Britannia: British History and Travel
British History,Monarchs of Great Britain,King Arthur


Britannia was the original name given by the Romans to the province that comprised what is now England and Wales (neighboring Ireland was known as Hibernia, Scotland was Caledonia, Germany was Germania, Brittany was Armorica and France was just plain Gaul). After the Romans left, the name gradually fell into disuse, but later, in the days of the Empire, it came to represent the spirit of Britain, herself.

Since 1672, Britannia has been anthropomorphised into a woman wearing a helmet, and carrying a shield and trident. It is a symbol that blends the concepts of empire, militarism and economics.

The poem "Rule Britannia" by James Thomson (1700-48) was put to music by Thomas Augustine Arne (around 1740) and is sung as an unofficial national anthem.


Rule Britannia
a song by Thomas Augustine Arne, 1740

When Britain first at Heav'n's command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain;

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.

The nations not so blest as thee,
Shall in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.

Still mor majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame,
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.

To thee belongs the rural reign;
They cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair;
Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guide the fair.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.

          Rule Britannia
a poem by James Thompson

When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian Angels sung this strain:

Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves.

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall:
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke:
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.

© 1995, 1996, 1997 Britannia Internet Magazine, LLC