What is an Anglo-Saxon


The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group that began to colonize Great Britain from the 5th century and is believed to be the direct ancestor of what is now the majority of modern British. They consisted of people of various Germanic tribes who emigrated to Britain from the continent, their descendants, and the indigenous British groups who adopted many aspects of the Anglo-Saxon culture and language. The Anglo-Saxons laid the foundation for today's English legal system and many aspects of English society. More than half of the words in the English language are derived from the Anglo-Saxon language.

Historically, the time of the Anglo-Saxons is given as the period from about 450 to 1066, with the beginning of their original settlement until the Norman conquest of England. In doing so, they gradually conquered most of the island during the formation of the kingdoms of the heptarchy and finally founded the Kingdom of England.

Name [edit | Edit source]

The old English term Angul seaxan comes from the Latin angli-saxones and became the name of the people by BedeAnglorum[1] and from GildasSaxones were called. Anglo-Saxons is a term that has rarely been used by the people themselves. They likely identified themselves as aengli, seaxe or even more likely than members of local tribal groups such as the Gewissae. Furthermore, the use of the term Anglo-Saxons hides the extent to which people may have viewed themselves as Anglo-Scandinavian after the Viking Age or as Anglo-Norman after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

The earliest sources using this term refer to Germanic pirates, "Saxones", who raided the coasts of Britain and Gaul in the 3rd century. Procopius says that Britain was populated by three races: the Angiloi, the Frisons and the Britons. [2] The term Angli Saxones appears to have been used for the first time in 8th century writings on the continent, and was used to distinguish the English Saxons from the continental Saxons.

In the Common Brittonic, the Anglo-Saxons were referred to as Saxones or Season (modern Welsh for English people); in Scottish Gaelic was the word Sasannach and in Irish Sasanach.

History [edit | Edit source]

Early Anglo-Saxon History (410-660) Edit source]

The early Anglo-Saxon period covers the history of medieval Britain, which begins with the end of Roman rule. This period is commonly known as the Great Migration Period and took place between around 400 and 800 years in Europe. The emigrants were Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Lombards, Suebi, Frisians and Franks. They were later driven west by the Huns, Avars, Slavs, Bulgarians and Alans. The immigrants to Britain also included tribes from the Huns and Rugini. [3]

Around the year 400 southern Britain - everything south of Hadrian's Wall - still belonged to the Roman Empire, and until then it had been repeatedly lost through rebellions or invasions, but had been recaptured again and again. However, around 410 Britain slipped forever from direct Roman control in what has become known as sub-Roman Britain.

Immigration period (410-560) Edit source]

Main article: Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain

The traditions from this time speak of a time of decline and decay, of invasions and waves of immigration. But archaeologist Härke declared in 2011, "It is now widely accepted that the Anglo-Saxons were not simply transplanted Germanic invaders and settlers from the continent, but the result of island interactions and changes."

Around 540 Gildas wrote in his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniaethat a council of leaders in Britain agreed to give some land in the east or south of Britain to the Saxons as part of a treaty - one foedus - by which the Saxons would defend the Britons against the Picts and Scots, also in exchange for supplies. The most contemporary text is that Chronica Gallica of 452, which reports for the year 441: "The British provinces, which had suffered various defeats and misfortunes at that time, were brought under the rule of Saxony." [4] This is an earlier date than that of Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica given 449 [1] and historians suggest that Bede has misinterpreted his sources, and that the chronological references in the Historia Brittonum von Nennius give a more plausible date of 428. [5]

Gildas further reports that a war broke out between the Saxons and the natives - Higham calls it the "War of the Saxon Allies" - which ended shortly after the Battle of Mons Badonicus. The Saxons return to their "eastern homeland". Gildas calls peace a "painful separation from the barbarians". The price of that peace, as Higham argues, is a better treaty for the Saxons, giving them the opportunity to take tribute from the people of the Lowlands of Britain. The Archaeological Evidence agrees. In particular, the excavations at Spong Hill in Norfolk have shown that the settlement must have started before 450.

