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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 languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
* * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (
Old Saxony Old Saxony is the original homeland of the Saxons. It corresponds roughly to the modern German states of Lower Saxony, Westphalia, Nordalbingia (Holstein, southern part of Schleswig-Holstein) and western Saxony-Anhalt, which all lie in northwestern ...
, la, Saxonia) near 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.
coast of northern
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...

Germania
, what is now Germany. In the late
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, the name was used to refer to Germanic coastal raiders, and also as a word something like the later "
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
". Their origins appear to be mainly somewhere in or near the above-mentioned German North Sea coast where they are found later, in
Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historic ...
times. In
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the 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 ...
times, continental Saxons had also been associated with the activity and settlements on the coast of what later became
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
. Their precise origins are uncertain, and they are sometimes described as fighting inland, coming into conflict with the
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
and
Thuringians The Thuringii, Toringi or Teuriochaimai, were an early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic lang ...
. There is possibly a single classical reference to a smaller homeland of an early Saxon tribe, but its interpretation is disputed (see below). According to this proposal, the Saxons' earliest area of settlement is believed to have been
Northern Albingia Nordalbingia (german: Nordalbingien) (also Northern Albingia) was one of the four administrative regions of the medieval Duchy of Saxony The Duchy of Saxony ( nds, Hartogdom Sassen, german: Herzogtum Sachsen) was originally the area settlement ...
. This general area is close to the probable homeland of the
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 traditional ...

Angles
. In contrast, the British "Saxons", today referred to in English as
Anglo-Saxons 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 ...
, became a single nation bringing together a minority of
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
(
Frisian Frisian usually refers to: *Frisia, a region on the western coasts of Germany and the Netherlands **Frisians, the medieval and modern ethnic group inhabiting Frisia ***Frisii, the ancient inhabitants of Frisia prior to 600 AD **Frisian languages, a ...

Frisian
, Jutish,
Anglish
Anglish
(whence "English")) within the larger
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...
population. Their earliest weapons and clothing south of the
Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is an area of England consisting of the southernmos ...

Thames
were based on late Roman military fashions, but later immigrants north of the Thames showed a stronger North German influence. The term "Anglo-Saxon", combining the names of the Angles and the Saxons, came into use by the eighth century (for example
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, sc ...
) to distinguish the Germanic inhabitants of Britain from continental Saxons (referred to in the ''
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle The ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' is a collection of annals in 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 spoke ...
'' as ''Ealdseaxe'', 'old Saxons'), but both the Saxons of Britain and those of Old Saxony (Northern Germany) continued to be referred to as 'Saxons' in an indiscriminate manner, especially in the languages of Britain and Ireland. While the English Saxons were no longer raiders, the political history of the continental Saxons is unclear until the time of the conflict between their semi-legendary hero
Widukind Widukind, also known as Wittekind, was a leader of the Saxons and the chief opponent of the Francia, Frankish king Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars from 777 to 785. Charlemagne ultimately prevailed, organized Old Saxony, Saxony as a Frankish pro ...

Widukind
and the Frankish emperor
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
. While the continental Saxons are no longer a distinctive ethnic group or country, their name lives on in the names of several regions and
states of Germany The Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , d ...

states of Germany
, including
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (st ...
(which includes central parts of the original Saxon homeland known as
Old Saxony Old Saxony is the original homeland of the Saxons. It corresponds roughly to the modern German states of Lower Saxony, Westphalia, Nordalbingia (Holstein, southern part of Schleswig-Holstein) and western Saxony-Anhalt, which all lie in northwestern ...
),
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...

Saxony
in
Upper Saxony{{short description, Historic lands in Central Germany Upper Saxony (german: Obersachsen) was the name given to the majority of the German lands held by the House of Wettin The House of Wettin () is a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequenc ...
, as well as
Saxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt (german: Sachsen-Anhalt ; nds, Sassen-Anholt) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper) ...

Saxony-Anhalt
(which includes Old, Lower and Upper Saxon regions).


Etymology

The name of the Saxons may derive from a kind of knife associated with the ethnos - such a knife has the name ''
seax ''Seax'' (; also ''sax, sæx, sex''; invariant in plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of le ...
'' in Old English, ''Sax'' in German, ''sachs'' in Old High German, and ''sax'' in Old Norse. The seax has had a lasting symbolic impact in the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
counties of
Essex Essex () 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 Ro ...

Essex
and
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...

Middlesex
, both of which feature three seaxes in their ceremonial emblem. The names of these counties, along with the names "
Sussex Sussex (), from the 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, e ...

Sussex
" and "
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
", contain a remnant of the root of the word "Saxon". The Elizabethan-era play ''Edmund Ironside'' suggests that the name "Saxon" derives from the Latin ''saxa'' (stones; singular form: ''saxum''):


Saxon as a demonym


Celtic languages

In the
Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historica ...
, the words designating English nationality derive from the Latin word . The most prominent example, a
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning ...
in English from
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 ...
(older spelling: ), is the word , used by Scots-, Scottish English- and
Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Whe ...
-speakers in the 21st century as a racially pejorative term for an English person. The ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
'' (OED) gives 1771 as the date of the earliest written use of the word in English. The Gaelic name for England is (older spelling: ,
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
: ), and (formed with a common adjective suffix ) means "English" in reference to people and things, though not when naming the English language, which is . , the
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
word for an Englishman (with meaning England), has the same derivation, as do the words used in
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
to describe the English people (, singular ) and the language and things English in general: and .
Cornish Cornish is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
terms the English , from the same derivation. In the 16th century Cornish-speakers used the phrase to feign ignorance of the English language. The Cornish words for the English people and England are and ('Land aysof Saxons'). Similarly
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, covering the western part ...
, spoken in north-western France, has ('English'), ('the English language'), and for 'England'.


