HOME

TheInfoList




The Anglo-Saxons were a
cultural group Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression and affiliation * Cultural identity, a per ...

cultural group
who inhabited
England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east and the to the south. The country cover ...

England
. They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
coastlands of
mainland Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly rega ...

mainland Europe
. However, the
ethnogenesis Ethnogenesis (from Greek Language, Greek ''ethnos'' , "group of people, nation" and ''genesis'' , "beginning, coming into being"; plural ethnogeneses) is "the formation and development of an ethnic group". This can originate through a process of ...
of the Anglo-Saxons occurred within Britain, and the identity was not merely directly imported. The development of an Anglo-Saxon identity arose from the interaction between incoming groups of people from a number of
Germanic tribes This list of ancient s is an inventory of ancient Germanic cultures, tribal groupings and other alliances of Germanic tribes and civilisations in ancient times. The information comes from various ancient historical documents, beginning in the 2nd ...

Germanic tribes
, both amongst themselves, and with indigenous British groups. Many of the natives, over time, adopted Anglo-Saxon culture and language and were assimilated. The Anglo-Saxons established the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
, and the modern
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), g ...

English language
owes almost half of its words – including the most common words of everyday speech – to their language. Historically, the Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period in Britain between about 450 and 1066, after their initial settlement and up until the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
. Higham, Nicholas J., and Martin J. Ryan. ''The Anglo-Saxon World''. Yale University Press, 2013. The early Anglo-Saxon period includes the creation of an
English nation
English nation
, with many of the aspects that survive today, including regional government of
shire Shire is a traditional term for an administrative division of land in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the Britis ...

shire
s and
hundreds A hundred is the natural number following 99 and preceding 101. Hundred may also refer to: Units and divisions * Hundred (word) formerly also equal to 120 or other values * Hundred (unit) sometimes equal to 120 or other values ** Hundredweight (cw ...
. During this period,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
was established and there was a flowering of literature and language. Charters and law were also established. The term ''Anglo-Saxon'' is popularly used for the language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England and southeastern
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
from at least the mid-5th century until the mid-12th century. In scholarly use, it is more commonly called
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
. The history of the Anglo-Saxons is the history of a cultural identity. It developed from divergent groups in association with the people's adoption of Christianity and was integral to the founding of various kingdoms. Threatened by extended Danish
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Viking
invasions and military occupation of eastern England, this identity was re-established; it dominated until after the Norman Conquest. Anglo-Saxon material culture can still be seen in
architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Architecture (Latin ''archi ...
, dress styles, illuminated texts, metalwork and other art. Behind the symbolic nature of these cultural emblems, there are strong elements of tribal and lordship ties. The elite declared themselves kings who developed ''
burh A burh () or burg was an Old English fortification or fortified settlement. In the 9th century, raids and invasions by Viking invasions of England, Vikings prompted Alfred the Great to develop a network of burhs and roads to use against such attack ...
s'', and identified their roles and peoples in Biblical terms. Above all, as
Helena Hamerow Helena Francisca Hamerow, FSA (born 18 September 1961) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America ...
has observed, "local and extended kin groups remained...the essential unit of production throughout the Anglo-Saxon period." The effects persist in the 21st century, as a 2015 study found the genetic makeup of British populations today shows divisions of the tribal political units of the early Anglo-Saxon period. The term ''Anglo-Saxon'' began to be used in the 8th century (in Latin and on the continent) to distinguish "Germanic" groups in Britain from those on the continent (
Old Saxony Old Saxony is the original homeland of the . It corresponds roughly to the modern German states of , , Nordalbingia (Holstein, southern part of ) and western , which all lie in northwestern Germany. It should not be confused with the modern German ...
and Anglia in
Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: Norddeutschland) is the region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomen ...
). Catherine Hills summarised the views of many modern scholars in her observation that attitudes towards Anglo-Saxons, and hence the interpretation of their culture and history, have been "more contingent on contemporary political and religious theology as on any kind of evidence."


Ethnonym

The
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
ethnonym An ethnonym (from the el, ἔθνος 'nation' and 'name') is a name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given ...
''"Angul-Seaxan"'' comes from the Latin ''Angli-Saxones'' and became the name of the peoples the English monk
Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable ( la, Beda Venerabilis), was an English Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sanc ...

Bede
called ''Angli'' around 730 and the British monk
Gildas Gildas (Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, cover ...
called ''Saxones'' around 530. Anglo-Saxon is a term that was rarely used by Anglo-Saxons themselves. It is likely they identified as ''ængli'', ''Seaxe'' or, more probably, a local or tribal name such as ''Mierce'', ''Cantie'', ''Gewisse'', ''Westseaxe'', or ''Norþanhymbre''. After the
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
, an Anglo-Scandinavian identity developed in the
Danelaw The Danelaw (, also known as the Danelagh; ang, Dena lagu; da, Danelagen) was the part of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and ...
. The term ''Angli Saxones'' seems to have first been used in mainland writing of the 8th century;
Paul the Deacon Paul the Deacon ( 720s 13 April in 796, 797, 798, or 799 CE), also known as ''Paulus Diaconus'', ''Warnefridus'', ''Barnefridus'', or ''Winfridus'', and sometimes suffixed ''Cassinensis'' (''i.e.'' "of Monte Cassino"), was a Benedictine monk, scr ...
uses it to distinguish the English Saxons from the mainland Saxons (''Ealdseaxe'', literally, 'old Saxons'). The name therefore seemed to mean "English" Saxons. The Christian church seems to have used the word Angli; for example in the story of
Pope Gregory I Pope Gregory I ( la, Gregorius I; – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally ent ...

Pope Gregory I
and his remark, "''Non Angli sed angeli''" (not English but angels). The terms ''ænglisc'' ('the language') and ''Angelcynn'' ('the people') were also used by West Saxon
King Alfred Alfred the Great (848/49 – 26 October 899) was king of the West Saxons from 871 to and king of the Anglo-Saxons from to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf, who died when Alfred was young. Three of Alfred's brothers, Æthelba ...

King Alfred
to refer to the people; in doing so he was following established practice. The first use of the term Anglo-Saxon amongst the insular sources is in the titles for
Æthelstan Æthelstan or Athelstan (; ang, Æðelstān ; on, Aðalsteinn; meaning "noble stone"; 894 – 27 October 939) was List of monarchs of Wessex, King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and List of English monarchs, King of the English from 927 ...
around 924: ''Angelsaxonum Denorumque gloriosissimus rex'' (most glorious king of the Anglo-Saxons and of the Danes) and ''rex Angulsexna and Norþhymbra imperator paganorum gubernator Brittanorumque propugnator'' (king of the Anglo-Saxons and emperor of the Northumbrians, governor of the pagans, and defender of the Britons). At other times he uses the term ''rex Anglorum'' (king of the English), which presumably meant both Anglo-Saxons and Danes. Alfred used ''Anglosaxonum Rex''. The term (King of the English) is used by Æthelred.
Cnut the Great Cnut the Great (; ang, Cnut cyning; non, Knútr inn ríki ; or , no, Knut den mektige, sv, Knut den Store. died 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England Th ...
, King of Denmark, England, and Norway, in 1021 was the first to refer to the land and not the people with this term: (King of all England). These titles express the sense that the Anglo-Saxons were a Christian people with a king anointed by God. The indigenous
Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( ang, Brytisċ; cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as Common Brythonic or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic language The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-C ...
speakers referred to Anglo-Saxons as ''Saxones'' or possibly ''Saeson'' (the word ''Saeson'' is the modern Welsh word for 'English people'); the equivalent word in
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups o ...
is '' Sasannach'' and in the
Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of military signs * Heraldic flag, Standard (emblem), a type of a large symbol or emblem used for identification Norms, conventions or requ ...
, ''Sasanach''. Catherine Hills suggests that it is no accident "that the English call themselves by the name sanctified by the Church, as that of a people chosen by God, whereas their enemies use the name originally applied to piratical raiders".