However, this version of Anglo-Saxon strong political and military power is not without controversy. Dark suspects that the post-Roman elite existed in their culture, politics, and military power until 570. [6] Higham agrees, however, with Beda, who has named three phases of settlement: an exploration phase when mercenaries came to protect the population, an immigration phase, which must have been huge, since it is declared that "Angelus" was depopulated, and an installation phase where the Anglo-Saxons begin to control territories.

Scholars still disagree on how many immigrants might have entered Britain during this period. Härke suspects that it could be around 100,000, [7] but archaeologists like Hills[8] and hedges[9] rather speak of 20,000. By about 500 the Anglo-Saxons had established themselves in southern and eastern Britain. [10]

What happened to the native Britons at that time is controversial. Heinrich Härke and Coates believe that they have become archaeologically and linguistically invisible, but based on a fairly high estimate for the Anglo-Saxons of about 200,000 and a very low estimate for the Britons of about 800,000, one still encounters the fact that the Britons were superior to the Anglo-Saxons by at least four to one. The interpretation of these numbers is that while "culturally the later Anglo-Saxons and English appeared to be singularly non-British [...] their genetic, biological trait is much less substantial, in fact it is predominantly British." [11]

The development of Anglo-Saxon culture is described in two processes. One resembles the cultural changes observed in Russia, North Africa, and parts of the Islamic world, where a powerful minority culture was adopted by a settled majority in a short period of time. The second process was summarized by Higham as follows: "As Bede later suggested, language was a key indicator of ethnicity in early England. In circumstances where freedom in law, acceptance with kinship, access to patronage and use and possession Since weapons were only available to those of Germanic origin, speaking Old English without Latin or British accents was of considerable value. " [12]

By the middle of the 6th century, some Britons had emigrated from the Lowlands of Britain across the sea to Brittany, others had moved west, but the majority gave up their old language and culture and adopted the new Anglo-Saxon culture. With that, the boundaries between people who had previously only lived next to each other began to disappear. The archaeological excavations show a considerable continuity in the system of landscape and local administration inhabited by the local population. There is evidence of a merging of cultures during this early period. Britonic names appear on the lists of the Anglo-Saxon elite. The royal line of Wessex, according to tradition, was founded by a man named Cerdic of Wessex, an undoubtedly Celtic name derived from the name Caratacus. This could suggest that Cerdic was a native Briton whose dynasty became Anglicized over time. [13][14] Some descendants ascribed to Cerdic also had Celtic names, including the Bretwalda Ceawlin of Wessex. [11] The last man in this dynasty to have a British name was Caedwalla of Wessex, who died in 689.

Development of an Anglo-Saxon society (650-610) Edit source]

In the second half of the 6th century, four structures contributed to the development of a society. They were the position and freedoms of the Ceorl, the smaller tribal areas that merged into larger kingdoms, the elite that arose from the warrior kings, and the Irish monasticism that arose under St. Finnian and his disciple Columba.

The Anglo-Saxon farms of the time are often incorrectly referred to as farms. But a Ceorl, the lowest rank of a free man in Anglo-Saxon society, was not a peasant, but a man in possession of weapons with the support of his relatives, access to law and the wergeld, who was at the head of a household that was at least one hide land farmed. These men had freedom and rights over the land, with the payment of a rent or an obligation to their liege lord who interfered little in their lives.

The Tribal Hidage lists thirty-five peoples or tribes with their associated areas in Hides. This assignment to Hides shows the relative size of the provinces. Although they differ in size, all tribes of the Tribal Hidage had the same status in that they were territories ruled by their own elite (or royalty) and so had to pay tributes independently. Towards the end of the 6th century, larger kingdoms had emerged on the south coast. They included the provinces of the Jutes of Hampshire and Wight, the South Saxons, Kent, the East Saxons, Ostangeln, Lindsey and (north of the Humber) Deira and Bernicia. Some of these kingdoms may have had their core in an area based on an earlier Roman civitas.

