Who are the Anglo-Saxons, and where did they come from? History of the Anglo-Saxons

Anglo-Saxons were the forerunners of modern Englishmen who lived in Britain in the V - XI centuries. At first it was a conglomeration of different Germanic tribes, which gradually became the basis of a single nation. The evolution of the Anglo-Saxon people into English occurred after the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

Angles and Saxons

To understand who such Anglo-Saxons are, it is necessary to turn to the ancient and medieval history of Britain. This people appeared as a result of the merger of several Germanic tribes. They were Angles, Saxons, and also utes. Prior to the III century, they lived in the territory of modern Germany and Denmark. Then it was a pagan territory bordering on the Roman state.

Several centuries the Empire controlled Britain. When the first legions entered the island, there lived the Celtic tribe of the Britons, on whose behalf this land got its name. In the III century the Great Migration of peoples began. It embraced the Germanic tribes as well. Knowing these ancient migration processes helps to understand who the Anglo-Saxons are. The onslaught of nomads from the east made the Angles, Saxons and Jutes go west, cross the sea and settle in Britain. The local population took the strangers hostile, and long wars began for control of the island.

Formation of the seven kingdoms

Finding out who the Anglo-Saxons are and where they came from, one can not help but mention that they exterminated the Celtic population of Britain, subjected to strong Roman influence. Until the fifth century, this war was part of one big war between the dying empire and the barbarians. In the VI century, Roman power on the island was left in the past, and the Britons were destroyed.

On new lands for themselves, the Germanic tribes founded their own kingdoms. Angles - Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia, Saxons - Wessex, Essex and Sussex, and Utah - Kent. Despite the national resemblance, they began to fight regularly with each other. Political fragmentation into seven kingdoms and several other small principalities remained until the IX century.

Alfred the Great

Gradually, the ethnic and linguistic boundaries between the Germanic tribes were finally erased. Many factors contributed to this: a long life side by side, trade, dynastic marriages between ruling dynasties, etc. The Anglo-Saxons call the people that appeared in the IX century on the territory of the seven kingdoms. An important part of the rallying of the population was his Christianization. Before the migration to the island Angles and Saxons, like all the Germans, were pagans and worshiped their own pantheon of deities.

The first in 597, the King of Kent, Ethelbert, was baptized. The ceremony was held by the Holy Catholic Church Augustine. Over time, the new doctrine spread among the entire German population of Britain. Christians - that's who such Anglo-Saxons, since VII - VIII centuries. Ruler Wessex Egbert, who ruled in 802 - 839 gg., Managed to unite under his authority all seven kingdoms. Today, historians consider him the first monarch of England, although he himself did not carry such a title. His grandson Alfred the Great at the end of the IX century led the national liberation struggle against the Vikings, encroaching on Britain. Cleared the island of the interventionists, he took the deserved title of King of England. In the history of the nation's development a new period has begun. Today, historians are exploring the IX century, in order to find out more about who the Anglo-Saxons are. In the modern world, knowledge of them is based on the texts of medieval chronicles and archaeological finds.


Most of the population of Britain at that time was engaged in agriculture. Who are the Anglo-Saxons from a social point of view? They were free peasants (they were called curls). These small landowners were completely independent, did not depend on the aristocracy and submitted only to the royal power. They paid the state a food rent, and also participated in the firm - the national militia.

Until the 8th century chronicles do not mention the existence of an interlayer of dependent peasants. A serious threat to their freedom was the viking ravages. The robbers from Scandinavia came to the island unexpectedly. They burned peaceful settlements, and the inhabitants were killed or taken captive. Even if the peasant managed to escape from the Vikings, he remained with nothing. In distress, he had to look for custody of the nobles, who had large land plots. In addition, during the wars, the state each time significantly increased taxes. Obligations were badly beaten even on those farms that were in relatively peaceful regions. So the history of the Anglo-Saxons naturally naturally came to the appearance of serfs.

The Norman Conquest

As time goes on, it's harder to find out who the Anglo-Saxons are and where they came from, due to the fact that this ethnic culture has gradually disappeared after England was conquered by the army of the Norman Duke William I. In 1066, his fleet departed from the fragmented France and arrived in Britain. The goal of William the Conqueror was the English throne, which was occupied by the Anglo-Saxon dynasty.

The Kingdom was weakened by the simultaneous attack of the Vikings, who also wanted to gain a foothold on the island. In the Battle of Hastings the Normans defeated the army of the monarch Harold II Godwinsohn. Soon all England was in the hands of William. This event was not a simple rotation of the ruler, which often happened in the Middle Ages. Wilhelm was a foreigner - he spoke a foreign language and was raised in another society.

Appearance of the English

Having come to power, the new king brought his Norman elite to the island. The French language briefly became the language of the aristocracy and, in general, all the upper classes. However, the old Anglo-Saxon dialect was preserved in a huge peasant environment. The gap between the social strata did not last long.

Already in the XII century, two languages merged into English (the early version of modern), and the inhabitants of the kingdom began to call themselves English. In addition, the Normans brought with them a classical feudal system and a military-fledged system. So the new nation was born, and the term "Anglo-Saxons" became a historical concept.

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