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Angeln, also known as Anglia (German: Angeln, Danish: Angel, Latin: Anglia), is a small peninsula within the larger Jutland (Cimbric) Peninsula in the region of Southern Schleswig, which constitutes the Northern part of the northernmost German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, protruding into the Bay of Kiel of the Baltic Sea. To the south, Anglia is separated from the neighbouring peninsula of Schwansen (Danish: Svans or Svansø) by the Schlei (Slien) inlet, and to the north from the Danish peninsula of Sundeved (German: Sundewitt) and the Danish island of Als (Alsen) by the Flensburg Firth (Flensburger Förde, Flensborg Fjord). The landscape is hilly, dotted with numerous lakes. Whether ancient Angeln conformed to the borders of the Anglian Peninsula is uncertain. It may have been somewhat larger; however, the ancient sources mainly concur that it also included the peninsula's territory.

Angel, Anglia
Coat of arms
Location of {{{official_name}}}
Country  Germany
Largest towns 1. Flensburg 2. Schleswig 3. Kappeln 4. Glücksburg 5. Mittelangeln
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
An der Schlei - panoramio.jpg

Angeln has a significance far beyond its current small area and country terrain, in that it is believed to have been the original home of the Angles, Germanic immigrants to Central and Northern England and East Anglia. This migration led to their new homeland being named after them, from which the name "England" derives. Both England and the English language, thus, ultimately derive at least their names from the Angles and Angeln.



The name of the Angles is thought to derive from the name of the area they inhabited, Angeln. The latter has been hypothesised to originate from the Germanic root for "narrow" (compare German and Dutch eng = "narrow"), meaning "the Narrow [Water]", i.e. the Schlei estuary; the root would be angh, "tight". Another theory is that the name meant "hook", as in angling for fish; linguist Julius Pokorny derived it from the Proto-Indo-European root *ang-, "bend" (see ankle).[1]

During the 9th century, all invading Germanic tribes, who spoke Old English, were referred to as Englisc. According to one theory, the Angles acquired their name because their land on the coast of Jutland resembled a fishhook. Englisc ultimately goes back to Proto-Indo-European *h₂enǵʰ-, also meaning 'narrow'.[2] It is also possible that the Angles may have been called such because they were a fishing people or were originally descended from such, and therefore England would mean 'land of the fishermen', and English would be 'the fishermen's language'.[3]


Physical map of Schleswig-Holstein
District of Schleswig-Flensburg

Together with Schwansen (Danish: Svans), Danish Wahld (German: Dänischer Wohld, Danish: Jernved) and Wagria (Wagrien, Vagrien), Anglia is one of four peninsulas along the Baltic Sea coast of the northernmost German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. As part of the Schleswig-Holstein Morainic Uplands (Schleswig-Holsteinisches (Moränen-) Hügelland), that were formed during the Weichselian glaciation, these peninsulas are hilly and dotted with several glacial lakes. The Anglian glacial lakes form the North Anglian Lake Group (Nordangeliter Seengruppe). The River Treene (Danish: Trenen) with its main headstream Bondenau (Bondeåen) rises in Anglia. Although rising on the Anglian Peninsula in the Baltic Sea, the Treene flows towards the North Sea, being the main tributary of the River Eider (Ejderen), the river that constituted the Southern border of the Danish Realm for a very long time.

Apart from Flensburg, which is an independent town, the Anglian Peninsula belongs to the district of Schleswig-Flensburg (Danish: Slesvig-Flensborg), Germany's northeasternmost district (seat: Schleswig). The district counts approximately 197,000 inhabitants.


From the 9th to the 19th century, Danish was spoken on the peninsulas of Anglia and Schwansen (red), the Danish Wahld peninsula was uninhabited (grey), Slavic dialects (Polabian) were spoken on the peninsula of Wagria and on the island of Fehmarn (brown), and Old Saxon was spoken south of the River Eider (blue-grey).
Glacial lake in Anglia
Flensburg is the largest Anglian town. View to Flensburg-Jürgensby on the Anglian side of the Flensburg Firth.

The main language of Anglia is German. The peninsula is, however, also part of the Low German/Low Saxon language area, a language which is more closely related to English than Standard German since it was not affected by the High German consonant shift. Danish was the main language of Anglia from the 9th to the 19th century, when a language shift towards Low German occurred. Many Anglian placenames are of Danish origin, like all placenames ending on -by (Flensburg-Engelsby, Flensburg-Jürgensby). There are many placenames of Danish origin in England as well (Derby, Rugby, Whitby), but in Danish, German and Swedish, -by is pronounced [by:], and not [bi:], as in England. Danish is still spoken in Anglia, mainly in Flensburg/Flensborg, Schleswig/Slesvig and Glücksburg/Lyksborg. North Frisian, one of the Frisian languages, which are very closely related to English, is spoken in many dialectal variants in neighbouring North Frisia along the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein and on the North Frisian Islands.