Early Anglo-Saxon history (410–660)

The early Anglo-Saxon period covers the history of medieval Britain that starts from the end of
Roman rule
Roman rule
. It is a period widely known in European history as the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
, also the ''Völkerwanderung'' ("migration of peoples" in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
). This was a period of intensified
human migration Human migration involves the movement of people from one place to another with intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily, at a new location (geographic region). The movement often occurs over long distances and from one country to anoth ...

human migration
in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
from about 375 to 800. The migrants were
Germanic tribes This list of ancient s is an inventory of ancient Germanic cultures, tribal groupings and other alliances of Germanic tribes and civilisations in ancient times. The information comes from various ancient historical documents, beginning in the 2nd ...
such as the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the emergence of medieval Europe. In his book ''Getica'' (c. 551), ...
,
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They are also ...
,
Angles The Angles ( ang, Ængle, ; la, Angli; german: Angeln) were one of the main Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally ...

Angles
,
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languag ...

Saxons
,
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by G ...
,
Suebi The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples originally from the Elbe river region in what is now Germany and Czechia, the Czech Republic. In the early Roman era they included many peoples with their ow ...
,
Frisii The Frisii (Old Frisian and Old English: ''Frīs'') were an ancient Germanic peoples, Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta and the Ems (river), River Ems, and the presumed or possible ancestors ...
, and
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
; they were later pushed westwards by the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
,
Avars Avar(s) or AVAR may refer to: Peoples and states * Avars (Caucasus), a modern Northeast Caucasian-speaking people in the North Caucasus, Dagestan, Russia **Avar language, the modern Northeast Caucasian language spoken by the Avars of the North Ca ...
,
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share a first language. However, the term is often used to emphasise ...

Slavs
,
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became known as nomadi ...

Bulgars
, and
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
. The migrants to Britain might also have included the Huns and
RuginiThe Rugini were a tribe in Pomerania. They were only mentioned once, in a list of yet to mission tribes drawn by monk Bede (also Beda venerabilis) in his ''Historia ecclesiastica'' of the early 8th century:Johannes Hoops, Herbert Jankuhn, Heinrich ...
. Until AD 400,
Roman Britain Roman Britain is the period in classical antiquity when large parts of the island of Great Britain were under Roman conquest of Britain, occupation by the Roman Empire. The occupation lasted from AD 43 to AD 410. During that time, the ...

Roman Britain
, the province of ''Britannia'', was an integral, flourishing part of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
, occasionally disturbed by internal rebellions or barbarian attacks, which were subdued or repelled by the large contingent of
imperial troops
imperial troops
stationed in the province. By 410, however, the imperial forces had been withdrawn to deal with crises in other parts of the empire, and the Romano-Britons were left to fend for themselves in what is called the post-Roman or "
sub-Roman Sub-Roman Britain is the period of late antiquity on the island of Great Britain, covering the End of Roman rule in Britain, end of Roman rule in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, and its aftermath into the 6th century. The term "sub-Roman" ...
" period of the 5th century.


Migration (410–560)

It is now widely accepted that the Anglo-Saxons were not just transplanted Germanic invaders and settlers from the Continent, but the outcome of insular interactions and changes. Writing c. 540,
Gildas Gildas (Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, cover ...
mentions that sometime in the 5th century, a council of leaders in Britain agreed that some land in the east of southern Britain would be given to the Saxons on the basis of a treaty, a ''foedus,'' by which the Saxons would defend the Britons against attacks from the
Picts , Fife Fife (, ; gd, Fìobha, ; sco, Fife) is a council area, Historic counties of Scotland, historic county, registration county and lieutenancy areas of Scotland, lieutenancy area of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay an ...
and
Scoti ''Scoti'' or ''Scotti'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roma ...
in exchange for food supplies. The most contemporaneous textual evidence is the ''
Chronica Gallica of 452 The ''Chronica Gallica of 452'', also called the ''Gallic Chronicle of 452'', is a Latin chronicle of Late Antiquity, presented in the form of annals, which continues that The function word ''that'' is used in the English language for several g ...
'', which records for the year 441: "The British provinces, which to this time had suffered various defeats and misfortunes, are reduced to Saxon rule." This is an earlier date than that of 451 for the "coming of the Saxons" used by
Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable ( la, Beda Venerabilis), was an English Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sanc ...

Bede
in his ''
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum The ''Ecclesiastical History of the English People'' ( la, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum), written by the Venerable Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerabl ...
,'' written around 731. It has been argued that Bede misinterpreted his (scanty) sources and that the chronological references in the '' Historia Britonnum'' yield a plausible date of around 428. Gildas recounts how a war broke out between the Saxons and the local population – historian Nick Higham calls it the "War of the Saxon Federates" – which ended shortly after the siege at 'Mons Badonicus'. The Saxons went back to "their eastern home". Gildas calls the peace a "grievous divorce with the barbarians". The price of peace, Higham argues, was a better treaty for the Saxons, giving them the ability to receive tribute from people across the lowlands of Britain. The archaeological evidence agrees with this earlier timescale. In particular, the work of Catherine Hills and Sam Lucy on the evidence of
Spong Hill Spong Hill is an Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotla ...
has moved the chronology for the settlement earlier than 450, with a significant number of items now in phases before Bede's date. This vision of the Anglo-Saxons exercising extensive political and military power at an early date remains contested. The most developed vision of a continuation in sub-Roman Britain, with control over its own political and military destiny for well over a century, is that of Kenneth Dark, who suggests that the sub-Roman elite survived in culture, politics and military power up to c. 570.Higham, Nick. "From sub-Roman Britain to Anglo-Saxon England: Debating the Insular Dark Ages." ''History Compass'' 2.1 (2004). Bede, however, identifies three phases of settlement: an exploration phase, when mercenaries came to protect the resident population; a migration phase, which was substantial as implied by the statement that ''Anglus'' was deserted; and an establishment phase, in which Anglo-Saxons started to control areas, implied in Bede's statement about the origins of the tribes. Scholars have not reached a consensus on the number of migrants who entered Britain in this period. Härke argues that the figure is around 100,000 to 200,000.Härke, Heinrich. "Anglo-Saxon Immigration and Ethnogenesis." ''Medieval Archaeology'' 55.1 (2011): 1–28. Bryan Ward-Perkins also argues for up to 200,000 incomers. Catherine Hills suggests the number is nearer to 20,000. A computer simulation showed that a migration of 250,000 people from mainland Europe could have been accomplished in as little as 38 years. Recent genetic and isotope studies have suggested that the migration, which included both men and women, continued over several centuries, possibly allowing for significantly more new arrivals than has been previously thought. By around 500, communities of Anglo-Saxons were established in southern and eastern Britain. Härke and Michael Wood estimate that the British population in the area that eventually became Anglo-Saxon England was around one million by the start of the fifth century; however, what happened to the Britons has been debated. The traditional explanation for their archaeological and linguistic invisibilityCoates, Richard. "Invisible Britons: The view from linguistics. Paper circulated in connection with the conference Britons and Saxons, 14–16 April. University of Sussex Linguistics and English Language Department." (2004) is that the Anglo-Saxons either killed them or drove them to the mountainous fringes of Britain, a view broadly supported by the few available sources from the period. However, there is evidence of continuity in the systems of landscape and local governance, decreasing the likelihood of such a cataclysmic event, at least in parts of England. Thus, scholars have suggested other, less violent explanations by which the culture of the Anglo-Saxons, whose core area of large-scale settlement was likely restricted to what is now southeastern England,
East Anglia East Anglia is a geographical area in the East of England. The area included has varied but the legally defined Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics, NUTS statistical unit comprises the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshi ...
and
Lincolnshire Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs.) is a Counties of England, county in the East Midlands of England, with a long coastline on the North Sea to the east. It borders Norfolk to the south-east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south-w ...

