Battles of Britain: which one changed us most

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by dbf, Sep 16, 2015.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    The British Isles have seen countless battles, campaigns and wars. But which one affected us the most?

    This year is rich with the anniversaries of significant battles - Waterloo, Gallipoli and Agincourt.

    But during the past 2,000 years, the British Isles has been riven by conflict, being remembered with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the recent reburial of Richard III and the upcoming 950th anniversary of Hastings.

    So which is the most important battle ever fought here? A clash of arms that produced not only a winner and a loser but perhaps changed everything that came after?

    Read the shortlist and cast your vote at the bottom of the page. Voting closes midday 18 September.


    Boudica's revolt - Empire on the edge

    61 AD, Midlands, England
    Between Roman Empire vs British Celtic tribes
    Forces 10,000 Roman soldiers vs possibly 200,000 tribespeople
    Cause Imperial Roman influence on Britain
    Result 350 years of Roman occupation


    Just 18 years after the invasion, Roman progress in Britain was dealt a huge blow when Queen Boudica rallied native tribes to a devastating rebellion.

    Adrian Murdoch, Roman military historian and journalist, said: "Her revolt almost stopped the Roman Empire in its tracks.

    "Boudica had reasons to be angry - double-crossed over land and her capital sacked, then beaten and her two daughters raped."

    After the destruction of the best part of a legion and three major towns, the Roman army made its stand.

    Mr Murdoch said: "The fate of the province was in the balance - with the emperor Nero considering abandoning the island. But thanks to superior military discipline, the Romans won. Classical authors claim 80,000 Britons died to 400 Roman losses.

    "Had Boudica's revolt worked, the English Channel would have been as much of a barrier between barbarism and civilisation as the Rhine.

    "Britain would have lost the enduring influence of 350 years of Roman rule, its culture, building and commerce.

    "And while she lost, Boudica became a personification of Britannia, complete with a statue outside the Houses of Parliament."

    Boudica: National heroine or murderous villain?


    Brunanburh - Birth of England?

    937 AD, Wirral?, England
    Between Æthelstan’s early English kingdom vs Norse/Celtic Scottish and Irish kingdoms
    Forces Uncertain but likely to be at least hundreds of warriors on each side
    Cause Existence of independent English kingdom
    Result England established as political and military entity


    As Roman power faded, warring tribes and invaders competed for supremacy. After the successes of Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great against the Vikings in Wessex, his grandson Æthelstan extended his influence north and east, gradually cementing the concept of one "Angle-land".

    But this development sparked fear and rivalry in neighbouring kingdoms and an alliance was formed to crush it.

    Professor Michael Livingston, editor of Brunanburh: A Casebook, said: "Brunanburh may well be the most important battle in English history that you've never heard of.

    "King Æthelstan faced an allied force that included at least five foreign kings, including those of Dublin, Alba, and Strathclyde — an alliance whose united purpose was to destroy the Anglo-Saxon kingdom that would become England.

    "In addition to its obvious geo-political importance, Brunanburh was probably one of the largest battles of its age: a generation later chroniclers like Athelweard referred to the event as simply 'the Great War'."

    Hours of vicious fighting devastated both sides, with traditional poems saying five kings and seven earls among the invaders were killed.

    Æthelstan was the victor and his rivals fled, only the damage meant he could not press home his advantage. But Alfred's legacy had been saved and a unified, independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom would have time to take root.

    With the passing of centuries the location of Brunanburh has become uncertain. Prof Livingston said: "Where it happened, however, is of secondary importance to the nation that grew from its bloodied soil."


    Hastings - The last invasion

    14 October 1066, East Sussex, England
    Between Harold II’s Saxons vs Duke William II’s Normans
    Forces 7,000 (approx) Saxon infantry vs (approx) 10,000 Norman infantry and cavalry
    At stake Rule of England
    Result End of Saxon England


    Murky politics and ruthless ambition led Duke William of Normandy to face Anglo-Saxon King Harold on a hillside in Sussex.

    Harold's men were exhausted from a forced march of about 500 miles (800km) to York and back, William had the smallest toehold on English soil.

    Each was a hardened warrior, each claimed the throne of England, each knew no mercy would be shown.

