Учебно-методическое пособие для студентов неязыковых вузов г. Москва 2010

Московская финансово-юридическая академия




на английском языке

Учебно-методическое пособие

для студентов неязыковых вузов

г. Москва - 2010

Составитель: Л.С.Филимонова. Сборник текстов по страноведению для студентов высших учебных заведений.

/ Учебно-методическое пособие по страноведению/

Москва, МФЮА, 2010.- 53с.

Настоящее пособие предназначено для студентов 1-5 курсов высших учебных заведений, изучающих страноведение Великобритании и США. В пособии в краткой форме изложена история Великобритании. Тематика предлагаемых текстов представляет собой разнообразный и интересный материал страноведческого характера.

Особенно ценным является возможность использования данного пособия для самостоятельной работы студентов и выполнению ими заданий, способствующих успешному решению коммуникативных языковых задач. Материал аутентичен и апробирован при работе со студентами неязыковых вузов.


Хачикян Е.И., доктор педагогических наук, профессор( КФ СЗАГС- г.Калуга);

М.А.Вейт, доктор педагогических наук, профессор (ЛГПУ, г.Липецк).

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Down to 8300 BC Britain experienced alternating periods of intense cold and periods at least as warm as the present. During the glacialperiods Britain was connected to the continent by broad stretches of land in the Present Channel and North Sea areas.

As far as historical research could establish, the first inhabitants of the British

Isles were nomadic Stone Age hunters.

Paleolithic man hunted. In the Mesolithic period which followed the Palaeolithic man had to adapt to post-glacial conditions.

Around 4000 B.C. a new people joined the scanty Mesolithic population. The newcomers, the Neolithic people sowed corn, knew how to make pottery.

The most spectacular achievement of the Neolithic people was their monumental architecture. They have left behind remains of their camps. Many of the first Neolithic monuments are found in the south-west of Britain.

Stonehenge dates from before 2000BC and is one of the most mysterious and complex archaeological sites in the world.

Neolithic society was transformed, before 2000 BC, by the arrival of a vigorous people known as Beaker folk because of a characteristic drinking vessel, a beaker, which was generally buried with their dead. These people knew how to extract and work metal. They made copper and later, bronze, which made it possible to manufacture strong tools, splendid decorative objects, utensils and even musical instruments.

The Beaker people seem to have merged with the local population. They continued to use and elaborate Neolithic ritual centers (for example, Stonehenge), but they did not follow the Neolithic burial practices of burying numbers of people in collective tombs, some of the graves in the Early Bronze Age have yielded great riches, including gold work.

Later Bronze Age Society (1400-700 BC) seems to have developed more slowly.

New people from Continent gradually introduced Iron Age cultures into Britain.

Iron Age or Celtic culture had certainly spread through lowland Britain by the sixth century BC, through pastoral Bronze Age lifestyles persisted in much of the north and west until the arrival of the Romans some 500 years later.

At the end of the second centuryBC Celtic invaders, the Belgic tribes, arrived and settled in areas of southern England. The first Celtic comers were the Gaels but the Brythons arrived some 2 centuries later and pushed the Gaels to Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall taking possession of the south and east. Throughout Britain the Celts had left remains of their massive hillforts, which, it is thought, were not only defensive positions but also places where the community could assemble for social and religious functions. These hillforts gave great security to the population in times of danger. However, the next group of invaders, the Romans, had a military technology superior to Celtic defenses. But about the 1-st cent. BC. the most powerful tribe the Belgae claimed possession of the south-east while part of the Brythons was pushed on to Wales though the rest stayed in what is England today, and probably gave their name to the whole country. The whole of Britain was occupied by the Celts who merged with the Picts and Scots as well as with the Alpine part of the population; the latter predominated in the West while the rest of the British Isles became distinctly Celtic in language and the structure of society. The social unit of the Celts, the clan, suppressed the earlier family groups; clans were united into large kinship groups, and those into tribes.

This Celt-dominated mixture of Picts, Scots and other ingredients came to be called Brythons, or Britts. Some historians attribute the origin of London to the reign of the Belgic tribal chief Cunobelin (from 5 A.D. to 40 A.D.), and archaeologists state that the first wooden London Bridge was built at the time. The city was called Londinium (The Celtic phrase Llyn-din "Lake Fort" is believed by some to have given the town its name).

