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Most of the European rulers did not believe Henry would survive long, and were thus willing to shelter claimants against him. The first plot against him was the Stafford and Lovell Rebellion of , which presented no serious threat. Using a peasant boy named Lambert Simnel , who posed as Edward, Earl of Warwick the real Warwick was locked up in the Tower of London , he led an army of 2, German mercenaries paid for by Margaret of Burgundy into England. They were defeated and de la Pole was killed at the difficult Battle of Stoke , where the loyalty of some of the royal troops to Henry was questionable.

The king, realizing that Simnel was a dupe, employed him in the royal kitchen. Again with support from Margaret of Burgundy, he invaded England four times from — before he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Both Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick were dangerous even in captivity, and Henry executed them in before Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain would allow their daughter Catherine to come to England and marry his son Arthur.

In , Henry defeated Cornish rebels marching on London. The rest of his reign was relatively peaceful, despite worries about succession after the death of his wife Elizabeth of York in Henry VII's foreign policy was peaceful. He had made an alliance with Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I , but in , when they went to war with France, England was dragged into the conflict. Impoverished and his hold on power insecure, Henry had no desire for war. He quickly reached an understanding with the French and renounced all claims to their territory except the port of Calais, realizing also that he could not stop them from incorporating the Duchy of Brittany.

In return, the French agreed to recognize him as king and stop sheltering pretenders. Shortly afterwards, they became preoccupied with adventures in Italy. Henry also reached an understanding with Scotland, agreeing to marry his daughter Margaret to that country's king James IV. Upon becoming king, Henry inherited a government severely weakened and degraded by the Wars of the Roses.

The treasury was empty, having been drained by Edward IV's Woodville in-laws after his death. Through a tight fiscal policy and sometimes ruthless tax collection and confiscations, Henry refilled the treasury by the time of his death. He also effectively rebuilt the machinery of government. In , the king's son Arthur , having married Catherine of Aragon , died of illness at age 15, leaving his younger brother Henry, Duke of York as heir. When the king himself died in , the position of the Tudors was secure at last, and his son succeeded him unopposed.

Henry VIII began his reign with much optimism. The handsome, athletic young king stood in sharp contrast to his wary, miserly father. Henry's lavish court quickly drained the treasury of the fortune he inherited.

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He married the widowed Catherine of Aragon , and they had several children, but none survived infancy except a daughter, Mary. In , the young king started a war in France. Although England was an ally of Spain, one of France's principal enemies, the war was mostly about Henry's desire for personal glory, despite his sister Mary being married to the French king Louis XII.

The war accomplished little. The English army suffered badly from disease, and Henry was not even present at the one notable victory, the Battle of the Spurs. Meanwhile, James IV of Scotland despite being Henry's other brother-in-law , activated his alliance with the French and declared war on England. While Henry was dallying in France, Catherine, who was serving as regent in his absence, and his advisers were left to deal with this threat. At the Battle of Flodden on 9 September , the Scots were completely defeated.

James and most of the Scottish nobles were killed. When Henry returned from France, he was given credit for the victory. Eventually, Catherine was no longer able to have any more children. The king became increasingly nervous about the possibility of his daughter Mary inheriting the throne, as England's one experience with a female sovereign, Matilda in the 12th century, had been a catastrophe. He eventually decided that it was necessary to divorce Catherine and find a new queen. To persuade the Church to allow this, Henry cited the passage in the Book of Leviticus : "If a man taketh his brother's wife, he hath committed adultery; they shall be childless".

However, Catherine insisted that she and Arthur never consummated their brief marriage and that the prohibition did not apply here. The timing of Henry's case was very unfortunate; it was and the Pope had been imprisoned by emperor Charles V , Catherine's nephew and the most powerful man in Europe, for siding with his archenemy Francis I of France. Because he could not divorce in these circumstances, Henry seceded from the Church, in what became known as the English Reformation. The newly established Church of England amounted to little more than the existing Catholic Church, but led by the king rather than the Pope.