    Julian Humphrys, development officer of the Battlefields Trust, said: "The English fought doggedly on foot, their shields held closely together to form a solid wall but the relentless attacks of William's archers, foot soldiers and mounted knights eventually wore them down.

    "King Harold and much of the Anglo-Saxon leadership fell that day and with them died England's best chance of repelling the Normans.

    "1066 is probably the best-known date in British history. And rightly so, as William's invasion not only decided who would rule England but also led to fundamental changes in English society.

    "Land ownership was transformed with the replacement of the old Saxon aristocracy by a new Norman elite, our language was irrevocably altered with the addition of so many French words, and most of our castles and cathedrals can trace their origins back to the Norman conquest.

    "The battle also changed England's place in Europe. Before Hastings it was closely linked to Scandinavia - after Hastings it was firmly part of Western Europe."

    How did William the Bastard become William the Conqueror?


    Bannockburn - The limit of power

    23–24 June 1314, Stirling, Scotland
    Between Edward II vs Robert the Bruce
    Forces 20,000 (approx) English knights and infantry vs 7,500 (approx) Scottish infantry
    Cause Scottish independence
    Result Setback for Edward II and touchstone for Scottish identity


    The English kingdom and Scottish kingdoms had wrestled with each other for centuries but with the aggressive Edward I - "Hammer of the Scots" - it looked as if the southern realm would triumph.

    But Robert the Bruce led a fierce resistance and forced the less imposing Edward II to march a huge army to a marshy field near Stirling.

    Professor Michael Brown, from the University of St Andrews's School of History, said: "Bannockburn was the real battle for Britain.

    "The two kings on the island, Robert Bruce and Edward II, led their armies in a fight which had a large influence on the nature of Britain. Would it be a single realm, whose character was overwhelmingly English, or would different traditions and loyalties continue to flourish?"

    Edward's badly-led army found itself out-manoeuvred and unable to break the Scottish spear formations. Over two days of bitter clashes, the English army was worn down and eventually broke.

    Prof Brown said: "Robert's victory meant not just the continuation of the Scottish kingdom but that Scotland would develop separately from the rest of the island for the next 400 years, maintaining and pursuing its own course in terms of government, law, religion and relations with the peoples of Europe.

    "The Scottish state and society which grew between 1314 and 1707 could not be subsumed within a united kingdom in the way that high medieval Scotland might have been.

    "Unlike most medieval battles, Bannockburn is not treated as a remote event. For 700 years Bannockburn has also been used as a potent symbol of Scotland's place amongst the peoples of Europe.

    "Like other countries more used to defeat against their larger neighbours, Bannockburn has retained a central significance as proof of Scotland's right to exist. In this way, the battle south of Stirling in 1314 did not simply help shape the past relationships between states, it will continue to exert an influence on the future of these islands."

    Royals, rebels and religion: Scotland and the road to Union


    Bosworth - Twilight of the Middle Ages

    22 August 1485, Leicestershire, England
    Between Richard III vs Henry Tudor
    Forces 10,000 (approx) knights and infantry 5,000 (approx) knights and infantry
    Cause Rule of England and Wales
    Result End of wars of Roses, establishment of Tudor dynasty


    After decades of on-off civil war, Edward IV had brought some stability to England. On his death, his brother Richard III took the crown but could not preserve peace.

    Henry Tudor, whose thin claim to the throne nonetheless focused opposition to Richard, brought a rag-tag army to the Midlands to face royal forces.

    In the early clashes, Richard's larger army failed to sweep his opponents from the field. Two significant formations, under the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Stanley, did not commit to the fight.

    Richard gambled on a spectacular cavalry charge to kill Henry but Stanley ambushed his knights. Richard was hacked down in the thick of the fighting.

    Chris Skidmore, author of Bosworth: Birth of the Tudors, said: "The fact that Bosworth was the last battle in which an English king died on a battlefield at home, together with it marking the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the birth of the Tudors, does, I believe, mark it out as a seismic event in English history.

    "A watershed between the medieval and early modern worlds, in which the death of a king represents more than the end of Richard III, but also the dying values of chivalry."

    Mr Skidmore added: "The dawn of the Tudor era brought an end to decades of instability that had scarred the 15th Century. From now on, the English monarchy would only grow in strength as the state established itself above the factionalism and infighting of the nobility.

