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National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780–1840
National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780–1840

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National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780–1840


In the 1780s there were two distinct, but connected, political entities to be found in the British Isles: the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain. In January 1801, these kingdoms joined together to form a new state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, political union did not necessarily mean that all of the people living in the British Isles suddenly felt that they had come together as ‘one nation’.

This free course, National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780–1840, begins by looking at why and how the United Kingdom was formed in 1801. You will then explore the emergence of a British national identity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and evaluate the extent to which two popular political movements – opposition to Catholic emancipation and the parliamentary reform movement – helped to foster a shared sense of ‘Britishness’ among people living in the new state. Finally, as political developments in Ireland differed significantly from those in Britain, you will consider national identity as it emerged in an Irish context.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A225 The British Isles and the modern world, 1789–1914 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .