Реферат: История Великобритании

1. GreatBritain: General Facts

            TheUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is located on theBritish Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britainand Ireland, and about five thousand small islands. Their total area is over244 000 square kilometers.  The United Kingdom is made up of four countries:England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are,respectively, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Great Britain itself consists of England, Scotland and Wales and does not include Northern Ireland.The capital of UK is London.

             London ispolitical, economic, culture and commercial center of the country. It’s one ofthe largest cities in the world and in Europe. The population of London isestimated to be over 8 million inhabitants.

            The Britishisles are separated from the European continent by the North Sea and theEnglish channel. The western coast of Great Britain is washed by the AtlanticOcean and the Irish Sea.

            The landscapeof the British Isles varies from plains to mountains. The north of Scotland ismountainous and is called Highlands, while the south, which has beautifulvalleys and plains, is called Lowlands. The north and west of England aremountainous, but all the rest — east, center and southeast — is a vast plain.

           There are alot of rivers in GB, but they are not very long. The Severn is the longestriver, while the Thames is the deepest and — economically — the most importantone.

            The totalpopulation of the UK is over 57 million and about 80% of it is urban. The UK ishighly developed country in both industrial and economical aspects. It’s knownas one of world’s largest producers and exporters of machinery, electronics,textile, aircraft and navigation equipment.

            Politically,the UK is a constitutional monarchy. In law, the Head of State is the Queen,but in practice, the Queen reigns but does not possess real power. The countryis ruled by the elected government with the Primer Minister at the head, whilethe necessary legislative background is provided by the British Parliamentwhich consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons.


2. The Historyof the Great Britain


            Obviously, the history of the Great Britain is not framedwithin the period from 1558 to nowadays which is surveyed in this paper. Still,due to the limited volume, the author has to leave alone everything thathappened by the sixteenth century, starting from the Roman invasion and endingwith the pre-Elizabethan period, and describing only those events which seem tobe essential for understanding of the general course of development of thecountry.


2.1. Britain in the reign of Elizabeth


            Manyresearchers believe that there has been no greater period in English historythan the reign of Elizabeth, who was proclaimed queen in 1558.

            Atthis time the most critical question in England was that of religion. In 1558 alarge proportion of English people were still indifferent in religious matters,and the power of the crown was very great. It was quite possible, therefore,for the ruler to control the form which the religious organisation of thepeople should take. Elizabeth chose her own ministers, and with then exerted somuch pressure over Parliament that almost any laws that she wanted could becarried through.

            Sheand her ministers settled upon a middle course going back in all matters ofchurch government to the system of Henry VIII. To carry out this arrangementtwo important laws, known as the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity,were passed by Parliament. According to these laws, the regulation of theEnglish Church in matters of doctrine and good order was put into the hands ofthe Queen, and she was authorized to appoint a minister or ministers toexercise these powers in her name.

           Thus the Church of England was established in a form midway between the Churchof Rome and the Protestant churches on the continent of Europe. It had rejectedthe leadership of the Pope, and was not Protestant like other reformedchurches. From this time onward the organisation of the English church wasstrictly national.

            Thepolitical situation in England was not simple by the time Elizabeth took thethrone. England was in close alliance with Spain and at war with France.Elizabeth managed to make peace with France, which was vitally necessary forEngland: her navy was in bad condition, troops few and poorly equipped, andtreasury empty.

            Oneof the most significant internal problems of England during that period waspauperism, since the changes, rebellions and disorders of the reigns of HenryVIII, Edward VI and Mary I had left much distress and confusion among people.Many men were out of work, prices were high and wages low, trade irregular. Inone field, however, there was a great success. The restoration of the coinagetook place; the old debased currency had been recoined to the new standards.This was one of the most beneficial actions of the long reign of Elizabeth.Also, in 1563 a long act for the regulation of labor was passed. It was knownas the Statute of Apprentices and settled, among others, an approximatetwelve-hour day of labour.

            Therivalry among Elizabeth and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots became anotherchief political affair of sixteenth century, which finally led to Mary’s longimprisonment and execution. In 1588 the war with Spain broke out. The mostsignificant battle (and of historical meaning) of that conflict was the navyone. On July 30, 1588, the Invincible Armada of the Spanish was almostcompletely destroyed by much smaller fleet of the British under Lord Howard ofEffingham command (although it’s been assumed that the great deal of success inthe battle was brought by the terrible storm that swept away the large part ofthe Spanish fleet).

            Thelast ten years of Elizabeth’s reign were a period of more settled conditionsand greater interest in the arts of peace, in the progress of commerce, and inthe production and enjoyment of works of literature. The reign of Elizabethrevealed several quite gifted and talanted English people who did a lot towiden the influence of England. Probably the most famous of them was SirFrancis Drake. The first one, n\being a corsair and a sea captain inElizabeth’s service, leaded a number of sea expeditions, mainly in Atlantic andPacific oceans, bringing a lot of new knowledge of the world, and discovered a sound,later named after him.

            Incultural aspect, the real crown of the age was the Elizabethan literature, withsuch bright writers as William Shakespeare, Philipp Sidney and Edmund Spencer.


2.2. Britain inthe seventeenth century


            Theperiod from 1603 to 1640 was the time of the personal monarchy of the EarlyStuarts in English history. It is said that James I and Charles I had had tobear the burnt of the rising spirit of independence characteristic of Englandin the seventeenth century. The growing desire of Parliament for independence,for sharing in the control of government was closely connected with the growthof Puritanism.

            Thegreatest religious question of the sixteenth century had changed from whetherEngland should be Roman Catholic or not to whether it should be Anglican orPuritan.

            Oneof the most bright and well-known illustrations to the fact that the RomanCatholics didn’t leave their attempts to gain back their influence on theEnglish church, was the so-called Gunpowder Plot, a failed attempt to blow upthe Parliament building and kill both the king and all the members, and to seta Roman Catholic government. The explosion was supposed to take place on 5 November,1605, but had been discovered on the same day. Since that time 5 November hasbeen widely celebrated in Britain as the Guy Fawkes Day (named so after theexecuted leader of the Plot).

           Along with the religious conflict between the Anglicans and the Puritans, agreat political conflict arose – a conflict between the unrestricted powers ofthe king on the one hand and the equal or even superior powers of the peoplerepresented by Parliament on the other. The views of Parliament held by Jamesdidn’t allow to it much power. Finally, the discord between James and theParliament led to the disease and the soon death of the king in 1625.

           James I did a lot in order to unite Scotland and England during his reign, butwas unsuccessful. In foreign affairs James shoved a tendency to establishpeaceful relations with other countries. He brought the long war with Spain toa close, and avoided a temptation to take part in the Thirty Years’ War.

          Ifthe reign of Elizabeth had been the wonderful time of exploration and seaexpeditions, the reign of James became a period of settlement, when Englishmenbegan to found colonies in America, West India, and in the East Indies.

           Charles I, the son of James I, started his reign with launching a new waragainst Spain with no logical reason and mainly due to the personal ambitions.Soon England drifted into the one more war with France which brought nopositive effect for any of the confronting parts.

            Themiddle of the seventeenth century was marked by the formation of the politicalparties. The earliest parties were informal groups supporting powerful membersof Parliament. By the year 1640 there were two parties in Parliament, known asthe Cavaliers and the Roundheads. The first one supported Charles I, and theRoundheads were their principal political opponents. By the end of seventeenthcentury these parties had evolved into two definite political formations, theroyalists and those supporting parliamentary supremacy. The Royalists werecalled Tories by their opponents (it was a term of abuse for the originalTories being Irish bandits), and the Tories called the Parliamentarians Whigsafter a group of Scottish cattle thieves. Much later these parties became knownas the Conservatives and the Liberals.

            In1689 James II landed in Ireland, where he had an army ready to hand. In July1690 William III defeated James at the battle of Boyne. This event has beencelebrated since by Orangemen, as Protestants of Northern Ireland belonging tothe Orange Order call themselves. In October 1691 the Irish troops finallysurrendered; as a condition of surrender William promised religious tolerationfor the Irish Catholics, but the promise was immediately broken by the passingof Penal Laws which deprived the Catholics of all civil and religious rights.