    "Within 50 years, England's kings controlled not only their subjects' bodies, but also their souls after Henry VIII enacted the break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries. The fabric of medieval life would be irrevocably torn forever."

    How the Tudor dynasty shaped modern Britain


    Spanish Armada - Politics of God

    July – August 1588, English Channel
    Between Elizabeth I of England vs Philip II of Spain
    Forces (approx) 200 ships of various sizes vs 130 warships
    Cause Potential invasion
    Result Preservation of English religious and political independence


    Europe's superpower, Catholic Spain, viewed Elizabethan England as a practical and ideological threat. Its armies fought against them on the Continent, its ships raided trade from the New World and it fostered the heretical Protestant faith.

    The plan was for a fleet, the Armada, to take Spain's European army and land it in England to impose King Philip's power.

    Robert Hutchinson, historian and author of The Spanish Armada, said: "This campaign of 1588 changed the course of European history. If it had worked the future of Elizabeth I and fledgling Protestant England would have looked very black indeed.

    "If his battle-hardened troops had managed to storm ashore near Margate in Kent, they could have been in the streets of ill-defended London within a week.

    "England would have reverted to the Catholic faith and there may not have been a British Empire to come. We might be still speaking Spanish today."

    But the Armada failed. Spectacularly. It sailed through the English Channel with no real way to pick up the army, and then round the Scottish and Irish coasts, becoming more diseased and battered.

    This was less because of the queen's valiant sailors and more due to "appalling weather, poor planning and flawed strategy and tactics", as Mr Hutchinson puts it.

    He added: "Moreover, those dangerous days of July and August 1588 united a divided England. Nearly half of Elizabeth I's two million subjects were Catholic but confronting a powerful invader created a new sense of nationhood.

    "The defeat of the Spanish Armada gave England confidence to seek new trading opportunities in far flung corners of the world, such as the founding of the East India Company in 1600 which later laid the foundations of the British Empire in India and the Far East."

    Elizabeth I: Troubled child to beloved Queen


    Naseby - Destruction of Divine Right

    14 June 1645, Northants, England
    Between Charles I and Parliamentarians
    Forces 12,000 (approx) vs 15,000 (approx)
    Cause Divine right of kings to rule

    Result Primacy of parliament


    In 1645, after three bloody years of fighting, both sides in the English Civil War still seemed evenly matched. That would change at Naseby.

    Martin Marix Evans, author and Naseby expert, said: "At its heart the Civil War was a clash of fundamentally opposed ideologies - belief in absolute monarchy against an embryonic sense of democracy.

    "But while the king's court and generals had squabbled, the Parliamentarians, including Oliver Cromwell, had been building the New Model Army.

    "This was centred on loyalty to the nation rather than region and based promotion on ability rather than birth."

    Despite initial successes, the king's forces were worn down and eventually cracked in the face of better co-ordination and discipline.

    Mr Marix Evans said: "Hundreds were killed and thousands captured. The loss of so many veterans and their equipment meant Charles's defeat became a matter of time.

    "The battle ended centuries of autocratic monarchy and set Britain on a course of democratic evolution which continues to this day.

    "Other battles decided which king ruled the people, this one decided how the people were ruled."

    Was Oliver Cromwell the father of British democracy?


    Boyne - Three wars, one battle

    1 July 1690, County Meath, Ireland
    Between Deposed James II and William III of England
    Forces 25,000 Irish and French vs 36,000 English and allies
    Cause Rule of British Isles and role in Europe
    Result Confirmation of Protestant, democratic government


    James II had been deposed for trying to restore absolute monarchy in the British Isles. His attempt to regain the throne was used as a strategic move in French attempts to dominate Europe, drawing on the religious divide in Ireland to provide support.

    James's Catholic forces met those of the new Protestant king, William III, just north of Dublin and in a tightly contested battle the Jacobite army was pushed back and their king fled the field and the country.

    Dr Harman Murtagh, president of the Military History Society of Ireland, said: "The victory consolidated the position of William and his wife Mary on the English thrones, which in practice also represented a further advance of parliamentary control over the executive."

    Without James, the Catholic army was finally destroyed in 1691.

    Dr Murtagh said: "The three-year Irish campaign distracted William and his resources from the Continent, which was of considerable assistance to King Louis XIV in his war with the Grand Alliance of his enemies.