It took a number of years for the separation from Rome to be completed, and many were executed for resisting the king's religious policies. In , Catherine was banished from court and spent the rest of her life until her death in alone in an isolated manor home, barred from contact with Mary. Secret correspondence continued thanks to her ladies-in-waiting. Their marriage was declared invalid, making Mary an illegitimate child. Henry married Anne Boleyn secretly in January , just as his divorce from Catherine was finalised. They had a second, public wedding.

Anne soon became pregnant and may have already been when they wed. But on 7 September , she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. The king was devastated at his failure to obtain a son after all the effort it had taken to remarry. Gradually, he came to develop a disliking of his new queen for her strange behaviour. In , when Anne was pregnant again, Henry was badly injured in a jousting accident.

Shaken by this, the queen gave birth prematurely to a stillborn boy. By now, the king was convinced that his marriage was hexed, and having already found a new queen, Jane Seymour, he put Anne in the Tower of London on charges of witchcraft. Afterwards, she was beheaded along with five men her brother included accused of adultery with her. The marriage was then declared invalid, so that Elizabeth, just like her half sister, became a bastard.

Henry immediately married Jane Seymour , who became pregnant almost as quickly. On 12 October , she gave birth to a healthy boy, Edward, which was greeted with huge celebrations. However, the queen died of puerperal sepsis ten days later. Henry genuinely mourned her death, and at his own passing nine years later, he was buried next to her. The king married a fourth time in , to the German Anne of Cleves for a political alliance with her Protestant brother, the Duke of Cleves. He also hoped to obtain another son in case something should happen to Edward. Anne proved a dull, unattractive woman and Henry did not consummate the marriage.

He quickly divorced her, and she remained in England as a kind of adopted sister to him. He married again, to a year-old named Catherine Howard. But when it became known that she was neither a virgin at the wedding, nor a faithful wife afterwards, she ended up on the scaffold and the marriage declared invalid.

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His sixth and last marriage was to Catherine Parr , who was more his nursemaid than anything else, as his health was failing since his jousting accident in In , the king started a new campaign in France, but unlike in , he only managed with great difficulty. He only conquered the city of Boulogne, which France retook in Scotland also declared war and at Solway Moss was again totally defeated.

Henry's paranoia and suspicion worsened in his last years. The number of executions during his year reign numbered tens of thousands. He died in January at age 55 and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI. Although he showed piety and intelligence, Edward VI was only nine years old when he became king in He took the title of Protector. While some see him as a high-minded idealist, his stay in power culminated in a crisis in when many counties of the realm were up in protest. Somerset, disliked by the Regency Council for being autocratic, was removed from power by John Dudley , who is known as Lord President Northumberland.

Northumberland proceeded to adopt the power for himself, but he was more conciliatory and the Council accepted him. During Edward's reign England changed from being a Catholic nation to a Protestant one, in schism from Rome. Edward showed great promise but fell violently ill of tuberculosis in and died that August, two months before his 16th birthday. Northumberland made plans to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne and marry her to his son, so that he could remain the power behind the throne.

His plot failed in a matter of days, Jane Grey was beheaded, and Mary I — took the throne amidst popular demonstration in her favour in London, which contemporaries described as the largest show of affection for a Tudor monarch. Mary had never been expected to hold the throne, at least not since Edward was born. She was a devoted Catholic who believed that she could reverse the Reformation.

Returning England to Catholicism led to the burnings of Protestants, which are recorded especially in John Foxe 's Book of Martyrs.


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The union was difficult because Mary was already in her late 30s and Philip was a Catholic and a foreigner, and so not very welcome in England. This wedding also provoked hostility from France, already at war with Spain and now fearing being encircled by the Habsburgs.

Calais, the last English outpost on the Continent, was then taken by France.

King Philip — had very little power, although he did protect Elizabeth. He was not popular in England, and spent little time there. In reality, she may have had uterine cancer. Her death in November was greeted with huge celebrations in the streets of London. After Mary I died in , Elizabeth I came to the throne. Much of Elizabeth's success was in balancing the interests of the Puritans and Catholics.