            InScotland the new regime faced no much opposition. The expulsion of James waswelcomed, and by 1692 William III’s sovereignty was undisputed throughout theBritish Isles. After William of Orange and Mary had been declared king andqueen, Parliament added a number of new acts to the laws of constitution. Amongthem were the Triennal Act of 1694, that obliged the king to summon Parliamentat least every three years, and the Septennial Act of 1715  which increased thenormal term of Parliament’s existence from thee to seven years.

           Mary II and William III had no surviving children, and William was succeeded byQueen Anne, Mary’s younger sister. The major event of Queen Anne’s reign wasthe formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of Great Britain wasformed in 1707 by the Act of Union between England and Scotland. London, thebiggest city in Britain, with a population of about half a million, became thecapital of the entire island. Great Britain from then on had a singleParliament and a single system of national administration and taxation. Theunits of weights and measures were unified.

           Queen Anne had no surviving children. She was succeeded by her nearestProtestant relative, the elector of Hannover, who came from Germany in 1714 andwas accepted as King George I of Great Britain.

            Thefirst years of George I’s reign were marked by the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715raised by followers of Queen Anne’s half-brother, James Edward Stuart. In 1708James had already attempted to invade Scotland with the help of French troops,but the invasion failed. In 1715 he wasn’t lucky again.

2.3. Britain inthe eighteenth century

            Britainunder George I actually had two decades of relative peace and stability. Themost significant events of that period were the internal political affairs. Infact, throughout those years a smooth transition from limited monarchy toParliamentary government took place in Great Britain. One of the importantevents of that time became the appointment of Robert Walpole, a member of Whig party, the first Prime Minister in the British history.

            In1739 Britain declared war on Spain, and in 1742 parliamentary pressure forcedWalpole to resign. The conflict between Britain and Spain has been known as theWar of Jenkins’s Ear (1739-1748). Between 1739 and 1763, Great Britain wasgenerally at war. The War of Jenkin’s Ear merged with the war of the AustrianSuccession of 1740-1748, in which Great Britain allied with Austria againstPrussia, France, and Spain. The country being at war, the Scottish Jacobitesdecided to take advantage of it and made their last major attempt to recoverthe British throne for the Stuart dynasty in 1745. Prince Charles Edward landedin Scotland  with the army of highlanders and Jacobites and captured Edinburgh,winning the battle of Prestonpans. Still, Charles failed to attract manysupporters in England and had to retreat to Scotland, where he was defeated bythe government army under Duke of Cumberland’s command, and Charles had to fleeto France. The War of the Austrian Succession ended with the Treaty ofAix-la-Chapelle signed  in the October 1748 recognizing the Hanoveriansuccession in Britain.

            Alot of problems remained unsolved, and eight years later they resulted in a newwar of 1756-1763 between Great Britain, Prussia, and Hanover on one side andAustria, France, Spain, Saxony, Sweden and Russia on the other.

            Thewars of the eighteenth century were almost all followed by the acquisition ofnew colonies. The colonies already established were growing rapidly both inwealth and population. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the British coloniesin America already had about two hundred thousand inhabitants and lay in a longline from Maine to Florida.

            In1760 George II was succeeded by his grandson, George III. The new king had adeep sense of moral duty and tried to play a direct role in governing hiscountry, though he had to face probably the worst political problem in thewhole British history. Long accustomed to a considerable degree ofself-government, and freed, after 1763, from the French danger, Britishcolonists in America resented any attempts to make them pay a share of the costof imperial defense in the form of assorted taxes and duties. They alsoresented attempts to treat colonial legislatures as secondary to the governmentin London. American resistance led to the calling of the First  ContinentalCongress in 1774, and in April 1775 war broke out at Lexington and concord inAmerica. The British felt the rebellious colonists had to be brought to theirsenses, and king George III was firmly against giving in to them. ThoughBritish governmental authority in the 13 colonies collapsed in 1775, forceswere able to occupy first Boston and later New York City and Philadelphia, butthe Americans did not give up. France was brought into the war on the Americanside in 1778, then the Spanish and the Dutch also joined the anti-British side.In 1783 Britain had to recognize American independence in the Treaty of Paris.The 13 British colonies were recognized as independent states and were grantedall British territory south of Great Lakes; Florida and Minorca were ceded toSpain, and some West Indian and African colonies to France.

2.4. Britain inthe nineteenth century

       The beginning of the nineteenth centurywas remarkable for Great Britain for its union with Ireland. In Ireland, someof the Irish united under the and began to demand independence, being affectedby the French Revolution. They formed the organization known as the UnitedIrismen. They quickly took the lead of the whole national movement, andattempted to initiate a rebellion in 1796, with the help of the French troopswhich were ready to land in  Ireland. The landing failed, and the Englishgovernment began to eliminate its enemies. In 1798 it seized a number of theIrish leaders, and placed the whole Ireland under the military law. All theIrish uprising were suppressed, and finally the rebellion and an attempt of theFrench invasion led to the Act of Union with Ireland of 1801. The Dublinlegislature was abolished, and one hundred Irish representatives were allowedto become members of Parliament in London. So in the very beginning of thenineteenth century the United Kingdom took the political and geographical shapeof the country we know today. Still, the Act of Union caused great indignationin Ireland, and another powerful insurrection took place in 1803.

            In 1790’s, the wars of the FrenchRevolution merged into the Napoleonic Wars, as Napoleon Bonaparte took over theFrench revolutionary government, and Britain was engaged into the conflicts.Throughout the whole period of Napoleonic wars, Britain won two battles ofgreat importance, one of them against the combined French and Spanish navy atTrafalgar, and another against the French army at Waterloo. The naval battle ofTrafalgar was fought on October 21, 1805. The battle took place off CapeTrafalgar on the southern coast of Spain, where a British fleet of 27 shipsunder the command of admiral Nelson faced a slightly larger enemy fleetcommanded by a French admiral. The goal of the French was to land thereinforcements in southern Italy, but they were intercepted by Nelson onOctober 21 and engaged in a battle. Finally, some 20 French and Spanish shipswere destroyed or captured, while not a single British vessel was lost. Thegreat victory is recorded in the name of Trafalgar square in London, which isdominated by the granite column supporting a large statue of Nelson, who wasmortally wounded and died in the course of battle.

            The final victory over Napoleon afterhis defeat at Waterloo in 1815 laid the foundations for a great extension ofthe British Empire. As one of the members of anti-Napoleonic coalition, Britaingot a number of strategic key points, such as Malta, Mauritius, Ceylon,Heligoland and the Cape. Yet the first result of the peace was a severepolitical and economic crisis.

            The British had assumed that theending of war would open a vast market for their goods and had piled up stocksaccordingly. Instead, there was an immediate fall in the demand for thembecause Europe was still too disturbed and too poor to take any significantquantity of British good. This post-war crisis was marked by a sudden outburstof class conflict, as a series of disturbances began with the introduction ofthe Corn Bill in 1815 and went on until 1816. The object of the Corn Laws of1815 was to keep the price of wheat at the famine level it had reached duringthe Napoleonic Wars, when supplies from Poland and France were prevented fromreaching Britain. The Corn Laws were repealed in 1846, a small, temporarytariff being retained till 1849. Still, there was no fall in prices, what couldbe explained by a number of reasons: increasing population of Britain, greaterdemand due to the revival of industry, bad harvests in a number of years andthe Crimean War which soon interrupted the import of wheat from Poland.

            Another act of law that became theresult of the economic crisis was the Reform Bill of 1832, which had two sides.One regularised the franchise, giving the vote to tenant farmers in thecounties  and to the town middle class. Another swept away the rotten boroughsand transferred their members to the industrial towns and the counties.

