Questions tagged [united-kingdom]

Formally known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland these questions relate to the history of events that have happened in the countries that make up the United Kingdom; such as England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and various territories; or the United Kingdom's dealings with other sovereign nations around the world.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
205 votes
34 answers
186k views

Why did Hitler attack the Soviet Union when he was still busy fighting the United Kingdom?

During World War 2, Hitler was fighting a war with Great Britain and her colonies, but while fighting that war, he attacked the Soviet Union even though they had a non-aggression pact. Everyone knows ...
user avatar
  • 2,303
118 votes
10 answers
25k views

Were there women who were against giving women the right to vote?

The TV show Sherlock prompted an interesting question about the historical role of women during the United Kingdom's road to women's suffrage. In the episode "The Abominable Bride" (set in ...
user avatar
  • 3,027
80 votes
13 answers
36k views

Why didn't France and the UK invade Germany in September 1939?

On September 3rd 1939, when UK and France declared war on Germany, both ordinary Polish people and government officials became enthusiastic. There were spontaneous demonstrations of support for the ...
user avatar
  • 2,801
61 votes
8 answers
33k views

Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong but not Gibraltar?

Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong to China, but not Gibraltar to Spain? Was it because Gibraltar has more strategic value than Hong Kong?
user avatar
  • 607
60 votes
6 answers
17k views

Was England called England in the days of King Arthur?

King Arthur is a legendary king who is said to have ruled Britain in the early days of post-Roman Britain. Now Thomas Malory's famous novel "La Morte D'Arthur" puts the following inscription on the ...
user avatar
54 votes
2 answers
8k views

Why was the Scout movement so successful?

I find it amazing how fast the scout movement spread after its creation. What I got from Wikipedia: Robert Baden-Powell became famous (rightly or not) at home for his activity in the British Army. ...
user avatar
  • 591
52 votes
4 answers
20k views

Why was it "acceptable" for Prince Charles to marry a divorced woman, when Edward VIII had to abdicate for marrying divorcee Wallis Simpson?

Heir to the British throne Prince Charles has married divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles without a constitutional crisis. When Edward VIII wanted to marry Wallis Simpson he had to abdicate. Of course ...
user avatar
  • 777
52 votes
3 answers
12k views

Why did Britain not purchase Alaska when Russia had it up for sale?

One thing that comes up often when discussing "what-ifs" with family or friends is why the British government never nabbed Alaska when Russia had placed it up for sale and made it into Canada's fourth ...
user avatar
51 votes
1 answer
12k views

If the Union Jack joins the flag of England and Scotland, why does it have a different shade of blue than the Scottish flag?

This chart (public domain from Wikimedia Commons) illustrates the question. Is there an explanation for why the Union Jack have a darker shade of blue than the original Scottish flag that it's based ...
user avatar
  • 6,972
49 votes
9 answers
11k views

Has Britain's 1940 invasion of Iceland been downplayed by historians?

On the face of it Operation Fork (Britain's invasion of Iceland in 1940) wasn't so terribly different from Germany's territorial landgrabs in 1939 and 1940. Britain and her allies will have ...
user avatar
  • 11.6k
49 votes
6 answers
8k views

Why did Germany officially acknowledge the contents of the Zimmerman telegram?

The Zimmerman telegram was a diplomatic message from officials in Germany to the Mexican president, sent in 1917. After being intercepted and decoded by Britain's intelligence community, its contents ...
user avatar
  • 593
48 votes
9 answers
92k views

When and how did the USA and the UK become allies?

You may remember that the United States and Great Britain had a minor spat in 1776, which shall we say, did not put them on the friendliest of terms. In 1812, while Britain was focused on its war with ...
user avatar
  • 2,768
43 votes
7 answers
16k views

Why didn't Britain's nuclear weapons deter Argentina from invading the Falklands?

The United Kingdom has nuclear weapons. All the [major] political parties support this policy. A common justification heard is that they are a deterrent against foreign aggression. For example: UK ...
user avatar
40 votes
2 answers
9k views

In the "Christmas truce" of 1914 were there any football (soccer) matches between British and German troops?

British and German troops meeting in no man's land during the unofficial truce. Source: Wikipedia As the holiday season is upon us again this year, I am reminded of the 1914 Christmas truce (German: ...
user avatar
  • 6,087
38 votes
3 answers
3k views

Did the end of the British Raj in India create an economic loss for Britain?

I know the economic downturn of the World War and the victory of the Labour Party played some role in Britain deciding to quit India. Did GB have any serious economic implications because of this? ...
user avatar
  • 1,067
37 votes
10 answers
13k views

Why did the United Kingdom industrialize first?