Towards the end of the 6th century, the leaders of these communities called themselves kings, although it should not be assumed that all of them were of Germanic origin. The concept of the Bretwalda arose from references to a number of early, Anglo-Saxon elite families. What Beda seems to imply with the Bretwalda is the ability of leaders to demand tribute, intimidate and / or protect smaller regions, which was probably in part a very short-lived ability.

Conversion to Christianity (590-660) Edit source]

In 565 Columba reached the island of Iona after having had to choose between excommunication and exile in Ireland. The influence of the monastery he founded there grew into what Brown has described as an "unusually extensive spiritual empire" that "stretched from western Scotland deep into the south-west into the heart of Ireland and, in the south-east, reached it down through northern Britain, through the influence of its sister monastery, Lindisfarne. " [15]

Columba died in June 597, and in the same year Augustine of Canterbury landed on the island of Thanet and moved to Aethelberht I of Kent's capital, Canterbury. In 595 he was chosen by Pope Gregory I to convert the Anglo-Saxons in Britain to Christianity. His main target was Kent, presumably because Aethelberht had married the Christian princess Bertha von Franken, daughter of Charibert I von den Franken, who was supposed to have some influence on her husband. Aethelberht was converted, churches were built, and the broad Christianization of the people began in Kent. Aethelberht's law, the earliest written legal text in Germanic, established a system of fines. Kent was rich, with strong trade ties with the continent, and Aethelbert may have had royal control over the trade. During his time there was coinage in Kent for the first time since the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

In 635 the Irish monk Aidan von Iona founded a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, which was close to the Bamburg fortress of King Oswald of Northumbria. Oswald had asked missionaries in Iona to Christianize Northumbria; Oswald probably asked for help in Iona because after the death of his father he had to flee to southwestern Scotland, where he had become acquainted with Christianity, and decided to have Northumbria Christianized. Aidan had great success in his work and Oswald acted as his translator as Aidan did not speak English. St Cuthbert, later abbot and bishop of Lindisfarne, later became the patron saint of Northumberland.

In 664 the Whitby Synod was convened, which decided to use Roman Catholic Christianity in Northumbria instead of the Irish Celtic rite.

Middle Anglo-Saxon History (660-899) Edit source]

By 66 the smaller tribal areas in Lowland Britain had united into kingdoms, and by that time the larger kingdoms began to dominate the smaller ones. This evolution of kingdoms, with a particular king recognized as feudal lord, developed from a loose structure that, according to Higham, extended to the earlier ones fedus is due. The traditional name for this time is the heptarchy. Keynes suggested that the 8th and 9th centuries were a period of economic and social prosperity that created stability in the area under the Thames and over the Humber. Many areas flourished and their influence was felt even on the continent, but a political unity of power and influence grew between the Humber and the Thames, and to the east this development attracted attention in Britain.

Dominance of Mercia (626-821) [edit | Edit source]

Middle Lowland Britain was known as the place of the Mierce, the marginal or border people, in Latin Mercia. Mercia was an area of ​​diverse tribal groups, as evidenced by the Tribal Hidage. The people were a mix of Britons and Anglo-Saxon pioneers, and their early leaders had Briton names, such as Penda of Mercia. Although this does not appear in Beda's list of Bretwaldas, Bede says elsewhere that he had suzerainty over the southern kingdoms. At the time of the Battle of Winwaed, thirty were fighting duces regii (royal generals) under his command. Although there are many loopholes in the clues, it is clear that the 7th century Mercian kings were preeminent rulers able to exercise their authority well beyond their core territory.

The military successes of Mercia were the basis of their power. Not only did they triumph over 106 kings and kingdoms in individual battles, but they also mercilessly devastated any area that was unwilling to pay tribute. There are a number of common references in Beda's face to this aspect of Mercia's politics. Penda is shown devastating Northumbria all the way up to Bamburgh, and only a miraculous intervention by Aidan prevents the settlement from being completely destroyed. In 676, Aethelred I of Mercia caused similar devastation in Kent and caused so much damage in the Diocese of Rochester that two successive bishops left their offices because they did not receive enough funds. [16] In these reports there is a brief glimpse into the reality of Anglo-Saxon feudal rule and how it was established in a relatively short period of time.

