The United Kingdom, comprised of the four lands of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, has been historically intertwined with the United States for a few centuries. However, it is still a much older country, with over 1000 years behind it, though it wasn’t unified at the time. During the 19th and 20th centuries, it was the most powerful nation, having colonies in places such as the far reaches of Africa. The United Kingdom has a rich history, full of multiple conflicts, from the conquering of Wales to World War II, and despite that there are no language barriers between us, their culture is still quite different.
Despite being one nation, the four lands have very distinct cultures. For example, they mostly speak English as their primary language, but other languages, such as Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish are also spoken, though not too often in most regions.
Literature thrived throughout the United Kingdom, even when the Anglo-Saxon language was still spoken, alongside Latin. Beowulf is still well-known today, and is just one example of a timeless classic that survived through the ages. Much later, the country’s talent in literature started to emerge, with the Canterbury Tales, Gulliver’s Travels, and many, many more novels and poetry marking great accomplishments, and led up to what literature there is today; very diverse, and world-famous, in some cases.
As for theatre, William Shakespeare, the most famous playwright in the world, past or present, came from England. He revolutionized the art, leading up to various other great playwrights, though none were as famous as he. Even today, London has various theatres, as if to pay tribute to the various great playwrights. In music, the United Kingdom has many great singers and bands, including the Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and many other globally famous people. Many artists are often heard on the radio in the United States, showing exactly how far their tunes can travel – and still be popular.
Fish and chips are among the commonly eaten foods, though dishes of pork and beef are equally so. However, though such traditional foods do exist, and are all over the place, much of the restaurants are American in origin. Despite that, many cooking shows have sprung up, centering on the crème de la crème of the chefs (and food) that the United Kingdom has to offer.
After many centuries of conflict, Wales was conquered by England – with very few uprisings – and later legally annexed during the 16th century, marking the beginning of the unity seen today. During the same time period (the 13th century), Ireland faced church reformation, meaning the Pope at the time let the Normans, who occupied England at the time, largely take over Ireland to convert the Irish. After a strange twist of events, the High King who ruled over Ireland lost his power, and the King of England awarded the land to his son, John, who later became King of England unexpectedly, uniting the two countries. Unlike Wales, however, the Irish lashed out against England several times, and eventually the Black Plague came, to the favor of the Irish. All that was left of English control was the area around Dublin afterwards.
Various battles ensued due to the differences in religion between the two during the 16th century under Henry VIII’s rule, and even after he was eventually crowned King of Ireland, the conflicts still continued. Although England vastly overpowered Ireland, they could never be converted to Protestantism, no matter what cruel acts England tried. This led to much hatred between the two, and even satirical writers such as Jonathan Swift to speak out against it. Many rebellions later, Ireland fought a war for independence during the 20th century. The treaty arranged for all of Ireland, excluding Northern Ireland, which had chosen against it, to be free from English rule, later becoming the Republic of Ireland.
Yet another series of conflicts were fought on the path to uniting Scotland and England, though they were originally going to be united through marriage during the 13th century – the death of the bride-to-be put a stop to that plan. Scotland, at the time, was essentially a controlled state to England, was “supposed” to follow the orders of the English king. However, the Scots wouldn’t have it; they turned against England, and eventually gained the powerful Pope’s approval as their own state. Still, the battles continued for centuries. That is, until Mary, the Queen of Scots, was next in line for the throne. Though she was later killed for treason, her son lived on, and eventually became King of England upon the death of Elizabeth I, thus finally joining Scotland and England, though it started off shakily and rather was disliked initially.