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Themes Famous People National Parks
Actors/Actresses and Directors Nobel Prize Winners
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Heritage and Nature Places of Interest
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Historic Events Prime Ministers
Artists and Architects Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Composers Maps and Documents World Heritage Sites
Explorers and Adventurers Monarchs Writers and Poets

The people included here were either born in Britain, died in Britain,
became British citizens, became Prime Minister of Britain or ascended the British throne.

Closely connected geographically and - for many centuries after the Norman Conquest of 1066 - also politically, six of England's monarchs have been born in France and four are buried there. A number of royal consorts from several of the English monarchy's ruling houses have also been French-born and many of these are buried in the country of their birth.

Norman Conquest

Approximately a million people speak Breton in Brittany, but only half of them on a daily basis. It is one of only four Celtic languages that are still spoken today; Irish and Scottish Gaelic and Welsh being the other three. The language was brought across by immigrants from Britain in the 5th century and is closely related to Cornish (now extinct) and Welsh.

Famous People
Charles Blondin was born as Jean Francois Gravelet in Hesdin near Calais in 1824. An acrobat and tightrope walker his fame rests mainly on a feat he achieved in 1859 when he walked across a tightrope stretched across the Niagara Falls. He repeated his exploit in various ways, including cooking an omelette midway, carrying a man on his back and on one occasion with the use of stilts. He died in London in 1897 and is buried there in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Famous London cemeteries

Diana, Princess of Wales died in a road accident in Paris in 1997. She is buried at Althorp Park in Northamptonshire, one of her childhood homes.

Diana, Princess of Wales

With her sons

Historic Events
In 1875 Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel when he swam from Dover to Calais.

In 1909 the Frenchman Louis Blériot became the first person to fly across the English Channel when he landed near Dover after taking off from Baraques on the French side.

Inventors and Scientists

The civil engineer and inventor Marc Isambard Brunel was born in 1769 in Hacqueville, Rouen. The father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel settled in England in 1799 having spent time in the USA to escape the French Revolution of 1793. His many public works included the construction of the Thames Tunnel and his life saw many ups and downs including bankruptcy, imprisonment for debt and his eventual knighthood for his services to the country. He was buried in 1849 in London's Kensal Green Cemetery

Marc Isambard Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Famous London cemeteries


House of Normandy
House of Normandy
The first Norman King of England William the Conqueror was born at Falaise Castle in Normandy in 1027/28. In 1066 - believing he had been assured the English crown by the childless Edward the Confessor and angered by Harold II who had become King on Edward's death - he invaded England. Landing in Sussex he met and defeated Harold's army at the Battle of Hastings.

Harold died on the battlefield and the defeat changed the course of the island's history. The Anglo-Saxon rule of England was over. William
ruled England until his death in 1087 at the Priory of St Gervais near Rouen where he died from a wound received during the siege of Mantes. He was buried at St Stephen's Abbey in Caen, Normandy. Two of his sons would succeed him: William II and Henry I.

William I
Battle of Hastings

William's youngest son Henry I died at a feast at St-Denis-le-Fermont near Rouen in 1135. He had ruled England since 1100 and was buried at Reading Abbey in Berkshire.

Henry's death lead to an unclear succession as William, Henry's only legitimate son and heir, had drowned in the
White Ship which sank in the English Channel in 1120. Henry had only one other legitimate child, a daughter, Matilda. But England was not yet ready for a female monarch and so it was Henry's nephew Stephen who became King, a development which would eventually lead to civil war.

Henry I

House of Plantagenet
House of Plantagenet
Born in 1133 in Le Mans, Henry II died in 1189 at Chinon Castle, Anjou. The first monarch from the House of Plantagenet and one of three Angevin Kings, he had ruled England since 1154. He was buried at Fontevrault Abbey.

Henry II
Henry II

In 1199 his son Richard the Lionheart died from a wound received during the siege of Chalus Castle, Aquitaine. One of three Angevin Kings from the House of Plantagenet, he ruled England from 1189. He was buried with his father at Fontevrault Abbey but his heart was buried at Rouen Cathedral.

Richard the Lionheart

Richard II was born in Bordeaux, Aquitaine in 1367. He was to become the last Plantagenet King of England when he acceded to the throne in 1377. He was deposed by Henry IV in 1399.

Richard II
Richard II

House of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
In 1422 Henry V died of dysentry at Vincennes Castle near Paris. He had ruled England since 1413 and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Henry V
Henry V
Monarchs buried at Westminster Abbey

House of York
House of York
Born at Rouen in 1442, Edward IV was to become the first monarch of the House of York. He ruled from 1461-70 and again from 1471 until his death in 1483.

Edward IV

House of Stuart
House of Stuart
James II died in exile in Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris in 1701 and was also buried there. He had fled England in 1688 after William III had landed and marched on London, in what became known as the Glorious Revolution.

James II
Glorious Revolution

House of Windsor
House of Windsor
In 1972 Edward VIII died in Paris. He had lived there since 1945 with his wife, the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. He acceded to the throne in January 1936 but in December of the same year became the only British monarch to voluntarily abdicate and was never crowned. He is buried at the Royal Cemetery in Windsor Home Park.

Edward VIII
Monarchs buried at Windsor

Nobel Prize Winners

William Butler Yeats, the first Irish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, died in 1939 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Provence and was buried there until 1948 when his body was exhumed and taken back to be buried in County Sligo in Ireland.

William Butler Yeats
Poetry Archive

Now that my ladder's gone
I must lie down where all ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

The Circus Animals' Desertion (1939)

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.
W.H. Auden: In Memory of W.B. Yeats (1940)

The Irish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 Samuel Beckett, died in 1989 in Paris.