She managed to offend neither to a large extent, although she clamped down on Catholics towards the end of her reign as war with Catholic Spain loomed. Despite the need for an heir, Elizabeth declined to marry, despite offers from a number of suitors across Europe, including the Swedish king Erik XIV. This created endless worries over her succession, especially in the s when she nearly died of smallpox.

It has been often rumoured that she had a number of lovers including Francis Drake , but there is no hard evidence. Elizabeth maintained relative government stability. Apart from the Revolt of the Northern Earls in , she was effective in reducing the power of the old nobility and expanding the power of her government.

Elizabeth's government did much to consolidate the work begun under Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII, that is, expanding the role of the government and effecting common law and administration throughout England. During the reign of Elizabeth and shortly afterwards, the population grew significantly: from three million in to nearly five million in The queen ran afoul of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots , who was a devoted Catholic and so was forced to abdicate her throne Scotland had recently become Protestant.

She fled to England, where Elizabeth immediately had her arrested. Mary spent the next 19 years in confinement, but proved too dangerous to keep alive, as the Catholic powers in Europe considered her the legitimate ruler of England. She was eventually tried for treason, sentenced to death, and beheaded in February Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. The symbol of Britannia was first used in and often thereafter to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over the hated Spanish foe.

In terms of the entire century, the historian John Guy argues that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors " than at any time in a thousand years. This "golden age" [51] represented the apogee of the English Renaissance and saw the flowering of poetry, music and literature. The era is most famous for theatre , as William Shakespeare and many others composed plays that broke free of England's past style of theatre.

It was an age of exploration and expansion abroad, while back at home, the Protestant Reformation became more acceptable to the people, most certainly after the Spanish Armada was repulsed. It was also the end of the period when England was a separate realm before its royal union with Scotland. The Elizabethan Age is viewed so highly largely because of the periods before and after. It was a brief period of largely internal peace after the battles between Catholics and Protestants during the English Reformation and before battles between parliament and the monarchy of the 17th century.

England was also well-off compared to the other nations of Europe. Italian Renaissance had ended due to foreign domination of the peninsula. France was embroiled in religious battles until the Edict of Nantes in Also, the English had been expelled from their last outposts on the continent. Due to these reasons, the centuries long conflict with France was largely suspended for most of Elizabeth's reign. Economically, the country began to benefit greatly from the new era of trans-Atlantic trade.

Elizabeth signed the Treaty of Nonsuch with the Dutch and permitted Francis Drake to maraud in response to a Spanish embargo. Drake surprised Vigo, Spain, in October, then proceeded to the Caribbean and sacked Santo Domingo the capital of Spain's American empire and the present-day capital of the Dominican Republic and Cartagena a large and wealthy port on the north coast of Colombia that was the center of the silver trade. The Armada was not just a naval campaign. The build-up of land forces to resist a Spanish invasion has been described as an administrative feat of massive scope. A survey taken in November and December showed , men in the militia, of whom 44, were members of the trained bands, being drilled and led by experienced captains and sergeants.

By May the London bands were drilling weekly. To give warning of the enemy's approach, beacons were built, manned twenty-four hours a day by four men. Once the beacons were lit, 72, men could be mobilised on the south coast, with another 46, protecting London.

For the many Englishmen caught up in the Armada the experience must have been very profound and frightening. Some shared the intimacy of beacon watching, hoping for the best, but ready to light their warning fires in case of the worst. In foreign policy, Elizabeth played against each other the major powers France and Spain, as well as the papacy and Scotland.

These were all Catholic and each wanted to end Protestantism in England. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs and only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France and Ireland. The major war came with Spain, — When Spain tried to invade and conquer England it was a fiasco, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in associated Elizabeth's name with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history.

Her enemies failed to combine and Elizabeth's foreign policy successfully navigated all the dangers. In all, the Tudor period is seen as a decisive one which set up many important questions which would have to be answered in the next century and during the English Civil War. These were questions of the relative power of the monarch and Parliament and to what extent one should control the other. Some historians think that Thomas Cromwell affected a "Tudor Revolution" in government, and it is certain that Parliament became more important during his chancellorship.