Lincolnshire
, could have come to be ubiquitous across lowland Britain. Härke has posited a scenario in which the Anglo-Saxons, in expanding westward, outbred the Britons, eventually reaching a point where their descendants made up a larger share of the population of what was to become England. It has also been proposed that the Britons were disproportionately affected by plagues arriving through Roman trade links, which, combined with a large emigration to
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica ( br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. Name ...

Armorica
, could have substantially decreased their numbers. Even so, there is general agreement that the kingdoms of
Wessex Wessex (; ang, Westseaxna rīċe , 'the Kingdom of the West Saxons') was an Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was Kingdom of England, unified by Æthelstan in 927. The Anglo-Sa ...

Wessex
,
Mercia Mercia (, ang, Miercna rīċe; la, Merciorum regnum) was one of the kingdoms of the . The name is a of the or (West Saxon dialect; in the Mercian dialect itself), meaning "border people" (see ). Mercia dominated what would later become ...
and
Northumbria Northumbria (; ang, Norþanhymbra Rīċe; la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum) was an early medieval Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, kingdom in what is now Northern England and Lothian, south-east Scotland. The name derives from the Old Englis ...

Northumbria
housed significant numbers of Britons. Härke states that "it is widely accepted that in the north of England, the native population survived to a greater extent than the south," and that in Bernicia, "a small group of immigrants may have replaced the native British elite and took over the kingdom as a going concern." Evidence for the natives in Wessex, meanwhile, can be seen in the late seventh century laws of King Ine, which gave them fewer rights and a lower status than the Saxons. This might have provided an incentive for Britons in the kingdom to adopt Anglo-Saxon culture. Higham points out that "in circumstances where freedom at law, acceptance with the kindred, access to patronage, and the use and possession of weapons were all exclusive to those who could claim Germanic descent, then speaking Old English without Latin or Brittonic inflection had considerable value." There is evidence for a British influence on the emerging Anglo-Saxon elite classes. The Wessex royal line was traditionally founded by a man named
Cerdic Cerdic (; la, Cerdicus) is described in the ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle The ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' is a collection of annals in Old English, chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the ''Chronicle'' was creat ...

Cerdic
, an undoubtedly Celtic name cognate to Ceretic (the name of two British kings, ultimately derived from *Corotīcos). This may indicate that Cerdic was a native Briton and that his dynasty became anglicised over time.Myres, J.N.L. (1989) ''The English Settlements''. Oxford University Press, pp. 146–147 A number of Cerdic's alleged descendants also possessed Celtic names, including the '
Bretwalda ''Bretwalda'' (also ''brytenwalda'' and ''bretenanwealda'', sometimes capitalised) is an Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germ ...

Bretwalda
'
Ceawlin Ceawlin (also spelled Ceaulin and Caelin, died ''ca.'' 593) was a King of Wessex This is a list of monarchs of Wessex Wessex (; ang, Westseaxna rīċe , 'the Kingdom of the West Saxons') was an Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cu ...
. The last man in this dynasty to have a Brittonic name was King Caedwalla, who died as late as 689. In Mercia, too, several kings bear seemingly Celtic names, most notably
Penda Penda (died 15 November 655)Manuscript A of the ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' gives the year as 655. Bede also gives the year as 655 and specifies a date, 15 November. R. L. Poole (''Studies in Chronology and History'', 1934) put forward the theory ...
. As far east as
LindseyLindsey may refer to : Places Canada * Lindsey Lake, Nova Scotia England * Parts of Lindsey The Parts of Lindsey are a traditional division of Lincolnshire, England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part o ...
, the Celtic name ''Caedbaed'' appears in the list of kings. Recent genetic studies, based on data collected from skeletons found in Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon era burials, have concluded that the ancestry of the modern English population contains large contributions from both Anglo-Saxon migrants and Romano-British natives.


Development of an Anglo-Saxon society (560–610)

In the last half of the 6th century, four structures contributed to the development of society; they were the position and freedoms of the ''ceorl,'' the smaller tribal areas coalescing into larger kingdoms, the elite developing from warriors to kings, and Irish monasticism developing under Finnian (who had consulted Gildas) and his pupil
Columba Columba, gd, Calum Cille, sco, Columbkille, gv, Colum Keeilley, non, Kolban or (7 December 521 – 9 June 597) was an Irish abbot Abbot (from Aramaic: ''Abba'' "father") is an ecclesiastical title A title is one or more words use ...

Columba
. The Anglo-Saxon farms of this period are often falsely supposed to be "peasant farms". However, a ''ceorl'', who was the lowest ranking freeman in early Anglo-Saxon society, was not a peasant but an arms-owning male with the support of a kindred, access to law and the ''
wergild Weregild (also spelled wergild, wergeld (in archaic/historical usage of English), weregeld, etc.), also known as man price (Blood money (restitution), blood money), was a precept in some archaic legal codes whereby a monetary value was established ...
''; situated at the apex of an extended household working at least one hide of land. The farmer had freedom and rights over lands, with provision of a rent or duty to an overlord who provided only slight lordly input. Most of this land was common outfield arable land (of an outfield-infield system) that provided individuals with the means to build a basis of kinship and group cultural ties. The
Tribal Hidage Image:Tribal Hidage 2.svg, 400px, alt=insert description of map here, The tribes of the Tribal Hidage. Where an appropriate article exists, it can be found by clicking on the name. rect 275 75 375 100 w:Elmet rect 375 100 450 150 w:Hatfield Chas ...

Tribal Hidage
lists thirty-five peoples, or tribes, with assessments in hides, which may have originally been defined as the area of land sufficient to maintain one family. The assessments in the ''Hidage'' reflect the relative size of the provinces.Yorke, Barbara. ''Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England''. Routledge, 2002. Although varying in size, all thirty-five peoples of the Tribal Hidage were of the same status, in that they were areas which were ruled by their own elite family (or royal houses), and so were assessed independently for payment of tribute. By the end of the sixth century, larger kingdoms had become established on the south or east coasts. They include the provinces of the Jutes of Hampshire and Wight, the
South Saxons The Kingdom of the South Saxons, today referred to as the Kingdom of Sussex (; ang, Sūþseaxna rīce), was one of the seven traditional kingdoms of the Heptarchy 250px, The penultimate set of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms was fivefold. The map annota ...
,
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert ...

Kent
, the East Saxons, East Angles,
LindseyLindsey may refer to : Places Canada * Lindsey Lake, Nova Scotia England * Parts of Lindsey The Parts of Lindsey are a traditional division of Lincolnshire, England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part o ...
and (north of the Humber)
Deira Deira ( ; Old Welsh Old Welsh ( cy, Hen Gymraeg) is the stage of the Welsh language Welsh ( or ) is a Brittonic languages, Brittonic language of the Celtic language family that is native to the Welsh people. Welsh is spoken natively in ...

Deira
and
Bernicia Bernicia (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval ...
. Several of these kingdoms may have had as their initial focus a territory based on a former Roman ''
civitas In the history of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , ma ...
''. By the end of the sixth century, the leaders of these communities were styling themselves kings, though it should not be assumed that all of them were Germanic in origin. The
Bretwalda ''Bretwalda'' (also ''brytenwalda'' and ''bretenanwealda'', sometimes capitalised) is an Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germ ...

Bretwalda
concept is taken as evidence of a number of early Anglo-Saxon elite families. What Bede seems to imply in his ''Bretwalda'' is the ability of leaders to extract tribute, overawe and/or protect the small regions, which may well have been relatively short-lived in any one instance. Ostensibly "Anglo-Saxon" dynasties variously replaced one another in this role in a discontinuous but influential and potent roll call of warrior elites. Importantly, whatever their origin or whenever they flourished, these dynasties established their claim to lordship through their links to extended kin, and possibly mythical, ties. As Helen Geake points out, "they all just happened to be related back to Woden". The process from warrior to ''cyning'' – Old English for king – is described in ''
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literat ...

