History of the United Kingdom

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The history of the United Kingdom as a unified sovereign state began with the political union of the kingdoms of England, which included Wales, and Scotland on 1 May 1707 in accordance with the Treaty of Union, as ratified by the Acts of Union 1707. The Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain,[1][2] which shared a single constitutional monarch and a single parliament at Westminster. Prior to this, the kingdoms of England and Scotland had been separate states, though in personal union following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, with political, administrative and cultural institutions including representative governance, law systems, and distinguished contributions to the arts and sciences, upon which the United Kingdom was to be built. On the new, united kingdom, historian Simon Schama said "What began as a hostile merger would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world... it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history."[3] A further Act of Union in 1800 added the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The early years of the United Kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended with defeat at Culloden in 1746. Later, victory in the Seven Years' War, in 1763, led to the dominance of the British Empire which was the foremost global power for over a century and grew to become the largest empire in history. By 1921, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, approximately one-quarter of the world's population.[4] and as a result, the culture of the United Kingdom, and its industrial, political and linguistic legacy, is widespread.

In 1922 and following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to become the Irish Free State,[5] a dominion of the British Empire but a day later, Northern Ireland seceded from the Free State and rejoined the United Kingdom. As a result, in 1927 the United Kingdom changed its formal title to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,"[6] usually shortened to the "United Kingdom", the "UK" or "Britain", but the Monarch remained "By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King/Queen, Defender of the Faith" until 1953.

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