Romance languages

The label "Saxons" (in ro, Sași) also became attached to German settlers who settled during the 12th century in southeastern
Transylvania Transylvania is a historical region in central Romania. To the east and south its natural border is the Carpathian Mountains, and to the west the Apuseni Mountains. Broader definitions of Transylvania also encompass the western and north-western ...

Transylvania
. From Transylvania, some of these Saxons migrated to neighbouring
Moldavia Moldavia ( ro, Moldova, or , literally "The Moldavian Country"; in Romanian Cyrillic alphabet, Romanian Cyrillic: or ; chu, Землѧ Молдавскаѧ; el, Ἡγεμονία τῆς Μολδαβίας) is a historical region and forme ...

Moldavia
, as the name of the town shows.
Sascut Sascut is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or with ...
lies in the part of Moldavia that forms part of present-day Romania. During 's visit to the
Republic of Venice The Republic of Venice ( it, Repubblica di Venezia; vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( it, Repubblica Veneta; vec, Repùblega Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic Most Serene Republic ( ...
(1706–09), much was made of his origins in Saxony; in particular, the
Venetians Venetian often means from or related to: * Venice, a city in Italy * Veneto, a region of Italy * Republic of Venice (697–1797), a historical nation in that area Venetian and the like may also refer to: * Venetian language, a Romance language sp ...

Venetians
greeted the 1709 performance of his opera ''Agrippina'' with the cry , "Cheers for the beloved Saxon!"


Non-Indo-European languages

The
Finns Finns or Finnish people ( fi, suomalaiset, ) are a Baltic Finns, Baltic Finnic ethnic group native to Finland. Finns are traditionally divided into smaller regional groups that span several countries adjacent to Finland, both those who are na ...
and
Estonians Estonians ( et, eestlased) are a Baltic Finnic peoples, Finnic ethnic group native to Estonia who speak the Estonian language and share a common Culture of Estonia, culture and History of Estonia, history. History Prehistoric roots Estonia was ...
have changed their usage of the root ''Saxon'' over the centuries to apply now to the whole country of Germany ( and respectively) and the
Germans Germans (, ) are the natives or inhabitants of Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas ...
( and , respectively). The
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
word (
scissors Scissors are hand-operated shearing tools. A pair of scissors consists of a pair of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or f ...

scissors
) reflects the name of the old Saxon single-edged sword — 
seax ''Seax'' (; also ''sax, sæx, sex''; invariant in plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of le ...
 — from which the name "Saxon" supposedly derives. In
Estonian Estonian may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe *Estonians, people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent *Estonian language *Estonian cuisine *Estonian culture See also

* * La ...
, means "a nobleman" or, colloquially, "a wealthy or powerful person". (As a result of the 13th-century
Northern Crusades The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were Christian colonization and Christianization Christianization ( or Christianisation) is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategie ...
,
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
's upper class comprised mostly persons of German origin until well into the 20th century.)


Related personal names

The word also survives as the
surnames In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person's full name ...

surnames
of  /  (in
Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...
or Low Saxon), and . The
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
female
given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:ortho ...
, , originally meant 'a Saxon woman' ( metathesis of ''Saxia'').


Saxony as a toponym

Following the downfall of
Henry the Lion Henry the Lion (german: Heinrich der Löwe; 1129/1131 – 6 August 1195) was a member of the Welf dynasty and Duke of Saxony, as Henry III, from 1142, and Duke of Bavaria, as Henry XII, from 1156, the duchies which he held until 1 ...

Henry the Lion
(11291195, Duke of Saxony 11421180), and the subsequent splitting of the Saxon tribal duchy into several territories, the name of the Saxon duchy was transferred to the lands of the
Ascanian The House of Ascania (german: Askanier) is a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the univers ...
family. This led to the differentiation between ''
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (st ...
'' (lands settled by the Saxon tribe) and ''
Upper Saxony{{short description, Historic lands in Central Germany Upper Saxony (german: Obersachsen) was the name given to the majority of the German lands held by the House of Wettin The House of Wettin () is a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequenc ...
'' (the lands belonging to the
House of Wettin The House of Wettin () is a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of th ...
). Gradually, the latter region became known as "Saxony", ultimately usurping the name's original geographical meaning. The area formerly known as Upper Saxony now lies in Central Germany - in the eastern part of the present-day
Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germans, German , government_ ...
: note the names of the federal states of
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...

Saxony
and
Saxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt (german: Sachsen-Anhalt ; nds, Sassen-Anholt) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper) ...

Saxony-Anhalt
.


History


Early history

Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
's ''
Geographia The ''Geography'' ( grc-gre, Γεωγραφικὴ Ὑφήγησις, ''Geōgraphikḕ Hyphḗgēsis'',  "Geographical Guidance"), also known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic b ...
,'' written in the second century, is sometimes considered to contain the first mentioning of the Saxons. Some copies of this text mention a tribe called ''Saxones'' in the area to the north of the lower
Elbe The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake o ...

Elbe
. However, other versions refer to the same tribe as ''Axones.'' This may be a misspelling of the tribe that
Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature Classi ...

