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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 VortigernVortigern
, 5th cent., tribal king of Britons in Wales and S England. Tradition transmitted by Bede says that Vortigern invited the Germanic leaders Hengist and Horsa to Kent to help withstand the Picts and Scots. Later he quarreled and fought with Hengist and Horsa.
..... Click the link for more information. , 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 AngliaEast Anglia
, kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, comprising the modern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It was settled in the late 5th cent. by so-called Angles from northern Germany and Scandinavia.
..... Click the link for more information. , MerciaMercia
, one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, consisting generally of the region of the Midlands. It was settled by Angles c.500, probably first along the Trent valley.
..... Click the link for more information. , and NorthumbriaNorthumbria, kingdom of
, one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. It was originally composed of two independent kingdoms divided by the Tees River, Bernicia (including modern E Scotland, Berwick, Roxburgh, E Northumberland, and Durham) and Deira (including the North and East
..... Click the link for more information. . The SaxonsSaxons,
Germanic people, first mentioned in the 2d cent. by Ptolemy as inhabiting the southern part of the Cimbric Peninsula (S Jutland). Holding the area at the mouth of the Elbe River and some of the nearby islands, they gradually extended their territory southward across the
..... Click the link for more information. , 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 SussexSussex, kingdom of,
one of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy (seven kingdoms) in England, located S of the Weald. It was settled in the late 5th cent. (according to tradition in 477) by Saxons under Ælle, who defeated the Celts in several battles and established a brief military
..... Click the link for more information. , WessexWessex
, one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. It may have been settled as early as 495 by Saxons under Cerdic, who is reputed to have landed in Hampshire. Cerdic's grandson, Ceawlin (560–93), annexed scattered Saxon settlements in the Chiltern Hills and drove the
..... Click the link for more information. , and EssexEssex,
one of the early kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. It was settled probably in the early 6th cent. by Saxons who traced their royal line back to a continental Saxon god instead of to Woden, as did the rulers of other early kingdoms.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 ofKent, kingdom of,
one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. It was settled in the mid-5th cent. by aggressive bands of people called Jutes (see Anglo-Saxons). Historians are in dispute over the authenticity of the traditional belief that Hengist and Horsa landed in 449 to
..... Click the link for more information. ) and the Isle of Wight. The Anglo-Saxons eventually formed seven separate kingdoms known as the heptarchyheptarchy
[Gr.,=seven-kingdom], name traditionally applied to the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England in the period prior to the Danish conquests of the 9th cent. The term was probably first used by 16th-century writers who believed that in those early years England was divided into
..... Click the link for more information. . 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).
a general term for the Germanic tribes—the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians—who conquered Celtic Britain in the 5th-6th centuries. During the 7th-10th centuries, as these tribes mixed in the conquered territory, the Anglo-Saxon nationality took shape, also absorbing Celtic elements. After the Norman conquest in 1066, the Anglo-Saxons, who had already mixed with the Danes and Norwegians, settled in northeastern and eastern Anglia and underwent a new mixing process with emigrants from France, thus originating the English nationality.