Other historians argue that the "Tudor Revolution" extended to the end of Elizabeth's reign, when the work was all consolidated. Although the Privy Council declined after Elizabeth's death, it was very effective while she was alive. He was the first monarch to rule the entire island of Britain, but the countries remained separate politically. Upon taking power, James made peace with Spain, and for the first half of the 17th century, England remained largely inactive in European politics.

Several assassination attempts were made on James, notably the Main Plot and Bye Plots of , and most famously, on 5 November , the Gunpowder Plot , by a group of Catholic conspirators, led by Robert Catesby , which caused more antipathy in England towards Catholicism. In England built an establishment at Jamestown. This was the beginning of colonialism by England in North America. Many English settled then in North America for religious or economic reasons.

Charles surrendered to the Scottish army at Newark. He was eventually handed over to the English Parliament in early This shocked the rest of Europe.

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The king argued to the end that only God could judge him. The trial and execution were a precursor of sorts to the beheading of Louis XVI years later. Cromwell was given the title Lord Protector in , making him 'king in all but name' to his critics. After he died in , his son Richard Cromwell succeeded him in the office but he was forced to abdicate within a year.

For a while it seemed as if a new civil war would begin as the New Model Army split into factions. Troops stationed in Scotland under the command of George Monck eventually marched on London to restore order. However, the power of the crown was less than before the Civil War. By the 18th century England rivaled the Netherlands as one of the freest countries in Europe.

In , London was swept by the plague , and in by the Great Fire for 5 days which destroyed about 15, buildings. In , the Exclusion crisis consisted of attempts to prevent accession of James, heir to Charles II, because he was Catholic. In November , William invaded England and succeeded in being crowned. James tried to retake the throne in the Williamite War , but was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in In December , one of the most important constitutional documents in English history, the Bill of Rights , was passed. For example, the Sovereign could not suspend laws passed by Parliament, levy taxes without parliamentary consent, infringe the right to petition, raise a standing army during peacetime without parliamentary consent, deny the right to bear arms to Protestant subjects, unduly interfere with parliamentary elections, punish members of either House of Parliament for anything said during debates, require excessive bail or inflict cruel and unusual punishments.

In parts of Scotland and Ireland, Catholics loyal to James remained determined to see him restored to the throne, and staged a series of bloody uprisings. As a result, any failure to pledge loyalty to the victorious King William was severely dealt with. The most infamous example of this policy was the Massacre of Glencoe in The Acts of Union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were a pair of Parliamentary Acts passed by both parliaments in , which dissolved them in order to form a Kingdom of Great Britain governed by a unified Parliament of Great Britain according to the Treaty of Union.

Although described as a Union of Crowns, until there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head. There had been three attempts in , , and to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early 18th century that the idea had the will of both political establishments behind them, albeit for rather different reasons. The Acts took effect on 1 May On the Union, historian Simon Schama said "What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world In ended the reign of Queen Anne , the last monarch of the House of Stuart.

Several Planned French Invasions were attempted, also with the intention of placing the Stuarts on the throne. The Act of Union of formally assimilated Ireland within the British political process and from 1 January created a new state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , which united the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland to form a single political entity. The English capital of London was adopted as the capital of the Union. Following the formation of the United Kingdom, the history of England is no longer the history of a sovereign nation, but rather the history of one of the countries of the United Kingdom.

In the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, technological advances and mechanization resulted in the Industrial Revolution which transformed a largely agrarian society and caused considerable social upheaval. Economies of scale and increased output per worker allowed steam-based factories to undercut production of traditional cottage industries. Much of the agricultural workforce was uprooted from the countryside and moved into large urban centres of production.