            In the first half of the nineteenthcentury a protest organisation called the Chartist Movement gained power. TheChartist Movement urged the immediate adoption of the so-called People’sCharter, which would have transformed Britain into a political democracy, andalso was expected to improve living standards. Drafted in 1838, it was at theheart of a radical campaign for Parliamentary reform of the inequitiesremaining after the Reform Bill of 1832. Some of the main demands wereuniversal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, annual general electionsand the secret ballot. There were three unsuccessful attempts to present the Charterto the House of Commons were made in 1839, 1842 and 1848, and the rejection ofthe last one brought an end to the movement.

          The years between 1829 and 1839 werethe time of foundation of the modern police force in Great Britain. This developmentbecame the direct result of the upsurge of a militant working class movement inthe first decades of the nineteenth century. The Chartist Movement with itsdemonstrations and riots played the major role in initiation of thereorganisation of the police. One more reason for it were the multiple problemsof factory workers.

            By the beginning of the nineteenthcentury, Britain had become an industrial nation. In the earliest stages of theIndustrial Revolution, when machinery was crude and unreliable, factory ownerswere determined to get the fullest possible use out of this machinery in theshortest possible time. Hours of work rose to sixteen and even eighteen a day,and in this way the greatest output could be obtained with the least outlay ofcapital. The terrible conditions of labour caused a number of legislation actsto ease the burden of factory workers. The first legislation, passed in 1802,was a very mild act to prevent some of the worst abuses connected with theemployment of children. It was followed by the Cotton Factories Regulation Actof 1819 which forbade the employment of children under nine and cut their hourdown to thirteen and a half a day. One more effective act was passed in 1833,which provided a number of regular inspections to control the labor conditions.In 1847 the Ten Hour’s Bill limited the hours of women and young people andsecured a ten hour day for most of the men.

            The years 1837 – 1901 are remarkablein the British history for what is called the Victorian period. King William IVdied in June 1837, yielding the throne to his niece, Victoria, and so the greatVictorian epoch started. 1837 to 1848 is considered as the early Victorianperiod, which was not that much different from the beginning of the nineteenthcentury as the following years. The time between 1848 and 1866 is known as theyears of Mid-Victorian prosperity. Rapid and efficient development ofmanufactures and commerce took place mainly due to the removal of protectiveduties on food (such as he Corn Laws of 1815) and raw materials. Also, theBritish industry and the technological development began to experience a steeprise in those years. The first half of the nineteenth century is widely knownamong historians as the Railway Age. The idea of railway emerged  as a resultof the development of steam locomotives, but building locomotives and railsystems was so expensive that railroads were not widely used in Britain untilthe late 1830’s, when the increase in economics began.

            The striking feature of the Victoriantime was the growing urbanization of Britain, which is commonly explained asthe result of the development of industry.  In 1801, 20 per cent of Britain’speople lived in towns, and by the end of the nineteenth century, it was 75 percent. The inflow of people in towns was caused by the increasing demand for newworkers at factories and plants.

            The middle of the century was markedby the Crimean War which lasted for three years (1853-1856). In 1853, Russiaattempted to gain territories in the Balkans from the declining Ottoman Empire.Great Britain, France and Austria joined the Ottomans in a coalition againstRussia to stop the expansion. Britain entered this war because Russia wasseeking to control the Dardanells and thus threatened England’s Mediterraneansea routes. Although the coalition won the war, bad planning and incompetentleadership on all sides, including the British, characterized the war, leadingto the large number of casualities. The exposure of the weaknesses of theBritish army lead to its reformation.

            Among the internal problems, Britainexperienced much disturbance in its relations with Ireland. A set of conflicts,based on both the political and religious grounds, followed the Britishattempts to suppress the Irish struggle for independence throughout the wholenineteenth century.


2.5. Britain in thetwentieth century

            Queen Victoria died in January 1901,and Edward VII, the son of Queen Victoria ascended the throne. EdwardianBritain was a powerful and rich country, much of its wealth coming frombusiness abroad. By that time, British money had been invested in manycountries, and British banks and insurance companies had customers and didbusiness all over the world, and, as the result, much of the policy and affairsconcerning the Edwardian Britain at that time were the international ones.

            In 1902, when  Germany, supported bythe Triple Alliance, became extremely powerful and the ambitions of  the Kaiserbecame evident, Britain entered the Anglo-Japanese alliance to avoid politicalisolation.  The war of 1904-1905 between Russia and Japan made the first oneand Britain nearly enemies, with the end of the war political situationchanged. In 1907 the Triple Entente of Great Britain, Russia and France wasachieved as a countermeasure to the expansion of the Triple Alliance ofGermany, Austria and Italy in Balkans.

            Still, while the reign of King EdwardVII was taking place, many of the British were concerned with domestic matters.Some important changes in the way that people lived and were governed happened.

            In 1900 the Labour RepresentationCommittee, which soon became the Labour Party, was formed. Its aim was to see workingpeople represented in Parliament, with the powerful support of trade unions.

            The Education Act of 1902 met thedemand for national system of secondary education. The government beganproviding such kind of education, although only a small number ofschoolchildren could pay for the secondary school, and the rest had to beclever enough to pass the scholarship exams.

            The general election of 1906 gave theLiberal Party an overwhelming majority in Parliament, with the programme includingold-age pensions, government employment offices, such as Employment Exchanges,unemployment insurance, a contributory programme of national medical insurancefor most workers, and a board to fix minimum wages for miners and others; butwomen still were not given the right to vote.

           The years 1911 to 1914 were markedwith strikes by miners, dock workers, and transport workers, as wages scarcelykept up with rising prices; suffragists carried out numerous demonstrations infavour of the enfranchisement of women, and while the Britain was in the midstof these domestic problems and disputes, World War I broke out.

            The first large operation in whichthe British expeditionary force took part was the battle of Marne in 1915,which also happened to become the turning point of the whole war in the Westfront. The German advance across the French territory was halted, and it madethe quick victory of the Germans impossible and gave time for great but slowlymobilized material resources of the British Empire to have their effect. In thecourse of the following years the war turned into the stalemate with mostlypositional fighting and no significant advances of any of the combatants; thepeace among Germany and Britain was signed in 1918.

            World War I had both positive effecton the British industry and negative effect on the internal politicalsituation. The Irish problems drew to the 1916 Easter Rebellion. If necessary,the Irish nationalists were ready to seek German aid and support in fightingthe British government. The rebellion led to some several hundred casualitiesand imprisonment and execution of most of the Irish political leaders. Thecivil war in Ireland began and lasted until the peace treaty of 1921. Most ofthe Ireland became the Irish Free State, independent of British rule in all butname. One more result of the disturbances in Ireland was the development of thenew Irish Sinn Fein political party.

            World War I created moreopportunities for women to work outside domestic service. Women aged 30 andover were granted the vote by the Reform Act of 1918, and the same Act grantedthe vote to all men over the age of 21. In 1928 women were given voting rightsthat were equal to those of men.

            The immediate post-war years weremarked by economic boom, rapid demobilization, and much labour strife. By 1921,however, the number of people without work had reached one million. Between1929 and 1932, the depression more than doubled an already high rate ofunemployment. Unemployment rose to more than 2 million in the 1930’s. In thecourse of several years, both the levels of industrial activity and of pricesdipped by a quarter, and industries such as shipbuilding collapsed almostentirely.

            Between 1933 and 1937, the economyrecovered steadily, with the construction, automobile, and electricalindustries leading the way. Unemployment remained high, however, especially inWales, Scotland, and northern parts of England.

            In 1936 King Edward VIII ascended thethrone, and a remarkable occasion took place. Edward preferred to be happy inprivate life rather than to dedicate himself to the royal duties and dischargedhis duty as a king and emperor in favour of a love affair. Edward VIII wassucceeded by his brother, George VI.

            In 1939 World War II broke out. Afterthe surrender of France in 1940, Britain remained the only resisting country inthe West front. In 1940, also, one of the greatest aerial battles in historytook place. The so-called Battle of Britain was the British answer to thepermanent attempts of Germany to ruin the industry of United Kingdom and tosuppress the spirit of the British people by heavy air bombardments. By the endof 1940 almost all aircraft factories in England were destroyed, and a fewBritish fighter squadrons remained operational, but the ability of Luftwaffe tocarry out offensive operations in the West was almost zeroed due to very heavylosses. The real help in struggle against Germany was that beginning early in1941, the still-neutral United States granted lend-lease aid to Britain.

