Anglo Saxon Definition

Who were the Anglo Saxons *Anglo Saxon Definition?

Anglo Saxon is a term used to describe anyone from Germanic peoples who inhabited and ruled the areas of present-day England and Wales from the 5th century to the Norman Conquest (1066).

The Anglo Saxons belonged to 3 different tribes of Germanic peoples namely the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.

Anglo Saxon People

They laid the foundations of English society and the English legal system. 

Nearly half the words of modern English vocabulary owe their origin to the Anglo-Saxon language. The creation of the English nation and a unified English identity also dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period.

Anglo Saxon Timeline

This Anglo-Saxon period of medieval history had a very deep impact on English culture and society.

Where did the Anglo Saxons come from?

Germanic peoples migrated to Britain from continental Europe in the 5th century. They were invited by a ruler of Britons, Vortigern, to defend his kingdom from other opponents.

These opponents were the Scotti and Picts, who ruled present-day Scotland.

Anglo Saxon Settlements Map

Anglo Saxon settlements in England in the early period of 400-500

Anglo Saxons then began to arrive in England in multiple waves. Initially helping Vortigern, they went on to defeat and displace the local Britons and established their own settlements.

These settlements eventually evolved into seven distinct kingdoms of the Anglo Saxons.

Anglo Saxons Culture

As Anglo-Saxons settled in England, they developed a unique Anglo-Saxon culture and society.

This culture reflected their Germanic origins and their grounds realities in the once-Celtic Britain. The culture of the Anglo-Saxons is visible in their illuminated texts, dress styles, buildings, grave goods, and their way of living.

Anglo Saxon Clothes

The Anglo Saxon culture was centered on a strong sense of lordship, tribal ties, kinship, and fealty to the social elders.

Anglo Saxon Art

Anglo-Saxon art was depicted in different types of decorative jewelry like beads, brooches, wrist-clasps, and buckles. Garnets and gold pieces were used for decorative purposes by the 6th century.

Anglo Saxon Clothing 7th century shoulder clasp for an Anglo Saxon King

It showed the growing prosperity of Anglo-Saxon society. With the advent of Christianity in the region, a revolution was seen in Anglo-Saxon art and culture. Manuscript illumination and stone sculpture were introduced by Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England.

Medieval Artists Anglo Saxon Art Ivory Panels

Medieval Artists Anglo Saxon Art Ivory Panels

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

The early period of Anglo-Saxon history is the period of migration. By the mid of the 6th century, there was a fusion of culture and language in Anglo-Saxon regions.

The foundations of the Wessex royal line were laid by a Brythonic King named Cerdic, having a Celtic background.

Bretons Celtic People

This was a time when smaller tribal areas were evolving into larger kingdoms. These kingdoms were formed in the provinces of the East Angles, East Saxons, South Kent, Saxons, and Lindsey.

The major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were Sussex, Wessex, Middle Anglia, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. These kingdoms existed from 650 to 800 AD.

Celtic Symbol

Celtic Symbol

Rise and Fall of the Anglo Saxons

The Anglo-Saxons attacked present-day England and Wales in small invading parties in the beginning. Fierce resistance was shown by the Romano-British of Britannia who was supposedly led by King Arthur.

King Arthur

In the next centuries, Anglo-Saxons formed kingdoms and armies which were in constant war with each other and invaders.

The Anglo-Saxon power reached its zenith in the time of King Alfred the Great. It came to an end with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Norman Conquest Europe Medieval Times Bayeux Tapestry

Anglo-Saxon Fast Facts

      • The Anglo-Saxons were Germanic peoples called the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.
      • The Anglo-Saxons helped form the foundations of the English legal systems and English society.
      • The Anglo-Saxons were brought to Britain by the ruler of the Britain Vortigern to help fight the Scotti and Picts of Scotland.

Anglo Saxon Clothes

      • The Anglo-Saxons decided they liked Britain so much they decided to stay and took over many regions.
      • The major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were Sussex, Wessex, Middle Anglia, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia.
      • King Alfred the Great is considered the most famous leader of the Anglo-Saxons.
      • The Anglo-Saxon period of rule over England came to an end with the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

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