes how surprised politicians were when the costs to the Treasury soared during the high unemployment of The Lloyd George ministry fell apart in Stanley Baldwin , as leader of the Conservative Party —37 and as Prime Minister in —24, —29 and —37 , dominated British politics. Baldwin's political strategy was to polarize the electorate so that voters would choose between the Conservatives on the right and the Labour Party on the left, squeezing out the Liberals in the middle.

    Baldwin's reputation soared in the s and s, but crashed after as he was blamed for the appeasement policies toward Germany, and as admirers of Churchill made him the Conservative icon. Since the s Baldwin's reputation has recovered somewhat. Labour won the election, but in Baldwin and the Conservatives returned with a large majority. McKibbin finds that the political culture of the interwar period was built around an anti-socialist middle class, supported by the Conservative leaders, especially Baldwin. Taxes rose sharply during the war and never returned to their old levels.

    Much of the money went for the dole, the weekly unemployment benefits. Taylor argues most people "were enjoying a richer life than any previously known in the history of the world: longer holidays, shorter hours, higher real wages. The British economy was lackluster in the s, with sharp declines and high unemployment in heavy industry and coal, especially in Scotland and Wales. Exports of coal and steel fell in half by and the business community was slow to adopt the new labour and management principles coming from the US, such as Fordism , consumer credit, eliminating surplus capacity, designing a more structured management, and using greater economies of scale.

    With the very sharp decline in world trade after , its condition became critical. Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill put Britain back on the gold standard in , which many economists blame for the mediocre performance of the economy. Others point to a variety of factors, including the inflationary effects of the World War and supply-side shocks caused by reduced working hours after the war.

    By the late s, economic performance had stabilised, but the overall situation was disappointing, for Britain had fallen behind the United States as the leading industrial power. There also remained a strong economic divide between the north and south of England during this period, with the south of England and the Midlands fairly prosperous by the Thirties, while parts of south Wales and the industrial north of England became known as "distressed areas" due to particularly high rates of unemployment and poverty. Despite this, the standard of living continued to improve as local councils built new houses to let to families rehoused from outdated slums , with up to date facilities including indoor toilets, bathrooms and electric lighting now being included in the new properties.

    The private sector enjoyed a housebuilding boom during the s. During the war, trade unions were encouraged and their membership grew from 4. They peaked at 8. Coal was a sick industry; the best seams were being exhausted, raising the cost. Demand fell as oil began replacing coal for fuel. The general strike was a nine-day nationwide walkout of 1.

    The miners had rejected the owners' demands for longer hours and reduced pay in the face of falling prices.

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    To support the miners the Trades Union Congress TUC , an umbrella organization of all trades unions, called out certain critical unions. The hope was the government would intervene to reorganize and rationalize the industry, and raise the subsidy. The Conservative government had stockpiled supplies and essential services continued with middle class volunteers. All three major parties opposed the strike.

    The Labour Party leaders did not approve and feared it would tar the party with the image of radicalism, for the Comintern in Moscow had sent instructions for Communists to aggressively promote the strike. The general strike itself was largely non-violent, but the miners' lockout continued and there was violence in Scotland. Most historians treat it as a singular event with few long-term consequences, but Martin Pugh says it accelerated the movement of working-class voters to the Labour Party, which led to future gains.

    That act was largely repealed in The Great Depression originated in the United States in late and quickly spread to the world. Britain had never experienced the boom that had characterized the US, Germany, Canada and Australia in the s, so its bust appeared less severe. At the depth in summer , registered unemployed numbered 3. Experts tried to remain optimistic.

    John Maynard Keynes , who had not predicted the slump, said, "'There will be no serious direct consequences in London. We find the look ahead decidedly encouraging. On the left figures such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb , J. Hobson , and G. Cole repeated the warnings they had been making for years about the imminent death of capitalism, only now far more people paid attention. In , by which time unemployment was lower, unemployed men made a highly publicized march from Jarrow to London in a bid to show the plight of the industrial poor. Although much romanticized by the Left, the Jarrow Crusade marked a deep split in the Labour Party and resulted in no government action.