In the middle of the 8th century, other kingdoms in southern Britain were also affected by Mercia's territorial expansions. The East Saxons seem to have lost control of London, Middlesex and Hertfordshire to Aethelbald of Mercia, although Essex itself does not appear to have been influenced and the royal dynasty continued into the 9th century. [17] Mercia's influence and reputation peaked when, in the late 8th century, Charlemagne, the most powerful European ruler of the time, recognized the power of Offa of Mercia and apparently treated him with respect, even if that was possibly just flattery . [18]

Scholarship and monasticism (660-793) [edit | Edit source]

Drout calls this period the "golden age" when learning flourished and there was a renaissance of classical knowledge. The growth and popularity of monasteries was not an exclusively internal development, as the influence of the continent shaped the life of the Anglo-Saxon monks. In 669 Theodore of Tarsus, a Greek monk from Tarsus in Asia Minor, came to Britain and became the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury. He was followed by Hadrian, a Latin-speaking African and former abbot of a monastery near Naples. Both helped found a school in Canterbury which, according to Beda, quickly "attracted a multitude of students to those whose minds they daily drew the currents of wholesome learning". As evidence of this, Bede explains that some of her students survived until his days and were fluent in Latin and Greek, as well as their own mother tongue.

One of Hadrian's students was Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, whose elaborate, grandiose and very difficult Latin became the dominant style for the next few centuries. Michael Drout said, "Aldhelm wrote Latin hexameters better than anyone before in England (and possibly better than anyone since, or at least until Milton). His work shows that scholars in England, on the farthest corner of Europe, taught the same way and could be educated, like every scribe in Europe. " [19] At that time, the wealth and power of the monasteries rose as the elite families, who may have lost their power, turned to monastic life.

West Saxon Hegemony and the Anglo-Scandinavian Wars (793-878) Edit source]

See also: Danelag

The rise of Wessex began in the 9th century with the foundation stone laid by Egbert the Great in the first quarter of the century, through to the accomplishments of Alfred the Great at the end of the century. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports on the most important events of that time, but everything is done from the perspective of Wessex.

On the day Egbert ascended to the throne in 802, a Mercian Ealdorman from the province of Hwicce had crossed the border to carry out a raid in northern Wiltshire, where he met the Wiltshire people who were victorious. [20] In 829 Egbert began to conquer the kingdom of Mercia and everything south of the Humber and at this point the chronicler decided to add Egbert to Beda's list of the Bretwalda. [21]Keynes suspects the establishment of a "two-part" kingdom by Egbert, which stretched across southern England, and the creation of an alliance between Wessex and Mercia. In 860 the eastern and western parts of the southern kingdom were united by an agreement between the sons of King Aethelwulf of Wessex, but this union was not without opposition from the royal family; In the late 870s, Alfred the Great achieved the subjugation of Mercia to its ruler Aethelred, Ealdorman of Mercia, who in other circumstances would probably have been called King, but became Ealdorman under Alfred.

During this time, the abundance of the monasteries had caught the attention of the Vikings from Denmark and Norway and they soon became known for their raids and piracy in western Europe. In 793 Lindisfarne Monastery was raided, and while this was not the first raid of its kind, it was the most famous. Jarrow was attacked a year later, Iona in 795 and the nunnery in Lyminge in Kent in 804, whose residents sought refuge in Canterbury. Sometime around 800 a Reeve from Portland, Wessex, who thought the Vikings were simple traders, was killed.

The raids continued until 850, when the Vikings overwintered, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the first time in Britain. The fleet doesn't seem to have stayed long, but it began one development that was followed by others. In 865 an army called the Great Pagan Army appeared and stayed for several winters, establishing the Danelag in northern England. The arrival of this threat not only ended the feuds between the various kingdoms, but also instituted puppet kings - Ceolwulf II of Mercia 873 in Mercia, "a foolish thane" [22], and others in Northumbria and East Anglia as well. The third phase was an era of settlement. But the Great Pagan Army went wherever it expected the richest booty, crossing the channel to the continent when the resistance became too strong, as in 878 in England, or when there was famine, as in 892 from the continent. At the time, the Vikings were vital as catalysts of social and political change. They represented the common enemy, made the English aware of their national identity and made the usual deeper tensions unimportant. They were seen as an instrument of divine punishment for human sins and created an awareness of shared Christian identity. And by "conquering" kingdoms like East Anglia, Northumbria and Mercia, they created a vacuum in the English leadership.

