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 until the Norman Conquest (1066).
The Anglo Saxons belonged to 3 different tribes of Germanic peoples namely the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.
They mostly replaced the previous Celtic inhabitants of England and laid the foundations of English society and the English legal system.
Half the words of the modern English language owe their origin to Anglo Saxon language. The creation of a single English nation also dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period.
Anglo-Saxons belonged to 3 tribes as mentioned above. The Angles were the main tribe of Anglo-Saxons who settled in England, in the post-Roman period.
The name England is derived from the root word ‘Angles.’ The Saxons were another tribe of Germanic people who settled in various areas of England from the 5th century onwards.
Jutes came from Jutland which is now Denmark. This was the tribe that sailed across the North Sea to raid and eventually invade Great Britain. The Jutes settled in, particularly in the Isle of Wight and Kent.
Northern Europe was the home of Germanic tribes in what is present-day Denmark and southern Sweden. Their population in this region was stable. They expanded southwards into central Europe over the next centuries.
The main focus of Germanic people was on agriculture for which they also cleared forests as suggested by archeological evidence.
They migrated to other regions when all the resources were exhausted. These regions included the British Isles. Their migrations had a lot of effects on the history and culture of England.
The main factor in the migration of tribes to Britain was the pressure of other tribes as mentioned earlier.
There was another reason for migration. A British king Vortigern had invited Anglo-Saxons to defend his kingdom against the attack of Picts and Scotti. These were the rulers of present-day Scotland.
The number of migrants is not confirmed by scholars. A rough estimate suggests a figure of around 100,000.
The local Brythonic people are likely to have outnumbered Anglo-Saxons by at least four to one. However, Anglo Saxons were able to invade and subdue these people, effectively becoming the rulers of their new lands.
After arriving in present-day England, Anglo-Saxons started to settle in the region. The areas where Anglo-Saxons settled came to be called Sussex, Middlesex, Essex, and Wessex.
Kent became the home of the Jutes who started to call themselves the Kentings.
The Angles inhabited East Anglia. Then Anglo-Saxons started to name their villages and small towns after the names of their Gods. Anglo-Saxons mainly settled near agricultural centers and near rivers.
These small towns were then formed into kingdoms. The major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were Sussex, Wessex, Middle Anglia, Essex, Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. These kingdoms co-existed from 650 to 800 AD.