The Oxford Companion to British History

By John Cannon | Go to book overview


Udall, Nicholas ( 1505-56). Dramatist. Udall was educated at Winchester and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, took up teaching, and became headmaster of Eton and, at the end of his life, at Westminster. Like most Tudor pedagogues he was reputed a heavy flogger. His sympathies were with Lutheran reform and he prospered during the reign of Edward VI but managed to survive in that of Mary. Udall translated from the classics and wrote Latin plays, but is remembered as the author of the earliest known English comedy, Ralph Roister Doister, an imitation of Plautus, performed about 1552. The subject-matter is the wooing of a widow by Roister, a simple-minded braggart who comes to grief, and must have owed its popularity to the opportunities it presented for knockabout humour.


Uganda. Former British protectorate in eastern Africa. The search for the source of the White Nile first brought the region to Britain's attention in the 1860s. British missionaries reached Uganda in 1877 and the difficulties in which they became involved, together with Britain's interest in Egypt, to the north, led to the declaration of a British protectorate in 1894. The presence of well-organized indigenous societies was responsible for the decision, taken early in the 20th cent., to develop Uganda as an African, rather than as a white settler, dependency. This, in turn, led to the introduction of indirect administration, using modified indigenous institutions, and the policy was made economically viable by the encouragement of cotton, and later of coffee, to provide foreign exchange. The road to independence in 1962 was bedevilled only by the problem of accommodating the powerful, centrally located kingdom of Buganda in a unified state.


Ulster. The northern province of Ireland, comprising the counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Cavan, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Donegal, Tyrone, and Londonderry. It was dominated by Gaelic lords until the 17th cent.; the Normans under John de *Courcy and Hugh de Lacy establishing a foothold in eastern Ulster in the late 12th and early 13th cents.: de Lacy was created earl of Ulster by King John in 1205. The Norman intrusion was both socially and geographically confined: Ulster remained the most Gaelic, and -- from the perspective of English governors in Dublin -- inaccessible part of Ireland until the plantation of 1609. The flight of the Gaelic lords in 1607 after the failure of *Tyrone's rebellion opened the way to mass confiscations of land by the crown, and the redistribution of this property through a programme of colonization. The Ulster plantation embraced the six central and western counties of Ulster: an earlier plantation in Monaghan ( 1593) was allowed to stand, and the eastern counties, long characterized by informal British settlement, were also untouched. The destruction of Gaelic society continued during the Commonwealth, when massive confiscations occurred in eastern and southern Ulster: the Gaelic aristocracy was, by 1660, all but annihilated. The victory of the Williamite forces in Ireland by 1691 confirmed this territorial distribution, and opened the way to further British migration into Ulster. However, the weak economic condition of Ireland at the beginning of the 18th cent. stemmed this tide, and indeed produced a flow of presbyterian emigrants. The mid- and late 18th cent. was characterized by economic growth throughout most of Ireland, and at this time Ulster emerged as the centre of the Irish linen industry, and * Belfast developed as a significant industrial centre. The commercial success of especially eastern Ulster in the 19th cent., allied with the substantial British and protestant population, helped cut the region off from the rising nationalist fervour elsewhere in Ireland: by the time of the first *Home Rule Bill ( 1886), there was broad support for the maintenance of a constitutional link with Britain. In 1920 the island was partitioned, with the six most unionist counties -- the new *Northern Ireland -- obtaining a separate devolved parliament and government. This partition settlement was confirmed by the *Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, and by the Boundary Commission of 1925: it was further underwritten by the * Ireland Act ( 1949), passed by the United Kingdom House of Commons after the declaration of a republic by Dublin in 1948. However, the dominant unionist social and political culture of Northern Ireland came under increasing challenge from the nationalist minority, benefiting from improved access to higher education, but still economically and culturally disadvantaged. Between 1969 and 1994, in the context of a lowgrade civil war conducted between loyalist and republican paramilitaries and the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British army, an untenable position of unionist political predominance was gradually undermined. Although 'Ulster' -- the old provincial label is still sometimes applied to Northern Ireland -- looks set to remain with Britain, it is probable that


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The Oxford Companion to British History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Ppreace vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Note to the Reader xii
  • A 1
  • B 71
  • C 149
  • D 273
  • E 318
  • F 363
  • G 399
  • H 445
  • I 503
  • J 523
  • K 541
  • L 553
  • M 602
  • N 666
  • O 701
  • P 717
  • Q 782
  • R 785
  • S 831
  • T 907
  • U 941
  • V 951
  • W 960
  • Y 1008
  • Z 1015
  • Subject Index 1034


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