Raiding heathen pirates - Jutes, Saxons, and Angles - began visiting the shores, beginning with the brothers Hengist and Horsa in 449. (These three tribes came from what is now coastal Belgium, Netherlands, northern Germany and Denmark.) Note that Hengist and Horsa had originally been hired by the Britons to fight off the Picts invading from the North (Scotland), and then turned on their employers.
Successive war bands, intent not only on treasure but on settlement, followed. They found little real resistance, save possibly in one Dux Bellorum (general of the British army), named Arthur. This resistance was temporary, however, as wide-scale immigration continued, including the populations of entire Saxon villages which crossed over to the new land to settle.
The newcomers cared nothing for the glories and pleasure of Roman civilisation, destroying and abandoning Roman cities and taking up a pastoral existence of hunting and farming.
The Angles and Saxons continued to thrive in England (Angle-land). Society was arranged around powerful war-lords, who with their sworn warriors, defended and increased their local holdings. The most powerful war-lords became kings of rapidly-changing kingdoms. Typically throughout this era, the larger portion of England would be divided into four to seven individual kingdoms. Kingship was not hereditary; the strongest, richest warrior was generally acknowledged as king, and kingdoms changed hands violently, and with startling frequency.
In 597 Christianity arrived again in England when Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory, landed at the isle of Thanet in Kent and was given permission to preach by King Æthelbert. (The Celtic Christian church in Britain had never ceased to operate, but was confined to remote monasteries in Ireland and the North.)
The Christian conversion continued in fits and starts. If Church records are to be believed - and we have very little other records to rely upon - within 200 years most Anglo-Saxons and remaining Britons (the Welsh, etc.) were Christian.
The Danes, repeating the actions of the Anglo-Saxons 400 years earlier, began invading England in earnest in 865. This brings us to 871, when a young, scholarly, and sickly Ælfred became king of Wessex, the year in which The Circle of Ceridwen is set.
You now know more than enough to pass any exam on the topic.
|The Great Hall||Vikings||Books||9th Century Life||Travel Kit||Bread||Wort||Anglo-Saxons|
|Copyright 1996, 1998-2013 Octavia Randolph|