The Magna Carta having cured all social issues and resolved all inequalities within our society, England ploughed on along the path of peace and tranquillity towards prosperity…
1346 A.D. – The Black Death. Bubonic plague reduced the population of Europe by more than fifty percent and may have killed up to 200 million people worldwide replacing the price of turnips as the most discussed subject in the pub. This plague should not be confused with the Great Plague of London (1665) which was actually exactly the same thing, but three hundred years later.
1455 A.D – The War of the Roses. A series of civil wars fought between two branches of the same family for the control of the country following a feud dating back to the death of Edward III over who got the candlesticks. These wars lasted for thirty years and differed only from the kind of ructions that emanate from most family funerals in the number of deaths it precipitated and the pronounced paucity of mushroom vol au vents afterwards.
1605 A.D. – The Gunpowder Plot. A failed plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament as a prelude to restoring a Catholic monarchy in the country which was led by Robert Catesby. Guy Fawkes was just one of a number of conspirators, but he was the one who was unlucky enough to have been left in charge of the gunpowder and, subsequently, the one who has had fireworks stuffed up his arse on the fifth of November every year since. The other plotters – those who survived a gun battle and a fire caused (ironically) by their own gunpowder – plus a couple who joined in the party posthumously (having been exhumed especially for the event) were castrated, hung, drawn and quartered, but at least they don’t have to be reminded of it every bloody year.
1642 A.D. – The English Civil War: a series of battles between ‘Roundheads’ and ‘Cavaliers’ to determine the supremacy of parliament over monarch. Oliver Cromwell led the Roundheads to victory and became Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland after beheading King Charles I. He was a kind and benevolent leader and in no way a complete megalomaniac arse, so beloved by his happy and joyful subjects that as soon as they could, following his death in 1658, they opted to have the Monarchy restored, as it was a far less authoritarian option. Charles II dissolved the Parliament at his earliest convenience and assumed total control of the kingdom until his death in 1685 by which time he had at least twelve illegitimate children from his many mistresses (including Nell Gwynne, Moll Flanders and Joan Collins) and a dopey-looking spaniel named after him.
1665 A.D – The Great Plague of London (one of many re-emergences of The Black Death) killed about twenty five percent of the city’s population and, like most of the bad things the capital has to offer, eventually spread out to the whole country. Ships travelling into London from infected ports were forced into quarantine before being allowed to dock and the wealthier members of society (including Charles II and his entourage) fled the city. Things did not seem quite so bad when only the poor were dying. Eventually a cure was found when a negligent baker managed to burn down most of the city the following year. The efficacy of this fiery cure is attested to in the second verse of the Plague Nursery Rhyme, ‘Ring-a-Roses’ which goes ‘Ashes on the water, Ashes on the sea, We all jump up with a one, two, three’ – although it now appears to have been ‘modernised’ to ‘Fishes in the water, Fishes in the sea’ in order to make no sense at all.
1707 A.D. – The Act of Union between England and Scotland was passed in both parliaments, leading to the formation of Great Britain. The Union was so popular in Scotland that martial law had to be imposed and pub landlords began the long-held tradition of charging English Tourists extra for allowing them to put ice in the whisky.
N.B. I can only apologise if my interpretation of events is at odds with your own. Loathe though I am to admit it, I do occasionally get things wrong.
*This is not The History of Britain because I have no desire to thoroughly piss off the people of three other nations.
You can find part one here and part three here.