The Danish settlement continued in Mercia until 877, 879-880 and 896 in East Anglia. The rest of the army, meanwhile, continued to plunder and devastate the areas on both sides of the canal, repeatedly receiving troop reinforcements in order to remain a clearly superior force. [23] At first Alfred the Great met the threat with tribute payments, but after a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington in 878 he began with strong resistance. He built a chain of fortresses known as burhs across the south of England, improved the army - "so that half their men were always at home and half off duty, with the exception of those men who did the burhs occupied ". [24] In 896 he ordered the construction of a fleet that the Viking ships could fight in the shallow waters on the coasts. When the Vikings returned from the continent in 892, they realized that they could no longer simply devastate the country as they faced the local army. So after four years they split up, some settling in Northumbria and East Anglia, while the rest returned to the continent to try their luck there.

Alfred and the new building (878-899) Edit source]

For Alfred, religion, his love of scholarship and the dissemination of knowledge were even more important than the innovations in the military and defense system, as well as his political victories. Keynes believes that Alfred's legacy is the basis of what made England so unique in Europe between 800-1066. [25] This can also be seen in Alfred's own words: "So completely had wisdom fallen away in England that there were very few on this side of the Humber who could understand their rituals in English, or actually translate a letter from Latin into English ; and I believe there weren't many behind the Humber. There were so few of them that I actually can't think of a single one in the south of the Thames since I became king. " [25]

Alfred knew that learning and learning in both English and Latin were very important, but the status was not good when Alfred ascended the throne. He saw his rule as a priestly office, himself as shepherd for his flock. One of the books that was particularly valuable to him was Pope Gregory I's Cura Pastoralis; it is a priest's guide on how to look after his community. Alfred saw this book as his own guide on how to become a good king, and a good king, in his opinion, should inspire scholarship.

Late Anglo-Saxon History (899-1066) Edit source]

The framework of the monumental events of the 10th and 11th centuries is taken from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle given. Yet documents, codes of law, and coins, as well as various surviving manuscripts from this period, provide detailed information on various aspects of royal government and ecclesiastical culture.

Reforms and Formation of England (899-978) Edit source]

During the 10th century, the kings of Wessex expanded their power first to Mercia, then to southern Danelag and finally to Northumbria, creating the appearance of a political unity of the people that remained unique in its different customs and histories. The prestige and arrogance of the monarchy grew, government institutions were strengthened, and kings and their administrators tried in various ways to form the social order. [26] This process began with Edward the Elder, who, together with his sister Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia, began to encourage people to gradually recapture territory from the Danes and thereby slowly expand the English influence on the Danelag. When Aethelflaed died, Mercia was absorbed by Wessex and from that point on there was no more battle for the throne and the House of Wessex became the ruling house of England.

Edward the Elder was followed by his son Aethelstan of England, whom Keynes calls "the mightiest person in the landscape of the tenth century". [27] His victory over an alliance of his enemies - Constantine II mac Aed of Scotland, Owain ap Dyfnwal of Strathclyde and Olaf Guthfrithson of Dublin - at the Battle of Brunanburh resulted in his being hailed as the first King of England. [28] Aethelstan's legislation shows how he forced his officials to go about their duties. He insisted uncompromisingly on respecting the law. However, this also shows the difficulties he and his advisors faced in trying to bring some form of control over a troubled people. The situation was complicated as the Nordic rulers of Dublin still had an interest in the Danish kingdom of Jorvik and the Scots had to be satisfied as they were not only able to interfere in the affairs of Northumbria but also a blockade between the Form communication line from York and Dublin. The residents of Northumbria were subject to their own laws, and it was not until twenty years after Aethelstan's death that a full Kingdom of England really began to emerge.