The consequent overcrowding into areas with little supporting infrastructure saw dramatic increases in mortality, crime, and social deprivation. Many Sunday schools for pre-working age children 5 or 6 had funeral clubs to pay for each other's funeral arrangements. The process of industrialization threatened many livelihoods, which prompted some to sabotage factories. These saboteurs were known as " Luddites ". The Local Government Act of was the first systematic attempt to impose a standardised system of local government in England.

The system was based on the existing counties today known as the historic counties , since the major boundary changes of Later, the Local Government Act created a second tier of local government. All administrative counties and county boroughs were divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration. During the s, the need for local administration greatly increased, prompting piecemeal adjustments. The sanitary districts and parish councils had legal status, but were not part of the mechanism of government. They were run by volunteers; often no-one could be held responsible for the failure to undertake the required duties.

Furthermore, the increased "county business" could not be handled by the Quarter Sessions , nor was this appropriate. Finally, there was a desire to see local administration performed by elected officials, as in the reformed municipal boroughs. By , these shortcomings were clear, and the Local Government Act was the first systematic attempt to create a standardised system of local government in England.

The system was based on the existing counties now known as the historic counties , since the major boundary changes of The counties themselves had had some boundary changes in the preceding 50 years, mainly to remove enclaves and exclaves. These statutory counties were to be used for non-administrative functions: " sheriff , lieutenant , custos rotulorum , justices, militia, coroner, or other". With the advent of elected councils, the offices of lord lieutenant and sheriff became largely ceremonial.

The statutory counties formed the basis for the so-called 'administrative counties'. However, it was felt that large cities and primarily rural areas in the same county could not be well administered by the same body. Thus 59 "counties in themselves", or 'county boroughs', were created to administer the urban centres of England. These were part of the statutory counties, but not part of the administrative counties. In , the Local Government Act created a second tier of local government.

Henceforth, all administrative counties and county boroughs would be divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration. The municipal boroughs reformed after were brought into this system as special cases of urban districts. The urban and rural districts were based on, and incorporated the sanitary districts which created in with adjustments, so that districts did not overlap two counties. The Act also provided for the establishment of civil parishes. However, the civil parishes were not a complete third-tier of local government.

Instead, they were 'community councils' for smaller, rural settlements, which did not have a local government district to themselves. Where urban parish councils had previously existed, they were absorbed into the new urban districts. A prolonged agricultural depression in Britain at the end of the 19th century, together with the introduction in the 20th century of increasingly heavy levels of taxation on inherited wealth, put an end to agricultural land as the primary source of wealth for the upper classes.

Many estates were sold or broken up, and this trend was accelerated by the introduction of protection for agricultural tenancies, encouraging outright sales, from the midth century. There is a movement in England to create a devolved English Parliament. This issue is referred to as the West Lothian question. In it recommended a system of single-tier unitary authorities for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of Merseyside , Selnec Greater Manchester and West Midlands Birmingham and the Black Country , which were to have both a metropolitan council and district councils.

This report was accepted by the Labour Party government of the time despite considerable opposition, but the Conservative Party won the June general election , and on a manifesto that committed them to a two-tier structure. The reforms arising from the Local Government Act of resulted in the most uniform and simplified system of local government which has been used in England.

They effectively wiped away everything that had gone before, and built an administrative system from scratch. Homo heidelbergensis butchering a rhino Boxgrove Man is the name given to a prehistoric human called Homo heidelbergensis who lived in southern England about , years ago. A Neanderthal group living in a cave A Neanderthal group living in a cave A Neanderthal group living in a cave. The first people to arrive in Britain walked across the land bridge from the European continent around , years ago.

These early people were a type of early human known as Homo heidelbergensis Heidelbergs and lived by hunting wild animals and eating fruits, berries, nuts and edible plants. They wore animal skins and lived in caves and simple shelters made of branches. Neanderthals arrived in Britain possibly around , years ago, then disappeared about 30, years ago. Modern-day humans, Homo sapiens , first arrived in Britain from mainland Europe 41, to 44, years ago.