    Vivid memories of the horrors and deaths of the World War made Britain and its leaders strongly inclined to pacifism in the interwar era. The League of Nations proved disappointing to its supporters; it was unable to resolve any of the threats posed by the dictators. British policy was to "appease" them in the hopes they would be satiated.

    By it was clear that war was looming, and that Germany had the world's most powerful military. The final act of appeasement came when Britain and France sacrificed Czechoslovakia to Hitler's demands at the Munich Agreement of During the quiet period of " phoney war ", the British sent to France the most highly mechanized army in the world; together with France they had more tanks than Germany, but fewer warplanes. The smashing German victory in Spring was due entirely to "superior combat doctrine. Realistic training, imaginative battlefield leadership, and unparalleled initiative from generals down to sergeants.

    Winston Churchill came to power, promising to fight the Germans to the very end. The Germans threatened an invasion—which the Royal Navy was prepared to repel.

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    4. First the Germans tried to achieve air supremacy but were defeated by the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain in late summer Britain formed an alliance with the Soviet Union starting in and very close ties to the United States starting in The war was very expensive. It was paid for by high taxes, by selling off assets, and by accepting large amounts of Lend Lease from the U. The American and Canadian aid did not have to be repaid, but there were also American loans that were repaid. Britain's total mobilisation during this period proved to be successful in winning the war, by maintaining strong support from public opinion.

      The war was a "people's war" that enlarged democratic aspirations and produced promises of a postwar welfare state. The media called it a "people's war"—a term that caught on and signified the popular demand for planning and an expanded welfare state. They refused to leave London during the Blitz and were indefatigable in visiting troops, munition factories, dockyards, and hospitals all over the country. All social classes appreciated how the royals shared the hopes, fears and hardships of the people.

      Historians credit Britain with a highly successful record of mobilising the home front for the war effort, in terms of mobilising the greatest proportion of potential workers, maximising output, assigning the right skills to the right task, and maintaining the morale and spirit of the people. Much of this success was due to the systematic planned mobilisation of women, as workers, soldiers and housewives, enforced after December by conscription. In some ways the government over-responded, evacuating too many children in the first days of the war, closing cinemas as frivolous then reopening them when the need for cheap entertainment wasbecame clear, sacrificing cats and dogs to save a little space on shipping pet food, only to discover an urgent need to keep rats and mice under control.

      The British relied successfully on voluntarism. Munitions production rose dramatically, and the quality remained high. Food production was emphasised, in large part to free shipping for munitions. The success of the government in providing new services, such as hospitals and school lunches, as well as egalitarian spirit, contributed to widespread support for an enlarged welfare state. It was supported by the coalition government and all major parties. Welfare conditions, especially regarding food, improved during the war as the government imposed rationing and subsidized food prices.

      Conditions for housing worsened of course with the bombing, and clothing was in short supply. Equality increased dramatically, as incomes declined sharply for the wealthy and for white collar workers, as their taxes soared, while blue collar workers benefited from rationing and price controls. People demanded an expansion of the welfare state as a reward to the people for their wartime sacrifices [] The goal was operationalized in a famous report by William Beveridge. It recommended that the various income maintenance services that a grown-up piecemeal since be systematized and made universal.

      Unemployment benefits and sickness benefits were to be universal. There would be new benefits for maternity. The old-age pension system would be revised and expanded, and require that a person retired. A full-scale National Health Service would provide free medical care for everyone. All the major parties endorsed the principles and they were largely put into effect when peace returned.

      Britain had won the war, but it lost India in and nearly all the rest of the Empire by the s. Prosperity returned in the s, and London remained a world centre of finance and culture, but the nation was no longer a major world power. The end of the war saw a landslide victory for Clement Attlee and the Labour Party. They were elected on a manifesto of greater social justice with left-wing policies such as the creation of a National Health Service , more council housing and nationalisation of several major industries. Britain faced a severe financial crisis, and responded by reducing her international responsibilities and by sharing the hardships of an "age of austerity".

