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Europe: United Kingdom


British History Online

British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
Timelines: Sources from History
This British Library interactive timeline allows you to explore collection items chronologically, from medieval times to the present day.
It includes a diverse combination of texts: those that allow glimpses of everyday life (handbills, posters, letters, diaries), remnants of political events (charters, speeches, campaign leaflets), and the writings of some of our best known historical and literary figures.
A Vision of Britain through Time
A Vision of Britain through Time brings together historical surveys of Britain to create a record of how the country and its localities have changed. Contains, among other information, a statistical atlas, historical maps, and census reports.
The British Monarchy
The official website of the British Monarchy
Britannia History
Provides links to many useful websites.




UK Map

Politics and Government


Legal Standing of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK), full name the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is composed of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Although the authority of the monarch is largely symbolic, the UK is still a constitutional monarchy; it is primarily a parliamentary democracy with full legislative authority on all issues in all areas vested in the UK Parliament.

In 1998, the UK Parliament began the process of devolution by transferring limited legislative powers to a Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, and a Northern Ireland Assembly. Accomplished via a set of official Acts for each country, the power each has to legislate depends on the powers specifically devolved to them. Basic guidance on devolved topics for Wales can be found here. The devolved powers of Northern Ireland can be found here. Current devolved competencies for Scotland can be found here. After the referendum for Scottish independence in September 2014, the status of devolution in Scotland is evolving, and the Scotland Bill 2015 that would provide further devolution is pending in Parliament. Although England currently has no individual governance, it is a topic of interest in the wake of these constitutional changes. These changes mean that information about these legal systems prior to 1998 is out-of-date, and because these institutions are still evolving, this Guide could be out-of-date by tomorrow. The official UK Government website will have the most current information and should always be checked.

In addition to these domestic changes, the UK is also affected by its membership in the European Union (EU) and as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (officially the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms).  At this time of this writing the United Kingdom is in the process of exiting the European Union, commonly called Brexit.  More information is available from Northwestern University.

There is no written constitution, and instead the constitution is considered to be made up of statutes, treaties, and cases. The concept of judicial review is also in a state of flux. For a full overview of current constitutional issues in the UK, see Erin F. Delany, Judiciary Rising: Constitutional Change in the United Kingdom, 108 Nw. L. Rev. 543 (2014). 


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