|Religion||Protestant or Catholic|
|Enemies||France, Spain, Netherlands, Scotland, Eire|
|Allies||Sweden, Scotland, Burgundy or none|
Since the term "English" explicitly refers to peoples who arrived on the island of Great Britain relatively recently, it is anachronistic to talk of England's prehistory or ancient history which, though rich and interesting, are properly dealt with as part of the history of the island of Great Britain as a whole.
England has been inhabited for at least 500,000 years, although the repeated Ice Ages made much of Britain uninhabitable for extended periods until as recently as 20,000 years ago. Stone Age hunter-gatherers eventually gave way to farmers and permanent settlements, with a spectacular and sophisticated megalithic civilisation arising in western England some 4,000 years ago. It was replaced around 1,500 years later by Celtic tribes migrating from continental Europe. These tribes were known collectively as "Britons", a name bestowed by Phoenician traders - an indication of how, even at this early date, the island was part of a Europe-wide trading network.
The Britons were significant players in continental politics and supported their allies in Gaul militarily during the Gallic Wars with the Roman Republic. This prompted the Romans to invade and subdue the island, first with Julius Caesar's raid in 55 BC, and then the Emperor Claudius' conquest in the following century. The whole southern part of the island — roughly corresponding to modern day England and Wales — became a prosperous part of the Roman Empire. It was finally abandoned early in the 5th century when the legions were pulled back to the Continent.
Unaided by the Roman army, Roman Britannia could not long resist the Germanic tribes who arrived in the 5th and 6th centuries, pushing the Britons back into modern-day Wales and Cornwall. The invaders fell into three main groups: the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles. As they became more civilised, recognisable states formed and began to merge with one another. (The most well-known state of affairs being the "Anglo-Saxon heptarchy".) From time to time throughout this period, one Anglo-Saxon king, recognised as the "Bretwalda" by other rulers, had effective control of all or most of the English; so it is impossible to identify the precise moment when the country of England was unified. In some sense, real unity came as a response to the Danish Viking incursions which occupied the eastern half of "England" in the 8th century. Egbert, King of Wessex (d. 839) is often regarded as the first king of all the English, although the title "King of England" was first adopted, two generations later, by Alfred the Great (ruled 871–899).
Some school histories of England begin with the Norman conquest in 1066, and the numbering system used for English monarchs treats that event as a blank slate from which to count. (For example, the Edward I who reigned in the 13th century was not the first king of England of that name, only the first since the conquest.) But although he unquestionably engineered a pivotal moment in the country's history, William the Conqueror did not "found" or "unify" the country; he took over a pre-existing England and gave it an Anglo-Norman administration and nobility who gradually adopted the language and customs of the English over the succeeding centuries.
England came repeatedly into conflict with Wales and Scotland, at the time an independent principality and an independent kingdom respectively, as its rulers sought to expand English power across the entire island of Britain. The conquest of Wales was achieved in the 13th century when it was annexed to England and gradually came to be a part of that kingdom for most legal purposes, although in the modern era it is more usually thought of as a separate nation (fielding, for example, its own athletic teams). English power in Scotland waxed and waned over the years, with the Scots managing to maintain a varying degree of independence despite repeated wars with the English. Although it was on the whole only a moderately successful power in military terms, England became one of the wealthiest states in medieval Europe, due chiefly to its dominance in the lucrative wool market.
The failure of English territorial ambitions in continental Europe prompted the kingdom's rulers to look further afield, creating the foundations of the mercantile and colonial network that was to become the British Empire. The turmoil of the Reformation embroiled England in religious wars with Europe's Catholic powers, notably Spain, but the kingdom preserved its independence as much through luck as through the skill of charismatic rulers such as Elizabeth I. Elizabeth's successor, James I was already king of Scotland (as James VI); and this personal union of the two crowns was followed a century later by the Act of Union 1707 which finally unified England, Scotland and Wales to form the core of the present-day United Kingdom. For the history of England after that date, see History of the United Kingdom.
War with France vs. Early Great Britain
In 1419, England is locked in the Hundred Years War with France. Although you surpass Frenchmen with both numbers and leaders, early battles are very random, so you can either be lucky and win with them in a year or so, or lose the whole war completely. For advanced warring guides, check the Basis of warfare. Try to use cavalry in plains as often as possible and engage in battles ONLY if you have a leader. Try to catch their leaders (Joan d'Orlean, for example) with small armies and destroy them. Avoid battles and increase your warscore with sieging. The idea is to let Brittany to steal your sieges (just withdraw your army from the siege and then quickly return, you don't have to move from province to province) so that they grow big. Then, when you diploannex them, you will get 1 BB per province and not 6 BBs you would get if you annexed the minors at your own. If you will not own any of these provinces by 1453, you will lose your claims and French culture: 414, 383, 384, 382, 418 and 424 (see Provinces with IDs). Try to win this war even if you plan not to expand in Europe, as French provinces are rich and you will avoid wrong culture penalty.
An equally successful strategy is to end your participation in the Hundred Years War early, using French provinces to purchase peace with individual countries within French territory. Then militarily concentrate upon Scotland, forcing a vassalization with them. A quick war against Ireland should also be pursued early on, specifically to force vassalization. For the rest of the early game, avoid foreign entanglements and concentrate upon sending gifts to Scotland and Ireland, ultimately allying with and diplo-annexing them.
