Who were they?

-         blue eyes

-                fair skin

-         -         common language (Anglo-Saxon)

-         -         crush higher Celtic civ.

-         -         Destroy monestaries, etc.

-         -         King Arthur – Celtic king who fights in vain against A-S invaders

-         -         Celts pushed to north and west of island

-         -         A-Ss have lower classes (slaves and peasants) who do most of farming and domestic work

-         -         Upper class men (thanes or free warriors) were king’s consultants and who obey king in times of battle; often relatives or good friends of king

-         -         Loud existence – heavy drinking, disputes, fights, braggarts

-         -         The flyting – bragging contest between two warriors

-         -         A-S warriors are plain-spoken and straightforward

o       o       Like Mainers?

-         -         loyalty to king



Rome Goes Home

·        The rulers of Britain after 410 are referred to as 'tyrants' because their authority had no legitimacy in Roman Eyes.

·        Having no armies left, the British people were left open to attack from the Picts (probably by sea down the east coast, for the Picts are described in one Late Roman source as a sea-going people - just like the Saxons).


Germanic Troops

·        It is known that Germanic troops had been stationed in this country by the Romans since at least the third century - it is also known that some of these troops settled in this country - and Germanic pirates were raiding Britain from at least this date too, so the 'excellence of the land' would have already been well known on the continent.

·        Archaeology has shown that by the late fourth century Germanic mercenaries were to be found settled all along the east coast of Britain, and along the banks of the Thames at least as far as Oxfordshire.

·        The British 'tyrants' also feared a Roman invasion from Gaul to remove them, so some of the Saxons stationed in southern England may have been a guard against Roman military intervention - a far cry from the old view of the Britons missing the presence of the legions!.

·        It is also known that the peoples who made up the 'Anglo-Saxons' were far more varied than just the three groups mentioned.

·        Even the totally violent nature of their arrival is now thought to be rather exaggerated.

·        Whilst it is certainly true that the newcomers did fight against the Britons (or as the Invaders called them the wealas - an Old English word meaning slave or foreigner!) in many areas much of the settlement was peaceful with farmers and craftsmen integrating themselves into existing communities.


·        The numbers of the invaders was certainly large, and they certainly did affect the nature of British society, even to the extent of replacing the primary language, but they did not wipe out the native population.

·        It is most likely that in fact a mixture of all situations happened - in some places the native Britons were almost entirely replaced by the newcomers, in some places the two peoples lived side by side, and in other places the population remained almost exclusively British, although these British people gradually adopted the ways and language of the invaders.

·        Whatever the nature of the influx of Germanic peoples, we know that it did not happen overnight and that it was not entirely peaceful.

·        Fifty years after the traditional arrival of Hengest and Horsa there was still fighting going on for control of the land. Some of this was between the Britons and the invaders - this was the time of Ambrosius Aurelianus (probably the King Arthur of legend), a Romano-British chieftain - and some of the fighting was between different Germanic tribes each struggling for supremacy.

·        Around the year 500 A.D. the Britons (probably under the leadership of Ambrosius Aurelianus) won a great victory at Mons Badonicus (Mount Badon) which halted the tide of Germanic invaders

·        It also seems to be at this time that many Britons left Britain for northern Gaul and turned the peninsula of Armorica into Brittany.

·        For about half a century there was relative peace with British rule over the western half of the country and Germanic rule in the east, and it seems probable that the Britons may even have won back some parts of central England from the invaders

·        By the middle of the fifth century the Germans started a second wave of colonisation that ended with most of lowland Britain under the control of many Germanic 'kings' (most of the later kingdoms were founded at this time)

·        In England the Saxons, after establishing themselves in the south and east, in the localities now represented by Sussex and Essex, founded a great kingdom in the West which gradually absorbed almost the whole country south of the Thames. In fact, the King of Wessex ultimately became the lord of the entire land of Britain.

·        The Angles, who followed close upon the heels of the Saxons, founded the kingdoms of East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk), Mercia (the Midlands), Deira (Yorkshire), and Bernicia (the country farther north).

·        British culture relegated to the western fringes of the country in Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall) and Wales (the name of which is derived from the word wealas mentioned above); in the north there was the British kingdom of Strathclyde and the independent British kingdom of Elmet which stretched westwards for many miles from the marshes at the head of the Humber, and separated the Angles of the northern Midlands from those of the plain of York.



597 A.D. – Christian missionaries come to England from Rome and Ireland (which had been Christian for a hundred years thanks to St. Patrick and others)

            -     Augustine is first Archbishop of Canterbury

-         -         uneven results

-         -         A dominant Anglo-Saxon king in South, Ethelbert, was converted after marrying a German princess

-         -         “officially” Christian by 700 A.D.

-         -         still, large pockets of paganism or Christian veneer

-         -         superstitions, charms, and legends of old heathen gods persist

-         -         monestaries founded and their influence spreads to the populace

o       o       monks start writing in Latin, but then begin writing in English


Remained masters of the country until a new order of things was created in 1066 by the coming of the Normans. We’ll talk about the Normans tomorrow.


EXTRA TIME: pp. 120-123