            Luckily, the British Islesexperienced no ground fighting throughout the whole war, and no British troopswere engaged in ground operations until the Allies landing in France in 1944.Before that date, British took part in the coordinated Anglo-Americanoperations in North Africa, fighting against German troops there, the mostsignificant battle being that at El Alamein, where the Allies managed to defeatone of the best German commanders-in-chief Rommel. After the landing inNormandy, which didn’t play the big role in the course of war, but helped tobring it to closure sooner than it was expected, it took only ten month to makeGermany to surrender on 8 May, 1945.

            When World War II ended, the Britishgovernment launched a number of important programmes in an effort to restorethe county’s economy. The National Insurance Act of 1946 was a consolidation ofbenefit laws involving maternity, disability, old age, and death, as well asassistance if unemployed. In 1948 the National Health Service was set up. Thegeneral election of 1945 gave the Labour party the majority in Parliament, andthe party launched a programme of nationalization of private industries toimprove the economical situation.

            In 1949 Britain joined other Westernpowers in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which was created as acounterweight to the Warsaw Block countries, leaded by USSR. Also, the late1940’s in the British Empire were marked with the beginning of decolonization.

           In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II inheritedthe throne from George VI.  The early 1950’s brought economic recovery withflourishing of trade and the boom of housing construction, and since that timeBritain has been steadily developing in economical, political, social andscientific aspects, becoming one of the leading countries in the world.

3.Culture of Great Britain


3.1.Cultural Life in Great Britain


Artistic and cultural life in Britain is ratherrich, like in most of the European countries. It has passed several main stagesin its development.

The Saxon King Alfred encouraged the arts andculture. The chief debt owed to him by English literature is for histranslations of and commentaries on Latin works. Art, culture and literatureflourished during the Elizabethan age, during the reign of Elizabeth I; it wasthe period of English domination of the oceans and colonies, and, due to thestrong political and economic position of the country, there were few obstaclesin the way of the cultural development. This time is also famous for the factthat William Shakespeare lived and worked then.

The empire, which was very powerful under QueenVictoria, saw another cultural and artistic hey-day as a result ofindustrialisation and the expansion of international trade during the so-calledindustrial age.

However, German air raids caused much damageduring the First World War and then during the Second World War. The madness ofthe wars briefly inhibited the development of British culture.

Immigrants who have arrived from all parts of theCommonwealth since 1945 have not only created a mixture of nations, but havealso brought their cultures and habits with them. Monuments and traces of pastgreatness are everywhere. There are buildings of all styles and periods. Agreat number of museums and galleries display precious and interesting findsfrom all parts of the world and from all stage in the development of nature,man and art. London is one of the leading world centres for music, drama, operaand dance. Festivals held in towns and cities throughout the country attractmuch interest. Many British playwrights, composers, sculptors, painters,writers, actors, singers and dancers are known all over the world.

3.2. Musical culture of Great Britain

The peopleliving in the British Isles arevery fond of music, and it is quite natural that concerts of the leadingsymphony orchestras, numerous folk groups and pop music are very popular.

The Promenade concerts are probably the mostfamous. They were first held in 1840 in the Queen's Hall, and later weredirected by Sir Henry Wood. They still con­tinue today in the Royal AlbertHall. They take place ev­ery night for about three months in the summer, andthe programmes include new and contemporary works, as well as classics. Amongthem are symphonies and other pieces of music composed by Benjamin Britten, thefamous English musician.

Usually, there is a short winter season lastingfor about a fortnight. The audience may either listen to the music from a seator from the ‘promenade’, where they can stand or stroll about, or, if there isroom, sit down on the floor.

Concerts are rarely given out-of-doors todayexcept for concerts by brass bands and military bands that play in the parksand at seaside resorts during the summer.

Folk music is still very much alive. There aremany folk groups. Their harmony singing and good humour win them friendseverywhere.

Rock and pop music is extremely popular,especially among younger people. In the 60s and 70s groups such as the Beatles,the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd became very popularand successful.

The Beatles, with their style of singing new andexcit­ing, their wonderful sense of humour became the most successful pop groupthe world has ever known. Many of the famous songs written by John Lennon andPaul McCartney are still popular. Some of the more recent rock groups areEurhythmics, Dire Straits, and Black Sabbath.

British groups often set new trends in music. Newstaff and styles continue to appear. One of the most popular contemporarymusicians and composers is Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musicals and rock operas byA. L. Webber have been a great success both in Britain and overseas.

The famous English composer of the 19th centurywas Arthur Sullivan. Together with William Gilbert, the writer of the texts, hecreated fourteen operettas of which eleven are regularly performed today. Inthese operettas the English so successfully laugh at themselves and at whatthey nowcall the Establishment that W. S. Gilbert and A. Sullivan willalways be remembered.

3.3. Art Galleries

           Britain is probably one of the mostrich European countries when cultural inheritance is considered. Along withItaly and Germany, it’s a home for many famous art galleries and museums.

If you stand inTrafalgar Square in Londonwith your back to Nelson's Column, you will see a wide horizontal front in aclassical style. It is the National Gallery. It has been in this building since1838 which was built as the National Gallery to house the collection ofOld Masters Paintings (38 paintings) offered to the nation by an EnglishPrivate collector, Sir George Beamount.

Today the picture galleries of theNationalGallery of Art exhibit works of all the Euro­pean schools of painting, whichexisted between the 13th and 19th centuries. The most famous works among themare‘Venus and Cupid’ by Diego Velazquez, ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’by Nicolas Poussin, ‘A Woman Bathing’ by Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt, ‘LordHeathfield’ by Joshua Reynolds, ‘Mrs Siddons’ by Thomas Gainsborough and manyothers.

In 1897 the Tate Gallery was opened to house themore modern British paintings. Most of the National Gallery collections ofBritish paintings were transferred to the Tate, and only a small collection ofa few masterpieces is now exhib­ited at Trafalgar Square. Thus, the TateGallery exhibits a number of interesting collections of British and foreignmodern painting and also modern sculpture.

The collection of Turner’s paintings at the Tateincludes about 300 oils and 19,000 watercolours and drawings. He was the mosttraditional artist of his time as well as the most original: traditional in hisdevotion to the Old Masters and original in his creation of new styles. It issome­times said that he prepared the way for the Impressionists.

The modern collection includes the paintings ofHenri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali, Francis Baconand Graham Sutherland, Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, the chief pioneers ofpop art in Great Britain. Henry Moore is a famous British sculptor whose worksare exhibited at the Tatetoo. One of the sculptor's masterpieces — the‘Reclining Figure’ — is at fees Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris.

3.4. The British Theatre

Britain is now one of the world's major theatrescentres. Many British actors and actresses are known all over the world: DamePeggy Ashcroft, Glenda Jackson, Laurence Olivier,John Gielgud andothers.

Drama is so popular with the British people ofall ages that there are several thousand amateur dramatic societies. NowBritainhas about 300 professional theatres. Some of them are privately owned. Thetickets are not hard to get, but they are very expensive. Regular seasons ofopera and ballet are given at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden inLondon.The National Theatre stages modern and classi­cal plays, the Royal ShakespeareCompany produces plays mainly by Shakespeare and his contemporaries when itperforms in Stratford-on-Avon, and modern plays in its two auditoria in theCity's Barbican Centre. Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse, about which you haveprobably read, was reconstructed on its original site. Many other cities andlarge towns have at least one theatre.

There are many theatres and theatre companies foryoung people: the National Youth Theatre and the Young Vic Company in London,the Scottish Youth Theatre in Edinburgh. The National Youth Theatre, whichstages classical plays mainly by Shakespeare and modern plays about youth, wason tour in Russian in 1989. The theatre-goers warmly received the production ofThomas Stearns Eliot’s play ‘Murder in the Cathedral’. Many famous Englishactors started their careers in the National Youth Theatre. Among them TimothyDalton, the actor who did the part of Rochester in ‘ Jane Eyre’ shown on TV inour country

4. The BritishEducation


            The British educational system incorporates a system ofschool education, higher education and a number of other less importantparticular subsystems. Here we will consider the basics of the Britisheducational system.

