Centuries of overseas invasions galvanized a hardy and industrious population into a powerful juggernaut. Forge fractured kingdoms into one, defend your island from overseas incursions with disciplined yeomen levies, and set your sights far beyond your borders. Your experienced archers and Longbowmen will shower the battlefield with arrows while your siege engineers construct trebuchets capable of demolishing even the most formidable castles!
The Britons' unique unit is the Longbowman, reflecting their historical use of the English longbow in their military campaigns. Longbowmen are archers with higher range than every other archer in the game, even outranging Castles and towers in later stages of a game. Their Castle Age unique technology Yeomen refers to the fact that the Britons heavily relied on archery, thus giving their foot archers even more range, as well as increasing their tower damage. The Britons were known for their small villages scattered across England, as well as their tactics of encroaching on enemies with strongholds, and thus build cheaper Town Centers. Known as skilled shepherds and heavily involved in the wool trade, British shepherds work faster. For a time in England, all sports but archery were banned on Sundays, thus the Britons also have faster Archery Ranges.
Their descendants are the modern English nation, that alongside the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations (descendants of the Celts). These nations created a united kingdom, the British civilization.
The Britons' main advantages are in their ranged units as they arguably have the best foot archers. They are trained faster and have a very long range. Their infantry is also very good with a complete tech tree. But their mounted units are very underwhelming and their siege weapons are also lacking. This is compensated to a degree by their very dangerous Trebuchets that aim at units with perfect accuracy and deal blast damage thanks to Warwolf. Their navy is strong with a full tech tree apart from Elite Cannon Galleons. The Monks are below average with three technologies missing. Their defensive structures are good, and their economy rather average, although their Shepherd bonus is very helpful early on.
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Briton AI characters:
Alfred the Great (849-899): King of Wessex (871-899), successfully stopped the Viking expansion and became the dominant ruler in England, while improving education, people’s quality of life and more.
Duke of Normandy: Title given to the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy. In 911, the Duchy was granted to the Viking Rollo by French king Charles III. From 1066-1204 held by Kings of England, after which the Duchy was conquered by Philip II and made into a French province.
Earl of Warwick: Prestigious title of the ruler of Warwick Castle in central England. Started in 1088 with Henry de Beaumont, and ended in 1499 with the death of the 17th Earl. The title was revived three times more up until today.
Earl of Wessex: Title used three times in history for the rule of southwest England (West-Saxons): Godwin (Earl from 1020-1053), Harold the Saxon (Earl from 1053-1066 and last Anglo-Saxon king of England) and William FitzOsbern (created Earl by William the Conqueror in 1066-1071).
Edward Longshanks(1239-1307): Edward I, King of England from 1272-1307. Reformer of royal administration and law. A tall man, hence the name; Intimidating and fear-instilling man, earned the name ‘Hammer of the Scots’ in the first Scottish Independence War. He is the main character of the new campaign with the same name from the Lords of the West expansion.
Harold Godwinson(1022–1066): often called Harold II or Harold the Saxon, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his death at the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England.
Henry Bolingbroke (1367-1413): Henry IV, King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1399-1413, born in Bolingbroke Castle (east England). Spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, assassination attempts and numerous rebellions.
Henry Tudor (1457-1509): Henry VII, King of England (1485-1509). Was able to defeat other houses in the Wars of the Roses, becoming the first Tudor family king. Restored the power and stability of the English monarchy. This was also a birth name of King Henry VIII (1491-1547), who is best known for his six marriages, and, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) annulled. The disagreement with the papacy on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation.
Henry V (1386-1422): King of England (1413-1422). Best known for his military successes in the Hundred Years’ War, in particular for his victory in the Battle of Agincourt (1415).
King Edward: Presumably Edward the Elder (874-924), King of the Anglo-Saxons (899-924), son of Alfred the Great. Captured various parts of eastern England from the Danish Vikings.
Lord Henry Percy: Sir Henry (Hotspur) Percy (1364-1403), nobleman from north England and captain during the Anglo-Scottish wars. Led a rebellion against Henry IV, but was killed in battle.
Lord Talbot (1384-1453): John Talbot, English military general and commander during the Hundred Years’ War. Known for his rapid and aggressive attacks, he was killed by French cannon.
Prince John (1166-1216): King of England from 1199-1216, brother of Richard the Lionhearted. Spent much of his reign attempting to regain French territory he had previously lost. Was often pictured as a cruel, evil man; villain in popular Robin Hood stories.
Richard II (1367-1400): King of England (1377-1399). Sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years’ War; had a love for art and culture. Deposed by Henry Bolingbroke.
