A Short History of the British Isles I  

GB_Cple 66M/55F  
925 posts
7/3/2006 6:42 am

Last Read:
7/13/2006 7:04 am

A Short History of the British Isles I

Although we, the inhabitants of this beautiful collection of islands are all collectively called "British", we do not call ourselves that. We are English, Scottish and Welsh. Ireland is not part of the British Isles, although for centuries has been politically connected, but by conquest.

The Channel Islands do not officially belong to the British Isles, but the present Queen is the feudal ruler, as legal successor to William the Conquerer, as these islands were once part of the Dukedom of Normandy.

Our official title for the whole country since 1921, after Irish Independence is "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" .
before that, since 1800 there was no "Northern in the title.

The Name "Britain" comes from the Roman name "Britannia" which covered roughly the present day England and Wales. Great Britain followed after the demise of the Roman Empire, as Celts fleeing from the later invading Angles and Saxons settled in the Celtic Breton(Brittany in English) area of France, also called Britannia, so the old "motherland" became Great Britain.

The name Scotland arrived around 500 AD, when almost half of what the Romans called Caledonia was settled by the Roman named Scotti, a tribe from one of the five Celtic Kingdoms of Ireland. The earlier inhabitants, the Picts (also believed by some historians to be early Celts) had at this time a separate kingdom, this was joined under the Scottish King Malcolm Mc Alpine in 843 after the Picts were Finally defeated in battle.

In the time between 400-600 AD Angles and Jutes from Northern Germany, and the Saxons from further south invaded and settled here. The Angles settled in the west in roughly what is present day "Anglia" and was divided into two parts by two separate tribes, The North folk and the South folk, giving the name to the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.They also moved into the southern parts of Scotland.

The softer Anglish dialect took hold over the harsher and cruder Saxon, and thus derived into English, the old name lives on in the French name for England, Angleterre - Angle land.

The Anglo-Saxons named the previous settlers "Walisisch" to denote people they considered "foreign" or at least to denote people who had been Romanized. but eventually came to be used for those people who spoke a different language.

The Welsh and the Scots were able to remain apart from the Anglo-Saxons,unlike their counterparts in what became England, and as a result their albeit differant forms of Celtic languages survive today. Welsh is taught in all Welsh schools.
The Welsh people themselves still prefer to call themselves Cymry, their country Cymru and their language Cymraeg.

A similar form of celtic dialect is also spoken in some parts of Cornwall, but unfortunatly less and less Cornish people speak it.

GB_Cple 66M/55F  
3037 posts
7/8/2006 11:02 pm

I agree with your latest comment and that is why I like to remain non -political here.


LondonDerriere 36F
157 posts
7/7/2006 10:18 am

Well, I guess I'm an exception to the rule then. I never had any problem with the term British Isles when used in its correct geographic sense.

There again, some people get upset when N. Ireland is (techically) incorrectly referred to as Ulster. There are 9 counties in Ulster and only 6 of them make up N. Ireland. The other 3, including my home county of Donegal, are in Eire.

Ireland is an island of contradictions and I think that's the problem many people have; they try to compartmentalise us and it just can't be done. I touched on this, albeit in a lighthearted way, in my post By way of explanation....

My view is that too many people make too much of events that happened in history of these islands (you just have too look at the recent world cup to see the 'tribalistic' passions it stirred up on the mainland.

Anyway, enough said. I'm not here to ram my way of thinking down anyone else's throat.

Take care,


Eire (The Republic of Ireland) may not be part of the United Kingdom but Ireland (the island comprising of Eire and N. Ireland) is a part of the British Isles. Just as the UK is part of Europe even though may of its inhabitants would disagree

GB_Cple 66M/55F  
3037 posts
7/6/2006 11:22 pm

I was deliberatly being non-political.

The word Britain comes from the Romans that called it Britainia, Irene was the word they used for the island of Ireland, after the √Črainn of its southern coasts.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Today the term British is used to describe people or things belonging to either the island of Great Britain or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Use therefore of the term British Isles, even if used in a non-political, geographical context, can cause confusion and resentment because parts of the archipelago include the Republic of Ireland, the other sovereign state in the archipelago; and the crown dependencies, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, which are direct possessions of the British Crown and not part of the United Kingdom.

In the Republic of Ireland it is assumed that the term British Isles does not include the Republic of Ireland itself moreover, it is also sometimes assumed that the term does not include the Republic of Ireland in British usage; and Manx hence the occasional use of the phrase '"British Isles and Ireland". The term British Isles is not used in Irish state documents and has been completely phased out of schoolbooks in the Republic of Ireland.

In modern times the Republic of Ireland is not included in use of the British prefix. The term British Isles may cause offence to those who interpret it politically, as implying continued United Kingdom sovereignty over the Republic of Ireland, or that the Republic of Ireland is politically related to the United Kingdom in some sense.

LondonDerriere 36F
157 posts
7/6/2006 4:23 pm

Can I make a tiny, wee correction. Ireland is, geographically, if not politically part of the British Isles.

Also, somewhat ironically, the Unionist Community in N. Ireland are probably the most fiercely 'British' people in this carzy, mixed up group of rocks we chose to call home.

Tapadh leibh agus oidche mhath!!


papyrina 50F
21133 posts
7/3/2006 2:05 pm

I'm welsh and its still wales to me lol,there such ignorant people

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