Anglo-Saxon England


Anglo-Saxons, name given to the Germanic-speaking peoples who settled in England after the decline of Roman rule there. They were first invited by the Celtic King Vortigern, who needed help fighting the Picts and Scots. The Angles (Lat. Angli), who are mentioned in Tacitus' Germania, seem to have come from what is now Schleswig in the later decades of the 5th cent. Their settlements in the eastern, central, and northern portions of the country were the foundations for the later kingdoms known as East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria. The Saxons, a Germanic tribe who had been continental neighbors of the Angles, also settled in England in the late 5th cent. after earlier marauding forays there. The later kingdoms of Sussex, Wessex, and Essex were the outgrowths of their settlements. The Jutes, a tribe about whom very little is known except that they probably came from the area around the mouths of the Rhine, settled in Kent (see Kent, kingdom of) and the Isle of Wight. The Anglo-Saxons eventually formed seven separate kingdoms known as the heptarchy. The term "Anglo-Saxons" was first used in Continental Latin sources to distinguish the Saxons in England from those on the Continent, but it soon came to mean simply the "English." The more specific use of the term to denote the non-Celtic settlers of England prior to the Norman Conquest dates from the 16th cent. In more modern times it has also been used to denote any of the people (or their descendants) of the British Isles.

See P. H. Blair, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (1954, repr. 1962); F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971); D. M. Wilson, The Anglo-Saxons (rev. ed. 1971); D. J. V. Fisher, The Anglo-Saxon Age, 400–1042 (1973); G. R. Owen, Rites and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons (1985); M. J. Whittock, The Origins of England, 410–600 (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Anglo-Saxon England: Selected full-text books and articles

The Anglo-Saxons By D. M. Wilson Frederick A. Praeger, 1960
The Earliest English Kings By D. P. Kirby Routledge, 2000 (Revised edition)
The End of Roman Britain By Michael E. Jones Cornell University Press, 1996
The Fighting Kings of Wessex By G. P. Baker Combined Books, 1996
The Continental Homelands of the Anglo-Saxons By Burns, David Contemporary Review, Vol. 281, No. 1643, December 2002
Alfred the Great By Eleanor Shipley Duckett University of Chicago Press, 1956
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "King Alfred and his Rule in Wessex"
The Church in Anglo-Saxon England By John Godfrey Cambridge University Press, 1962
The English Settlements By J. N. L. Myres Oxford University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Saxons, Angles, and Jutes on the Saxon Shore"
Roman Britain and the English Settlements By J. N. L. Myres; R. G. Collingwood Biblo and Tannen, 1990
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People By Bede; Bertram Colgrave; R. A. B. Mynors Clarendon Press, 1969
Making Thanes: Literature, Rhetoric and State Formation in Anglo-Saxon England By Richardson, Peter R Philological Quarterly, Spring 1999
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Anglo-Saxon Poetry By R. K. Gordon; R. K. Gordon J. M. Dent & Sons, 1954
Anglo-Saxonism and the Construction of Social Identity By Allen J. Frantzen; John D. Niles University Press of Florida, 1997
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