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British History 

Explore the history of the United Kingdom (UK), the grouping of islands off the west coast of Europe that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and part of Ireland. The term “Great Britain,” while sometimes erroneously applied to the United Kingdom as a whole, is the largest island constituting most of the territory of England, Scotland, and Wales, which formally joined together in 1707. The largely Catholic Ireland, which joined the kingdom in 1800, seceded from the Protestant-dominated UK in 1921, although the largely Protestant northern section of Ireland, now known as Northern Ireland, returned to the UK the following day.

In the 14th century, Britain began a period of expansion that eventually made it the world’s largest empire, with colonial holdings in the Far East, India, Africa, and the Americas. At the peak of its power in the 19th century, the British Empire covered over one-fourth of the Earth’s surface. As the world’s superpower, the United Kingdom exported its language and culture throughout the world.

In the 20th century, the United Kingdom’s power weakened over the course of two world wars (1914–1918 and 1939–1945). Most of its colonies had gained their independence by the 1960s. The United Kingdom continued to play a major role in international affairs, both as a strong ally of its former colony the United States and as a member of the European Union. In 2016, the British narrowly approved a plan to leave the European Union, colloquially known as “Brexit.”

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18th Century British History
19th Century British History

20th Century British History
British Renaissance and Reformation

Britsh History Resources

Gale provides scholarly resources to advance the study of British history including primary source archives and eBooks.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains archives and collections that provide researchers with main content that includes British history journals covering topics such as World War II, industrialization, social events, political events, and much more that can be used to examine and analyze the evolution of Britain over time. 

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks covering a wide range of British history topics, including Brexit, modern history, military developments, and much more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content.

  • The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia, 1st Edition

    The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia, 1st Edition

    ABC-CLIO | 2018 | ISBN-13: 9781440841989

    From early 16th-century explorations to the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, the British Empire controlled outposts on every continent, spreading its people and ideas across the globe and profiting mightily in the process. The present state of our worldfrom its increasing interconnectedness to its vast inequalities and from the successful democracies of North America to the troubled regimes of Africa and the Middle East—can be traced, in large part, to the way in which Great Britain expanded and controlled its empire. This book addresses a broader range of topics than do most other surveys of the empire, covering not only major political and military developments but also topics that have only recently come to serious scholarly attention, such as women’s and gender history, art and architecture, indigenous histories and perspectives, and the construction of colonial knowledge and ideologies. By going beyond the “headline” events of the British Empire, this captivating work communicates the British imperial experience in its totality.

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  • Great Empires: The British Empire, 1st Edition

    Great Empires: The British Empire, 1st Edition

    Cavendish Square Publishing | 2016 | ISBN-13: 9781502606358

    This title, available in print and eBook format, explores the many conquests of the British and their colonization of Africa, India, and the New World. Readers will learn about the monarchy, parliament, and more.

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  • Viewpoints on Modern World History: Brexit, 1st Edition

    Viewpoints on Modern World History: Brexit, 1st Edition

    Greenhaven Publishing | 2018 | ISBN-13: 9781534501423

    In June 2016, Great Britain shocked the world, and itself, by voting in favor of pulling out of the European Union (EU). Far from settling a long, simmering, and increasingly contentious debate within the UK and Europe, the aftermath of the Brexit vote sowed only more confusion, uncertainty, and angry debate about the economic, political, and even moral consequences of turning away from Europe and adopting a more protectionist, nationalist stance. That there was no clear plan for moving ahead with an EU exit in the wake of the vote only stoked greater anger and outrage. The debate and arguments rage on and are fully represented in this comprehensive volume as the future of the UK and Europe hang in the balance.

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