The main political problem for his successors Edmund I and Eadred of England remained the subjugation of the North. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports for the year 959 that Edgar "followed into the kingdom both in Wessex and in Mercia and in Northumbria, and he was then 16 years old". [29] For this he earned the name Edgar the Peaceful. In the early 970s, the Kingdom of England appears to have actually been unified. Between 970 and 973 a council was held in England in which it was decided for the first time that all monks and nuns in England should follow a uniform set of rules. In 973 Edgar received a second "imperial coronation" in Bath.

Aethelred and the return of the Scandinavians (978-1016) Edit source]

During the reign of Aethelred the Unadvised there was a resumption of the Viking raids on England. They began in small numbers in the 980s, but increased over the next two decades, until finally, between 1009 and 1012, large swaths of the land were devastated by the Thorkell the Tall army. Sven Gabelbart, King of Denmark, finally conquered the kingdom between 1013 and 1014 and his son Knut did the same in 1015-16, after a brief reinstatement of Aethelred. The reports of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from this period should be read independently of other sources. Keynes believes that these other sources show that the king did not display enough strength, judgment, and solution orientation to adequately lead his people during this time of national crisis. Aethelred quickly saw that he could only rely on his military commanders to betray him, and during his entire reign he suffered nothing but defeats. The raids highlighted the tensions and weaknesses of the late Anglo-Saxon state, and the events took place against a backdrop much more complex than chroniclers may have realized. For example, it appears that the death of Bishop Aethelwold in 984 led to rash actions against certain church interests and that Aethelred had begun to regret his mistakes by 993, leading to a time when the internal affairs of the kingdom were on the upswing again.

The common people of the time seem to have viewed the return of the Vikings as the beginning of the Apocalypse, and this is evident in the writings of Aelfric of Eynsham [30] and Wulfstan from Winchester [31]resembling those of Bede and Gildas. The raids were seen as God's punishment for his people, with Aelfric speaking of the people adopting the customs of the Danes.

In April 1016 King Aethelred died and his son Edmund II Iron Side became king. The last power struggles were complicated by internal disagreements, particularly from the traitorous Eadric, Ealdorman of Mercia, who sided with Canute the Great. After the defeat of the English at the Battle of Assandun in October 1016, Edmund and Knut agreed to divide the empire, with Edmund receiving Wessex, and Knut Mercia. But Edmund died soon after his defeat and Knut was able to seize power over all of England.

Conquest of England: Danes, Norwegians and Normans (1016-1066) Edit source]

There were three conquests in the 11th century: one after the conquest by Canute in 1016, the second after the unsuccessful Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, and the third by William I the Conqueror. The consequences of each conquest can only be evaluated in retrospect. In 1016 no one was aware that the cultural changes that were taking place at that time would be altered again half a century later by another conquest, and in 1066 no one was aware that the conquest by William of Normandy would be larger and more prolonged than Knut's.

During this time and afterwards, the Anglo-Saxon culture changed. Politically and chronologically, the texts of this time are no longer "Anglo-Saxon". Linguistically, they are moving away from the late West Saxon standard called "Old English". But they are not yet "Middle English", even more, "there is hardly any 'original' document in English". This left a loophole suggesting a disruption on either side of the Norman Conquest, but this assumption is controversial. [32]

At first, there seems to be little that could be controversial. Canute seems to have completely taken over the traditional role of an Anglo-Saxon king. The examination of the laws, sermons, estates and documents of this time shows, however, that despite a broad death rate in the aristocracy, Knut did not systematically introduce a new class of landowners, which led to large and long-lasting changes in the social and political structure. [33] According to John, "the simple difficulty of ruling such a large and unstable empire made it necessary for Knut to transfer authority against any tradition of English royalty." The disappearance of the aristocratic families who had traditionally played an active role in the administration of the empire, coupled with Knut's choice of Thegn advisors, brought to an end the balanced relationship between monarchy and aristocracy that had been so carefully built by the West Saxon kings .