Experience seems to suggest that to succeed in Britain's early wars, the cautious player will try to fight on only one front at a time. Namely, either subjugate the rest of the isle or continue your continental ambitions. However, there are many compelling reasons to deal with France first. First, they have many events that will cause them to become even more powerful, so it is best to hit them while they're down. Two, their provinces are richer and you are able to retain french culture. And three, if you are lucky and manage to annex all or most of France, that gives you a lot of money for overseas expansion and one less powerful continental rival to deal with. (Though you may be loathed for some time due to a rather high Bad Boy and may have to fight a war or two with Austria, a dangerous undertaking)
When Luther pops up, a majority of your provinces will change to Protestant. This will not pose as much of a problem if you have already diplo-annexed Ireland and Scotland. Do not change your religion manually, but wait till 1534, when the Act of Supremacy occures. If you choose a transformation to Protestant, DO NOT try to convert your mainland Catholic provinces, if any are left. before 1540s, as they will change to Reformed after Calvin anyway. You can try to go Reformed, if you want to get some trade boosts, but I don't think it is very important as you will rule in trade anyway. Befriend Protestant and Reformed nations, so set your religious tolerance sliders at 100% for Protestant and 75% for both Catholic and Reformed. Muslims and Orthodox can be at 0%, it is unlikely for England to own such provinces in early game.
Note that some players have played England with great success (on Very Hard) without converting to Protestant or Reformed. This works well with the "Early Great Britain" strategy, which gives England all the Catholic provinces of Ireland to make up some of the slack lost from differing province religions. Additionally, it presents Spain and Portugal as possible, powerful ahistorical allies. However, in this strategy, make sure to convert Anglia to Roman Catholic.
Colonization and trading
The most important thing is not to be stuck with your historical area of colonization. Leave Canada alone, it is comparatively useless. Try to grab as many provinces in Carribean as possible and then colonize the East Coast (annexing some Pagans). When you get a conquistador and have explored the inland provinces near your colonies, move him right through North America and discover California, Sacramento and Alaska. There are two gold provinces worth to be colonized. Then send some ships to discover African seas and place your spots here and there (southern cape would be helpful). You can grab CoTs from Pagan nations, if you like.
The England player might want to consider an "unholy alliance" with Spain and Portugal in the 15th and early 16th centuries. Iberian help makes the conquest of France easier, and it also allows you to "exchange discoveries" with both nations around 1520 or so. This allows England to start its colonial adventures considerably earlier, and in a greater variety of places than historically was the case. If you're feeling daring, have good stability, and a bit of extra cash,the geographic knowledge you gain from your "allies" could allow you to "steal" the Aztec Empire out from under Spain's nose, netting you a good source of gold for the rest of the game.
You will probably not have much money on sending merchants, as England has many problems with stabhits in 15. and 16. century. Try to place 4-5 merchants in as many CoTs as possible, both European and African. Avoid signing Trade Agreements, as it reduces your Trade Efficiency.
England lags in technology in the early game, especially when compared to its most dangerous enemy - France. However, abandoning French territory early effectively eliminates France as a serious threat. Try not to lag more than one CRT in Land, keep ahead in Naval and the rest of the time spend on researching Infrastructure and Trade. Invest in Infrastructure even if you lag with all the other techs, as it will pay back in mid and late game. Don't care much about lagging in Land, as you are Naval power anyway - your fleet will keep the others away, unless you want them to reach you for some reason.
Centralization is a must-have to all nations. In the early game, when you will depend heavily on your fleet, go Naval, Defensive, Quality and Aristocratic, although Aristocratic is not necessarily mandatory. If one pursues a hardcore Protestant/Reformed strategy, you will have a lot of provinces to convert, so keep Innovativeness at 4.
Innovativeness and centralization should however be watched and adjusted according to your size. Both values increase the cost for raising stability, so if you find yourself too large and constantly putting down rebelions, you may want to decrease these slightly. If on the other hand you are playing a leaner, more compact British Empire, centralization and innovativeness can be a big help.
In mid-game all your early expenses begin to pay back. You are investing in military techs and you can match other countries in the field. As for Europe, there are two completely divergent strategies. If one has adopted the "war in France" strategy, you should fight for supremacy in Germany, especially if Poland/Austria/France annexes some countries there. If you have adopted the "early Great Britain" strategy, you should instead concentrate upon enlarging your knowledge of the world (trade maps) and increasing the size of your colonial empire and trade placements. Strategic seizure of pagan centers of trade can pay off.
Historically, England tried to keep balance in Europe and you can try to do the same. You can start warring with both France and Spain for their colonies, but you have to own an enormous fleet. You can grab their Canadian, American and Carribean spots, as well as some tiny colonies in Africa. Don't be fear for your core provinces, as your fleet will keep any landings away. Make a good use of your leaders placing them in the most important strategic provinces.
Further colonization and trade
Discover all shores with your explorers and set colonies in the richest provinces. Fight with Pagan nations in Africa and Asia to get their manpower and gold provinces (Songhai, Kongo, Zimbabwe, etc.). Compete with Portugal and Spain and grab eastern CoTs in fast, blitzkrieg wars (you will have superior military techs). Monopolize all your CoTs (by the time, you should have one in your coreland, one or two in America and at least few in Africa and Asia) and keep 4-5 merchants in all other. If you get embargoed, dow the CoT owned immediately to keep your Trade Efficiency as high as possible.
"Leap Frogging" colonies allows places for your fleets to recover from attrition and explore further and deeper into the unknown, opening up areas such as India, the East Indies and parts of South America before other European powers reach them. Good places for leapfrogging colonies are Tierra Del-Fuego, South Africa, India, California and Hawaii. These allow you to send fleets almost anywhere in the world, thus solidfying your global hegemony.
As in mid and late game you will engage in warfare more often then you did in the early phase, you can move both your Land/Naval and Defensive/Offensive to the middle. You have probably eliminated the third religion in your country, so you can go 7 or 8 with Innovativeness.
England in AoI
In AoI there are plenty of cool events for England. It is much more interesting than vanilla.
If you own both Irish and Scottish provinces in the beginning of 18 cent. you will change to Great Britain and get a new flag - Union Jack.