BBC History Magazine

BEHIND THE NEWS The north-south divide

The news that the north has been hit harder than the rest of England during the coronavirus pandemic - with a higher mortality rate than the south, and the exacerbation of adverse trends in poverty, education, employment and mental health - as well as the recent gains made by the Conservatives in Labour’s traditional ‘Red Wall’ seats, has rekindled interest in the seemingly age-old north-south divide in English politics.

It was probably the Romans who first divided England on a north-south axis. Under the emperor Septimius Severus in AD 197, a plan was conceived to improve the administration of this new province - and subdue the native Britons - by splitting it in two. But by naming the southern portion ‘Britannia Superior’

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