      Rationing and conscription dragged on well into the post war years, and the country suffered one of the worst winters on record. Labour Party experts went into the files to find the detailed plans for nationalisation. To their surprise [ citation needed ] , there were no plans. The leaders decided to act fast to keep up the momentum of the electoral landslide. They started with the Bank of England , civil aviation, coal, and Cable and Wireless.

      British Economic History: Selected full-text books and articles

      Then came railways, canals, road haulage and trucking, electricity, and gas. Finally came iron and steel, which was a special case because it was a manufacturing industry. Altogether, about one fifth of the economy was nationalised. Labour dropped its plans to nationalise farmlands. In exchange for the shares, the owners of the companies were given government bonds paying low rates of interest, and the government took full ownership of each affected company, consolidating it into a national monopoly.

      The management remained the same, but they were now effectively civil servants working for the government. For the Labour Party leadership, nationalisation was a way to consolidate economic planning in their own hands. It was not designed to modernise old industries, make them efficient, or transform their organisational structure. There was no money for modernisation, although the Marshall Plan , operated separately by American planners, did force many British businesses to adopt modern managerial techniques.

      Hardline socialists were disappointed, as the nationalised industries seemed identical to the old private corporations, and national planning was made virtually impossible by the government's financial constraints. Socialism was in place, but it did not seem to make a major difference. Rank-and-file workers had long been motivated to support Labour by tales of the mistreatment of workers by foremen and the management.

      The foremen and the managers were the same people as before, with much the same power over the workplace. There was no worker control of industry. The unions resisted government efforts to set wages. By the time of the general elections in and , Labour seldom boasted about nationalisation of industry. Instead it was the Conservatives who decried the inefficiency and mismanagement, and promised to reverse the takeover of steel and trucking.

      As the country headed into the s, rebuilding continued and a number of immigrants from the remaining British Empire , mostly the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent, were invited to help the rebuilding effort. As the s wore on, Britain lost its place as a superpower and could no longer maintain its large Empire. This led to decolonisation, and a withdrawal from almost all of its colonies by Events such as the Suez Crisis showed that the UK's status had fallen in the world. The s and s were, however, relatively prosperous times after the Second World War, and saw the beginning of a modernisation of the UK, with the construction of its first motorways for example, and also during the s a great cultural movement began which expanded across the world.

      Unemployment was relatively low during this period and the standard of living continued to rise with more new private and council housing developments taking place and the number of slum properties diminishing. As summed up by R. By the earlier Seventies, however, the UK standard of living was lower than all EEC countries apart from Italy which, according to one calculation, was roughly equal to Britain. In addition, food rations were lifted in while hire-purchase controls were relaxed in the same year.

      As a result of these changes, large numbers of the working classes were able to participate in the consumer market for the first time. National wealth has grown considerably, and although the shareout of this among the social classes has remained substantially of the same proportions, it has meant a considerable rise in the standard of living of all classes. It is estimated that in Britain at the turn of the century average earnings in industry sufficed merely to meet the essential needs of a two-child family, today average earnings allow the industrial wage-earner to spend a third of his income on things other than basic needs.

      By the end of the s, Britain had become one of the world's most affluent countries, and by the early Sixties, most Britons enjoyed a level of prosperity that had previously been known only to a small minority of the population. In , Queen magazine declared that "Britain has launched into an age of unparalleled lavish living. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan claimed that "the luxuries of the rich have become the necessities of the poor.

      Keynesian economic management enabled British workers to enjoy a golden age of full employment which, combined with a more relaxed attitude towards working mothers, led to the spread of the two-income family. In addition, as noted by John Burnett,. What was equally striking was that ownership of such things had spread down the social scale and the gap between professional and manual workers had considerably narrowed. The provision of household amenities steadily improved during the second half of the twentieth century. Between and , however, Britain was overtaken by most of the countries of the European Common Market in terms of the number of telephones, refrigerators, television sets, cars, and washing machines per of the population although Britain remained high in terms of bathrooms and lavatories per people.