Beowulf
'':


Conversion to Christianity (590–660)

In 565,
Columba Columba, gd, Calum Cille, sco, Columbkille, gv, Colum Keeilley, non, Kolban or (7 December 521 – 9 June 597) was an Irish abbot Abbot (from Aramaic: ''Abba'' "father") is an ecclesiastical title A title is one or more words use ...

Columba
, a monk from Ireland who studied at the monastic school of
Moville Moville (; ) is a coastal town located on the Inishowen Peninsula of County Donegal County Donegal ( ; ga, Contae Dhún na nGall) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambe ...

Moville
under St. Finnian, reached
Iona Iona ( gd, Ì Chaluim Chille (IPA: iːˈxaɫ̪ɯimˈçiʎə, sometimes simply ''Ì''; sco, Iona) is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland. It is mainly known for Iona Abbey, though there a ...

Iona
as a self-imposed exile. The influence of the monastery of Iona would grow into what Peter Brown has described as an "unusually extensive spiritual empire," which "stretched from western Scotland deep to the southwest into the heart of Ireland and, to the southeast, it reached down throughout northern Britain, through the influence of its sister monastery Lindisfarne." In June 597 Columba died. At this time, landed on the
Isle of Thanet Image:Thanet - Thanet Scenery (geograph 5434042).jpg, The Isle of Thanet seen from the north The Isle of Thanet () is a peninsula at the most easterly point of Kent, England. While in the past it was separated from the mainland by the Wantsum Cha ...

Isle of Thanet
and proceeded to King Æthelberht's main town of
Canterbury Canterbury (, ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the heart of the City of Canterbury, a local government district of Kent, England. It lies on the River Stour, Kent, River Stour ...

Canterbury
. He had been the
prior Prior (or prioress) is an ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor Loss of status could also occur, as with penal slavery, which could be imposed not only on the perpetrator of a crime but on his wife and family. A further division in Anglo-Saxon society was between slave and free. Slavery was not as common as in other societies, but appears to have been present throughout the period. Both the freemen and slaves were hierarchically structured, with several classes of freemen and many types of slaves. These varied at different times and in different areas, but the most prominent ranks within free society were the king, the nobleman or thegn, and the ordinary freeman or ceorl. They were differentiated primarily by the value of their weregild or 'man price', which was not only the amount payable in compensation for homicide, but was also used as the basis for other legal formulations such as the value of the oath that they could swear in a court of law. Slaves had no weregild, as offences against them were taken to be offences against their owners, but the earliest laws set out a detailed scale of penalties depending both on the type of slave and the rank of owner. Some slaves may have been members of the native British population conquered by the Anglo-Saxons when they arrived from the continent; others may have been captured in wars between the early kingdoms, or have sold themselves for food in times of famine. However, slavery was not always permanent, and slaves who had gained their freedom would become part of an underclass of freedmen below the rank of ceorl.


Culture


Architecture

Early Anglo-Saxon buildings in Britain were generally simple, not using masonry except in foundations but constructed mainly using timber with thatch roofing. Generally preferring not to settle within the old Roman cities, the Anglo-Saxons built small towns near their centres of agriculture, at fords in rivers, or near natural ports. In each town, a main hall was in the centre, provided with a central hearth. Only ten of the hundreds of settlement sites that have been excavated in England from this period have revealed masonry domestic structures and confined to a few specific contexts. Timber was the natural building medium of the age: the Anglo-Saxon word for "building" is ''timbe''. Unlike in the Carolingian Empire, Carolingian world, late Anglo-Saxon royal halls continued to be of timber in the manner of Yeavering centuries before, even though the king could clearly have mustered the resources to build in stone. Their preference must have been a conscious choice, perhaps an expression of deeply–embedded Germanic identity on the part of the Anglo-Saxon royalty. Even the elite had simple buildings, with a central fire and a hole in the roof to let the smoke escape; the largest homes rarely had more than one floor and one room. Buildings varied widely in size, most were square or rectangular, though some round houses have been found. Frequently these buildings have sunken floors, with a shallow pit over which a plank floor was suspended. The pit may have been used for storage, but more likely was filled with straw for insulation. A variation on the sunken floor design has been found in towns, where the "basement" may be as deep as 9 feet, suggesting a storage or work area below a suspended floor. Another common design was simple post framing, with heavy posts set directly into the ground, supporting the roof. The space between the posts was filled in with wattle and daub, or occasionally, planks. The floors were generally packed earth, though planks were sometimes used. Roofing materials varied, with thatch being the most common, though turf and even wooden shingles were also used. Stone was sometimes used to build churches. Bede makes it clear that the masonry construction of churches, including his own at Jarrow, was undertaken ''morem Romanorum'', 'in the manner of the Romans,' in explicit contrast to existing traditions of timber construction. Even at Canterbury, Bede believed that St Augustine's first cathedral had been 'repaired' or 'recovered' (''recuperavit'') from an existing Roman church, when in fact it had been newly constructed from Roman materials. The belief was "the Christian Church was Roman therefore a masonry church was a Roman building". The building of churches in Anglo-Saxon England essentially began with Augustine of Canterbury in Kent following 597; for this he probably imported workmen from Francia, Frankish Gaul. The Canterbury Cathedral, cathedral and abbey in Canterbury, together with churches in Kent at Minster, Swale, Minster in Sheppey (c.664) and St Mary's Church, Reculver, Reculver (669), and in Essex at the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall at Bradwell-on-Sea, define the earliest type in southeast England. A simple nave without aisles provided the setting for the main altar; east of this a chancel arch separated the apse for use by the clergy. Flanking the apse and east end of the nave were side chambers serving as sacristies; further porticus might continue along the nave to provide for burials and other purposes. In Northumbria the early development of Christianity was influenced by the Irish mission, important churches being built in timber. Masonry churches became prominent from the late 7th century with the foundations of Wilfrid at Ripon and Hexham, and of Benedict Biscop at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow. These buildings had long naves and small rectangular chancels; porticus sometimes surrounded the naves. Elaborate crypts are a feature of Wilfrid's buildings. The best preserved early Northumbrian church is Escomb Church.Wilkinson, David John, and Alan McWhirr. Cirencester Anglo-Saxon Church and Medieval Abbey: Excavations Directed by JS Wacher (1964), AD McWhirr (1965) and PDC Brown (1965–6). Cotswold Archaeological Trust, 1998. From the mid-8th century to the mid-10th century, several important buildings survive. One group comprises the first known churches utilizing aisles: All Saints' Church, Brixworth, Brixworth, the most ambitious Anglo-Saxon church to survive largely intact; Lady St. Mary Church, Wareham, Wareham St Mary's; Cirencester; and the rebuilding of Canterbury Cathedral. These buildings may be compared with churches in the Carolingian Empire. Other lesser churches may be dated to the late eighth and early ninth centuries on the basis of their elaborate sculptured decoration and have simple naves with side porticus. The tower of St John the Baptist's Church, Barnack, Barnack hearkens to the West Saxon reconquest in the early 10th century, when decorative features that were to be characteristic of Late Anglo-Saxon architecture were already developed, such as narrow raised bands of stone (pilaster strips) to surround archways and to articulate wall surfaces, as at St Peter's Church, Barton-upon-Humber, Barton-upon-Humber and All Saints' Church, Earls Barton, Earls Barton. In plan, however, the churches remained essentially conservative. From the monastic revival of the second half of the tenth century, only a few documented buildings survive or have been excavated. Examples include the abbeys of Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury; Old Minster, Winchester; Romsey Abbey, Romsey; Cholsey Abbey, Cholsey; and Peterborough Cathedral. The majority of churches that have been described as Anglo-Saxon fall into the period between the late 10th century and the early 12th century. During this period, many settlements were first provided with stone churches, but timber also continued to be used; the best wood-framed church to survive is Greensted Church in Essex, no earlier than the 9th century, and no doubt typical of many parish churches. On the continent during the eleventh century, a group of interrelated Romanesque architecture, Romanesque styles developed, associated with the rebuilding of many churches on a grand scale, made possible by a general advance in architectural technology and mason-craft. The first fully Romanesque church in England was Edward the Confessor's rebuilding of Westminster Abbey (c.1042-60, now entirely lost to later construction), while the main development of the style only followed the Norman Conquest. However, at Stow Minster the crossing piers of the early 1050s are clearly proto-Romanesque architecture, Romanesque. A more decorative interpretation of Romanesque in lesser churches can be dated only somewhere between the mid and late 11th century, e.g. Hadstock (Essex), Clayton, West Sussex, Clayton and Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Sompting, Sompting (Sussex); this style continued towards the end of the century as at Milborne Port (Somerset). At St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury (c.1048–61) Abbot Wulfric aimed to retain the earlier churches while linking them with an octagonal rotunda, but the concept was still essentially Pre-Romanesque architecture, Pre-Romanesque. Anglo-Saxon churches of all periods would have been embellished with a range of arts, including wall-paintings, some stained glass, metalwork and statues.