Samuel Beckett

Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!
Waiting for Godot (1955)

It is suicide to be abroad. But what is it to be at home, Mr Tyler, what is it to be at home? A lingering dissolution.
All That Fall (1957)

The Irish statesman Sean Macbride was born in Paris in 1904. He was active in the cause of Irish independence, was involved in international human rights and chairman of Amnesty International. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Prize for Peace with Sato Eisaku.

Physiology or Medicine
The London-born immunologist Niels K. Jerne died in Castillon-du-Gard in 1994. In 1984 he had shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the German Georges J.F. Koehler and the Argentinian Cesar Milstein for their work on the immune system.

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Normandy
Matilda of Flanders, the wife of the first Norman King of England William the Conqueror, died in 1083 at Caen in Normandy and had been Queen since 1066. She was also buried in the town. The future King's of England, William II and Henry I, were her sons.

House of Plantagenet
Eleanor of Aquitaine, married the future Henry II in 1152 and became Queen on his accession in 1154. She was mother to both Richard I and John. She died in 1204 at Fontevrault Abbey where she was buried with her husband.

Henry Fitzhenry, the second eldest son and (after his elder brother William's death in 1156) heir to the throne of Henry II, died of dysentry in Martel, Quercy in 1183. He became known as Henry the Young King as - uniquely in the history of the monarchy - he was crowned king at Westminster Abbey in 1170 while his father was still alive. He is buried at Rouen Cathedral. It would be his younger brothers Richard (the Lionheart) and John (Lackland) who would become king (in 1189 and 1199 respectively) on their father's death.

In 1230 Berengaria of Navarre, Queen to Richard the Lionheart, died near Le Mans and was buried in the town. She had married Richard in 1191 and was Queen until his death in 1199. They had no children.

Eleanor of Provence, future Queen to Henry III, was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1223. She married Henry in 1236 and was Queen until his death in 1272. She was the mother of Edward I.

Isabella of Angouleme, the second wife of King John died in 1246 at Fontevrault Abbey where she was also buried. They had married in Bordeaux in 1200 and she had been Queen until his death in 1216. She was the mother of Henry III.

King John

Isabella of Valois, the second wife of Richard II was born in Paris in 1389. The daughter of King Charles VI of France married Richard at Calais in 1396. She was Queen until his death in 1400 after which she returned to France later marrying Charles, Duke of Orleans. She died in 1409 in childbirth. Her younger sister Catherine would later marry Henry V and her husband, the Duke of Orleans, would be captured by Henry at the Battle of Agincourt and spend a quarter of a century imprisoned in the Tower of London.

House of Lancaster
Catherine of Valois was born in Paris in 1401. She married Henry V at Troyes in 1420 and in 1421 gave birth to the future Henry VI. When her husband died in 1422 she secretly married Owen Tudor and their grandson was the future Henry VII, the first Tudor King of England. Her elder sister Isabella had been married to Richard II.

Catherine de Valois
Henry V

Margaret of Anjou was born in 1429 at Pont-a-Mousson, Lorraine. She became Queen to Henry VI on their wedding in 1445. In 1476, after five years in the Tower of London following the murder of her husband there, she was ransomed and released to return to France. In 1482 she died at Dampiere, Anjou and is buried at Angers Cathedral.

Margaret of Anjou
Famous people imprisoned at the Tower of London

House of Stuart

Born at the Louvre Palace in Paris in 1609 Henrietta Maria married Charles I in 1625. She gave birth to the future monarchs Charles II in 1630 and James II in 1633. During the English Civil Wars which lead to the execution of her husband in 1649 she was forced to flee into exile in France. She died in 1669 at Colombes near Paris and was buried at the Basilica of Saint Denis.

Henrietta Maria

Mary of Modena, who became the second wife of James II in 1673, died at Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris in 1718. She was Queen until the Glorious Revolution in 1688 when her husband was forced into exile in France. She is buried at Chaillot.

Mary of Modena
Glorious Revolution

House of Windsor
In 1986 Wallis Simpson, wife of Edward VIII, died in Paris in the same house where her husband had died in 1972. She is buried with her husband at the Royal Cemetery in Windsor Home Park. Her husband had abdicated in 1936 and they had married in France the following year.

Wallis Simpson

World Heritage Sites

Since 1979 forty-two sites of cultural, historic and natural importance in France have been designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Writers and Poets
For Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats see Nobel Prize Winners

The Irish playwright Oscar Wilde died in 1900 in Paris and is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. He settled in the city in 1897 on his release from jail in England after he had been found guilty of homosexuality.

Oscar Wilde

Poetry Archive

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection; through Art, and through Art only, that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.
Intentions (1891)

Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.

Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)

The English poet Wilfred Owen was killed in action near Ors in 1918 one week before the end of the First World War, he was also buried in the town. His anti-war poetry brought him posthumous fame, giving a generation disgusted at the waste and cruelty of the war a powerful voice.

Wilfred Owen
First World War
Wilfred Owen Association

All a poet can do today is warn.

Preface - Poems (1918)

The New Zealand born short story writer Katherine Mansfield died in 1923 at a clinic near Fontainebleau where she had gone to cure her tuberculosis.

Katherine Mansfield

Her friend D.H. Lawrence died in 1930 at Vence, Provence.

D.H. Lawrence

I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold doesn't crouch over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce. The heart of the North is dead, and the fingers of cold are corpse fingers.
(Letter, 1924)

The writer Lawrence Durrell died in 1990 in Sommières in the south of the country. He wrote poetry and nonfiction but became best known for his tetralogy The Alexandria Quartet set in the Egyptian city.

Lawrence Durrell

Lawrence Durrell

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