The Romans. Many historians attribute the interest that the Romans took in the British Isles to purely strategic reasons. The Roman commander the famed Julius Caesar had an easy victory over the Britons, but he was forced to retire, as storms in the Channel prevented his cavalry from arriving from France.

In 54 BC Caesar returned and marched through southern Britain. After the Romans departed trade between Britain and the Empire increased.

The Romans made no attempt to subdue Ireland, as to Wales, it belonged to the so-called military districts of Roman Britain.

Britain became a big exporter of corn, lead and tin. Villas, the characteristic Roman establishments in the countryside were founded throughout the country.

London was a center for both external and internal trade. Southern Britain settled down to peace and rapid Romanisation. A luxurious lifestyle, Roman dress and the Latin language were adopted.

The Romans established a flourishing province in Britain. They founded the first cities.

In the 4-th century Roman Britain was threatened by the Saxons,a loose term used to describe a number of people living in present-day Denmark, northwest Germany and the Netherlands. In 367 there was a combined attack on Britain by Picts, Scots and Saxons. In 410 the Roman army withdrew, and the Romano-British population had to look after its own defenses. Without Roman military might Roman civilization in Britain disintegrated.

Perhaps Roman Britain disappeared because it failed to make much impact on the ordinary people. Most of the population lived in the countryside and farming techniques do not seem to have changed much under the Romans, though new vegetables like cabbages, peas and fruits like plums, apples and cherries were introduced. Latin was confined to the upper sections of society. The marvellous buildings and public facilities like sanitation systems were found in the towns, where only a minority of the population lived. But Celtic culture survived only in present-day Cornwell; north Wales, Scotland and Ireland, which saw neither Roman nor Saxon.

The Saxons and Vikings. The Picts and Scots were at the state of war with each other until the 9-th century after the Roman army's withdrawal. The Saxons came across the North Sea. By 450 Essex, Kent and Sussex were held by the Saxons. The invaders experienced a temporary check in the west, where the British rallied under the legendary King Arthur who organized Celtic resistance so as to make it a constant menace to the Anglo-Saxon invaders, some time between 490 and 503 he won a great victory over the Saxons. The west remained British, though intermarriage with Saxons and, later, conversion to Christianity must have lessened the differences between the 2 peoples.

The rest of England, now so called after one of the invading groups the Angles, fell to the invaders, as did the lowlands of Scotland. By the early seventh century Saxon Britain was divided into 7 kingdoms.

The abandonment by the Saxons of the towns and villas signaled the abandonment of the Roman way of life. But the Saxons were excellent farmers. The Saxons used a heavy plough, which remained basically unchanged until the Agricultural Revolution in the 18-th century.

The Saxons lived in strong family and tribal units, the most prominent feature of which was intense loyalty to a man's king or chief. There were features of Saxon civilization which we might admire. For example a custom which dictated that a man who committed a murder should pay suitable compensation to the bereavedfamily rather than to be executed. There is also, however, unsavoury evidence of burials of living people, probably a wife or servants, at the funeral of a great person.

Many colorful stories are told about the arrival of Christianity in England. Rome was interested in bringing England into the Christian fold Christianity had been brought to Ireland in 432 by St.Patrick, a slave of the Irish who had escaped to Rome. Irish missionaries reinforced the Christianity of Wales and Scotland.

The Celtic Church now established in the north of England was in some ways different from the Roman church.

Known variously as Norsemen, Vikings or Danes, these invaders were a heathenpeople from present-day Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The Vikings increased their raids on the coast of England and in 865 began a great invasion of East Anglia and Northumbria. The Isle of Man and the Irish Sea were taken and Ireland was attached.

The Danes encountered effective opposition, which was ruled by King Alfred. In 878 England was partitioned between Saxons and Vikings. The steady Christianisation of the Vikings had begun. This would lead in time to their fusion with the local population. They were basically of the same stock as the Saxons, and their language was Germanic, as Saxon was. Together their tongues would later form the basis of English.

William the Conqueror landed in September 1066 on the British Isles with the Army of about 8000 men. The men who came with William hoped that victory would bring them land and treasure.

