Who were the Anglo-Saxons?

  • The term Anglo-Saxons refers to the people living in Britain from 550 to 1066 who were in part related to the Germanic tribes who settled in southern and eastern Britain during the 5th century, following the end of Roman rule.
  • Traditionally, the Germanic tribes were thought to include the Angles (from modern Germany), the Saxons (from modern day Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) and the Jutes (from Denmark), but it is believed that some Franks and Frisians settled too.
  • The Anglo-Saxon language (commonly called Old English) is closely linked to early Germanic languages. Old English was originally written in runes but was later recorded using characters from the Latin alphabet. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was written in Old English as was the famous poem, Beowulf.
Anglo-Saxon Settlement
Anglo-Saxon Settlement (Source)
  • Alfred the Great called himself rex Angul-Saxonum (King of the English Saxons).
  • Harold Godwinson (King Harold II) was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. He was defeated by William the Conqueror (a Norman) in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
  • Following the Norman victory and their conquest of Britain, the Anglo-Saxon nobility was replaced by a Norman nobility. The general population, however, was still mostly made up of Anglo-Saxons.

What next? Discover more Anglo-Saxon facts by visiting our Anglo-Saxon resources page.

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