    "In Ireland William's success consolidated the dominance of the newer Protestant population over the defeated Catholic majority.

    "Catholics were subsequently subjected to penal laws that long denied them political rights and impeded their economic recovery, injustices that have not been forgotten.

    "In Northern Ireland thousands of Protestants still march each July to commemorate William's victory at the Boyne water."


    Battle of Britain - The Few

    July – October 1940, British airspace
    Between RAF vs Luftwaffe
    Forces 1,950 fighters and bombers vs 2,550 fighters and bombers
    Cause Air supremacy prior to invasion
    Result Nazi expansion halted


    Most of Europe had been cowed, the Soviets were at bay, the US undecided. Britain was defiant but wounded. The Nazi war machine was at the Channel and seemed unstoppable.

    But the RAF had prepared itself for just such an attack, linking fighter airfields with control centres and radar stations. Armed with the nimble Spitfire and tough Hurricane, the defence would be more potent than any the Luftwaffe had faced before.

    Ross Mahoney, aviation historian at the Royal Air Force Museum, said: "Without control of the air Germany would not be able to launch an invasion. Hitler himself ordered the RAF must be 'morally and physically' unable to contest a German crossing.

    "Herein lies the Battle of Britain's significance. By denying the Luftwaffe control of the skies over Britain, the RAF ensured during the vital months of July to October invasion was held off and the country was able to build up its strength militarily, diplomatically and politically."

    Over a long summer, the RAF and its multinational pilots did enough damage, and preserved enough of its strength, to remain unbowed.

    Mr Mahoney said: "While some historians have recently questioned the traditional 'narrow margin' narrative, this ignores the simple fact Britain was the British Empire's centre of gravity and had the Luftwaffe achieved control of the air then Hitler certainly would have attempted an invasion.

    "Had Hitler succeeded it is unlikely that America would ever have joined the war against Germany.

    "Simply put, the RAF stopped invasion from ever being a prospect and ensured Britain was the unsinkable aircraft carrier which projected the Allied military power to defeat Germany."

    What was the secret to winning the Battle of Britain?


    Which was the most decisive battle in the history of the British Isles?

    Vote at
    Buteman likes this.
  2. Drusus Nero

    Drusus Nero Banned

    No Dunkirk?

    Or was the criteria "battle fought in the British Isles", or above it, or around it, like the Armada.

    Dunkirk wasn't that far away, and it was fought on territory that our Crown once owned, and had claim to when it was taken off us.

    What about Baden Hill? Someone called Arthur ridding England of Saxon influence? That sound pretty significan.

    Must object to boudicca's revolt. The Romans were here to stay, and her 'revolt' had no chance of success. They lost their final confrontation with the legions, ( there were only 10,000 Romans present). Boudicca's people ourtnumbered them by a hefty margin, and still could not make a difference. Further, if Boudicca couldn't squash a paltry force with such advantages, that would not bode well when she tried to mount a campaign of conquest. Her revolt was just that, and sacking English towns was no way to legitimize it. Boudicca's Army were nothing more than opportunistic vandals.
    As for her revolt "ALMOST stopping the Roman empire in it's tracks", how so? The Emperor Nero would have been off the scene by the time Boudicca managed to beat all the other British rivals to the throne.. Vespasian and then Titus were Commanders in the field, so any expedition during their tenure as Emperor would have been a force to be reckoned with. Arrivial of their 'reaction' would have split the country, if Boudicca was still in power, (unlikely) and if she had managed to pacify Brittania and to organise her Kingdom so it could mount an effective and unified resistence, (incredibly unlikely); she didn't have the money to pay anyone. much less the technical know-how to beat the Romans at the game they played best, warfare.
    Too many people were already Romanized for anything that Boudicca did to have any lasting sgnificance.

    I don't see how Her victory would have changed anything. It might have set us back, for going back to a tribal past rtaher than becoming part of the most progressive empire anyone had seen, sounds like a large step back.

    It's also higly questionable whether the Duke of Medina-Sidonia had the necessary resources to mount a sustained campaign in England. Once ashore, they would have had to plunder the countryside just for provisions, and in those days foraging parties certainly did not make polite enquiries as to the religious observance of those they were taking the goods from. Sidonia's troops would have quickly alienated themselves with everyone, Catholics included, and that would have done more to unite Elizabethan England than any other single factor for the next 200 years.