William was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. The native English aristocracy was replaced by a French aristocracy. Clearly defined classes appeared in English society. The people could not move from their land or village without the permission of their lord. This system of dependence is known as the feudal system.

The Norman Conquest brought the English Church into the mainstream of reform directed by the papacy. William ruled both Normandy and England. This control of land in both France and England was to establish a pattern until the 16-th century. 20 years after the Conquest William I organized a registration of all the holders of arable land, of the general amount of arable and pasture, all taxes paid etc. "Doomsday Book" was a nickname of the document from which one can see that the process of village community or township, developing into the feudal manor, was nearing completion. The census nicknamed "Doomsday Book" appeared in 1086. The phrase carries several implications ("Doomsday" is the supposed Say of the Final Judgement when the souls of the dead are expected to be tried). As a result, the king got a clear idea of all the taxable property in the land; he had first-source information about the economic state of the country.

There were 80 towns in England by that time. The population of England amounted to about 2 million. The agricultural workers constituted 91% of the population, the remaining 9% being represented by lords with their families, domestics, hangers-on, the clergy, merchants, craftsmen, etc.

Villeinsformed the overwhelming majority of the toiling masses. Slave labour was found to be quite unproductive and uneconomical and slaves were rapidly merging with the borders and cotters, to disappear as a layer entirely in the next century.

After William's death in 1087 the crown passed to his son William II (1087-1100), who failed to keep the barons in check. He was killed in a hunting accident in 1100 and Henry I succeeded his brother as king of England.

After the Norman conquest feudalism was fully established in England. The feudal society of England achieved certain economic progress at the expense of the villains' forced labor. All power was based on landownership and the king became the only landowner. The Norman conquerors had an imperative need of strong state machinery to defend their privileges. This circumstance accounts for a very important peculiarity of the English feudal state, its early centralization and the relative durability of royal power. Historians say, that from the start the power of the feudal nobility.

The sheriffs, representing the central government, remained stronger than any baron in his territory. The basic production unit of the fully developed feudal society in England was the manor which didn't attain ultimate completion until the 13-th-14-th cc.

Late in the 12-th century the King's army became a permanent institution with hired personnel and the knights were gradually becoming middle landowners, who gradually involved in market operations. The fact that there was no impassable border line between the knights and the top city commercial circles was another peculiarity of English feudalism.

After the Norman Conquest of 1066 trade with France expanded.

  1. Read and translate the text.

  2. Answer the following questions:

1. Who were the first inhabitants of the British Isles?

2. What is Stonehenge?

3. Who were the first Celtic comers?

4. Who gave the name to the whole country?

5. To what period do historians attribute the origin of London?

6. Whatwere the interests of Julius Caesar in the British Isles?

7. Why did Roman Britain disappear ?

8. With what period is the Name of King Arthur associated?

9. What were features of Saxon civilization?

10. How did Christians arrive in England?

1 l. Who were "Norsemen"?

12.What made the basis of English?

13.What brought William the Conqueror to England?

14.When was feudalism established in England? Its peculiarities

3. Retell the text according to the model technology.


Henry II came to the throne in 1154, he was master of a great empire. In 1150 he had become duke of Normandy. In 1152 he married, and his wife brought him large parts of the south of France. Henry's emblem was a plant called Planta genesta- дрок, hence his dynasty was to be called the Plantagenet dynasty. (Плантагенеты - королевская династия с 1151 по 1399 годы). Henry П created the common law system, according to which every freeman had a right to plead in royal courts, even against his feudal lord.

Henry’s power was challenged by the Kings of France, who were alarmed to see the major part of France in English hands. Royal authority was also challenged by the church. The Church claimed that the appointment of bishops was its own exclusive right. In 1172 it was agreed that the Church would invest the bishops, but the King would have to be consulted on the choice of candidates.

At the end of the 11-th century the so-called Crusadesbegan to be popular. The Pope of Rome sent his Emissariesto go throughout all Europe preaching a Crusade and persuading the kings and nobles to sell their lands and take their subjects to Jerusalem to drive out the Saracens (Arab or Muslem). The holy war needed money. International-scale fairs sprang up in England as early as the end of the 11-th century.

