What are some of the failed invasions of England?

I am doing a speech on England and as examples in the speech I’d like to use some of the failed attempts to invade Great Britain. I only really know about two failed ones, the Spanish Armada and Hitlers in WW2, and I’d like to have at least three examples. What are some of the others?

Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 BC and again in 54 BC. Not exactly a failure, since he defeated the local king the second time, but other concerns forced him to leave before consolidating the conquest. The Romans did not return for 97 years.

Napoleon in 1804:


He massed a huge army in Boulogne, but couldn’t get the naval support to get them across the channel - the fleet he intended to do it with was defeated at Trafalgar.

Harold Hardrada and his Norse army in 1066.

He was defeated by the Saxon King Harold Godwinson, who then had to race to Hastings to stop William the Conqueror, not as successfully.

This BBC History page has everything if not more than you want to know. There was a series presented by historian Dan Cruikshank about the surprisingly numerous invasion attempts by the French, Spanish, Dutch etc to invade England and the various efforts to counter the threat.

In the reign of King John:

The reign of Henry VIII:

Charles II:

George III:

Great series!

Hitler’s planned invasion (Operation Sealion; see the link for an essay on why it wouldn’t work) was little more than a plan, a plan that would have been difficult if not impossible to pull off. The Nazis lacked the equipment necessary to undertake an invasion (seaworthy landing craft, for example), and certainly could not have faced the Royal Navy in the Channel, let alone the RAF (which would have evacuated to safer airfields in the north if the Battle of Britain had been lost) or the army and Home Guard. Speculation on Sealion is extensive (though inappropriate for GQ). Suffice it to say that it was a planned invasion that was never attempted, so I don’t think it counts as a failed invasion.

Many factions have planned a conquest of England, and some probably still dream of it today. Granted, none of those factions were able to conquer France – except the Romans, and their invasion of England (or the geographical area it would later occupy) was successful.

The National Football League attempted to expand into Europe in the 1990s with the World League of American Football. One of the franchises was the London Monarchs, and another was the Scottish Claymores. The London franchise called it quits years ago, and the Claymores gave up the ghost this past season.

During the early 13th century, and under the reign of his father, the future Louis VIII of France failed in his attempt to invade England and be crowned king.

I invaded London for a week in the summer of 2000, but I ran out of money and had to go home. :slight_smile:

And don’t forget Scotland and England invaded each other so many times it’s surprising they didn’t develop a handicap system just to make it more interesting.

There were also the attempts by dislodged monarchs to re-gain their thrones: Charles II led an invasion from Scotland, but lost the Battle of Worcester and had to flee; there was the 1715 Jacobite rebellion; and the much more serious Jacobite invasion of 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland, had some considerable success, and marched south to England as far as Derby before it all collapsed.

The last successful invasion of England was William of Orange in 1688.

In 1796, the French tried to land an army of 18,000 soldiers in Ireland, where they would meet with Irish separatists. The fleet was distracted, harried, and scattered by the in-shore channel fleet under Pellew, but at least one ship landed troops; I remember reading that this was the last time an armed invader was on the shores of Ireland, but can’t find a cite for it; I may be misremembering. I’m not sure if that counts or not

Wow… from the looks of things, Sir Humphrey Appleby was right. Britain’s REAL enemy is the French. :stuck_out_tongue:

There are Irish who’ll argue otherwise.

To be fair, he was invited by Parliament, and didn’t meet much in the way of armed resistance.

Then there were the French frightened off by welsh women

No, he was invited by the Immortal Seven, a collection of seven English aristocrats and bishops. That invitation was likely treason, if James II had got wind of it. (James had disssolved Parliament in 1687 and it didn’t meet again during his reign.) As well, in October 1688, prior to William leaving the Netherlands, the States of Holland approved the invasion, according to this timeline.

So, it may have been a “friendly” invasion, but it was not at the invitation of the English Parliament and it was backed by a foreign nation with which England had recently been at war. Sounds like an invasion to me.

Oops. There is that. Would you accept that the book in which I read that was written by an Englishman? Even with that said, he might have been more…accurate than I was in my quick retelling.

You’re just confusing things now. The OP obviously thinks that England = Great Britain.

The OP would indeed score extra points by making it clear whether the speech was about England or the United Kingdom. When you’re talking about invasions you do need to know where your borders lie and where they don’t.