Art

Early Anglo-Saxon art is seen mostly in decorated jewellery, like brooches, buckles, beads and wrist-clasps, some of outstanding quality. Characteristic of the 5th century is the Quoit (brooch), quoit brooch with motifs based on crouching animals, as seen on the silver quoit brooch from Sarre, Kent. While the origins of this style are disputed, it is either an offshoot of provincial Roman, Frank, or Jutes, Jute art. One style flourished from the late 5th century and continued throughout the 6th and is on many square-headed brooches, it is characterised by chip carving, chip-carved patterns based on animals and masks. A different style, which gradually superseded it, is dominated by serpentine beasts with interlacing bodies. By the later 6th century, the best works from the south-east are distinguished by greater use of expensive materials, above all gold and garnets, reflecting the growing prosperity of a more organised society which had greater access to imported precious materials, as seen in the buckle from the Taplow burial and the jewellery from Sutton Hoo,Adams, Noël. "Rethinking the Sutton Hoo Shoulder Clasps and Armour." Intelligible Beauty: Recent Research on Byzantine ewellery. London: British Museum Research Publications 178 (2010): 87–116. c.600 and c.625 respectively. The possible symbolism of the decorative elements like interlace (art), interlace and beast forms that were used in these early works remains unclear. These objects were the products of a society that invested its modest surpluses in personal display, who fostered craftsmen and jewellers of a high standard, and in which the possession of a fine brooch or buckle was a valuable status symbol.Julian D. Richards, Richards, Julian D. "Anglo-Saxon symbolism." The Age of Sutton Hoo: The Seventh Century in North-West Europe (1992): 139. The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork . Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character and contains no objects specific to female uses. It demonstrates that considerable quantities of high-grade goldsmiths' work were in circulation among the elite during the 7th century. It also shows that the value of such items as currency and their potential roles as tribute or the spoils of war could, in a warrior society, outweigh appreciation of their integrity and artistry. The Christianization of the society revolutionised the visual arts, as well as other aspects of society. Art had to fulfil new functions, and whereas pagan art was abstract, Christianity required images clearly representing subjects. The transition between the Christian and pagan traditions is occasionally apparent in 7th century works; examples include the Crundale buckle and the Canterbury pendant. In addition to fostering metalworking skills, Christianity stimulated stone sculpture and illuminated manuscript, manuscript illumination. In these Germanic motifs, such as interlace and animal ornament along with Celtic spiral patterns, are juxtaposed with Christian imagery and Mediterranean decoration, notably vine-scroll. The Ruthwell Cross, Bewcastle Cross and Easby Cross are leading Northumbrian examples of the Anglo-Saxon version of the Celtic high cross, generally with a slimmer shaft. The jamb of the doorway at Monkwearmouth, carved with a pair of lacertine beasts, probably dates from the 680s; the golden, garnet-adorned pectoral cross of St Cuthbert was presumably made before 687; while St Cuthbert's coffin, his wooden inner coffin (incised with Christ and the Evangelists' symbols, the Virgin and Child, archangels and apostles), the Lindisfarne Gospels, and the Codex Amiatinus all date from c. 700. The fact that these works are all from Northumbria might be held to reflect the particular strength of the church in that kingdom. Works from the south were more restrained in their ornamentation than are those from Northumbria. Lindisfarne was an important centre of book production, along with Ripon and Monkwearmouth-Jarrow. The Lindisfarne Gospels might be the single most beautiful book produced in the Middle Ages, and the Echternach Gospels and (probably) the Book of Durrow are other products of Lindisfarne. A Latin gospel book, the Lindisfarne Gospels are richly illuminated and decorated in an Insular art, Insular style that blends Irish and Western Mediterranean elements and incorporates imagery from the Eastern Mediterranean, including Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Coptic Christianity. The Codex Amiatinus was produced in the north of England at the same time and has been called the finest book in the world. It is certainly one of the largest, weighing 34 kilograms. It is a pandect, which was rare in the Middle Ages, and included all the books of the Bible in one volume. The Codex Amiatinus was produced at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow in 692 under the direction of Abbot Ceolfrith. Bede probably had something to do with it. The production of the Codex shows the riches of the north of England at this time. We have records of the monastery needing a new grant of land to raise 2,000 more cattle to get the calf skins to make the vellum for the manuscript. The Codex Amiatinus was meant to be a gift to the pope, and Ceolfrith was taking it to Rome when he died on the way. The copy ended up in Florence, where it still is today – a ninth-century copy of this book is in the possession of the pope. In the 8th century, Anglo-Saxon Christian art flourished with grand decorated manuscripts and sculptures, along with secular works which bear comparable ornament, like the Witham pins and the Coppergate helmet. The flourishing of sculpture in Mercia occurred slightly later than in Northumbria and is dated to the second half of the 8th century. The Book of Cerne is an early 9th century Insular or Anglo-Saxon Latin personal prayer book with Old English components. This manuscript was decorated and embellished with four painted full-page miniatures, major and minor letters, and continuing panels. Further decorated motifs used in these manuscripts, such as hunched, triangular beasts, also appear on objects from the Trewhiddle hoard (buried in the 870s) and on the rings which bear the names of King Æthelwulf of Wessex, Æthelwulf and Queen Æthelswith, which are the centre of a small corpus of fine ninth-century metalwork. There was demonstrable continuity in the south, even though the Danish settlement represented a watershed in England's artistic tradition. Wars and pillaging removed or destroyed much Anglo-Saxon art, while the settlement introduced new Scandinavian craftsmen and patrons. The result was to accentuate the pre-existing distinction between the art of the north and that of the south. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the Viking dominated areas were characterised by stone sculpture in which the Anglo-Saxon tradition of cross shafts took on new forms, and a distinctive Anglo-Scandinavian monument, the 'hogback' tomb, was produced. The decorative motifs used on these northern carvings (as on items of personal adornment or everyday use) echo Scandinavian styles. The Wessexan hegemony and the monastic reform movement appear to have been the catalysts for the rebirth of art in southern England from the end of the 9th century. Here artists responded primarily to continental art; foliage supplanting interlace as the preferred decorative motif. Key early works are the Alfred Jewel, which has fleshy leaves engraved on the back plate; and the stole and maniples of Bishop Frithestan of Winchester, which are ornamented with acanthus (ornament), acanthus leaves, alongside figures that bear the stamp of Byzantine art. The surviving evidence points to Winchester and Canterbury as the leading centres of manuscript art in the second half of the 10th century: they developed colourful paintings with lavish foliate borders, and coloured line drawings. By the early 11th century, these two traditions had fused and had spread to other centres. Although manuscripts dominate the corpus, sufficient architectural sculpture, ivory carving and metalwork survives to show that the same styles were current in secular art and became widespread in the south at parochial level. The wealth of England in the later tenth and eleventh century is clearly reflected in the lavish use of gold in manuscript art as well as for vessels, textiles and statues (now known only from descriptions). Widely admired, southern English art was highly influential in Normandy, France and Flanders from c. 1000. Indeed, keen to possess it or recover its materials, the Normans appropriated it in large quantities in the wake of the Conquest. The Bayeux Tapestry, probably designed by a Canterbury artist for Bishop Odo of Bayeux, is arguably the apex of Anglo-Saxon art. Surveying nearly 600 years of continuous change, three common strands stand out: lavish colour and rich materials; an interplay between abstract ornament and representational subject matter; and a fusion of art styles reflecting English links to other parts of Europe.