4.1. The British Schools

Schooling in GreatBritain is voluntary under the age of 5 but there is some free nursery schooleducation before that age. Primary education takes place in infant schools forpupils ages from 5 to 7 years old and junior schools (from 8 to 11 years). Someareas have different systems in which middle schools replace junior schools andtake pupils ages from 9 to 11 years. Secondary education has been available inBritain since 1944. It is compulsory up to the age of 16, and pupils can stayat school voluntarily up to three years longer.

In 1965 non-selectivecomprehensive schools were introduced. Most local education authorities werehave now completely changed over to comprehensive schooling.

At the age of 16 pupilstake school-leaving examinations in several subjects at the Ordinary level. Theexam used to be conducted by eight independent examining boards, most of themconnected with the university. This examination could also be taken bycandidates at a further education establishment. This exam was called theGeneral Certificate of Education (GCE). Pupils of comprehensive school hadtaken the examination called the Certificate of Secondary Education either withor instead of the GCE.

A GCE of Advanced (“A”)level was taken two years after the Ordinary level exam. It was the standardfor entrance to university and to many forms of professional training. In 1988both examinations were replaced by the more or less uniform General Certificateof Secondary Education.

The private sector isrunning parallel to the state system of education. There are over 2500fee-charging independent schools in GB. Most private schools are single-sexuntil the age of 16. More and more parents seem prepared to take on theformidable extra cost of the education. The reason is the believe that socialadvantages are gained from attending a certain school. The most expansive dayor boarding schools in Britain are exclusive public schools like Eton collegefor boys and St. James’ school for girls.

4.2. Universities andColleges in Great Britain


There are over 90universities in Great Britain. They are divided into three types: the olduniversities (Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities), the 19th centuryuniversities, such as London and Manchester universities, and the newuniversities. Some years ago there were also polytechnics. After graduatingfrom polytechnic a student got a degree, but it was not a university degree. 31formers polytechnics were given university status in 1992.

Full courses of study offer the degree ofBachelor of Art or Science. Most degree courses at universities last threeyears, language courses 4 years (including year spent aboard). Medicine anddentistry courses are longer (5-7 years).

Students may receive grants from the LocalEducation Authority to help pay for books, accommodation, transport, and food.This grant depends on the income of their parents.

Most students live away from home, in flats ofhalls of residence.

Students don’t usually have a job during termtime because the lessons called lectures, seminars, classes of tutorials (smallgroups), are full time. However, many students now have to work in theevenings.

University life is considered «an experience».The exams are competitive but the social life and living away from home arealso important. The social life is excellent with a lot of clubs, parties,concerts, bars.

There are not only universities in Britain butalso colleges. Colleges offer courses in teacher training, courses intechnology and some professions connected with medicine.

 5. The Modern BritishEconomy


      From 1981 to 1989 the British economy experienced eightyears of sustained growth at the annual average rate over 3%. However,subsequently Britain and other major industrialized nations were severelyaffected by recession. In Britain growth slowed to 0.6% in 1990, and in 1991gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 2.3%. GDP fell in 1992 as a whole by 0.4%,but it rose slightly in the second half of the year. The recovery strengthenedduring the first part of 1993; with GDP in the second quarter being 2% higherthan a year earlier; the European Commission expected Britain to be the fastestgrowing of all major European economies in 1993 and1994.

      Recent indications that the recovery is undermay include:

·          an increase in manufacturing output;

·          a steady upward trend in retail sales;

·          increases in new car registrations;

·          record levels of exports;

·          increased business and consumer confidence; and

·          signs of greater activity in the housing market.

TheGovernment’s policy is to ensure sustainable economic growth through lowinflation and sound public finances. The Gov­ernment’s economic policy is setin the context of a medium-term financial strategy, which is revived each year.Within this strat­egy, monetary and fiscal policies are designed to defeatinflation. Short-term interest rates remain the essential instrument ofmonetary policy.

Macroeconomic policy isdirected towards keeping down the rate of inflation as the basis forsustainable growth, while micro-economic policies seek to improve the workingof markets and encourage enterprise, efficiency and flexibility throughmeasures such as privatization, deregulation and tax reforms.

The economy isnow benefiting from substantially lower in­terest rates. In September 1993 baseinterest rates were at 6%. They had been cut by 9 percentage points sinceOctober 1990, and were at their lowest since 1977.

6. The Modern British Industry

            Privateenterprises in the Great Britain generate over three-quarters of total do­mesticincome. Since 1979 the Government has privatized 46 major businesses andreduced the state-owned sector of industry by about two-thirds. The Governmentis taking measures to cut unnecessary regulations imposed on business, and runsa number of schemes which provide direct assistance or advice to small andmedium-sized businesses.

            Insome sectors a small number of large companies and their subsidiaries are responsiblefor a substantial proportion of total production, notably in the vehicle,aerospace and transport equipment industries. Private enterprises account forthe greater part of activity in the agricultural, manufacturing, construction,distributive, financial and miscellaneous service sectors. The pri­vate sectorcontributed 75% of total domestic final expenditure in 1992, general government24 % and public corporations 1%.

           About 250 British industrial companies in the latest reporting period each hadan annual turnover of more than £500 million. The annual turnover of thebiggest company, British Petroleum’, makes it the llth largest industrialgrouping in the world and the second largest in Europe. Five British firms areamong the top 25 European Community companies.

7. The Modern British Army


            Thestrength of the regular armed forces, all volunteers, was nearly 271,000 inmid-1993 — 133,000 in the Army, 79,300 in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and 58,500in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. There were 18,800 women personnel — 7,500in the Army, 6,800 in the RAF, and 4,400 in the Royal Navy.

British forces’ mainmilitary roles are to:

·          ensure the protection and security of Britain and its de­pendentterritories;

·          ensure against any major external threat to Britain and its allies;and

·          contribute towards promoting Britain’s wider security in­tereststhrough the maintenance of international peace and security.

           Most of Britain’s nuclear and conventional forces are commit­ted to NATO andabout 95% of defence expenditure to meeting its NATO responsibilities. Inrecognition of the changed European security situation, Britain’s armed forcesare being restructured in consultation with other NATO allies.

           Under these plans, the strength of the armed forces is being cut by 22%,leaving by the mid-1990s some 119,000 in the Army, 70,000 in the RAF and 52,500in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. This involves reductions in mainequipment of:

·          three Tornado GR1 squadrons, four Phantom squadrons, two Buccaneersquadrons and part of a squadron of Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft;

·          12 submarines, nine destroyers and frigates and 13 mine

·          countermeasures ships; and

·          327 main battle tanks.

       Civilian staff employed by the Ministry ofDefence will be re­duced from 169,100 in 1991 to 135,000.

As a member ofNATO, Britain fully supports the Alliance’s current strategic concept, underwhich its tasks are to:

·          help to provide a stable security environment, in which no countryis able to intimidate or dominate any European country through the threat oruse of force;

·          serve as a transatlanticforum for Allied consultations af­fecting member states’ vital interests; deterfrom aggression and defend member states against military attack; and

·          preserve the strategicbalance within Europe.

8. The TwoLessons

            This section of the paper isdedicated to the development of two lessons for the “Regional Geography ofGreat Britain” course to be taught in schools. The chosen topics are “Customsand Traditions of Great Britain” and “American English”.

            Both lessons are intended for 45-50minutes duration and are of so-called “combined” type, according to thegenerally accepted terminology in Russia. The principal scheme of such a lessoncan be represented in the following way:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Review of the previous studies (5-7 minutes)

3) New studies (approx. 15-20 minutes)

4) Systematization of the new knowledge andtraining for it’s application in practice (15-

    20 minutes)

5) Homework (1-2 minutes)

            Lesson organization and review of previous studies arenot thoroughly considered here since they depend upon the composition andstructure of the whole course, and their development would require knowledge ofthe previous and the following lessons. We concentrate our attention on the“New studies” and “Systematization of the new knowledge and training for it’sapplication in practice”. The main goal of both lessons is to introduce newinformation and expand student’s vocabulary by learning some specific words andexpressions related to the considered topics.