    There are enough threads and debates on this website alone talking of the idioicy of a prospect for a German invasion in 1940. They had not the shipping for it, nor the warships to keep invasion forces supplied, nor did they have the will to see a risky project like it through.

    And as for "margin not as narrow as once believed" thats just poor revisionism. Dowding often said the only thing that saved the battle was Goering, switching emphasis from crunching Fighter Command ground installations, to bombing civilian targets in a 'terror' campaign.

    Galland, when questioned over Goering's motives for this ridiculous move, just shrugged his shoulders and sighed. Goering's lack of intel as to the true situation in England may have had more to do with that descision. German pilots used to make a joke, "Here they come, the last 50 Spitfires!, so Goering was obviously being fed intelligence that was nonsensical.

    Facts remain that invasion for the British Isles, 1940-41 was definately more of a 'scare' than any realistic possibility. What it did do was to galvanize the nation, and convice Americans that Ambassador joe Kennedy had been completely and utterly wrong about Britain's chances of survival. But, the same thing happened in Australia. Invasion prospects were more about rumours than actual military capability, same for BOB. No-one in power is going to stand up and publically admit that a German invasion is a "lot of balls".

    For their own good, information like that has to be kept from the public. It's the only way to keep everyone vigilant and working as a team.

    The BOYNE

    I have only one comment to make concerning the Boyne, and it's got nothing to do with it's significance as a decisive battle.

    The "Orange Men" that "celebrate" this victory every year should realise what this "celebration" does to other Irish. constant reminders that Protestants and Cathlics once fought a great and useless confrontation are really not needed. They should show some intelligence and realise that Irish people from both sides of the religious conflict have far more in common than what they do as differences. The differences between Catholics and Protestants are microscopic.

    Those Silly Old Farts cause dissention trouble and injuries every year. It's time they hung up their aprons, furled the flag, and got on with the bussines of being Irish/English/Scots/Welsh....
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Nice article, D.

    It's Hastings or the Armada for me.

    The first, because it's such an early scene setter for where the country's allegiances lay for the next half millennium and onwards - a sub-Scandian Island going wherever that identity might take us, or something more wedded to the mainstream continent. Norman identity changed everything, from very top to lowest bottom.

    The second, probably for somewhat opposite reasons: Beating off Medina's boys sealed the isolation from the mainland, confirmed our separate protestant identity (beyond important in the Early modern Rise and fall of great powers) and can be argued to be the first step towards the wooden walls, and expertise thereof, that eventually led to the skill & infrastucture that created The Empire and much of what might be described as 'Britishness' (I know, I know) today.

    Hmmm... The Normans probably 'changed' 'us' more directly than any of the others, but the Armada solidified a stronger more long term identity.
    Dunno yet...
    ritsonvaljos and dbf like this.
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I suspect that this is a diversionary tactic by the BBC.

    The greatest battle for Britain, and indeed for Europe is taking place at the moment along the coast of the Mediterranean. At present we seem to be conceding without a fight but the invasion from the Middle East & Africa with its attendant colonialism (a concept which we have previously been taught to condemn but are now encouraged to accept) seems likely to adversely affect our daily lives more than any other single event in recorded history.
    Mr Jinks likes this.
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I also thought of those both, even though they've asked the reader to consider two different questions: Which was the most important and which changed us the most.

    If the emphasis is on change then my answer would have to be Hastings and what followed thereafter from the top down.

    As important as it was, and I agree with your analysis of the effects and long-term resonances, I don't see the defeat of the Armada as effecting change. I see it as consolidation/affirmation.
  6. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Having read the definitive history of English history ("1066 and all that") it would be a toss up between:

    ( :) ) the first Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar (55B.C.)
    ( B) ) the Norman invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy (otherwise 'the Conqueror').

    As a result, we British became 'civilised' and most of us ended up speaking English!

    My home county (Cumbria) still has the legacy of these two invasions: (Hadrian's Wall, remnants of Roman camps aplenty, Norman churches and priories). They are still there despite the best efforts of the likes of Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Robert the Bruce and the Border Reivers to knock the living daylights out of the countryside!