People preparing and cooking fish over a camp fire about 30, years ago Preparing and cooking fish about 30, years ago People preparing and cooking fish over a camp fire about 30, years ago Following the last glacial period during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, the climate started to warm up. Around 11, years ago, much of the North Sea and English Channel was free of ice, but still dry land: an expanse of low-lying tundra. This land area is called Doggerland. Rising sea levels started to submerge Doggerland and Britain became an island once more by BC.

Britain linked to the rest of Europe 11, years ago Following the last glacial period during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, the climate started to warm up. Let's Explore Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. What drove the first people to come to Britain? Some moved because new opportunities arose, such as the expanding area for hunting revealed as the ice retreated. Some, such as the Anglo-Saxons, may have moved because it was less risky to leave than to stay where they were.

Some, including the Vikings, followed leaders who were hungry for territorial conquest. Broadly speaking, the same reasons have driven people to move ever since. Improvements in methods of transport, from sailing ships, roads, railways and canals to ocean liners, motor vehicles and aircraft, have greatly increased mobility both within and between countries.

Global political and economic changes have sent people from Britain all over the world, and brought new settlers in their turn. People who lived and worked in the countryside remained largely settled in the same places for hundreds of years, until the end of the 18th century. Between and agricultural activity became more productive and needed less labour, the population trebled from 5.

So began a movement from the country to the cities: Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and above all London greatly increased their populations. Even though the national population was rising, the pull of the cities was such that the number of people living in rural communities actually fell. A painstaking study of almost 74, journeys recorded in the family histories of 16, individuals between and paints a picture of changing patterns of movements within Britain. In the 18th and 19th centuries rural areas lost people as they moved into the growing cities and urban areas, but by the end of the 19th century and into the 20th this pattern began to reverse.

The map - on the right hand side - shows how major cities began to lose people through migration, while other areas gained. Britain in the 21st century reflects continuing patterns of population movements into, out of and within Britain. In a globalised and technologically connected world, it has become much easier to move than it was for our ancestors. The percentage of people in the UK who were born outside Britain has increased, as well as of those born in Britain now living overseas. However, the pattern of settlement by new arrivals is very uneven: most migrant communities live in towns and cities.

Urban settlements are most likely to attract those coming to work or study.


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Migration is a key factor in keeping population numbers stable. Currently the birth rate in the UK is falling, while people are living longer, so the working age population would fall without new arrivals: this may be a particular problem in areas with low migration. The population movements of the past years have made the people of Britain much more genetically diverse than they were in the Middle Ages.

The cost of reading whole human genomes has fallen dramatically since the technology was first developed in the s, and scientists are building databases of genetic patterns linked to all parts of the world. Patterns of genetic variation may help individuals to trace their family histories. Collecting genetic data on a large scale is also now a key part of modern biomedical science, enabling doctors to link genetic variation with the risk of a wide range of diseases. The People of the British Isles study showed for the first time that genetic analysis could distinguish some British people living today in a way that reflected their early origins in the British Isles.

Similar methods can link anyone to locations around the country or the world where they have relatives who share the same distinctive genetic patterns. We all carry mixtures of genes that reveal ancestry from across the world. Our individual DNA profile is the outcome of the way our ancestors have moved, settled, mixed and moved again for centuries. Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? This artwork was commissioned as part of the Settlers exhibition and can be seen on display in the main court of the museum, 9 February - 16 September It explores the social and natural causes behind human migration, both in ancient times and in the present day.

A varied programme accompanied the Settlers exhibition, featuring events and activities for visitors of all ages. Where did we come from? T he first people in Britain Humans have been on the move since our ancestors first evolved in Africa, meeting and mixing, staying and separating, as we try to survive in changing circumstances. A young hunter? The 'Red Lady' of Paviland.

How to read this map The map plots the geographical locations and genetic profiles of 2, people. People with similar patterns of genetic variation are grouped into clusters, and each is given a distinct coloured symbol. Each marker on the map represents one individual from the study sample. Individuals are plotted on the map according to the birthplaces of the grandparents, all four of whom had to be born in the same rural location. Each genetic cluster is named based on the main area it covers.