What factors made the United Kingdom the first to industrialize? Was it simply the importance and benefit of its position in the global community for trade?
user avatar
35 votes
1 answer
5k views

When and why did the use of the lifespans of royalty to limit clauses in contracts come about?

I am in the process of attempting to buy a house in the UK; as it has stood for about a hundred years, the deeds feature some unusual clauses. For example, this conveyance from 1921: (Subject to any ...
user avatar
34 votes
1 answer
6k views

Why did life expectancy decline sharply in 16th century England?

I was checking historical life expectancy and found the chart shown below in Roser, Ortiz-Ospina, Ritchie, 2013. What was the reason for such a dramatic decline in life expectancy in England in the ...
user avatar
  • 443
32 votes
2 answers
5k views

Did any British working class men have the vote before 1918?

I was watching the film Suffragette recently and she mentioned her husband having the vote. I thought he looked too poor to already have the vote, but this didn't look like a film to just ignore ...
user avatar
  • 1,299
31 votes
1 answer
8k views

Was the London Blitz accidentally started by lost pilots?

In Connie Willis's All Clear, one of the characters makes reference to the Blitz thus: ... the German pilots who got lost didn't mean to start the London Blitz The universe this series is set in ...
user avatar
  • 371
31 votes
2 answers
5k views

Was a passport needed to travel between UK and France in 1972?

In Hitchcock's 1972 film Frenzy (at about the time 00:54:55) a character says: We can get a day trip to France. You don't need a passport. (He is a commoner, no diplomatic status etc, in fact a ...
user avatar
30 votes
6 answers
11k views

Why did Chamberlain remain Prime Minister of Britain until 10 May, 1940?

WW2 officially began on 1 September 1939, but Churchill did not become Prime Minister until 10 May 1940. Neville Chamberlain, the same leader of appeasement with Hitler, remained Prime Minister all ...
user avatar
  • 16.5k
30 votes
6 answers
142k views

Is there a reason for a Queen's husband not to be referred to as King?

While watching the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II events going on recently, I noticed that the Queen's husband is referred to as 'Prince'-- not 'King'. Upon researching further, I found that ...
user avatar
29 votes
5 answers
6k views

Did Churchill and Roosevelt know about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the following secret pacts between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union?

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany prior to, and during WWII. It seems that the actions of the two countries after the invasion of Poland ...
user avatar
  • 9,597
29 votes
1 answer
3k views

Anyone know what this stone building is?

It's located next to a beach and below a small hill. It has three sides and a large metal grid on top, on each of the three sides is an arch which tapers down toward a small opening on the ground. I ...
user avatar
  • 293
28 votes
5 answers
7k views

Why were slave owners even offered compensation via the 1837 Act if they'd lost the power in parliament to stop abolition in 1833?

The British government paid out £20 million to slave owners in 1837 as compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves. There seems to be plenty ...
user avatar
  • 444
28 votes
7 answers
16k views

Why did Great Britain switch its alliance to France?

England (and its succeeding states) were at war with France for close to 1000 years. First it was over land, then they competed over religion, then they competed over colonies. For much of that time, ...
user avatar
28 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why were the Irish exempt from conscription during WWI?

During the first world war all of Ireland was within the United Kingdom. In C. S. Lewis's autobiographical book Surprised by Joy he says that as an Irishman (from Belfast) he was exempt from ...
user avatar
28 votes
2 answers
3k views

Was there a King of England, or an heir to the throne, in 1831 who idolized Michael Faraday?

I know this question seems a bit absurd, so let me preface this by saying that it stems from a 1994 history-based edutainment game titled Mario's Time Machine in which the main character travels back ...
user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
7k views

How likely it is that a nobleman of the eighteenth century would give written instructions to his maids?

This question is about a detail in the biography of one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, Henry Cavendish. The Wikipedia article about him states that He communicated with his female ...
user avatar
27 votes
4 answers
13k views

Why did the East India Company accept the Government of India Act 1858?

In 1858, the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act which contained provisions of liquidation of the Company and transfer of assets and governance to the British Crown. The Act was ...
user avatar
  • 1,099
27 votes
2 answers
7k views

Who said "If I want the opinion of the middle classes, I'll ask Her Majesty"?

The notion that the British royal family are not necessarily at the apex of British society in terms of good breeding, sophistication or taste, is an old one. I'm sure that I once read a piece that ...
user avatar
26 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's?

I've just listened to the short BBC News audio podcast clip How British academics spied on the superpowers: Tim O’Brien from the Jodrell Bank radio telescope discusses 50 year old recordings which ...
user avatar
  • 1,739
25 votes
1 answer
10k views

How long would it take to cross the Channel in 1890's?