    What a wonderful subject history is at times! :wink:
    von Poop likes this.
  7. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    No contest in my opinion - Hastings.
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Starting to think you're probably right.
    Two massively different worlds on either side of the event.
    (That, and Ritson invoking Sellar & Yeatman...)

    I see Bannockburn won.
    Can't help thinking a certain active modern political demographic might just possibly have packed the vote there, the political aftermath and 'change' created by Bannockburn being essentially pretty inconclusive & shaky.
    Battle of Britain second. Hastings third.
  9. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    1066 undoubtedly had far reaching effects in switching England away from a Scandinavian focus to a European (particularly French) one.
    it almost ended up as a joining of two Kingdoms of France and England and changed forever the entire language and status of the indigent population
    An unremarked aspect is changing from the softer Celtic Christian faith to the more rigid one from Rome.

    One aspect of the Armada that also might have been a factor was the change from the Julian calendar, adopted in Spanish territories from 1582, and which many folk believed at the time would take 11 days from their lives. England didn't come into line for another almost 200 years when finally adopting the Gregorian calendar.

    (In fact that makes the Battle of Hastings actually being fought on the 3rd October 1066 (which WAS a Saturday) and not the 14th October, which the date became after adding those 11 days!)
  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    The Battle of Hastings

    [​IMG]Senlac Hill, Battle, East Sussex

    [​IMG] October 14, 1066
    [​IMG] Battle, East Sussex
    [​IMG] Saxons under Harold, King of England vs. Norman French under Duke William of Normandy
    [​IMG] When Edward the Confessor died he left no direct heir, and the throne of England passed to Harold. However, William of Normandy claimed that Edward had promised the crown to him, and indeed that Harold himself had sworn a sacred oath to relinquish his claim in William's favour.
    William prepared an invasion fleet and, armed with a papal bull declaring his right to the throne, he crossed the English Channel to land near Pevensey.
    Harold, in the meantime, had another threat to concern him; his brother Tostig allied with Harald Hardrada of Norway and landed in the north of England. They took York, but Harold defeated them soundly at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

    No sooner had the battle dust settled than Harold received news of William's invasion in the south. He marched his tired men from York to Sussex, arriving there on October 13 to face the Normans.

    The Battle
    Harold took up a defensive position on a high ridge known as Senlac. The battle began with devastating volleys of stone missiles hurled into the Norman infantry by the Saxon "fyrd", or irregular troops levied from the shires.

    William himself led the centre of the Norman army, and it is said that he carried into battle some of the holy relics upon which Harold had sworn to cede the crown to him.

    he Norman infantry made no dent in the Saxon lines, and the cavalry fared no better. But when some of the Norman horsemen turned and fled, a large group of Saxons left their position to chase them. It was a fatal mistake, as William rallied his men and routed the unprotected attackers. The Saxon lines quickly closed, but they had not learned their lesson, and they repeated the same folly of chasing an apparently fleeing enemy twice more as the day wore on.

    By late afternoon the Saxon lines were wavering under continued Norman attacks. It is then that the most famous arrow in English history was released by an anonymous Norman archer.

    The arrow took King Harold in the eye, and a final Norman onslaught killed him where he stood. The rest of the leaderless Saxons ceded Senlac ridge yard by grudging yard, but eventually they had no choice but to turn and flee the field. The day belonged to Duke William, soon to be dubbed, "the Conqueror". The body of King Harold was eventually buried in Waltham Abbey.

    The Results
    Although there were sporadic outbreaks of Saxon resistance to Norman rule after the Battle of Hastings - notably in East Anglia under Hereward the Wake, and in the north of England - from this point on England was effectively ruled by the Normans.
  11. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    An interesting question - I didn't see this thread when it first appeared.
    I would choose on the grounds of when our island was actually invaded and conquered, so it would be the Roman and Norman invasions. I don't know which of the two is the most important - so far in the past we can't estimate all the influences accurately.
    And I would put third the Battle of Britain, it was such a close thing that we would be invaded again after all that time, and the influences wouldn't have been so benevolent.
    Comparing with France, who has been invaded countless times, as have many European nations.
    ps I believe the Dutch tried to invade some time in the 1670s. Some of their ships sailed up the Thames but were sunk - mentioned in Pepys diaries.

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