8.1. “Customs and Traditions of Great Britain”

          The studies of the customs and traditions of GreatBritain here are supposed to be carried out in calendar order, which means thatintroduction of customs and traditions should begin with winter events and goon throughout the whole year, from December until November.

Lesson topic: “Customs and Traditions of GreatBritain”

Lesson goal: general study of the British customsand traditions

Lesson structure:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Particular review of the previous studies (4-5 minutes)

            (We accept) that the previous lesson was dealt with thecivic customs of GB.

            A student reports a result of his work done on thematerial of the previous topic that was studied in class. He/she is supposed totalk fluently by memory and speak about one-two civic customs that he’shefounds to be remarkable. The report is followed by a brief discussion (3-4minutes) Approximate variant of the report is as follows:

            “Somehistorical and colorful customs belong essentially to a particular town orcommunity because they sprang, originally, from some part of the local history,or from some deep-seated local tradition. No doubt, such customs, along withvarious religious customs and traditions, attached to certain calendar dated,constitute the soul of British social culture and are of great interest for aresearcher.

            At Lichfield,a festival commonly called the Greenhill Bower and Court of Array takes placeannually in late May or June. This is really two customs, of which the first –the Bower – is said to run back to the time of King Oswy of Northumbria, whofounded Lichfield in A.D. 656. In the Middle Ages, the city guilds used to meetat Greenhill, carrying flower garlands and emblems of their trades. Now theBower ceremonies have become a sort of carnival, wherein lorries carryingtableaux, trade floats, decorated carts, and bands pass cheerfully throughstreets profusely adorned with flowers and greenery.

            The secondpart of the custom is the meeting of the Court of Array and the inspection ofthe ancient suits of armour which the city was once obliged by law to provide.By Act passed in 1176, every freeman between the ages of 15 and 60 had to keepa sufficiency of arms and armour, and maintain them in good condition and readyfor use. He had also to be able to handle them efficiently himself. Everycounty had to have its Court of Array whose duty was to see that theseregulations were duly carried out by the freemen, and to hold periodicalinspections of the weapons and suits of armour provided by them”.

3) New studies (approximately 20 minutes)

           This part of the lesson is dedicated to the presenttopic: the Winter holidays. It basic part represents a text which must be readand immediately translated by paragraphs, one paragraph by every student, oneby one. The text is approximately following:


            “The Christmas Day in the UnitedKingdom is celebrated on 25 December, as well as in the most of Europeancountries. Pope Julius I (A.D. 337-352), after much inquiry, came to theconclusion that a very old tradition giving 25 December as the right date ofthe Birth of the Lord was very probably true. This date already had a sacredsignificance for thousands of people throughout the Roman Empire because it wasthe Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, and also the chief festival of thePhrygian god, Attis, and of Mithras, the soldier’s god, whose cult was carriedto Britain and many other countries by the Roman army. In the barbarian North,also, the long celebration of Yule was held at this period. The ChristianChurch, therefore, following its ancient practice of giving Christian meaningto pagan rituals, eventually adopted 2 December for the Christmas Day.

            Many of the British modern Christmascustoms and traditions are directly derived from pagan ceremonies belonging toancient midwinter feasts. One of the oldest is probably the decoration ofhouses with greenery. Evergreens, which are symbols of undying life, werecommonly used to adorn the dwellings of forefathers, and their sacredbuildings, at the time of the winter solstice, and they have been so used eversince.

            Thecurious custom of kissing under the mistletoe seems to be altogether English inorigin, and to appear in other European countries only when Englishmen havetaken it there. It has almost vanished nowdays, but can still be met in thenorthern regions of England. The  kissing bough, the lovely garland that usedto hang from the ceiling of the living room in so many houses before the comingof the Christmas tree, had a bunch of mistletoe attached to its base. It was acrown, or a globe, of greenery, adorned with lighted candles, red apples,rosettes and ribbons, with the mistletoe hanging below. Sometimes smallpresents were suspended from it. The Christmas tree surepceeded it in manyhomes in the middle of the nineteenth century, but it never faded awayaltogether.

            The Christmastree came originally from Germany and went to America with German settlersbefore it reached the British Isles in the first half of nineteenth century.The first Christmas tree in Britain is believed to be set up at a childrenparty in 1821. By 1840 the custom became quite well-known in Manchester, butwhat really established the Christmas tree and made it one of the Britishcherished Christmas customs was the setting-up by Prince Albert of a Christmastree at Windsor castle in 1841. With little more than twenty years, theChristmas trees were to be seen in countless British homes, and thousands wereannually on sale at Covent Garden Market. A century later the tradition hasoverflowed from the houses into the streets and squares. Churches of everydenomination have their lighted and decorated trees, and since 1947 Oslo hadmade an annual gift to the people of London, in the form of an immense treewhich stands in Trafalgar Square, close to Nelson’s Monument.

            The giving ofpresents and the exchange of Christmas cards are almost equally essential partsof the Christmas festival in Britain today. The first one has its roots in thepre-Christian times, and the latter is little more than a century old. Presentswere given to kinsfolk and to the poor at the feast of the Saturnalia in paganRome, and so they were at the three-day Kalends of January, when the New Yearwas celebrated. The Christmas cards began life in the late eighteenth centuryas the “Christmas piece”, a decorated sheet of paper on which schoolchildrenwrote polite greetings for the season in their best handwriting, to bepresented to their parents at the end of the winter term. Sometimes, also,adults wrote complimentary verses for their friends. It is now usually supposedthat the artist J.C.Horsley designed the first genuine pictorial Christmas cardat the instigation of Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

            FatherChristmas is the traditional gift-bringer in the United Kingdom. Originally hewas Odin, one of the pagan gods that were brought to the British Isles from theancient Scandinavia. When Christianity swept away the old gods, Odin’s role wasovertaken by St. Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra during the fourth century,and who now appears in some European countries (such as Germany, Austria,Switzerland and others) wearing episcopal robes and a mitre, being accompaniedby a servant carrying a sack of gifts.

            Still oneshould note that the pure British Father Christmas seems to have been more apersonification of the joys of Christmas than just a gift-bringer. He was firstmentioned in a fifteen-century carol, then abolished by Parliament in 1644(along with everything else connected with the Feast of Christmas), came backafter Restoration, and is nowdays one of the British living traditions. In thenineteenth century he acquired some of the attributes of the Teutonic SantaClaus, and now is being thought of as the essential gift-bringer, coming bynight from the Far North in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and entering the houses hevisits by way of the chimney.

            Christmasfood has always been largely a matter of tradition, but its nature has changeda great deal with passage of time. The turkey which is now the most usual dishon Christmas Day didn’t appear in Britain until about 1542. Its predecessorswere goose, or pork, or beef, or a huge pie made up of a variety of birds. Inthe grater houses venison, swans, bustards, or peacocks in their feathers wereeaten. The ancestor of another traditional British food, the Christmas pudding,was plum porridge (until 1670).

            Anotherfeature of the Christmas time in Britain is represented by carols, which arethe popular and happy songs of the Christian religion which came into beingafter the religious revival of the thirteenth century, and flourished morestrongly in the three centuries that followed. Carols were swept away byPuritanism during the Commonwealth, and they didn’t come back into general favorfor about 200 years afterwards, but never vanished altogether. Now, nearly allBritish churches have their carol service. In many towns, the people gatherround the communal Christmas tree, or in the town hall, to sing carols underthe leadership of the local clergy, or of the mayor.

          The 26 Decemberis the St. Stephen’s Day, the first Christmas martyr, far better known inEngland as Boxing Day. A name is derived either from the alms boxes inchurches, which were opened, and their contents distributed to the poor on thatday, or from the earthenware boxes that apprentices used to carry round withthem when they were collecting money gifts from their master’s customers. Untilvery recently it was usual for the postman, the dustman and a few otherservants of the public to call at all the houses they have served during theyear, and to receive small gifts from the householders on Boxing Day.”

