Anglo-Saxon England lasted from the end of the Roman occupation of Britain and the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England of October the 14th 1066. The Anglo-Saxons were Germanic tribes who settled in the southern half of Britain from continental Europe, and their descendants as well as indigenous people who adopted the Anglo-Saxon culture and language, in the 5th and 6th centuries. Their language, which is now called Old English, and the culture of the era, has long attracted popular and scholarly attention.
Until the 9th century, Anglo-Saxon England was dominated by the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent and Wessex. The Anglo-Saxons were initially pagans, but they converted to Christianity during the 7th century.
Facing the threat of Viking attacks that began in the 9th century, the kings of Wessex became dominant amongst the Anglo-Saxon rulers. During the 10th century, the individual kingdoms unified under the rule of Wessex to become the kingdom of England, which stood opposed to the Viking kingdoms established in the north and east of England. The Kingdom of England fell in the Viking invasion from Denmark in 1013 and again in 1016. England was ruled by the House of Denmark until 1042, when the Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex was restored. The last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, was killed in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.
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The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found . Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England on 5 July 2009, it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character, and contains no objects specific to female uses. Artefacts have tentatively been dated to the 7th or 8th centuries, placing the origin of the items in the time of the Kingdom of Mercia.
Experts have produced a range of theories as to where the hoard came from and how it came to be deposited, and whether the objects were made for Christians or pagans. The average quality of the workmanship is extremely high, and especially remarkable in view of the large number of individual objects, such as swords or helmets, from which the elements in the hoard came.
The hoard was valued at £3.285 million, and has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. (more...)
Did you know?
- ...that in Anglo-Saxon England, pregnant women were warned against eating food that was too salty or too sweet, or other fatty foods, and were also cautioned not to drink strong alcohol or travel on horseback?
- ...that the ship-burial at Snape is the only one in England that can be compared to the example at Sutton Hoo?
- ...that the name Taplow of the burial mound at Taplow, comes from Old English Tæppas hláw ('Tæppa's mound'), so that the name of the man buried in the mound would seem to have been Tæppa?
- ...that the Ordinance Concerning the Dunsaete, which gave procedures for dealing with disputes between the English and the Welsh of Archenfield, stated that the English should only cross into the Welsh side, and vice versa, in the presence of an appointed man who had to make sure that the foreigner was safely escorted back to the crossing point?
The 7th century Bewcastle Cross, in Cumbria
Cnut the Great (Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 985 or 995 – 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden. After the death of his heirs within a decade of his own and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was largely lost to history.
Cnut was of Danish and Slavic descent. His father was Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark and his mother was the daughter of the first duke of the Polans, Mieszko I. Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together. Cnut held this power-base together by uniting Danes and Englishmen under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, rather than sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in 1028. He had coins struck which called him king there, but there is no narrative record of his occupation.
Cnut's possession of England's dioceses and the continental Diocese of Denmark was a source of great leverage within the Church, gaining notable concessions from Pope Benedict VIII, and his successor John XIX, such as one on the price of the pallium of his bishops. Cnut also gained concessions on the tolls his people had to pay on the way to Rome from other magnates of medieval Christendom, at the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor. (more...)
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