Tacitus
in his ''
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...
'' called ''
AvionesThe Aviones or Auiones (*''Awioniz'' meaning "island people") were one of the Nerthus In Germanic paganism Germanic paganism refers to the various religious practices of the Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germa ...

Aviones
''. According to this theory, "Saxones" was the result of later scribes trying to correct a name that meant nothing to them. On the other hand,
Schütte
Schütte
, in his analysis of such problems in ''Ptolemy's Maps of Northern Europe'', believed that "Saxones" is correct. He notes that the loss of first letters occurs in numerous places in various copies of Ptolemy's work, and also that the manuscripts without "Saxones" are generally inferior overall. Schütte also remarks that there was a medieval tradition of calling this area "Old Saxony" (covering Westphalia, Angria and Eastphalia). This view is in line with
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 Sa ...

Bede
who mentions Old Saxony was near the Rhine, somewhere to the north of the river Lippe (Westphalia, northeastern part of modern German state Nordrhein-Westfalen). The first undisputed mention of the Saxon name in its modern form is from AD 356, when Julian, later the
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Politica ...
, mentioned them in a speech as allies of
Magnentius Magnus Magnentius (c. 303 – 11 August 353) was a usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A ...
, a rival emperor in
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
.
ZosimusZosimus, Zosimos, or Zosimas may refer to: People * John Zosimus (Ioane-Zosime), 10th-century Georgian monk and hymnist * Pope Zosimus (died 418), born in Mesoraca, Calabria, who reigned from 417 to his death in 418 * Rufus and Zosimus (died 107) ...
also mentions a specific tribe of Saxons, called the ''Kouadoi'', which have been interpreted as a misunderstanding for the
Chauci The Chauci (german: Chauken, and identical or similar in other regional modern languages) were an ancient Germanic tribe This list of ancient s is an inventory of ancient Germanic cultures, tribal groupings and other alliances of Germanic tribes ...
, or
Chamavi The Chamavi, Chamãves or Chamaboe (''Χᾳμαβοί'') were a Germanic tribe This list of ancient Germanic peoples is a list of groups and alliances of ancient Germanic peoples in ancient times. These reports begin in the 2nd century BC and ext ...
. They entered the Rhineland and displaced the recently settled
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (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. ...
from Batavi, whereupon some of the Salians began to move into the
Belgian Belgian may refer to: * Something of, or related to, Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a contine ...
territory of
Toxandria Texandria (also Toxiandria; later Toxandria, Taxandria), is a region mentioned in the 4th century AD and during the Middle Ages. It was situated in the southern part of the modern Netherlands and in the northern part of present-day Belgium, currentl ...
, supported by Julian. Both in this case and in others the Saxons were associated with using boats for their raids. In order to defend against Saxon raiders, the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *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, ...
created a military district called the '' Litus Saxonicum'' ("Saxon Shore") on both sides of the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
. In 441–442 AD, Saxons are mentioned for the first time as inhabitants of Britain, when an unknown
Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all the known Celti ...
historian wrote: "The British provinces...have been reduced to Saxon rule". Saxons as inhabitants of present-day
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 ...
are first mentioned in 555, when the Frankish king
Theudebald Theudebald or Theodebald (in modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Nor ...
died, and the Saxons used the opportunity for an uprising. The uprising was suppressed by
Chlothar I Chlothar I (c. 497 – 29 November 561) was a king of the Franks of the Merovingian dynasty and one of the four sons of Clovis I. Chlothar's father, Clovis I, divided the kingdom between his four sons. In 511, Clothar I inherited two large t ...
, Theudebald's successor. Some of their Frankish successors fought against the Saxons, others were allied with them. The
Thuringians The Thuringii, Toringi or Teuriochaimai, were an early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic lang ...
frequently appeared as allies of the Saxons.


Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Saxons occupied the territory south of the
Frisians The Frisians are a Germanic people, Germanic ethnic group indigenous to the German Bight, coastal regions of the Netherlands and northwestern Germany. They inhabit an area known as Frisia and are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland ...

Frisians
and north of the Franks. In the west it reached as far as the
Gooi The Gooi () is an area around Hilversum Hilversum () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyc ...
region, in the south as far as the Lower Rhine. After the conquest of Charlemagne, this area formed the main part of the
Bishopric of Utrecht The Bishopric of Utrecht (1024–1528) was an Hochstift, ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, in the present-day Netherlands. From 1024 to 1528, as one of the prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire, it ...
. The Saxon duchy of
Hamaland Hamaland (also Hameland) was a medieval Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Franks, Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel with origins in the ...

Hamaland
played an important role in the formation of the duchy of
Guelders Guelders or Gueldres ( nl, Gelre, german: Geldern) is a historical county, later duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries. Geography The duchy was named after the town of Geldern (''Gelder'') in present-day Germany. Thoug ...
. The local language, although strongly influenced by standard
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, is still officially recognised as
Dutch Low Saxon Dutch Low Saxon ( nl, Nederlands Nedersaksisch; Dutch Low Saxon: ''Nederlaands Leegsaksies'' , Nederlaands Nedersaksisch) are the Low Saxon dialects that are spoken in the northeastern Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally ...
.