Richard the Lionhearted (1157-1199): King of England from 1189-1199. Great military leader and warrior, a central commander during the Third Crusade.
The Black Prince: Prince Edward (1330-1376), prince of Wales and Aquitaine. Best known for his campaigns in the Hundred Years’ War, particularly his great victories in the battles of Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356).
William III: Can depict different persons, most likely either King William III of Sicily (1186-1198), the last Norman king of Sicily, or William III, Duke of Aquitaine (915-963) who defended Aquitaine and Poitiers from French kings.
Following the withdrawal of the Roman legions to Gaul (modern France) around 400, the British Isles fell into a very dark period of several centuries from which almost no written records survive. The Romano-British culture that had existed under 400 years of Roman rule disappeared under relentless invasion and migration by barbarians. Celts came over from Ireland (a tribe called the Scotti gave their name to the northern part of the main island, Scotland). Saxons and Angles came from Germany, Frisians from modern Holland, and Jutes from modern Denmark. By 600, the Angles and Saxons controlled most of modern England. By 800, only modern Wales, Scotland, and West Cornwall remained in largely Celtic hands.
The new inhabitants were called Anglo-Saxons (from the Angles and Saxons). The Angles gave their name to the new culture (England from Angle-land), and the Germanic language they brought with them, English, replaced the native Celtic and previously imported Latin. Despite further invasions and even a complete military conquest at a later date, the southern and eastern parts of the largest British Isle have been called England (and its people and language English) ever since.
In 865 the relative peace of England was shattered by a new invasion. Danish Vikings who had been raiding France and Germany formed a great army and turned their attention on the English. Within 10 years, most of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had fallen or surrendered. Only the West Saxons (modern Wessex) held out under Alfred, the only English ruler to be called “the Great.”
England was divided among the Vikings, the West Saxons, and a few other English kingdoms for nearly 200 years. The Viking half was called the Danelaw (“under Danish law”). The Vikings collected a large payment, called the Danegeld (“the Dane’s gold”), to be peaceful. The Danes became Christians and gradually became more settled. In time the English turned on the Danes, and in 954 the last Viking king of York was killed. England was united for the first time under an English king from Wessex.
In 1066 the Witan (“king’s council”) offered the crown to Harold, son of the Earl of Wessex. Two others claimed the throne: Harald Hardrada (meaning “the hard ruler”), King of Norway, and Duke William of Normandy. The Norwegian landed first, near York, but was defeated by Harold at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Immediately after the victory, Harold force-marched his army south to meet William at Hastings. The battle seesawed back and forth all day, but near dusk Harold was mortally wounded by an arrow in the eye. Over the next two years, William, now “the Conqueror,” solidified his conquest of England.
During the remainder of the Middle Ages, the successors of William largely exhausted themselves and their country in a series of confrontations and wars attempting to expand or defend land holdings in France. The Hundred Years War between England and France was an on-and-off conflict that stretched from 1337 to 1453. It was triggered by an English king’s claim to the throne of France, thanks to family intermarriages. The war was also fought over control of the lucrative wool trade and French support for Scotland’s independence. The early part of the war featured a string of improbable, yet complete, English victories, thanks usually to English longbowmen mowing down hordes of ornately armored French knights from long range.
The English could not bring the war to closure, however, and the French rallied. Inspired by Joan of Arc, a peasant girl who professed divine guidance, the French fought back, ending the war with the capture of Bordeaux in 1453. The English were left holding only Calais on the mainland (and not for long).
The user interface image in the Definitive Edition displays the Tudor rose.
Age of Empires II often calls the Britons "British", which is historically incorrect, as no British nation existed back in the Medieval period. The proper term would be "English". Historically, "Britons" referred to the Cornish and Welsh cultural groups native to Britain; Brythonic Celts.
In other languages like Spanish, the civilization is correctly named, as they are called "Ingleses", which means "English".
In The Conquerors, the Britons are the only civilization to not have access to any non-unique unit/technology that 9 or fewer civilizations have access to.
The appearance of the British Wonder before the Definitive Edition is based on the Aachen Cathedral, a landmark located in modern Germany.
The Britons historically were known to have master horsebreeding which played a crucial role in their wars in Scotland and Ireland, but lack access to Paladin and Bloodlines. This is for gameplay balance purposes to create a clear weakness to their strong archer civilization bonuses and their unique unit.
They are the only Western European civilization that can research Ring Archer armor, but lacks Paladin.
Other than the sixth Barbarossa scenario, and some Edward Longshanks scenarios where the Britons appear as allies, the British factions in other campaigns are mostly, if not, all antagonists.