In 1042 Edward the Confessor became King of England and given his upbringing, he might well be considered a Norman by those who lived on the other side of the English Channel. After Knut's reforms, power was concentrated in the hands of the rival houses of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and Godwin, Earl of Wessex. The problems for Edward also came from the fact that his Norman friends were rejected. A crisis arose in 1051 when Godwin disregarded the king's orders to punish the men of Dover who had resisted an attempt by Eustace de Boulogne to forcibly bill his men with them. [34] With the help of Leofric and Siward, Earl of Northumbria, Edward managed to have Godwin and his sons declared outlaws. During this time, William I the Conqueror appears to have paid Edward a visit during which Edward may have promised to make him his heir to the throne, although this Norman claim was probably mere propaganda. Godwin and his sons returned the following year with a strong force and the nobility were unprepared to start civil war with them.The king was forced to come to an agreement with them and some of the most unpopular Normans were driven from England, including Archbishop Robert of Jumièges, whose office was given to Stigand. This act provided a papal excuse to later support Wilhelm's claim to the English throne.

The fall of England and the Norman Conquest was a problem caused in large part by Aethelred's incompetence. By the time William seized the opportunity and landed his forces in England in 1066, the Anglo-Saxon elite of England had changed, although much of their culture and society had remained the same.

After the Norman Conquest Edit source]

After the Norman conquest, the Anglo-Saxon nobility was either exiled or reduced to the rank of peasant. [35] It has been estimated that by 1087 only about eight percent of the country was under Anglo-Saxon control. Many Anglo-Saxon nobles fled to Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia, and the Byzantine Empire also became a popular destination as it always needed mercenaries. Still, the population of England remained largely Anglo-Saxon, little changed for them except that their Anglo-Saxon lord now became a Norman.

The chronicler Odericus Vitalis, himself a child from an Anglo-Norman marriage, wrote "and so the English groaned loudly for their lost freedom and conspired relentlessly to find a way to shake off the yoke that was so unbearable and unfamiliar to them ". [36] The inhabitants of the north and Scotland were never able to warm up to the Normans after the Harrying of the North. [37]

Many Anglo-Saxons had to learn Norman French in order to communicate with their rulers, but it is clear that they continued to speak Old English among each other, which meant that England was now in an interesting, trilingual situation: Anglo-Saxon for the common people, Latin for the Church and Norman French for the administrators, the nobility and the courts of justice. Over time and through the culture shock of the conquest, the Anglo-Saxons began to change very quickly, and around 1200 there was no Anglo-Saxon English anymore, but what scholars today call early Middle English. But this language had deep roots in Anglo-Saxon, which was spoken long after 1066. Research from the early 20th century to the present day has shown that some type of Anglo-Saxon was spoken in the western Midlands until the thirteenth century. It was J. R. R. Tolkien's great discovery while studying groups of texts written in early Middle English. He noticed that subtle distinctions in these texts suggested that Old English was spoken for far longer than anyone had suspected.

The Germanic language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons had always been a central feature of their cultural identity. As time went by, and especially after the Norman conquest of England, this language changed noticeably and although some people could still read Old English in the 13th century, it soon became impossible for people to understand the texts and the manuscripts became useless. The valuable one Exeter Book for example, it appears to have been used to press gold leaves and at one point had a pot of fish-based glue on its lid. For Drout, this symbolizes the end of the Anglo-Saxons. [19]


Notes [edit source]

  1. 1,01,1Bede, Historia ecclesiastica, I / 15
  2. ^ Procopius, War stories
  3. ↑ Campbell, James, Essays in Anglo-Saxon History
  4. ↑ Jones, Michael E., The Gallic Chronicle Restored
  5. ↑ http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/articles/advent_saxon02.html
  6. ↑ Dark, Kenneth, Civitas to Kingdom: British Political Continuity 300-800
  7. ↑ Härke, Heinrich, Anglo-Saxon Immigration and Ethnogenesis
  8. ↑ Hills, Catherine, Origins of the English
  9. ↑ Hedges, Robert, Anglo-Saxon Migration and the Molecular Evidence