Online exhibits: Four Nations
The right to vote allows all UK citizens a say in electing MPs to Westminster. But the House of Commons has been criticised as an overly English institution, which fails to recognise or respond to the needs of other parts of the United Kingdom.
This section looks at the fractured history of these islands, how union between the four ancient kingdoms came about, and how it was resisted. It brings together historical documents of nationhood, many of which are still resonant today.
Today there are devolved assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland, and a devolved parliament in Scotland. A debate is under way about what it means to be British, and what the future of the Union may be.
Some significant stops along the route of the Four Nations
1250 Matthew Paris's map of Britain
1261 Chronicle of Mann
1282 Edward I annexes Wales
1320 Declaration of Arbroath sent to Pope at Avignon
1406 Pennal Letter from Owain Glyn Dŵr to king of France
1603 James VI of Scotland accedes to English throne as James I
1638 Scots sign National Covenant
1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland
1715 First major Jacobite uprising begins United Kingdom?
1746 Jacobites defeated at Culloden
1798 Led by Wolfe Tone, Society of United Irishmen rebel against British rule in Ireland
1801 Act of Union creates the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
1886 Irish Home Rule bill defeated
1893 Second Home Rule bill defeated
1912 Liberals propose Home Rule for Ireland
1914 Third Home rule bill passed
1921 Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty signed, resulting in partition
1922 Irish Civil War breaks out
1927 New Act of Union creates United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1949 Republic of Ireland comes into being
1971 First British soldier killed in Northern Ireland's 'Troubles'
1972 British army kills 14 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on 'Bloody Sunday'
1981 Hunger strikes by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland end after ten deaths
1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement signed
1997 Scotland and Wales vote in favour of devolution
1998 Belfast Agreement; Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies and Scottish Parliament established
2002 Government of Northern Ireland suspended
2004 Queen opens new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood
2007 Devolved government restored in Northern Ireland