Italy and Provence

In 569, some Saxons accompanied the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on ...
into Italy under the leadership of
Alboin Alboin (530s – 28 June 572) was king of the Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of ...
and settled there. In 572, they raided southeastern Gaul as far as ''Stablo'', now
Estoublon Estoublon is a Communes of France, commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Departments of France, department in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in southeastern France. Geography The river Asse (river), Asse flows southwest through the western part of ...

Estoublon
. Divided, they were easily defeated by the
Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization (cultural), Romanization of Gauls, Gaulish peoples under the rule of the Roman Empire. It was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, languag ...
general
Mummolus Mummolus (also spelled Mommolus or Mummulus), was a Gallo-Roman Patrician (post-Roman Europe), patrician and prefect who served Guntram, King of Burgundy, as a general in the 6th century. He was born Eunius to Peonius, Count of Auxerre. Peonius se ...
. When the Saxons regrouped, a peace treaty was negotiated whereby the Italian Saxons were allowed to settle with their families in
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mention ...
. Gathering their families and belongings in Italy, they returned to
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, R ...

Provence
in two groups in 573. One group proceeded by way of
Nice Nice ( , ; Niçard: , classical norm, or , nonstandard, ; it, Nizza ; grc, Νίκαια; la, Nicaea) is the Urban area (France)#List of France's aires urbaines (metropolitan areas), seventh most populous urban area in France and the prefectu ...

Nice
and another via Embrun, joining up at
Avignon Avignon (, ; ; oc, Avinhon, label= Provençal or , ; la, Avenio) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. L ...

Avignon
. They plundered the territory and were as a consequence stopped from crossing the
Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, Ròse ) is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger; la, Liger) is the longest r ...

Rhône
by Mummolus. They were forced to pay compensation for what they had robbed before they could enter Austrasia. These people are known only by documents, and their settlement cannot be compared to the archeological artifacts and remains that attest to Saxon settlements in northern and western Gaul.


Gaul

A Saxon king named Eadwacer conquered
Angers Angers (, , ) is a city in western France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent ...

Angers
in 463 only to be dislodged by
Childeric I Childeric I (; french: Childéric; la, Childericus; reconstructed Frankish: ''*Hildirīk''; – 481 AD) was a Frankish leader in the northern part of imperial Roman Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europ ...

Childeric I
and the
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (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. ...
, allies of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. It is possible that Saxon settlement of Great Britain began only in response to expanding Frankish control of the
Channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...

Channel
coast. Some Saxons already lived along the Saxon shore of Gaul as Roman
foederati ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
. They can be traced in documents, but also in archeology and in
toponymy Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics (from grc, τόπος / , 'place', and / , 'name') is the study of ''toponyms Toponymy, also toponymics or toponomastics (from grc, τόπος / , 'place', and / , 'name') is the study of ''wikt: ...
. The ''
Notitia Dignitatum Palestine and the River Jordan, from the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' illuminated by Peronet Lamy.">Peronet_Lamy.html" ;"title="River Jordan, from the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' illuminated by Peronet Lamy">River Jordan, from the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' ...
'' mentions the ''Tribunus cohortis primae novae Armoricanae, Grannona in litore Saxonico''. The location of ''Grannona'' is uncertain and was identified by the historians and toponymists at different places: mainly with the town known today as Granville (in
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
) or nearby. The ''Notitia Dignitatum'' does not explain where these "Roman" soldiers came from. Some toponymists have proposed Graignes (''Grania'' 1109–1113) as the location for ''Grannona''/''Grannonum''. Although some scholars believe it could be the same element ''*gran'', that is recognised in
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the spoken in . It is sometimes known on the island simply as "". As one of the , it has its roots in , ...

Guernsey
(''Greneroi'' 11th century), it most likely derives from the
Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all the known Celti ...
god Grannos. This location is closer to
Bayeux Bayeux () is a in the in in northwestern . Bayeux is the home of the , which depicts the events leading up to the . It is also known as the first major town secured by the Allies during . made in this town. Administration Bayeux is a o ...

Bayeux
, where
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish ...
evokes otherwise the ''Saxones Bajocassini'' (
Bessin The Bessin is an area in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the ...
Saxons), which were ineffective against the Breton
Waroch II Waroch ( br, Gwereg) was an early 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 ...
in 579. A Saxon unit of ''
laeti Laeti , the plural form of laetus , was a term used in the late Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it inc ...
'' settled at
Bayeux Bayeux () is a in the in in northwestern . Bayeux is the home of the , which depicts the events leading up to the . It is also known as the first major town secured by the Allies during . made in this town. Administration Bayeux is a o ...

Bayeux
the ''Saxones Baiocassenses''. These Saxons became subjects of
Clovis I Clovis ( la, Chlodovechus; reconstructed Old Frankish, Frankish: ; – 27 November 511) was the first List of Frankish kings, king of the Franks to unite all of the Franks, Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a ...

Clovis I
late in the fifth century. The Saxons of Bayeux comprised a standing army and were often called upon to serve alongside the local
levy
levy
of their region in
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the 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 ...
military campaigns. In 589, the Saxons wore their hair in the
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, covering the western part ...
fashion at the orders of
Fredegund Fredegund or Fredegunda (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 ...
and fought with them as allies against
Guntram Saint Gontrand (c. AD 532 in Soissons – 28 March AD 592 in Chalon-sur-Saône), also called Gontran, Gontram, Guntram, Gunthram, Gunthchramn, and Guntramnus, was the king of the Kingdom of Orléans from AD 561 to AD 592. He was the third eldest ...
. Beginning in 626, the Saxons of the
Bessin The Bessin is an area in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the ...
were used by
Dagobert I Dagobert I ( la, Dagobertus; 603 – 19 January 639 AD) was the king of Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The ...
for his campaigns against the
Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquitania ...
. One of their own, Aeghyna, was created a ''
dux ''Dux'' (; plural: ''ducēs'') is 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 ...
'' over the region of
Vasconia
Vasconia
. In 843 and 846 under king
Charles the Bald Charles the Bald (13 June 823 – 6 October 877) was a 9th-century king of West Francia (843–877), king of Italy (875–877) and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (875–877). After a series of civil wars during the reign of his father, Loui ...