      Although the British standard of living was increasing, the standard of living in other countries increased faster. In ten years, from having had a much higher standard of living than the continent, they have slipped right back. Britain's control over its Empire loosened during the interwar period. Nationalism strengthened in other parts of the empire, particularly in India and in Egypt. They became charter members of the British Commonwealth of Nations known as the Commonwealth of Nations since , an informal but close-knit association that succeeded the British Empire.

      Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in , the remainder of the British Empire was almost completely dismantled. Today, most of Britain's former colonies belong to the Commonwealth, almost all of them as independent members. There are, however, 13 former British colonies, including Bermuda , Gibraltar , the Falkland Islands , and others, which have elected to continue rule by London and are known as British Overseas Territories.

      His goals were blocked by militant Protestants led by the Rev. Ian Paisley. British leaders feared their withdrawal would give a "Doomsday Scenario", with widespread communal strife, followed by the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

      Ingrid Henriksen, University of Copenhagen

      London shut down Northern Ireland's parliament and began direct rule. By the s, the failure of the IRA campaign to win mass public support or achieve its aim of a British withdrawal led to negotiations that in produced the ' Good Friday Agreement '. It won popular support and largely ended the Troubles. After the relative prosperity of the s and s, the UK experienced extreme industrial strife and stagflation through the s following a global economic downturn; Labour had returned to government in under Harold Wilson to end 13 years of Conservative rule.

      The Conservatives were restored to government in under Edward Heath , who failed to halt the country's economic decline and was ousted in as Labour returned to power under Harold Wilson. The economic crisis deepened following Wilson's return and things fared little better under his successor James Callaghan. A strict modernisation of its economy began under the controversial Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher following her election as prime minister in , which saw a time of record unemployment as deindustrialisation saw the end of much of the country's manufacturing industries but also a time of economic boom as stock markets became liberalised and State-owned industries became privatised.

      Her rise to power was seen as the symbolic end of the time in which the British economy had become the "sick man" of western Europe. However the miners' strike of — sparked the end of most of the UK's coal mining. The exploitation of North Sea gas and oil brought in substantial tax and export revenues to aid the new economic boom. This was also the time that the IRA took the issue of Northern Ireland to Great Britain, maintaining a prolonged bombing campaign on the British mainland.

      After the economic boom of the s a brief but severe recession occurred between and following the economic chaos of Black Wednesday under government of John Major , who had succeeded Margaret Thatcher in However the rest of the s saw the beginning of a period of continuous economic growth that lasted over 16 years and was greatly expanded under the New Labour government of Tony Blair following his landslide election victory in , with a rejuvenated party having abandoned its commitment to policies including nuclear disarmament and nationalisation of key industries, and no reversal of the Thatcher-led union reforms.

      From up until , income per head had doubled, while ownership of various household goods had significantly increased. Holiday entitlements had also become more generous. In , nine out of ten full-time manual workers were entitled to more than four weeks of paid holiday a year, while twenty years previously only two-thirds had been allowed three weeks or more. The postwar period also witnessed significant improvements in housing conditions. By the s, most homes had these amenities together with central heating, which was a luxury just two decades before.

      Britain's wish to join the Common Market as the European Economic Community was known in Britain was first expressed in July by the Macmillan government.

      Economic history of Scotland

      It was vetoed in by French President Charles de Gaulle. Like the first, though, it was vetoed by de Gaulle. In opposition the Labour Party was deeply divided, though its Leader, Harold Wilson, remained in favour. In the General Election the Labour Party manifesto included a pledge to renegotiate terms for Britain's membership and then hold a referendum on whether to stay in the EC on the new terms.

      This was a constitutional procedure without precedent in British history. In the subsequent referendum campaign, rather than the normal British tradition of "collective responsibility", under which the government takes a policy position which all cabinet members are required to support publicly, members of the Government and the Conservative opposition were free to present their views on either side of the question. A referendum was duly held on 5 June , and the proposition to continue membership was passed with a substantial majority.

