This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of ancient, medieval, industrial, and contemporary Wales from the 8th millennium BCE to 2013. It is based on four lectures written for the participants in Stanford Travel/Study’s Wales Walk, July 2014.
I begin by looking at the settlement of ancient Wales – how its Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples subsisted, how the Britons, Picts, and Scots conquered the island of Great Britain, and how Viking raids and settlement influenced Wales. I then examine how the Norman Conquest (11th century) changed Wales, why Welsh rebellions led to an English takeover, and why Wales’s economy grew in the 13th and 17th centuries
but stagnated in the 14th-16th centuries. I next analyze industrial Wales (1707-1914) – how Welsh industrialists benefited from union with England and Scotland, how Wales became a heavy industrial power, and why agricultural employment fell in 19th-century Wales. Lastly, I turn to modern Wales (1914-present) – its economic transformation from industry to services, the parties that dominated Welsh governments, and
the role of the National Assembly in Wales since devolution in 1998. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Wales.