British Culture

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Summary of ‘Britain’
The country and its people: an introduction for learners of English
Revised and Updated

Author: James O’Driscoll

Oxford

The chapters which you need to study for the exam are as follows: Chapters 1 – 5, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 20 – 23 plus reader 07 2538 SCC UK: Government and Monarchy

Chapter 1. Country and People

The British Isles lie off the north-west coast of Europe. It consists of two great isles and several much smaller ones.
- Great Britain is the largest Island.
- Ireland is the other large one.

There are two states:
- The Republic of Ireland
- The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The last state mentioned above is more familiar known as:
- ‘the United Kingdom’ or
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Britain was brought into the mainstream of western European culture. This was the beginning of the English class system. The Normans introduced a strong system of government. During this time Scotland remained independent.
Culturally speaking there were several aspects:

- Middle English and NOT the Norman French had become the dominant language in all classes.
- The Anglo-Saxon concept of common law NOT Roman law formed the basis of the legal system.
- Wales was never settled in great numbers by Saxon or Norman, thus (Celtic) Welsh language remained strong.
- Scotland gradually switched to English language and customs in the lowland.
- In this period Parliament began its gradual evolution into the democratic body which it is today.

Sixteenth century

The power of the English monarch increased in this period. The strength of the great barons had been greatly weakened by the Wars of the Roses:

The Wars of the Roses = During the 15th century the throne of England was claimed by representatives of 2 rival groups.

Tudor dynasty (1485-1603) – Established a system of government departments. Because of this, the feudal barons were no longer needed.

Parliament consists of:
- House of Lords (feudal aristocracy and the leaders of the Church)
- House of Commons (representatives from the towns and the less important landowners in rural areas)

Reasons for the rise of
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