Early historyEdit

The region was home to the Germanic people, the Angles, who, together with Saxons and Jutes, left their home to migrate to Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries. For the years 449-455, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, written around 890, describes how King Vortigern (a British tribal king) invited the Angles to come and receive land in return for helping him defend against marauding Picts. Those successful Angles sent word back that good land was available and that the British were 'worthless'.[citation needed] (In fact, the racial contempt of the Angles towards the Britons was an invention[citation needed] of the monk Gildas, who is part founder of this origin myth.[citation needed] His object was to vilify the decadence of the British leadership).[citation needed] A wholesale emigration of Angles and kindred German peoples followed.

The Chronicle, commissioned by King Alfred the Great, drew on earlier oral traditions and on the few written fragments available. The best of these, written around 730, was by the monk Bede whose history of English Christianity had the following brief account of the origin and distribution of the Angles:[4]

from the Angles, that is, the country which is called Anglia, and which is said, from that time, to remain desert to this day, between the provinces of the Jutes and the Saxons, are descended the East Angles, the Midland Angles, Mercians, all the race of the Northumbrians, that is, of those nations that dwell on the north side of the River Humber, and the other nations of the English.

— Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I, Chapter XV, 731 A.D.

The phrase "north of the Humber" refers to the northern kingdom of Northumbria, which includes what is now north and north-eastern England and part of southern Scotland. Mercia was located in central England and broadly corresponds to what is now known as the English Midlands.

This account can be related to the evidence of archaeology, notably the distribution of types of fibulae, or brooches, worn by the women. In essence, there are two kinds at issue, the saucer brooch and the cruciform brooch. East coastal and northern Britain were settled by women wearing cruciform brooches, which were in use in coastal Scandinavia, all of Denmark, and Schleswig-Holstein all the way south to the lower Elbe and all the way east to the Oder, as well as a pocket in coastal Friesland.

Southern England, excepting Kent was settled by women wearing the saucer brooch, which came from Lower Saxony, the south side of the lower Elbe, and pockets in the lands of the Franks up the Rhine and along the coast to the mouth of the Seine. These are the areas of England that are labelled explicitly as Saxon: Sussex, Wessex, Middlesex and Essex. The settlement of Kent is attributed to Jutes, who originated in the land to the north of Angeln.

Later historyEdit

After the Angles departed from Anglia, by the 8th century the region was occupied by Danes. This is reflected in the large number of place names ending in -by (meaning -village) in the region today. In the 10th century, the chronicler Æthelweard reports that the most important town in Angeln was Hedeby.

Later Angeln's history is subsumed in that of the larger surrounding region, which came to be known as Southern Jutland or Schleswig (Danish: Slesvig). Until the 19th century, the area belonged primarily to Denmark. But, in terms of ethnic and linguistic heritage, a mixed German/Danish population evolved. Denmark lost Schleswig to Austria and Prussia in 1864 as a result of the Second Schleswig War. In 1920, following Germany's defeat in the First World War, a plebiscite was held to determine which areas should return to Danish control. As a result of the plebiscite, much of Schleswig returned to Denmark, but Angeln remained in Germany. See Schleswig-Holstein Question for a detailed history.

See alsoEdit


  • Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I, Bede, c. 731
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Translated and collated by Anne Savage, Dorset Press, 1983, ISBN 0-88029-061-7
  • Malcolm Falkus and John Gillingham, Historical Atlas of Britain, Crescent Books, 1987, ISBN 0-517-63382-5
  1. ^ Barber, Charles, Joan C. Beal and Philip A. Shaw 2009. The English language. A historical introduction. Second edition of Barber (1993). Cambridge: University Press.
  2. ^ Barber, Charles, Joan C. Beal and Philip A. Shaw 2009. The English language. A historical introduction. Second edition of Barber (1993). Cambridge: University Press.
  3. ^ Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable 1993 A history of the English language. 4th edition. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall).
  4. ^ Paul Halsall (ed.). "Medieval Sourcebook: Bede (673-735): Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I". Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Fordham University. Retrieved September 2, 2017. 

External linksEdit