Henry II was the first king to attempt expansion of the British Isles. He invaded Ireland and established his reign there. Though on his death his son Richard I agreed to exchange the claim for a considerable sum of money. In Henry's reign the church was becoming increasingly strong. The church supported the crown against the barons.

England was rapidly developing its economy. A lively wool trade was bringing new profits contributing to the growth and developments of towns. The same end was served by exports of tin, lead and even iron, now mined and processed in great quantities. It was in the 12-th century that London became an industrial and commercial center of importance for those times.

The second Plantagenet King, Richard I (1189-1199), popularly called Richard the Lion Heart was an enthusiastic crusader. For the first time in history English ships entered the Mediterranean, and Richard adopted St George as his patron saint. The Crusade itself was a failure, immensely costly in lives and treasure, though it lead to the- establishment of direct and permanent connections between England and the trading cities of Italy. Richard was killed in 1199.

The 13-th century began under a new king, the second son of Henry II, and a third Plantagenet, John (1193-1216). He showed no respect for law or custom. The result was the complete isolation of the crown from those sections that had previously been its supporters.

One by one he lost his provinces in France, including the dukedom of Normandy (John was nicknamed Lackland). He was involved in a direct dispute with Innocent III who declared John excommunicated (exclude, as a punishment, from the privileges of the Christian Church, e.g. marriage or burial in church) and deposed (dethroned) and persuaded the kings of France and Scotland to make war on him. John stood alone. Thus in 1215 the aristocracy, the Church and the merchants formed a coalition against the king. Unwillingly he submitted, and at Runnymede (a small island in the Thames), near Windsor, John's opponents obliged him to agree to the terms of Magna Carter, or the Great Charter. 1215 is one of the important dates in English history.

Magna Carta has been rightly regarded as a turning point in English history but almost always for wrong reasons. It was not a "constitutional" document. It did not guarantee parliamentary government, since Parliament did not exist then. It didn't establish the right to trial by jury, etc. What it did do was to set out in detail the way in which John had gone beyond his rights as a feudal overlord and to demand that his unlawful practices should stop. It marked the alliance between the barons and the citizens of London, by insisting on the freedom of merchants from arbitrary (произвольный, деспотичный) taxation.

In other ways, as in its attempts to curtail the power of the Royal Courts the charter was reactionary. More important was the clause in the carter setting up a permanent committee of 24 barons to see that John's promises were kept. This device did not work very well, but it did open a new avenue along which the barons could conduct a political struggle as a class rather than as individuals. It led to the development of Parliament as the instrument through which first the nobles and later the bourgeoisie defended their interests. The charter checked the king's power and it was an instrument of perfecting feudalism.

The Charter acquired wider and more radical implications when villeinage died out and the idea of freedom was no longer connected with land holding.

John had no intention of agreeing to Magna Carta without a fight. He gathered an army and denounced the Carta. The barons declared him deposed and offered the crown to Lois, son of the King of France. So hostilities were renewed, and when John died in 1216 England was deep in war. In 1217 the French withdrew. Magna Carta was reissued. Henry III (John's son, 9 then) was dominated by the regents (duties of a ruler who is too young) until 1234, and until 1238 Henry III ruled on his own.

In the following centuries Magna Carta was solemnly reaffirmed by every king from Henry III to Henry VI (1422).

Its subsequent history is curious and falls into 3 chapters.

  1. As feudalism declined it ceased to have any clear practical application and passed out of memory. The Tudor bourgeoisie were too closely allied to the monarchy to wish to place any check on it, while the power of the nobles was broken in the wars of Shakespeare, writing his play "King John", never mentions Magna Carta and quite possibly never heard of it.

  2. When the bourgeoisie entered their revolutionary period under the Stuarts the Charter was rediscovered, and was completely misinterpreted and used as a basis for the claims of Parliament. This view of the Charter as the cornerstone of democratic rights persisted through the greater part of the 19-th century.

  3. It is only within the last decades that historians have examined it critically as a feudal document and discovered its real meaning and importance.

Just because it marks the highest point of feudal development and expressed most precisely the nature of feudal class relations, Magna Carta marks also the passing of society beyond those relations. It's both a culmination and a point of departure. The barons won the greatest victory but only at the price of acting in a way, which was not strictly feudal, of forming new kinds of combinations, both among themselves and with other classes.

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