      In , the Conservative government under John Major ratified it, against the opposition of his backbench Maastricht Rebels. The Treaty of Lisbon introduced many changes to the treaties of the Union. Prominent changes included more qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers , increased involvement of the European Parliament in the legislative process through extended codecision with the Council of Ministers, eliminating the pillar system and the creation of a President of the European Council with a term of two and a half years and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to present a united position on EU policies.

      The Treaty of Lisbon will also make the Union's human rights charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights , legally binding. In July , the Labour government under Gordon Brown approved the treaty and the Queen ratified it. On 11 September , on the th anniversary of the Scottish victory over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge , a referendum was held on establishing a devolved Scottish Parliament.

      This resulted in an overwhelming 'yes' vote both to establishing the parliament and granting it limited tax varying powers. One week later, a referendum in Wales on establishing a Welsh Assembly was also approved but with a very narrow majority. The first elections were held, and these bodies began to operate, in The creation of these bodies has widened the differences between the Countries of the United Kingdom , especially in areas like healthcare.

      In the General Election , the Labour Party won a second successive victory, though voter turnout dropped to the lowest level for more than 80 years. Bush launching the War on Terror , beginning with the invasion of Afghanistan aided by British troops in October Thereafter, with the US focus shifting to Iraq, Tony Blair convinced the Labour and Conservative MPs to vote in favour of supporting the invasion of Iraq , despite huge anti-war marches held in London and Glasgow.

      Forty-six thousand British troops, one-third of the total strength of the Army's land forces, were deployed to assist with the invasion of Iraq and thereafter British armed forces were responsible for security in southern Iraq. All British forces were withdrawn in The Labour Party won the general election and a third consecutive term.

      They formed a minority government with plans to hold a referendum before to seek a mandate "to negotiate with the Government of the United Kingdom to achieve independence for Scotland. The response of the unionist parties was to establish the Calman Commission to examine further devolution of powers, [] a position that had the support of the Prime Minister. Responding to the findings of the review, the UK government announced on 25 November , that new powers would be devolved to the Scottish Government , notably on how it can raise tax and carry out capital borrowing, and the running of Scottish Parliament elections.

      Scottish Constitution Minister Michael Russell criticised the white paper, calling it "flimsy" and stating that their proposed Referendum Scotland Bill, , whose own white paper was to be published five days later, would be "more substantial". The election saw a decisive victory for the SNP which was able to form a majority government intent on delivering a referendum on independence. In the wake of the global economic crisis of , the United Kingdom economy contracted, experiencing negative economic growth throughout The announcement in November that the economy had shrunk for the first time since late brought an end to 16 years of continuous economic growth.

      The plan comprised three parts. With the UK officially coming out of recession in the fourth quarter of —ending six consecutive quarters of economic decline—the Bank of England decided against further quantitative easing. The United Kingdom General Election of 6 May resulted in the first hung parliament since , with the Conservative Party winning the largest number of seats, but falling short of the seats required for an overall majority. Under the coalition government, British military aircraft participated in the UN-mandated intervention in the Libyan civil war , flying a total of 3, air sorties against forces loyal to the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi between March and October In late October , the prime ministers of the Commonwealth realms voted to grant gender equality in the royal succession , ending the male-preference primogeniture that was mandated by the Act of Settlement On 18 September, a referendum was held in Scotland on whether to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

      Days before the vote, with the opinion polls closing, the three Better Together party leaders issued 'The Vow' , a promise of more powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote. The election was held on 7 May with pre-election polls all predicting a close race and a hung parliament. The other most significant result of the election was the Scottish National Party winning all but three of the 59 seats in Scotland, a gain of This had been widely forecast as opinion polls had recorded a surge in support for the SNP following the independence referendum, and SNP party membership had more than quadrupled from 25, to over ,, meaning that 1 in every 50 of the population of Scotland was a party member.

