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Anglo-Saxons (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.


  • By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to N. be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will.
    • Anglo-Saxon oath of fealty. An oath of fealty is what knights said to their lord as a promise of loyalty. [1]
  • The process of Britain’s departure from the Roman Empire was hastened not only by turbulence across the sea in Gaul and Italy, but by the arrival in Britain of significant numbers of warriors and their families from another part of Europe, well outside the empire. The eastern seaboard of Britain had long been a tempting entry point for raiding parties of Picts, Scots, and Germanic tribes known collectively (if imprecisely) as Anglo-Saxons. There had been a serious invasion crisis in 367-8, known as the Great Conspiracy, in which a troop mutiny on Hadrian’s Wall preceded a massive series of coastal raids by non-Roman aligned northern British tribes, apparently in league with Saxons and others from outside the province. Now the same route lay open again. From the early fifth century Britain was steadily settled by war-bands and migrant groups from the North Sea fringe. There was no single, co-ordinated military invasion such as the Romans had landed in the time of Claudius, or the Normans would stage in 1066; the invasions were piecemeal and staggered over many years. Some of the names later applied to the peoples who arrived included the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. But ethnic terminology would have mattered much less to fifth-century Britons than observed reality: Roman functionaries and soldiers had disappeared across the sea in one direction, while Germanic settlers bringing new languages, cultures and beliefs arrived from another.
    • Dan Jones, Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (2021), pp. 61-62
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