            Then followsa set (3-4) of brief reports by students on the holidays that follow the Christmasseason (that time which is called the Opening Year in GB). Reports are supposedto be prepared at home. The approximate variants of 3 reports are:


         -   “The NewYear comes in very merrily in most parts of Britain, with the pealing of bellsand the blowing of ships’ sirens and train whistles, and singing of thetraditional “Auld Lang Syne”, although the majority know only some of thewords. Great crowds assemble outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to see theOld Year out and welcome in the New. Private parties are held everywhere, andgood wishes are exchanged. Some celebrate the occasion more quietly and see aWatch Night service in some Anglican or Nonconformist church.

            In the northof United Kingdom, especially in Scotland, the custom of First-footing has beenflourishing for centuries. The First Foot is the first visitor to any house inthe morning hours of 1 January. He is considered to be a luck-bringer. He iswelcomed with food and drink (especially the last one), and brings with himsymbolic gifts, which are most usually a piece of bread, a lump of coal, salt,and a little money, all of which together ensure that his hosts will have foodand warmth and prosperity all throughout the year.

            InNorthumberland the New Year is welcomed by a fire ceremony, followed byFirst-footing. A great bonfire is built in the main square of a town orvillage, and left unlit. As the midnight approaches, The so-called Guisers invarious gay costumes form a procession, each man carrying a blazing tar barrelon his head. Thus crowned with flames and preceded by the band, they march tothe bonfire, circulate it and throw their burning barrels on it, setting it onfire. The spectators cheer and sing, and the Guisers go off First-footing allround the perish.”

         -   “Another NewYear custom is Burning the Bush, not very widely spread now but of great famein the days gone, especially in the rural England. In former years, almostevery home and farm had its own Bush, or howthorn globe which, together with abunch of mistletoe, hung in the farm kitchen all through the year. At aboutfive o’clock in the morning on 1 January it was taken down, carried out to thefirst-sown wheatfield, and there burnt on a large straw fire. Then all the menconcerned in the affair made a ring round the fire and cried “Auld-Ci-der”.Afterwards there was cheering, and the drinking of the farmer’s health, andfeasting upon cider and plum cake. Meanwhile, a new Bush was being made at homeand hung up in the place of the old. All this was supposed to bring good luckto the crops.

            The TwelfthNight and Twelfth Day  — 5 and 6 January – are popularly so called because themark the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Over the last two centuries, thetwelve-day period had steadily shrunk, and now only three days – Christmas Day,Boxing Day and the New Year’s Day – remain as official holidays. Bonfires arelit on Twelfth Night in many parts of the British Midlands, often 12 in number,with one made larger than the rest, to represent Lord and his Apostles.Sometimes there are 13 bonfires, one standing for Judas Iscariot, which isstamped out soon after it is lit.”

          -  “The Mondayafter Twelfth Day is Plough Monday, a day of rural festivity, especially in thenorthern counties and the Midlands. Theoretically, work starts again then onthe farm, after the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the springploughing begins, but in fact, very little work is done.

            On 2February, the double feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and thePurification of Our Lady is celebrated in Britain. It is popularly known asCandlemas Day because candles are blessed in the churches then, distributed tothe congregations, and carried in procession. This custom has existed on theBritish Isles since the fifth century, as well as in the continental Europeunder the Roman Catholic Church influence.

            The day afterCandlemas is the Feast of St. Blaise, who is the patron saint of wool-combers,and of all who suffer from diseases of the throat. The beautiful ceremony ofBlessing the Throat takes place on this day in many English churches.

            Anotherfamous and well-known February celebration is St. Valentines Day, on 14February. The word “Valentine” has a double meaning. It means the personconcerned, the chosen sweetheart, but it is also applied to the Valentine giftor to the Valentine card, which replaced the traditional gift in the nineteenthcentury as it (the gift) went out of fashion. “

4) Systematization of the new knowledge andtraining for it’s application in practice (

    20 minutes)

            The basis forpractical training can be listening to a record of native speaker’s narrationor any other kind of listening comprehension exercise with following widediscussion on the spoken subject. The whole idea of the lesson is to minimizethe amount of time that students spend working with textbook material andmaximize the communicative aspect of the lesson. Each exercise should be spokenover by students upon the completion. In course of all conversation, studentsshould tend to apply new words and expressions that they learn while studyingthe given topic.

5) Homework (2-3 minutes)

            The homework,on the contrary, should engage as much textbook/written exercises as possible.It can include writing a short essays on the passed material, preparing reportsand dialogs etc. Also there’d be a text on the topic of the following lessonwhich might undergo analysis at home for further discussion in class. Theexample of the text is as follows:

“                                                      Shrovetide and Lent


            ShroveTuesday is the eve of Lent, the last day of Shraft, the end of the shortfestival season which includes Egg Saturday, Quinquagesima Sunday, and shrove,or Collop, Monday. The English name “Shrove” is derived from thepre-Reformation practice of going to be shriven on that day in preparation forthe once severe fast of Lent. What the British now call the Pancake Bell issupposed to be a signal to start making pancakes. Originally it was rung tocall the faithful to church to make their confessions. But though the religiousside of Shrovetide was always important, it is also a time of high festivity,renowened everywhere for the playing of traditional games, cock-fighting,wrestling, dancing, feasting upon pancakes and other good things that thecoming forty-day fast forbids.

            One of thetraditional sports of Shrovetide is football – not the organized game we knowtoday, but the old wild type of game without proper rules or set teams, playedin the streets and churchyards, and strongly disliked by the authorities.Hurling takes place of football in Cornwall. In this extremely popular Cornishgame, the ball is about the size of cricket ball, made of light wood or cork,and thinly coated with silver, and it can be carried, tossed, hurled by theplayers, but never kicked.

            ShroveTuesday is the one of the traditional days on which in some old-establishedEnglish schools, the custom of barring-out the schoolmaster can be observed.The children lock the master out of the school, and bargain with him for aholiday that day, or sometimes for a series of holidays in the coming terms. Ifthe master manages to force the entry, the victory is his, and no holiday isgranted. But if the children can hold out for the day (or, for three days, inthe past), the schoolmaster makes an agreement with them and grants at leastsome of their demands.

            On AshWednesday, Lent begins, and from then on there is no true festival date untilMid-Lent Sunday, the fourth in Lent, also known in Britain as Mothering Sunday.On that day, which is a welcome relaxation in the midst of the long, harsh fast,simnel cakes are customarily baked and eaten. The custom can be traced back tothe year 1042, and the name “simnel” is believed to come from the cakes made byLambert Simnel’s father and nicknamed after his son when the latter’s rebellionfailed. Another version is that the word is derived from the Latin, simila,meaning fine wheaten flour. There are three principal types of simnel cakes,named after the towns which first made them: Shrewsbury, Devizes and the mostfamous Bury simnel.

            On PalmSunday, a fortnight later, palms are carried in procession in the churches inmemory of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

            On MaundyThursday, the Queen, or in her absence, the Lord High Almoner acting for her,presents the Royal Maundy gifts to as many poor men and as many poor women asthere are years in her age. This distribution usually takes place inWestminster Abbey when the date of the year is even, and in some other greatcathedral when it is odd. Originally, Maundy Thursday was the day on which theLast Supper eaten by Christ and his Apostles is commemorated. The modernceremony consists of a lovely and colorful procession, prayers, hymns andanthems, the distribution of Maundy Money, and the final Blessing and singingof the National Anthem.

            On GoodFriday, countrymen plant potatoes and sow parsley, Sussex people skip, thechildren in Liverpool “burn Judas” (a straw-stuffed effigys), and everyone eatsHot Cross buns, which are small, round, spiced cakes marked with a cross. Theyappear to be the Christian descendants of the cross-marked wheaten cakes whichthe pagan Greeks and Romans ate at the Springtime festival of Diana.