Charles the Bald
, other official documents mention a ''
pagus A ''pagus'' (plural ''pagi'') was a Roman administrative term designating a rural subdivision of a tribal territory, which included individual farms, villages ('' vici''), and strongholds (''oppida An ''oppidum'' (plural ''oppida'') is a large ...
'' called ''Otlinga Saxonia'' in the Bessin region, but the meaning of ''Otlinga'' is unclear. Different Bessin toponyms were identified as typically Saxon, ex : Cottun (''Coltun'' 1035–1037 ; ''Cola''s "town"). It is the only place name in Normandy that can be interpreted as a ''-tun'' one (English ''-ton''; cf. Colton). In contrast to this one example in Normandy are numerous ''-thun'' villages in the north of France, in Boulonnais, for example Alincthun, Verlincthun, and Pelingthun, showing, with other toponyms, an important Saxon or Anglo-Saxon settlement. Comparing the concentration of ''-ham''/''-hem'' (Anglo-Saxon ''hām'' > home) toponyms in the Bessin and in the Boulonnais gives more examples of Saxon settlement. In the area known today as Normandy, the ''-ham'' cases of Bessin are uniquethey do not exist elsewhere. Other cases were considered, but there is no determining example. For example, Canehan (''Kenehan'' 1030/''Canaan'' 1030–1035) could be the biblical name ''Canaan'' or
Airan Airan () is a former Communes of France, commune in the Calvados (department), Calvados Departments of France, department in the Normandy Regions of France, region of northwestern France. On 1 January 2017, it was merged into the new commune Valam ...
(''Heidram'' 9th century), the Germanic masculine name ''Hairammus''. The Bessin examples are clear; for example,
Ouistreham Ouistreham () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs ...

Ouistreham
(''Oistreham'' 1086), Étréham (''Oesterham'' 1350 ?), Huppain (''*Hubbehain'' ; ''Hubba''s "home"), and Surrain (''Surrehain'' 11thcentury). Another significant example can be found in the Norman
onomastics Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:orthonym, orthonym'' is the proper name of the object in question, the object of onomastic study. Onomastics can be helpful in data mining, with a ...
: the widespread surname Lecesne, with variant spellings: LeCesne, Lesène, Lecène, and Cesne. It comes from Gallo-Romance *SAXINU "the Saxon", which is ''saisne'' in Old French. These examples are not derived from more recent
Anglo-Scandinavian ''Anglo-Scandinavian'' is an academic term referring to the archaeological and historical periods during the 8th to 13th centuries in which there was migration to - and occupation of - the British Isles by North Germanic peoples, Scandinavians gene ...
toponyms, because in that case they would have been numerous in the Norman regions (pays deCaux, Basse-Seine, North-Cotentin) settled by
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
. That is not the case, nor does Bessin belong to the ''pagii'', which were affected by an important wave of Anglo-Scandinavian immigration. In addition, archaeological finds add evidence to the documents and the results of toponymic research. Around the city of
Caen Caen (, ; nrf, Kaem) is a Communes of France, commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Departments of France, department of Calvados (department), Calvados. The city proper has 108,365 inhabitants (), while its urban area has ...

Caen
and in the Bessin (
Vierville-sur-Mer Vierville-sur-Mer is a commune in the Calvados department in Normandie region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and th ...
, Bénouville, Giverville, Hérouvillette), excavations have yielded numerous examples of Anglo-Saxon jewellery, design elements, settings, and weapons. All of these things were discovered in cemeteries in a context of the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries AD. The oldest and most spectacular Saxon site found in France to date is Vron, in Picardy. There, archaeologists excavated a large cemetery with tombs dating from the Roman Empire until the sixth century. Furniture and other grave goods, as well as the human remains, revealed a group of people buried in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Physically different from the usual local inhabitants found before this period, they instead resembled the Germanic populations of the north. Starting around 375 AD the burials are located in the region known in Roman times as the Saxon Shores. 92% of these burials were inhumations, and sometimes included weapons of typical Germanic type. Starting from around 440 AD the burial ground displaced eastward. The burials were now arranged in rows and displayed a strong Anglo-Saxon influence until around 520 AD, when this influence subsided. Archaeological material, neighbouring toponymy, and historical accounts support the conclusion of settlement of Saxon
foederati ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
with their families on the shores of the English Channel. Further anthropological research by Joël Blondiaux shows these people were from
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (st ...
.


Saxons in Britain

Saxons, along with
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 traditional ...

Angles
,
Frisians The Frisians are a Germanic people, Germanic ethnic group indigenous to the German Bight, coastal regions of the Netherlands and northwestern Germany. They inhabit an area known as Frisia and are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland ...

