This week we thought it might be fun to include a bit of a history lesson, so that our keen readers can learn some English, as well as learn a bit more about the history of the UK and England, and how it came to be the country that it is today.
England has always been lucky and unlucky, to have a quite wide and deep stretch of water between us and the mainland of Europe. The British Channel (Canal de la Mancha in Spanish) is the current connection between England and France, with a tunnel running 50km from Folkestone in the UK to Coquelles in France. You can drive onto the tunnel train with your car, then the train takes you all the way to France, and you can drive off and start your trip into Europe!
20,000 years ago, there was dry land between France and England, with some low mountains keeping massive lakes from flooding into this space. The ocean was about 130m lower than it is today, so there was not enough water to flood what we think of as the sea now.
When the Ice Age began to end, there was huge floods that basically carved out the English Channel that we know today, and created the water barrier between England and Europe. Basically, the top of the ‘cliffs of Dover’ used to connect with the top of the cliffs over in France, and a big flood eroded all that soft rock away, and made a big channel!
About 12,000 years ago, the last Ice Age began to end, and the cold and icy lands in the UK began to become a bit more friendly to people!
The Vikings arrived on the coast of England and Scotland around 800 CE (Common Era/AD), and they continued to be a part of English and British culture until almost 1200 CE.
Their tools, buildings and cultural items can be found all over the islands, as well as far as Ireland, where Vikings founded Dublin, Cork and Limerick. They even conquered the large city of York in the north of England, and made it their capital city for generations!
The Norman Conquest
One of the most famous historical events that British children learn about (apart from the world wars and other modern events) is the Norman Conquest in 1066. This is a really famous date, that most British people will know about.
The ‘Normans’ were a group of former Vikings that came from Norway and settled/conquered in Normandy, France, in the 10th Century. They became known as Normans, but really are a mix between Vikings and the Frankish people of modern-day France.
In September and October of 1066, the Normans, Anglo-Saxon (Brits) and Vikings all fought a series of battles, with William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy and leader of the Norman army winning!
If you want to see an amazing medieval portrayal of the famous Battle of Hastings, check out the Bayeux Tapestry, still open to the public in France. It’s something many English school children visit on a trip at some point.
From this invasion, the Normans were in charge of England, and started to mix the Anglo-Saxon language with their own Norman French (which was mostly medieval French with around 150 Norse words included as well).
I was at this point that some of the most famous Norman castles in the UK were built, to protect this new conquest and territory. Places like Dover Castle, Durham Castle, Ludlow Castle, Warwick Castle and the Tower of London were all built then!
Our next blog will take a look at what happened with the languages in the UK, and how we ended up with a blend of German, French, Latin and Anglo-Saxon all mixed up together!
At RKA Valencia, we believe that learning English means learning about the culture, history and people that speak English, as well as the grammar. If you want to improve your English and learn how to communicate with native speakers, get in touch with RKA Valencia at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us here.