            Many popularsuperstitions are associated with Good Friday. Blacksmiths do not shoe horsesbecause of the use to which nails had been put, long ago, on Calvary. Miners donot go down the pit, believing that some disaster occurs if they do. Housewivesdo not sweep their houses because to do so is to sweep away the life of one ofthe family”.

8.2. “American English”

          The basic idea of this lesson is to introduce mainlexical and grammatical differences between the British English language andits American variant.

Lesson topic: “American English”

Lesson goal: study of the basic distinctionsbetween the English language and it’s 

                     American dialect, try toapply the knowledge in practice.

Lesson structure:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Particular review of the previous studies (4-5 minutes)


            We accept that the there was a homework related to thegiven topic; it was based on the analysis of the following text:

“                                                 American English

In the early part of theseventeenth century English settlers began to bring their language to America,and another series of changes began to take place. The settlers borrowed wordsfrom Indian languages for such strange trees as the hickory and persimmon, suchunfamiliar animals as raccoons and woodchucks. Later they borrowed other wordsfrom settlers from other countries – for instance, chowder and prairiefrom the French, scow and sleigh from the Dutch. They madenew combinations of English words, such as backwoods and bullfrog,or gave old English words entirely new meanings, such as  lumber ( whichin British English means approximately junk ) and corn ( which inBritish means any grain, especially wheat ). Some  of the new terms wereneeded, because there were new and un-English things to talk about. Others canbe explained only on the general theory that languages are always changing, andAmerican English is no exception.

Aside from the newvocabulary, differences in pronunciation, in grammatical construction, andespecially in intonation developed. If the colonization had taken place a fewcenturies earlier, American might have become as different from English asFrench is from Italian. But the settlement occurred after the invention ofprinting, and continued through a period when the idea of educating everybodywas making rapid progress. For a long time most of the books read in Americacame from England, and a surprising number of Americans read those books, in orout of school. Moreover, most of the colonists seem to have felt strong tieswith England. In this they were unlike their Anglo-Saxon ancestors, whoapparently made a clean break with their continental homes.

A good many Englishmenand some Americans used to condemn every difference that did develop, and asrecently as a generation ago it was not unusual to hear all “Americanisms”condemned, even in America. It is now generally recognized in this country thatwe are not bound to the Queen’s English, but have a full right to work out ourown habits. Even a good many of the English now concede this, though some ofthem object strongly to the fact that Americanisms are now having an influenceon British usage.

There are thousands ofdifferences in detail between British and American English, and occasionallythey crowd together enough to make some difficulty. If you read that a man,having trouble with his lorry, got out his spanner and lifted thebonnet to see what was the matter, you might not realize that the driverof the truck had taken out his wrench and lifted the hood.It is amusing to play with such differences, but the theory that the Americanlanguage is now essentially different from English does not hold up. It isoften very difficult to decide whether a book was written by an American or anEnglish man. Even in speech it would be hard to prove that national differencesare greater than some local differences in either country. On the whole, it nowseems probable that the language habits of the two countries will grow more,rather than less, alike, although some differences will undoubtedly remain andothers may develop.

It also seems probablethat there will be narrow-minded and snobbish people in both countries for sometime to come. But generally speaking, anybody who learnsto speak and write thestandard English of his own country, and to regard that of the other country asa legitimate variety with certain interesting differences, will have little troublewherever he goes”.

Students should translateand discuss this text in class, expressing their understanding of differencesbetween two dialects, and to tell examples of such from their personalexperience (if they have any).

3) New studies (approximately 20 minutes)

            This section will be very useful ifbuilt upon listening comprehension and discussion exercises mainly. Thusstudents will be given both listening and oral experience of distinguishingbetween dialects and using their knowledge in practice.

            The approximate volume of informationfor the first (but not the only one!) lesson on this topic is given below, forboth lexical and grammatical differences.

3.1.) Lexical difference

Lexical differences of American variant highlyextensive on the strength of multiple borrowing from Spanish and Indianlanguages, what was not in British English.

   Americanvariant                                                 British variant

Subway                                                                              underground

the movies                                                                          the cinema

shop                                                                                     store

sidewalk                                                                             pavement

line                                                                                       queue

soccer                                                                                 football

mailman                                                                              postman

vacation                                                                              holiday

corn                                                                                    maize

fall                                                                                      autumn

Also claim attention differences in writing somewords in American and British variants of language.

For instance, following:

American variant                          Britishvariant

     honor                                           honour

     traveler                                        traveller

                plow                                             plough

               defense                                         defence

                jail                                                             gaol

               center                                            centre

               apologize                                                  apologise

3.2.) Grammaticaldifference

Grammatical differencesof American variant consist in following:

1.                  In that events, when Britishuse Present Perfect, in Staffs can be used and Present Perfect, and PastSimple.

2.                  Take a shower/a bath insteadof have a shower/a bath.

3.                  Shall is not used. In allpersons is used by will.

4.                  Needn't (do) usually is notused. Accustomed form -don't need to (do).

5.                  After demand, insist, requireetc should usually is NOT used. I demanded that he apologize (instead of Idemanded that he should apologise in British variant).

6. to/in THE hospitalinstead of to/in hospital in BrE.

7. on the weekend/onweekend instead of at the weekend/at weekend.

8. on a street instead ofin a street.

9. Different from or thaninstead of different to/from

10. Write is used with toor without the pretext.

11. Past participle of«got» is «gotten»

12. To burn, to spoil andother verbs, which can be regular or

      irregular in theBritish variant, in the American variant ALWAYS


13. Past Perfect, as arule, is not used completely.

4) The training of practical application of the new knowledgeshould be given mainly in the form of listening/spoken exercises.

5) Homework (2-3 minutes)

            A good kind of a homework for this particular lesson wouldbe a task to compose a free-style topic in the British English language (aboutan A4 page in size) and then rewrite it in the American English; then discussthe lexical and grammatical differences between topics in class.


1. Hole, Christina.English traditional customs. London — Sydney, Batsford, 1975.

2. Hogg, Garry. Customsand traditions of England. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1971.

3. Baker, Margaret.Folklore and customs of rural England. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1974.

4. Rabley, Stephen.Customs and traditions in Britain. Harlow (Essex), Longman, 1989.

5. Murphy Raymond. English Grammar in Use. -  CambridgeUniversity Press, 1997.

6. Швейцер А.Д. Американский вариантлитературного английского языка: пути формирования и современныйстатус.//Вопросы языкознания,1995, №6, стр. 3-17.

7. Подласый И.П. Педагогика. т.1.Москва, Владос, 2001.

8. Bowle, John. England: A portrait. London, Benn,1966.

9. Bryant,Arthur. A history of Britain and the British people. London, Collins, 1990.

10. Clark, George. English history: A survey. London, Oxforduniv. Press, 1971.


1. Great Britain: General Facts ……………………………………………..…… 1

2. The History of Great Britain ……………………………………………...……1

2.1. Britain in the reign of Elizabeth…………………………………………..… 2

2.2. Britain inthe seventeenth century ……………………………………….…… 3

2.3. Britain inthe eighteenth century ……………………………………………. 5

2.4. Britain inthe nineteenth century ……………………………………….…… 6

2.5. Britain inthe twentieth century ……………………………………………… 9

3.Culture of Great Britain ……………………………………………………… 12

3.1.Cultural Life in Great Britain  ……………………………………………… 12

3.2. Musical culture of Great Britain …………………………………….….…. 13

3.3. Art Galleries ………………………………………………………………… 14

3.4. The British Theatre …………………………………………………………15

4. The British Education …………………………………………………….….15

4.1. The British Schools …………………………………………………………16

4.2. Universities andColleges in Great Britain ………………………………… 16

5.The Modern British Economy ……………………………………………...… 17

6. The ModernBritish Industry ………………………………………………….18

7. The ModernBritish Army ……………………………………………...……. 18

8. The Two Lessons ……………………………………………………..……… 20

8.1. “Customs and Traditions of Great Britain”……………………………...… 20

8.2. “American English” …………………………………………………..…….27

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………...……… 32

еще рефераты
Еще работы по истории