      The Liberal Democrats lost 49 of their 57 seats, as they were punished for their decision to form a coalition with the conservatives in On 20 February , British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union would be held on 23 June , following years of campaigning by eurosceptics.

      Debates and campaigns by parties supporting both "Remain" and "Leave" focused on concerns regarding trade and the single market , security , migration and sovereignty. The result of the referendum was in favour of the country leaving the EU with This started negotiations on a withdrawal agreement that will last no more than two years unless the Council and the UK agree to extend the negotiation period , before an exit from the European Union Brexit on 29 March From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. History of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom. Part of a series on the. History of women Military history.

      Main articles: Early Modern Britain and Georgian era. Main articles: Treaty of Union and Acts of Union Main article: House of Hanover. Main article: British Empire. Main articles: Act of Union and Irish issue in British politics. Main article: Victorian era. Main article: International relations of the Great Powers — Main article: Second Boer War. Further information: Gladstonian liberalism. Main article: Edwardian era. Main article: Interwar Britain. Main article: Sport in the United Kingdom. Main article: Great Depression in the United Kingdom. Main article: Beveridge Report. Main article: The Troubles.

      Main article: History of the United Kingdom —present. Main articles: Scottish devolution and Welsh devolution. Main article: Scottish independence referendum, However, the actual name of the new state was Great Britain. However the name was not applied to the state as a unit; both England and Scotland continued to be governed independently.

      Its validity as a name of the Crown is also questioned, given that monarchs continued using separate ordinals e. To avoid confusion historians generally avoid using the term King of Great Britain until and instead to match the ordinal usage call the monarchs kings or queens of England and Scotland. Separate ordinals were abandoned when the two states merged in accordance with the Acts of Union , with subsequent monarchs using ordinals apparently based on English not Scottish history it might be argued that the monarchs have simply taken the higher ordinal, which to date has always been English.

      He recommended to the company that proper directives should be given to the factors in the West Indies for what ships they send. It seems also that by the late eighteenth century the slave trade orig inating from the British Caribbean belonged virtually to traders resident in England Thus committee of the Jamaican House of Assembly stated in It seems not to be understood in Great Britain that the inhabitants of the West- India Islands have no concern in the ships trading to Africa The African trade is purely British trade trade carried on by British subjects residing in Great Bri tain on capitals of their own the connection and intercourse between the plan ters of this island and the merchants of Great Britain trading to Africa extend no further than the mere purchase of what British Acts of Parliament have declared to be legal objects of purchase.

      Trade of the Seventeenth Century. Next in the less documented and less researched portions of the British slave trade is the trade of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Here we are in terra incognita There has been some study of the late seven teenth century that is not specifically focused on the volume of the trade Davies Zook Galenson But as far as know there is practically nothing for the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries We know that John Hawkins with the blessing of the Queen of England raided for and transported slaves from West Africa to the Americas in and The Portuguese sources used by the late Walter Rodney indicate that English traders conducted flourishing business in the Gambia river and Sierra Leone in the late sixteenth and early seven teenth centuries In the English trade to West Africa was given some legality by the encouragement given by the Portuguese Prince Antonio of Crato who took refuge at the English court.

      But in regard those plantations have many remote ports and the owners of such ships goods and Negros conscious of their own guilt do clandestinely land them in some of the said remote ports whereby they avoid the punishment that ought to be laid upon them. The late ANSTEY b fn 31 discovered among Dutch vessels captured by the British Navy in 44 ships with English names the names of their masters have distinctly Anglo-Saxon ring and they near unfailingly were allowed to take bail at Liver pool or Bristol According to him Collation with lists of British vessels clearing for the slave trade from British ports reveals that number of these Dutch prizes had cleared as British vessels participating in the slave trade often three or four weeks before capture On the other hand between four and six of the prizes appear probably not to have cleared as British slavers even though their appearance on clearance lists before or after indicates that they were British slavers ANSTEY ibid.