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The Roman and the Anglo-Saxon Periods

2 – The second source of the period is the work by The Venerable Bede. He is called British Herodotus, the father of English history. He entered the monastery at the age of seven. Never travelling further than York, he became the most learned person of his time. He lived in the VIII century. He lived 3 centuries later after the period he described. But he lived in Britain and gathered all the possible information, including oral traditions.


"The Loss of Britain" by Gildas and the work by Bede tell, that the newcomers killed a lot of people in Britain. The Celtic kings had invited the Germans and they were guilty. Bede is known as “the father of English history»


Now let’s see what Gildas and Bede say about the appearance of newcomers in Britain.





After the Romans had left the country the local population was divided in two groups. There were the southern Celts or the Britons or the Romanized Celts and "wild Celts”, Scots and Picts, who lived in the Mounties and didn’t follow the Roman traditions. Scots and Picts raided lands of the Britons. One of the British kings Vortigern invited German tribes from the continent to fight against Scots and Picts. He promised them natural pay and some lands for their military help. It was in 449. So the new people came as the hirelings. First they came in 3 ships, led by 3 brothers. The senior was called Hengist. The Germans fulfilled their mission. But afterwards they didn't want to leave, they liked the country and called their people to Britain. There were three groups of the tribes which had invaded Britain: the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. According to Gildas and Bede the Anglo-Saxons killed many Celts or made them leave Lowland and go to the mountains[4].

By the end of the 6th century the Anglo-Saxons organized 7 kingdoms in Britain. Among them[5] Wessex (in South-Western England) and Kent (in South-Eastern England)


The British kings Vortigern invited German tribes from the continent to fight against Scots and Picts. They came in 3 ships, led by 3 brothers. They liked the country and called the tribes of the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes to it. They killed the Celts or drove them to the mountains. The A-S organized 7 states in modern England


Now we shall see what the modern historians say using also the archeological sourses.

But before remind the story of three brothers, invited to Britain. What does this episode resemble you in Russian history?

It’s difficult not to notice the resemblance between the story of "the appeal upon Varangians" and the Vortigern’s appeal upon the Anglo-Saxsons.

It shows the legendary, folklore character of the Gildas’s and Bede’s stories. The modern historians draw another picture

The coming of the Germans was the part of "the great transmigration of peoples”. The Germans began to permeate as far as the Romans escaped. They came from the Jutland, the peninsula, where modern Denmark is situated. The central part of the peninsula lowed at that time and was flooded. Some tribes had to find the new place for agriculture. They migrated westwards - to Britain.

The modern scholars don’t deny the fact that the Anglo-Saxons were invaded by the Celtic kings. But it was only one of the reasons, that they came to Britain. They would have come at any case, and without any invitation.

The modern scholars agree with the medieval writers that the tribes of the Angles and the Jutes came. But they deny the existence of the Saxons. The newcomers called themselves the Angles, they never used the name of Saxons. The Romans used both names for the same people. They produced the word from "a sax” - a kind of a short sword.


They meant that the Angles were warlike people, using saxes. So they called them “the people of the saxes” or “the Saxons”. So the Saxons didn’t exist as any separate group, it was the Latin name of the Angles. The Saxons were a historical myth.


The modern historians say that the Germans came from the Jutland (modern Denmark). It was flooded the part of people had to leave. The Saxons didn’t really exist; it was the Latin name of the Angles


As for the Angles they didn’t only existed, but also gave the new name to the country – Which one? - England

The word England has certainly originated from "the Angles". The questions are

- What was the etymology of the name "the Angles"?

- What does it mean literally?

When I was a little girl it seemed to me, that the word “Англия” was similar to word “игла”. It occurred to be really so. It has a similar root with Russian “игла”.

The root “ang-” is an ancient Indo-European one, common in Russian, English, Latin and the others. It has the meaning “sharp item”. “The Angles” literally means “the sharp items” or “the fishing hooks”.

The Angles came from Jutland. The shallow seas surrounding Jutland and Britain gave them the splendid possibilities for fishing. Fishing was one of their main occupations.

They called themselves “the fishers”, people using the fishing hooks, which sounded as “the angles”. The verb “to angle” in modern English means “to fish” (with the rod).

So England literally means “the country of fishmen

In such way were formed the names of the countries in the north-western Europe. Finland means "the country of hunters”, Russia means “the country of rowers, salesmen"


The root “ang-” means “sharp item”, “The Angles” -[6] “the sharp items” or “the fishing hooks”, England - “the country of fishmen”


Written sources describe the permeation of Angles as a conquest and a catastrophe for the Britons. In the struggle with the cruel invaders they were partly killed and partly driven out into Wales and Scotland. That is why the English considered themselves to be the descendants of the Germans, and inhabitants of Wales and Scotland - of the Celts

But the modern historians hesitate about this conception. The evidence of archaeology shows no sudden change in everyday life. It testifies that the previous population remained in their places. The Celts were not driven out of the lowland known now as England.

According to a recent study of the Institute of Molecular Biology in Oxford the inhabitants of modern England, Scotland and Wales are the descendants of the ancient population of the British Isles, they occurred to be very similar in their biology. Their difference derived from the different cultural traditions.

So modern scholars consider the Angles to be in minority. The greater part of the pre-English inhabitants of England survived and the bigger part of the present-day English are their descendants.

The newcomers were not more than 4-6 %. How could they conquer the whole country? Modern historians give an answer. The newcomers conquered the Romanized regions. The traditions of political and military self-help were absent there. And Romanised Britain subdued. Being influenced by newcomers it became England. So we may say, England is the Romanized part of Britain


The A-S conquered the Romanized regions, it became England. The Celtic population remained but changed their traditions


The newcomers created the states, the political organization. They divided the land into administrative areas called "shires" (compare - to “share"). Their heads were called "share reeves" “the heads of the shires”.

Which word has derived from it? - Sheriff

Anglo-Saxons weren't only the invaders and gathers of the taxes. They began to drain the wet land and taught the natives to do it. So the marshy lands dimensioned and the farmed land increased, it might have tended even the growth of the Celtic population, not the extermination.

So we may say that Anglo-Saxons influenced economy, established states but, first of all, they influenced language. The language of the England inhabitants became Germanic in grammar. As for lexis, only 35 % of it is of the German origin

Категория: Лекции по истории Англии | Добавил: Senebty (08.02.2018)
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