The Anglo-Saxons were a non-Celtic people who inhabited Britain from perhaps as early as the mid-5th century. They are considered ancestral to the contemporary English, so in a sense they can be thought as still living in Britain.
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2 Anglo-Saxon Religion
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The Anglo-Saxon Invasions
The Romanss had largely abandoned Britain by the second decade of the 5th century AD. Either because of the need to replace this significant military power, or because of its absence, the Anglo-Saxons came to settle on the east coast of the island. Although how these people came to control Britain is unclear, it is clear that their migration was part of the widespread movement of peoples on the mainland of Europe at this time.
During the 6th Century there may well have been an organised British resistance to the invaders which was the last hope of freeing the island of Britain from Anglo-Saxon occupation. A figure today known as "King Arthur" could have been a warleader and his fabled "Knights of the Round Table" may refer to the kings of some of these doomed states who fought with him. The institution of High King of Britain was abolished following the death of Cadwallon the Great in the 8th Century and appears to testiment to the feeling of resignation the Britons must have felt. Interestingly the modern Welsh word for England "Lloegyr" means "the lost lands".
By the beginning of the 7th century AD the vast majority of the island of Britain was under the control of a number of Germanic tribes, the best known of which were the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. The process that they came to possess this island is sometimes collectively known as the Saxon conquest, although this is something of a misnomer. Other tribes, such as the Frisians, are known to have taken part, but their contribution is unknown. They established a large number of kingdoms in what today is known as England which became consolidated into seven states collectively known as the Heptarchy.
According to tradition, Kent was established first by a group known as the Jutes led by a King Hengest and possibly by another - maybe his brother - called Horsa. Horsa may be another name for Hengest in a different tongue. Tradition holds that the Saxons advanced inland and Sussex was established next, swiftly followed by Essex. Middlesex and Surrey may have had a short-lived independent existance but were absorbed into Essex.
The Angles established kingdoms in the north, east and centre of Britain, namely: East Anglia, Mercia, Deira and Bernicia. East Anglia's beginnings are a complete mystery and hardly any records survive of its foundation or indeed the fate of the native Britains - once the mighty celtic Iceni tribe - who had dwelt there before. The name Mercia may mean "marches" i.e. a frontier area facing the Celtic romano-Britains or Welsh. Deira and Bernicia appear to be Anglian corruptions of older British geographical names and the two states merged together to form the kingdom of Northumbria.
The fate of the Romano-British is a matter of conjecture. At one point, historians believed the account of Gildas uncritically, and thought that the invaders slaughtered all whom they found in an act of genocide. More recent historians, such as H.P.R., have argued that they largely survived, and lived under the Anglo-Saxon invaders as slaves or serfs. By the time reliable historical records begin once again, it is clear that the rule of the native inhabitants had retreated into the western parts of the island in Cornwall and Wales.
Four of the Anglo-Saxon gods have given English the names of the days of the week
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..to be continued