Language

Old English (''Ænglisc, Anglisc, Englisc'') is the earliest form of the
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), g ...

English language
. It was brought to Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers, and was spoken and written in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland until the mid-12th century, by which time it had evolved into Middle English. Old English was a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language, closely related to Old Frisian and Old Saxon. The language was fully inflection, inflected, with five grammatical case, grammatical cases, three grammatical number, grammatical numbers and three grammatical gender, grammatical genders. Over time, Old English developed into four major dialects: Northumbrian, spoken north of the Humber; Mercian, spoken in the Midlands; Kentish, spoken in Kent; and West Saxon, spoken across the south and southwest. All of these dialects have direct descendants in modern England. Standard English developed from the Mercian dialect, as it was predominant in London. It is generally held that Old English received little influence from the
Common Brittonic Common Brittonic ( ang, Brytisċ; cy, Brythoneg; kw, Brythonek; br, Predeneg), also known as Common Brythonic or Proto-Brittonic, was a Celtic language The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-C ...
and British Latin spoken in southern Britain prior to the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, as it took in very few loan words from these languages. Though some scholars have claimed that Brittonic could have exerted Brittonicisms in English, an influence on English syntax and grammar, these ideas have not become consensus views, and have been criticized by other historical linguists. Richard Coates has concluded that the strongest candidates for substratal Brittonic features in English are grammatical elements occurring in regional dialects in the north and west of England, such as the Northern Subject Rule. Old English was more clearly influenced by Old Norse. Scandinavian loan words in English include toponym, place names, items of basic vocabulary such as ''sky'', ''leg'' and ''they'', and words concerned with particular administrative aspects of the
Danelaw The Danelaw (, also known as the Danelagh; ang, Dena lagu; da, Danelagen) was the part of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and ...
(that is, the area of land under Viking control, including the East Midlands and Northumbria south of the River Tees, Tees). Old Norse was related to Old English, as both originated from Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germanic, and many linguists believe that the loss of inflectional endings in Old English was accelerated by contact with Norse.


Kinship

Local and extended kin groups were a key aspect of Anglo-Saxon culture. Kinship fueled societal advantages, freedom and the relationships to an elite, that allowed the Anglo-Saxons' culture and language to flourish. The ties of loyalty to a lord were to the person of a lord and not to his station; there was no real concept of patriotism or loyalty to a cause. This explains why dynasties waxed and waned so quickly, since a kingdom was only as strong as its leader-king. There was no underlying administration or bureaucracy to maintain any gains beyond the lifetime of a leader. An example of this was the leadership of Rædwald of East Anglia and how the East Anglian primacy did not survive his death. Kings could not make new laws except in exceptional circumstances. Their role instead was to uphold and clarify previous custom and to assure his subjects that he would uphold their ancient privileges, laws, and customs. Although the person of the king as a leader could be exalted, the office of kingship was not in any sense as powerful or as invested with authority as it was to become. One of the tools kings used was to tie themselves closely to the new Christian church, through the practice of having a church leader anoint and crown the king; God and king were then joined in peoples' minds. The ties of kinship meant that the relatives of a murdered person were obliged to exact vengeance for his or her death. This led to bloody and extensive feuds. As a way out of this deadly and futile custom the system of Weregild, weregilds was instituted. The weregild set a monetary value on each person's life according to their wealth and social status. This value could also be used to set the fine payable if a person was injured or offended against. Robbing a thane called for a higher penalty than robbing a ceorl. On the other hand, a thane who thieved could pay a higher fine than a ceorl who did likewise. Men were willing to die for the lord and to support their ''comitatus'' (their warrior band). Evidence of this behavior (though it may be more a literary ideal than an actual social practice) can be observed in the story, made famous in the ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' entry for 755, of Cynewulf and Cyneheard, in which the followers of a defeated king decided to fight to the death rather than be reconciled after the death of their lord. This emphasis on social standing affected all parts of the Anglo-Saxon world. The courts, for example, did not attempt to discover the facts in a case; instead, in any dispute it was up to each party to get as many people as possible to swear to the rightness of their case, which became known as oath-swearing. The word of a thane counted for that of six ceorls. It was assumed that any person of good character would be able to find enough people to swear to his innocence that his case would prosper. Anglo-Saxon society was also decidedly patriarchal, but women were in some ways better off than they would be in later times. A woman could own property in her own right. She could and did rule a kingdom if her husband died. She could not be married without her consent, and any personal goods, including lands, that she brought into a marriage remained her own property. If she were injured or abused in her marriage, her relatives were expected to look after her interests.


Law

The most noticeable feature of the Anglo-Saxon legal system is the apparent prevalence of legislation in the form of law codes. The early Anglo-Saxons were organised in various small kingdoms often corresponding to later shires or counties. The kings of these small kingdoms issued written laws, one of earliest of which is attributed to Ethelbert, king of Kent, ca.560–616. The Anglo-Saxon law codes follow a pattern found in mainland Europe where other groups of the former Roman Empire encountered government dependent upon written sources of law and hastened to display the claims of their own native traditions by reducing them to writing. These legal systems should not be thought of as operating like modern legislation, rather they are educational and political tools designed to demonstrate standards of good conduct rather than act as criteria for subsequent legal judgment. Although not themselves sources of law, Anglo-Saxon charters are a most valuable historical source for tracing the actual legal practices of the various Anglo-Saxon communities. A charter was a written document from a king or other authority confirming a grant either of land or some other valuable right. Their prevalence in the Anglo-Saxon state is a sign of sophistication. They were frequently appealed to and relied upon in litigation. Making grants and confirming those made by others was a major way in which Anglo-Saxon kings demonstrated their authority. The royal council or witan played a central but limited role in the Anglo-Saxon period. The main feature of the system was its high degree of decentralisation. The interference by the king through his granting of charters and the activity of his witan in litigation are exceptions rather than the rule in Anglo-Saxon times. The most important court in the later Anglo-Saxon period was the shire court. Many shires (such as Kent and Sussex) were in the early days of the Anglo-Saxon settlement the centre of small independent kingdoms. As the kings first of Mercia and then of Wessex slowly extended their authority over the whole of England, they left the shire courts with overall responsibility for the administration of law. The shire met in one or more traditional places, earlier in the open air and then later in a moot or meeting hall. The meeting of the shire court was presided over by an officer, the shire reeve or sheriff, whose appointment came in later Anglo-Saxon times into the hands of the king but had in earlier times been elective. The sheriff was not the judge of the court, merely its president. The judges of the court were all those who had the right and duty of attending the court, the suitors. These were originally all free male inhabitants of the neighbourhood, but over time suit of court became an obligation attached to particular holdings of land. The sessions of a shire court resembled more closely those of a modern local administrative body than a modern court. It could and did act judicially, but this was not its prime function. In the shire court, charters and writs would be read out for all to hear. Below the level of the shire, each county was divided into areas known as hundreds (or wapentakes in the north of England). These were originally groups of families rather than geographical areas. The hundred court was a smaller version of the shire court, presided over by the hundred bailiff, formerly a sheriff's appointment, but over the years many hundreds fell into the private hands of a local large landowner. Little is known about hundred court business, which was likely a mix of the administrative and judicial, but they remained in some areas an important forum for the settlement of local disputes well into the post-Conquest period. The Anglo-Saxon system put an emphasis upon compromise and arbitration: litigating parties were enjoined to settle their differences if possible. If they persisted in bringing a case for decision before a shire court, then it could be determined there. The suitors of the court would pronounce a judgment which fixed how the case would be decided: legal problems were considered to be too complex and difficult for mere human decision, and so proof or demonstration of the right would depend upon some irrational, non-human criterion. The normal methods of proof were oath-helping or the ordeal.Hyams, P. 'Trial by ordeal: the key to proof in the early common law' in Arnold, M.S. et al.. (eds) On the Laws and Customs of England: Essays in honor of S.E. Thorne. (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1981) , p. 90. Oath-helping involved the party undergoing proof swearing to the truth of his claim or denial and having that oath reinforced by five or more others, chosen either by the party or by the court. The number of helpers required and the form of their oath differed from place to place and upon the nature of the dispute. If either the party or any of the helpers failed in the oath, either refusing to take it or sometimes even making an error in the required formula, the proof failed and the case was adjudged to the other side. As "wager of law," it remained a way of determining cases in the common law until its abolition in the 19th century. The ordeal offered an alternative for those unable or unwilling to swear an oath. The two most common methods were the ordeal by hot iron and by cold water. The former consisted in carrying a red-hot iron for five paces: the wound was immediately bound up, and if on unbinding, it was found to be festering, the case was lost. In the ordeal by water, the victim, usually an accused person, was cast bound into water: if he sunk he was innocent, if he floated he was guilty. Although for perhaps understandable reasons, the ordeals became associated with trials in criminal matters. They were in essence tests of the truth of a claim or denial of a party and appropriate for trying any legal issue. The allocation of a mode of proof and who should bear it was the substance of the shire court's judgment.


