Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales
Also found in: Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy
The people of the Great Britain region have been witness to sweeping political changes and amazing technological progress through the centuries, from the Glorious Revolution to the Industrial Revolution. But despite their penchant for reform and progress, they have always found a way to preserve the past. From royal families to prime ministers, ancient languages to international diversity, from venerable cathedrals to glass skyscrapers, their culture is a fascinating blend of old and new.
How Black Sovereign compares to the typical person native to the Great Britain region
Genetic Diversity in the Great Britain Region
The people living in the Great Britain region today are more admixed than most other regions, which means that when creating genetic ethnicity estimates for people native to this area, we often see similarities to DNA profiles from other nearby regions. We’ve found that approximately 60% of the typical native’s DNA comes from this region.
We have used our reference panel to build a genetic profile for Great Britain. The blue chart above shows examples of ethnicity estimates for people native to this region. For Great Britain we see an extremely wide range—most natives have between 41% and 100% of their DNA showing similarity to this region. It’s also possible, however, to find people whose DNA shows very little similarity. Since approximately 60% of the typical native’s DNA comes from this region, 40% is more similar to other regions, such as Ireland, Europe West, Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula (see chart above, in green).
At the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, 12,000 years ago, the sea levels around northern Europe were low enough for Stone Age hunter-gatherers to cross, on foot, into what are now the islands of Great Britain. Farming spread to the islands by about 4000 B.C., and the Neolithic inhabitants erected their remarkable and puzzling stone monuments, including the famed Stonehenge.
Beginning in about 2500 B.C., successive waves of Celtic tribes settled in the region. The Celts were not a nation in any sense, but a widespread group of tribes that shared a common cultural and linguistic background. Originating in central Europe, the Celts spread to dominate most of western Europe, the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula. They even settled as far away as Anatolia, in modern-day Turkey. Their dominance could not withstand the rise of the Roman Empire, however.
After defeating the Celts of Gaul (modern-day France, Luxembourg, Belgium and western areas of Germany and Switzerland), the Romans invaded the British Isles in 43 A.D. Most of southern Britain was conquered and occupied over the course of a few decades and became the Roman province of Britannia. Hadrian’s Wall, in the north of England, marked the approximate extent of Roman control. Those Celts who were not assimilated into the Roman Empire were forced to retreat to other areas that remained Celtic, such as Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Brittany. The Roman presence largely wiped out most traces of Celtic culture in England—even replacing the language with Latin.
Germanic tribes invade
With the decline of its Western Empire, Rome largely withdrew from Britannia in 410 A.D. As the Romans left, tribes from northern Germany and Denmark seized the opportunity to step in. The Germanic Angles and Saxons soon controlled much of the territory that had been under Roman rule, while the Jutes from Denmark occupied some smaller areas in the south. The new settlers imposed their language and customs on the local inhabitants in much the same way that the Romans had. The Germanic language spoken by the Angles would eventually develop into English.
The region was divided into several kingdoms, with the more powerful kings sometimes exerting influence or control over smaller neighboring kingdoms. There was nothing like a single, unified English kingdom, however, until the early 10th century and the rise of the House of Wessex.
Viking invasions and the Danelaw
During the 8th century, seafaring Scandinavian adventurers began raiding coastal areas in Europe. Known as the Vikings, they were not just warriors and pillagers. They also established numerous trade ports and settlements throughout the Western world, including the British Isles, Russia, Iceland and the Iberian Peninsula. A group of Vikings that settled in northern France became known as the Normans and, by the early 11th century, ruled a great and powerful region, sanctioned by the French crown.
Danish Vikings began to invade northern and eastern England in 876 and eventually came to control a third of the country, defeating several smaller Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The rulers of the Danelaw, as the Viking area became known, struggled for nearly 80 years with the remaining English kings over the region. The balance of power swung back and forth a number of times, with an English king, Edward the Elder, gaining the upper hand in the early 900s and a Danish king, Cnut the Great, ruling England, Norway and Denmark from 1016 to 1035. After the deaths of Cnut’s sons, the throne returned to Anglo-Saxon control, but it was short-lived, as Edward the Confessor died without an heir. The Normans of France, led by William the Conqueror, sailed across the English Channel and claimed the throne of England, defeating the only other rival, Harold Godwinson, at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In 1067, William extended his control to Scotland and Wales.
Consolidation of royal authority
The Norman kings, ruling primarily from France, gave rise to the House of Plantagenet, a line of kings that began to consolidate and modernize the kingdom of England. Beginning in 1277, Edward I put down a revolt in Wales and led a full-scale invasion, bringing Wales under control of the English crown. He then seized political control of Scotland during a succession dispute, leading to a rebellion there. Edward’s campaign against the Scots wasn’t entirely successful and remained unresolved at his death. By decisively defeating Edward’s son at Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots assured their independence.
The British Empire
After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, England established itself as a major naval power. As European nations began founding colonies around the world, England was well positioned to compete for control of the largely untapped resources of the New World. Religious and political upheavals in England in the 17th and 18th centuries played critical roles in establishing and defining early American history, as dissidents left England seeking religious freedom. Called the Great Migration, it was not large in numbers, but it laid the foundation for many American ideals, including religious tolerance and the separation of church and state. Subsequent emigrations from England to the Americas ensured a primarily English-derived culture and social structure.
In addition to the American colonies, the British Empire included, at various times, islands in the Caribbean, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, most of eastern Africa and parts of the Middle East. It was said that the sun never set on the British Empire, since it stretched around the world.
Did You Know?
The legend of King Arthur is probably more fiction than fact, but many believe there is at least a kernel of truth to the tales. Arthur may have been a British king who fought invading Saxons in the 5th century. Geoffrey of Monmouth, writing in 1136, added the wizard Merlin and the sword Excalibur to the legends about King Arthur.