Frisians
and Jutes, invaded or migrated to the island of Great Britain (Britannia) around the time of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Saxon raiders had been harassing the eastern and southern shores of Britannia for centuries before, prompting the construction of a string of coastal forts called the ''Litora Saxonica'' or Saxon Shore forts, Saxon Shore. Before the end of Roman rule in Britannia, many Saxons and other folk had been permitted to settle in these areas as farmers. According to tradition, the Saxons (and other tribes) first entered Britain en masse as part of an agreement to protect the Britons (historical), Britons from the incursions of the Picts, Gaels and others. The story, as reported in such sources as the ''Historia Brittonum'' and Gildas, indicates that the British king Vortigern allowed the Germanic warlords, later named as Hengist and Horsa 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 Sa ...

Bede
, to settle their people on the Isle of Thanet in exchange for their service as mercenaries. According to Bede, Hengist manipulated Vortigern into granting more land and allowing for more settlers to come in, paving the way for the Germanic settlement of Britain. Historians are divided about what followed: some argue that the takeover of southern Great Britain by the
Anglo-Saxons 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 ...
was peaceful. The known account from a native Briton who lived in the mid-5th century AD, Gildas, described events as a forced takeover by armed attack: Gildas described how the Saxons were later slaughtered at the battle of Mons Badonicus 44 years before he wrote his history, and their conquest of Britain halted. The eighth-century English historian
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 Sa ...

Bede
tells how their advance resumed thereafter. He said this resulted in a swift overrunning of the entirety of South-Eastern Britain, and the foundation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Four separate Saxon realms emerged: # East Saxons: created the Kingdom of Essex. # Middle Saxons: created the province of
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...

Middlesex
# South Saxons: led by Aelle of Sussex, Aelle, created the Kingdom of Sussex # West Saxons: created the Kingdom of Wessex During the period of the reigns from Egbert of Wessex, Egbert to Alfred the Great, the kings of Wessex emerged as Bretwalda, unifying the country. They eventually organised it as the kingdom of England in the face of
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.


Later Saxons in Germany

The Continental Saxons living in what was known as ''
Old Saxony Old Saxony is the original homeland of the Saxons. It corresponds roughly to the modern German states of Lower Saxony, Westphalia, Nordalbingia (Holstein, southern part of Schleswig-Holstein) and western Saxony-Anhalt, which all lie in northwestern ...
'' (c. 531–804) appear to have become consolidated by the end of the eighth century. After subjugation by the Emperor
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
, a political entity called the Duchy of Saxony (804-1296) appeared, covering Westphalia, Eastphalia, Angria and Nordalbingia (Holstein, southern part of modern-day Schleswig-Holstein state). The Saxons long resisted becoming Christianity, Christians and being incorporated into the orbit of the Frankish kingdom. In 776 the Saxons promised to convert to Christianity and vow loyalty to the king, but, during Charlemagne's campaign in Hispania (778), the Saxons advanced to Cologne-Deutz, Deutz on the Rhine and plundered along the river. This was an oft-repeated pattern when Charlemagne was distracted by other matters. They were conquered by Charlemagne in a long series of annual campaigns, the Saxon Wars (772804). With defeat came enforced baptism and Religious conversion, conversion as well as the union of the Saxons with the rest of the Germanic, Frankish empire. Their sacred tree or pillar, a symbol of Irminsul, was destroyed. Charlemagne also deported 10,000 Nordalbingian Saxons to Neustria and gave their now largely vacant lands in Wagria (approximately modern Plön and Ostholstein districts) to the loyal king of the Abotrites. Einhard, Charlemagne's biographer, says on the closing of this grand conflict:
The war that had lasted so many years was at length ended by their acceding to the terms offered by the king; which were renunciation of their national religious customs and the worship of devils, acceptance of the sacraments of the Christian faith and religion, and union with the Franks to form one people.
Under Carolingian dynasty, Carolingian rule, the Saxons were reduced to tributary status. There is evidence that the Saxons, as well as Slavic tributaries such as the Abodrites and the Wends, often provided troops to their Carolingian overlords. The dukes of Saxony became kings (Henry the Fowler, Henry I, the Fowler, 919) and later the first emperors (Henry's son, Otto I, the Great) of Germany during the tenth century, but they lost this position in 1024. The duchy was divided in 1180 when Duke
Henry the Lion Henry the Lion (german: Heinrich der Löwe; 1129/1131 – 6 August 1195) was a member of the Welf dynasty and Duke of Saxony, as Henry III, from 1142, and Duke of Bavaria, as Henry XII, from 1156, the duchies which he held until 1 ...

Henry the Lion
refused to follow his cousin, Emperor Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, into war in Lombardy. During the High Middle Ages, under the Salian dynasty, Salian emperors and, later, under the Teutonic Knights, German settlers moved east of the Saale into the area of a western Slavic tribe, the Sorbs. The Sorbs were gradually Germanisation, Germanised. This region subsequently acquired the name Saxony through political circumstances, though it was initially called the March of Meissen. The rulers of Meissen acquired control of the Duchy of Saxony (only a remnant of the previous Duchy) in 1423; they eventually applied the name ''Saxony'' to the whole of their kingdom. Since then, this part of eastern Germany has been referred to as
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...

Saxony
(german: Sachsen), a source of some misunderstanding about the original homeland of the Saxons, with a central part in the present-day German state of
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (st ...
(german: Niedersachsen, links=no).


Culture


Social structure

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 Sa ...