Literature

Old English literary works include genres such as epic poem, epic poetry, hagiography, sermons, Old English Bible translations, Bible translations, legal works, chronicles, Anglo-Saxon riddles, riddles and others. In all there are about 400 surviving manuscripts from the period, a significant corpus of both popular interest and specialist research. The manuscripts use a modified Roman alphabet, but Anglo-Saxon runes or ''futhorc'' are used in under 200 inscriptions on objects, sometimes mixed with Roman letters. This literature is remarkable for being in the vernacular (Old English) in the early medieval period: almost all other written literature was in Latin at this time, but because of Alfred's programme of vernacular literacy, the oral traditions of Anglo-Saxon England ended up being converted into writing and preserved. Much of this preservation can be attributed to the monks of the tenth century, who made – at the very least – the copies of most of the literary manuscripts that still exist. Manuscripts were not common items. They were expensive and hard to make. First, cows or sheep had to be slaughtered and their skins tanned. The leather was then scraped, stretched, and cut into sheets, which were sewn into books. Then inks had to be made from oak galls and other ingredients, and the books had to be hand written by monks using quill pens. Every manuscript is slightly different from another, even if they are copies of each other, because every scribe had different handwriting and made different errors. Individual scribes can sometimes be identified from their handwriting, and different paleography, styles of hand were used in specific scriptoria (centres of manuscript production), so the location of the manuscript production can often be identified. There are four great poetic codices of Old English poetry (a codex is a book in modern format, as opposed to a scroll): the Junius Manuscript, the Vercelli Book, the Exeter Book, and the Nowell Codex or ''Beowulf'' Manuscript; most of the well-known lyric poems such as ''The Wanderer (Old English poem), The Wanderer'', ''The Seafarer (poem), The Seafarer'', ''Deor'' and ''The Ruin'' are found in the Exeter Book, while the Vercelli Book has the ''Dream of the Rood'', some of which is also carved on the Ruthwell Cross. The Franks Casket also has carved riddles, a popular form with the Anglo-Saxons. Old English secular poetry is mostly characterized by a somewhat gloomy and introspective cast of mind, and the grim determination found in ''The Battle of Maldon'', recounting an Battle of Maldon, action against the Vikings in 991. This is from a book that was lost in the Cotton Library fire of 1731, but it had been transcribed previously. Rather than being organized around rhyme, the poetic line in Anglo-Saxon is organised around alliteration, the repetition of stressed sounds; any repeated stressed sound, vowel or consonant, could be used. Anglo-Saxon lines are made up of two half-lines (in old-fashioned scholarship, these are called hemistiches) divided by a breath-pause or caesura. There must be at least one of the alliterating sounds on each side of the caesura. The line above illustrates the principle: note that there is a natural pause after 'hondum' and that the first stressed syllable after that pause begins with the same sound as a stressed line from the first half-line (the first halfline is called the a-verse and the second is the b-verse). There is very strong evidence that Anglo-Saxon poetry has deep roots in oral tradition, but keeping with the cultural practices seen elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon culture, there was a blending between tradition and new learning. Thus while all Old English poetry has common features, three strands can be identified: religious poetry, which includes poems about specifically Christian topics, such as the cross and the saints; Heroic or epic poetry, such as ''Beowulf'', which is about heroes, warfare, monsters, and the Germanic past; and poetry about "smaller" topics, including introspective poems (the so-called elegies), "wisdom" poems (which communicate both traditional and Christian wisdom), and riddles. For a long time all Anglo-Saxon poetry was divided into three groups: Cædmonian (the biblical paraphrase poems), heroic, and "Cynewulfian," named after Cynewulf, one of the only named poets in Anglo-Saxon. The most famous works from this period include the epic poem ''
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literat ...

Beowulf
'', which has achieved national epic status in Britain. There are about 30,000 surviving lines of Old English poetry and about ten times that much prose, and the majority of both is religious. The prose was influential and obviously very important to the Anglo-Saxons and more important than the poetry to those who came after the Anglo-Saxons. Homily, Homilies are sermons, lessons to be given on moral and doctrinal matters, and the two most prolific and respected writers of Anglo-Saxon prose, Ælfric of Eynsham, Ælfric and Wulfstan the Cantor, Wulfstan, were both homilists. Almost all surviving poetry is found in only one manuscript copy, but there are several versions of some prose works, especially the ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'', which was apparently promulgated to monasteries by the royal court. Anglo-Saxon clergy also continued to write in Latin, the language of Bede's works, monastic chronicles, and theological writing, although Bede's biographer records that he was familiar with Old English poetry and gives a five line lyric which he either wrote or liked to quote – the sense is unclear.


