The rise of the Anglo-saxons, the wars against the Vikings and the victory over King Harold by the Norman Duke William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.
(or Anglo-Saxon) is the term usually used to describe the invading tribes in the south and east of Great Britain from the early 5th century AD, and their creation of the English nation, to the Norman conquest of 1066. The Benedictine monk, Bede, identified them as the descendants of three Germanic tribes:
- The Angles, who may have come from Angeln, and Bede wrote that their whole nation came to Britain, leaving their former land empty. The name 'England' or 'Aenglaland' originates from this tribe.
- The Saxons, from Lower Saxony (German: Niedersachsen, Germany)
- The Jutes, from the Jutland peninsula.
Their language (Old English) derives from "Ingvaeonic" West Germanic dialects and transforms into Middle English from the 11th century. Old English was divided into four main dialects: West Saxon, Mercian, Northumbrian and Kentish.
Place names seem to show that smaller numbers of some other Germanic tribes came over: Frisians at Fresham, Freston, and Friston; Flemings at Flempton and Flimby; Swabians at Swaffham; perhaps Franks at Frankton and Frankley.
In modern usage, Anglo-Saxon can be used in various contexts to mean people predominantly descended from the English ethnic group, in England as well as other Anglophone countries. This usage is restricted to certain contexts in Anglophone cultures, but this term and its direct translations are commonly used in other languages.
The parade helmet found at Sutton Hoo, probably belonging to Raedwald of East Anglia circa 625. Based on a Roman parade-helmet design (of a general class known as spangenhelm), it has decorations like those found in contemporary Swedish helmets found at Old Uppsala (Collection of the British Museum)