Bede
, a Northumbrian writing around the year 730, remarks that "the old (that is, the continental) Saxons have no king, but they are governed by several ealdormen (or ''satrapa'') who, during war, cast lots for leadership but who, in time of peace, are equal in power." The ''regnum Saxonum'' was divided into three provinces – Westphalia, Eastphalia and Angria – which comprised about one hundred ''pagi'' or ''Gau (country subdivision), Gaue''. Each ''Gau'' had its own satrap with enough military power to level whole villages that opposed him.Goldberg, 473. In the mid-9th century, Nithard first described the social structure of the Saxons beneath their leaders. The caste structure was rigid; in the Old Saxon, Saxon language the three castes, excluding slaves, were called the ''edhilingui'' (related to the term aetheling), ''frilingi'' and ''lazzi''. These terms were subsequently Latinisation of names, Latinised as ''nobiles'' or ''nobiliores''; ''ingenui'', ''ingenuiles'' or ''liberi''; and ''liberti'', ''liti'' or ''serviles''.Goldberg, 471. According to very early traditions that are presumed to contain a good deal of historical truth, the ''edhilingui'' were the descendants of the Saxons who led the tribe out of Holstein and during the migrations of the sixth century. They were a conquering warrior elite. The ''frilingi'' represented the descendants of the ''amicii'', ''auxiliarii'' and ''manumissi'' of that caste. The ''lazzi'' represented the descendants of the original inhabitants of the conquered territories, who were forced to make oaths of submission and pay tribute to the ''edhilingui''. The ''Lex Saxonum'' regulated the Saxons' unusual society. Intermarriage between the castes was forbidden by the ''Lex,'' and wergilds were set based upon caste membership. The ''edhilingui'' were worth 1,440 solidi, or about 700 head of cattle, the highest wergild on the continent; the price of a bride was also very high. This was six times as much as that of the ''frilingi'' and eight times as much as the ''lazzi''. The gulf between noble and ignoble was very large, but the difference between a freeman and an indentured labourer was small. According to the ''Vita Lebuini antiqua'', an important source for early Saxon history, the Saxons held an annual council at Marklo (Westphalia) where they "confirmed their laws, gave judgment on outstanding cases, and determined by common counsel whether they would go to war or be in peace that year." All three castes participated in the general council; twelve representatives from each caste were sent from each ''Gau''. In 782, Charlemagne abolished the system of ''Gaue'' and replaced it with the ''Grafschaftsverfassung'', the system of County, counties typical of Francia. By prohibiting the Marklo councils, Charlemagne pushed the ''frilingi'' and ''lazzi'' out of political power. The old Saxon system of ''Abgabengrundherrschaft'', lordship based on dues and taxes, was replaced by a form of feudalism based on service and labour, personal relationships and oaths.


Religion


Germanic Religion

Saxon religious practices were closely related to their political practices. The annual councils of the entire tribe began with invocations of the gods. The procedure by which dukes were elected in wartime, by drawing lots, is presumed to have had religious significance, i.e. in giving trust to divine providenceit seemsto guide the random decision making.Goldberg, 474. There were also sacred rituals and objects, such as the pillars called Irminsul; these were believed to connect heaven and earth, as with other examples of trees or ladders to heaven in numerous religions.
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
had one such pillar chopped down in 772 close to the Eresburg stronghold. Early Saxon religious practices in Britain can be gleaned from place names and the Germanic calendar in use at that time. The Germanic gods Woden, Frigg, Týr, Tiw and Thunor, who are attested to in every Germanic tradition, were worshipped in Wessex, Sussex and Essex. They are the only ones directly attested to, though the names of the third and fourth months (March and April) of the Month#Old English calendar, Old English calendar bear the names ''Hrethmonath'' and ''Eosturmonath'', meaning "month of Hretha" and "month of Ēostre." It is presumed that these are the names of two goddesses who were worshipped around that season.Stenton, 97–98. The Saxons offered cakes to their gods in February (''Solmonath''). There was a religious festival associated with the harvest, ''Halegmonath'' ("holy month" or "month of offerings", September). The Saxon calendar began on 25 December, and the months of December and January were called Yule (or ''Giuli''). They contained a ''Modra niht'' or "night of the mothers", another religious festival of unknown content. The Saxon freemen and servile class remained faithful to their original beliefs long after their nominal conversion to Christianity. Nursing a hatred of the upper class, which, with Frankish assistance, had marginalised them from political power, the lower classes (the ''plebeium vulgus'' or ''cives'') were a problem for Christian authorities as late as 836. The ''Translatio S.Liborii'' remarks on their obstinacy in pagan ''ritus et superstitio'' (usage and superstition).