For a story I'm writing, I'd like to know how long it would take to travel by ship from Calais to Dover in 1890's (as I read it was the easier way). Also, was it possible to take a boat from Calais ...
user avatar
  • 345
24 votes
6 answers
8k views

What made the English the dominant power of the British Isles?

Recently, I've been searching a lot about Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. One after the other, England vassalized its neighbors and became the head of Great Britain. I can understand that ...
user avatar
  • 1,119
23 votes
4 answers
7k views

How confusing was British currency compared to decimal currency circa 1850?

This question quotes Terry Pratchett's claim: The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated. Is this a fair comparison with its inference that ...
user avatar
23 votes
9 answers
107k views

Why did Canada, Australia and New Zealand separate from the UK?

I asked this question in various places on the Web. I haven't received a clear answer. The USA separated from the UK because the people felt that they were not British, and they weren't. Weren't ...
user avatar
23 votes
1 answer
9k views

Who was the most successful German spy against Great Britain in WWII, from the contemporary German perspective?

Reading up on this it appears to me many of Germany's spy operations inside the UK were pretty quickly shutdown. I investigated a half dozen spies who were captured by the end of 1942. Dorthy O'...
user avatar
23 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why was there lack of food during WW2 in the UK?

Why was there lack of food during the WW2 in the UK? I understand the lack of food in the countries occupied by Germans, as they recruited a lot of agricultural products for their war machinery. But ...
user avatar
23 votes
2 answers
4k views

Was the title "Prince of Wales" originally claimed for the English crown prince via a trick?

As the son of a proud Welsh woman, as a child I was told the origin story of the title "Prince of Wales" was that after Edward I beat Llywelyn ap Gruffudd at the Battle of Orewin Bridge, as ...
user avatar
  • 575
23 votes
2 answers
4k views

What was life like for an adult Victorian chimney sweep?

What was life like for an adult Victorian chimney sweep? I'm looking into my family history at the moment and my great-great-grandfather is listed on an 1881 census as a chimney sweep. I thought this ...
user avatar
  • 2,977
23 votes
1 answer
2k views

Hiring professionals to transcribe historical documents

I'm sorry if this question sounds strange but I'm not sure where else in the world to post it. I have an eighteenth-century will that I'd like to be able to read, but I have very little practice in ...
user avatar
  • 341
23 votes
1 answer
2k views

The WWI Christmas truce of 1914 resulted in no consequences, in spite of clear warnings against such beforehand - why were there no courts-martial?

British and German Soldiers photographed together during 1914 Christmas Truce. Source: The Daily Mirror, Friday January 8, 1915. Question What factors led to no courts-martial charges being pursued ...
user avatar
  • 6,087
22 votes
1 answer
3k views

What effect did the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir have on Great Britain's international relations during WW2?

The Attack on Mers-el-Kébir/Battle of Mers-el-Kébir was an action that took part between the Royal Navy and the French Navy on July 3rd 1940 that was a result of Winston Churchill ordering that the ...
user avatar
  • 4,770
21 votes
8 answers
8k views

Even though Spain and Portugal had many colonies (15th/16th C), what factors permitted UK/France to become world powers later (18th/19th C)?

Some of the first European countries to acquire colonies in the "New World" (and elsewhere) were Spain and Portugal. They "discovered America" (as the euro-centric interpretation goes), and had ...
user avatar
  • 3,949
20 votes
5 answers
4k views

When did the English and Americans realize that vegetables were healthy?

I've recently come across two quotes in very unrelated sources implying that for centuries, the English and their colonial offspring did not appreciate the role of vegetables in a healthy diet. From "...
user avatar
  • 17.9k
20 votes
2 answers
7k views

Did King George III turn his back on John Adams and Thomas Jefferson?

After the resolution of the Revolutionary War, John Adams and (later) Thomas Jefferson were diplomatic agents in London. John Adams had been there a while and had previously met the King, apparently ...
user avatar
  • 1,001
20 votes
1 answer
779 views

Colonisation of India: Which regions of the United Kingdom did colonial personnel come from?

I'm a linguist doing research on the emergence of new dialects of English spoken in former colonies, especially India. These new dialects have two major influences: (1) Interference from the mother ...
user avatar
  • 300
19 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was used instead of toilet paper in the US and the UK prior to 1900?

I read in this Wikipedia article that toilet paper came to be available only around 1920. On the other hand, this article says bidets were never popular in the UK and the US. Moreover, colonies of ...
user avatar
  • 293
19 votes
3 answers
757 views

Were British fears of Russia using Afghanistan as a staging post for an invasion of India unfounded?

I know that "The Great Game" was originally concerned with Russian-British competition in Central Asia, but my question is was this competition and British fear founded on anything? My understanding ...
user avatar
  • 9,597

1
2 3 4 5
7