Symbolism

Symbolic anthropology, Symbolism was an essential element in Anglo-Saxon culture. Julian D. Richards suggests that in societies with strong oral traditions, material culture is used to store and pass on information and stand instead of literature in those cultures. This symbolism is less logical than literature and more difficult to read. Anglo-Saxons used symbolism to communicate as well as to aid their thinking about the world. Anglo-Saxons used symbols to differentiate between groups and people, status and role in society. The visual riddles and ambiguities of early Anglo-Saxon animal art, for example, has been seen as emphasing the protective roles of animals on dress accessories, weapons, armour and horse equipment, and its evocation of pre-Christian mythological themes. However Howard Williams and Ruth Nugent have suggested that the number of artefact categories that have animals or eyes—from pots to combs, buckets to weaponry—was to make artefacts 'see' by impressing and punching circular and lentoid shapes onto them. This symbolism of making the object seems to be more than decoration. Conventional interpretations of the symbolism of grave goods revolved around religion (equipment for the hereafter), legal concepts (inalienable possessions) and social structure (status display, ostentatious destruction of wealth). There was multiplicity of messages and variability of meanings characterised the deposition of objects in Anglo-Saxon graves. In Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, 47% of male adults and 9% of all juveniles were buried with weapons. The proportion of adult weapon burials is much too high to suggest that they all represent a social elite. The usual assumption is that these are 'warrior burials', and this term is used throughout the archaeological and historical literature. However, a systematic comparison of burials with and without weapons, using archaeological and skeletal data, suggests that this assumption is much too simplistic and even misleading. Anglo-Saxon weapon burial rite involved a complex ritual symbolism: it was multi-dimensional, displaying ethnic affiliation, descent, wealth, élite status, and age groups. This symbol continued until c.700 when it ceased to have the symbolic power that it had before. Heinrich Härke suggests this change was the result of the changing structure of society and especially in ethnicity and assimilation, implying the lowering of ethnic boundaries in the Anglo-Saxon settlement areas of England towards a common culture. The word ''bead'' comes from the Anglo-Saxon words ''bidden'' (to pray) and ''bede'' (prayer). The vast majority of early Anglo-Saxon female graves contain beads, which are often found in large numbers in the area of the neck and chest. Beads are sometimes found in male burials, with large beads often associated with prestigious weapons. A variety of materials other than glass were available for Anglo-Saxon beads, including amber, rock crystal, amethyst, bone, shells, coral and even metal.Guido and Welch. Indirect evidence for glass bead manufacture in early Anglo-Saxon England. In Price 2000 115–120. These beads are usually considered to have a social or ritual function. Anglo-Saxon glass beads show a wide variety of bead manufacturing techniques, sizes, shapes, colours and decorations. Various studies have been carried out investigating the distribution and chronological change of bead types. The crystal beads which appear on bead strings in the pagan Anglo-Saxon period seems to have gone through various changes in meaning in the Christian period, which Gale Owen-Crocker suggests was linked to symbolism of the Virgin Mary, and hence to intercession. John Hines has suggested that the over 2,000 different types of beads found at Lakenheath show that the beads symbolise identity, roles, status and micro cultures within the tribal landscape of the early Anglo-Saxon world. Symbolism continued to have a hold on the minds of Anglo-Saxon people into the Christian eras. The interiors of churches would have glowed with colour, and the walls of the halls were painted with decorative scenes from the imagination telling stories of monsters and heroes like those in the poem ''Beowulf''. Although nothing much is left of the wall paintings, evidence of their pictorial art is found in Bibles and Psalters, in illuminated manuscripts. The poem ''The Dream of the Rood'' is an example how symbolism of trees was fused into Christian symbolism. Richard North suggests that the sacrifice of the tree was in accordance with pagan virtues and "the image of Christ's death was constructed in this poem with reference to an Anglian ideology of the world tree".North, Richard.
Heathen Gods in Old English Literature
'. Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 273
North suggests that the author of ''The Dream of the Rood'' "uses the language of the myth of Ingui in order to present the Passion to his newly Christianized countrymen as a story from their native tradition". Furthermore, the tree's triumph over death is celebrated by adorning the cross with gold and jewels. The most distinctive feature of coinage of the first half of the 8th century is its portrayal of animals, to an extent found in no other European coinage of the Early Middle Ages. Some animals, such as lions or peacocks, would have been known in England only through descriptions in texts or through images in manuscripts or on portable objects. The animals were not merely illustrated out of an interest in the natural world. Each was imbued with meanings and acted as a symbol which would have been understood at the time.


Legacy

''Anglo-Saxon'' is still used as a term for the original Old English-derived vocabulary within the modern English language, in contrast to vocabulary derived from Old Norse and French. Throughout the history of Anglo-Saxon studies, different narratives of the people have been used to justify contemporary ideologies. In the early Middle Ages, the views of Geoffrey of Monmouth produced a personally inspired (and largely fictitious) history that was not challenged for some 500 years. In the English Reformation, Reformation, Christians looking to establish an independent English church reinterpreted Anglo-Saxon Christianity. In the 19th century, the term ''Anglo-Saxon'' was broadly used in philology, and is sometimes so used at present, though the term 'Old English' is more commonly used. During the Victorian era, writers such as Robert Knox, James Anthony Froude, Charles Kingsley and Edward A. Freeman used the term ''Anglo-Saxon'' to justify Imperialism, colonialistic imperialism, claiming that Anglo-Saxon heritage was superior to those held by colonised peoples, which justified efforts to "Civilising mission, civilise" them. Similar racist ideas were advocated in 19th-century United States by Samuel George Morton and George Fitzhugh to justify the policy of Manifest destiny. The historian Catherine Hills contends that these views have influenced how versions of early English history are embedded in the sub-conscious of certain people and are "re-emerging in school textbooks and television programmes and still very congenial to some strands of political thinking."Hills, Catherine. Origins of the English. Duckworth Pub, 2003.p35 The term ''Anglo-Saxon'' is sometimes used to refer to peoples descended or associated in some way with the English (ethnic group), English ethnic group, but there is no universal definition for the term. In contemporary English-speaking world, Anglophone cultures outside Britain, "Anglo-Saxon" may be contrasted with "Celtic" as a socioeconomic identifier, invoking or reinforcing historical prejudices against non-English British immigrants, such as the Irish. "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" (WASP) is a term especially popular in the United States that refers chiefly to long-established wealthy families with mostly English ancestors. As such, WASP is not a historical label or a precise ethnological term but rather a reference to contemporary family-based political, financial and cultural power e.g., Boston Brahmin, The Boston Brahmin. Outside Anglophone countries, the term ''Anglo-Saxon'' and its direct translations are used to refer to the Anglophone peoples and societies of Britain, the United States, and other countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand – areas which are sometimes referred to as the Anglosphere. The term ''Anglo-Saxon'' can be used in a variety of contexts, often to identify the English-speaking world's distinctive language, culture, technology, wealth, markets, economy, and legal systems. Variations include the German "Angelsachsen", French "Anglo-Saxon", Spanish "anglosajón", Portuguese "Anglo-saxão", Russian "англосаксы", Polish "anglosaksoński", Italian "anglosassone", Catalan "anglosaxó" and Japanese "Angurosakuson".


See also

*Anglo-Frisian *Anglo-Saxon dress *Coinage in Anglo-Saxon England *Anglo-Saxon military organization *Burial in Anglo-Saxon England *Frisia *States in Medieval Britain *Timeline of Anglo-Saxon settlement in Britain Modern concepts: * Anglo-Saxon economy * English people


Notes


Citations

*Oppenheimer, Stephen. ''The Origins of the British'' (2006). Constable and Robinson, London.


Further reading


General

* * * * *


Historical

* Clark, David, and Nicholas Perkins, eds. ''Anglo-Saxon Culture and the Modern Imagination'' (2010) *F.M. Stenton, ''Anglo-Saxon England'', 3rd edition, (Oxford: University Press, 1971) *J. Campbell et al., ''The Anglo-Saxons'', (London: Penguin, 1991) * *E. James, ''Britain in the First Millennium'', (London: Arnold, 2001) *Michael Lapidge, M. Lapidge et al., ''The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England'', (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999) *Donald Henson, ''The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons'', (Anglo-Saxon Books, 2006) * * * Michelle P. Brown, Brown, Michelle, ''The Lindisfarne Gospels and the Early Medieval World'' (2010) * *Charles Reginald Dodwell, Dodwell, C. R., ''Anglo-Saxon Art, A New Perspective'', 1982, Manchester UP, * * * * * * * * * * * * * Karkov, Catherine E., ''The Art of Anglo-Saxon England'', 2011, Boydell Press, , * * * * * * * * * * Leslie Webster (art historian), Webster, Leslie, ''Anglo-Saxon Art'', 2012, British Museum Press, * * *David M. Wilson, Wilson, David M.; ''Anglo-Saxon: Art From The Seventh Century To The Norman Conquest'', Thames and Hudson (US edn. Overlook Press), 1984. * * * * * *


External links


Photos of over 600 items found in the Anglo-Saxon Hoard in Staffordshire Sept. 2009
*[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/staffordshire/8272058.stm Huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found], BBC News, with photos.
Fides Angliarum Regum: the faith of the English kingsAnglo-Saxon Origins: The Reality of the Myth
by Malcolm Todd
''An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary''Simon Keynes' bibliography of Anglo-Saxon topics
{{Authority control Anglo-Saxon England, * Sub-Roman Britain Historical Germanic peoples