Christianity

The conversion of the Saxons in England from their original Germanic paganism, Germanic religion to Christianity occurred in the early to late seventh century under the influence of the already converted Jutes of Kingdom of Kent, Kent. In the 630s, Birinus became the "apostle to the West Saxons" and converted
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
, whose first Christian king was Cynegils. The West Saxons begin to emerge from obscurity only with their conversion to Christianity and keeping written records. The Gewisse, a West Saxon people, were especially resistant to Christianity; Birinus exercised more efforts against them and ultimately succeeded in conversion. In Wessex, Bishop of Winchester, a bishopric was founded at Dorchester, Oxfordshire, Dorchester. The South Saxons were first evangelised extensively under England, Anglian influence; Aethelwalh of Sussex was converted by Wulfhere of Mercia, Wulfhere, King of Mercia and allowed Wilfrid, Archbishop of York, Bishop of York, to evangelise his people beginning in 681. The chief South Saxon bishopric was Bishop of Selsey, that of Selsey. The Kingdom of Essex, East Saxons were more pagan than the southern or western Saxons; their territory had a superabundance of pagan sites. Their king, Saebert of Essex, Saeberht, was converted early and a diocese was established at Diocese of London, London. Its first bishop, Mellitus, was expelled by Saeberht's heirs. The conversion of the East Saxons was completed under Cedd in the 650s and 660s. The continental Saxons were evangelised largely by English missionaries in the late seventh and early eighth centuries. Around 695, two early English missionaries, Hewald the White and Hewald the Black, were martyred by the ''vicani'', that is, villagers. Throughout the century that followed, villagers and other peasants proved to be the greatest opponents of Christianisation, while missionaries often received the support of the ''edhilingui'' and other noblemen. Saint Lebuin, an Englishman who between 745 and 770 preached to the Saxons, mainly in the eastern Netherlands, built a church and made many friends among the nobility. Some of them rallied to save him from an angry mob at the annual council at Marklo (near river Weser, Bremen). Social tensions arose between the Christianity-sympathetic noblemen and the pagan lower castes, who were staunchly faithful to their traditional religion. Under Charlemagne, the Saxon Wars had as their chief object the conversion and integration of the Saxons into the Frankish empire. Though much of the highest caste converted readily, forced baptisms and forced tithing made enemies of the lower orders. Even some contemporaries found the methods employed to win over the Saxons wanting, as this excerpt from a letter of Alcuin of York to his friend Meginfrid, written in 796, shows:
If the light yoke and sweet burden of Christ were to be preached to the most obstinate people of the Saxons with as much determination as the payment of tithes has been exacted, or as the force of the legal decree has been applied for fault of the most trifling sort imaginable, perhaps they would not be averse to their baptismal vows.
Charlemagne's successor, Louis the Pious, reportedly treated the Saxons more as Alcuin would have wished, and as a consequence they were faithful subjects. The lower classes, however, revolted against Frankish overlordship in favour of their old paganism as late as the 840s, when the ''Stellinga'' rose up against the Saxon leadership, who were allied with the Frankish emperor Lothair I. After the suppression of the ''Stellinga'', in 851 Louis the German brought relics from Rome to Saxony to foster a devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. The Poeta Saxo, in his verse ''Annales'' of Charlemagne's reign (written between 888 and 891), laid an emphasis on his conquest of Saxony. He celebrated the Frankish monarch as on par with the Roman emperors and as the bringer of Christian salvation to people. References are made to periodic outbreaks of pagan worship, especially of Freya, among the Saxon peasantry as late as the 12th century.


=Christian literature

= In the ninth century, the Saxon nobility became vigorous supporters of monasticism and formed a bulwark of Christianity against the existing Slavic paganism to the east and the Nordic paganism of the Vikings to the north. Much Christian literature was produced in the vernacular Old Saxon, the notable ones being a result of the literary output and wide influence of Saxon monasteries such as Abbey of Fulda, Fulda, Abbey of Corvey, Corvey and Verden an der Aller, Verden; and the theological controversy between the Augustine of Hippo, Augustinian, Gottschalk (theologian), Gottschalk and Rabanus Maurus. From an early date, Charlemagne and Louis the Pious supported Christian vernacular literature, vernacular works in order to evangelise the Saxons more efficiently. The ''Heliand'', a verse epic of the life of Christ in a Germanic setting, and ''Genesis'', another epic retelling of the events of Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, were commissioned in the early ninth century by Louis to disseminate scriptural knowledge to the masses. A council of Tours in 813 and then a synod of Mainz in 848 both declared that Homily, homilies ought to be preached in the vernacular. The earliest preserved text in the Saxon language is a baptismal vow from the late eighth or early ninth century; the vernacular was used extensively in an effort to Christianise the lowest castes of Saxon society.Hummer, 138–139.


See also

* List of Germanic tribes * Saxon farms


Notes


References

* Bernard Bachrach, Bachrach, Bernard S. ''Merovingian Military Organisation, 481–751''. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971. * Goldberg, Eric J
"Popular Revolt, Dynastic Politics, and Aristocratic Factionalism in the Early Middle Ages: The Saxon Stellinga Reconsidered."
''Speculum (journal), Speculum'', Vol. 70, No. 3. (Jul., 1995), pp. 467–501. * Hummer, Hans J. ''Politics and Power in Early Medieval Europe: Alsace and the Frankish Realm 600–1000''. Cambridge University Press: 2005. * Timothy Reuter, Reuter, Timothy. ''Germany in the Early Middle Ages 800–1056''. New York: Longman, 1991. * Reuter, Timothy (trans.)
The Annals of Fulda
'. (Manchester Medieval series, Ninth-Century Histories, Volume II.) Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992. * * Frank Stenton, Stenton, Sir Frank M. ''Anglo-Saxon England''. third ed. Oxford University Press, 1971. * John Michael Wallace-Hadrill, Wallace-Hadrill, J. M., translator.
The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations
'. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960. * James Westfall Thompson, Thompson, James Westfall. ''Feudal Germany''. 2 vol. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1928.


External links


James Grout: ''Saxon Advent'', part of the Encyclopædia Romana

Saxons and Britons
* {{Authority control Saxons, History of North Rhine-Westphalia Early Germanic peoples German tribes Ingaevones