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Portal:Anglo-Saxon England

Anglo-Saxon England

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Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg

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 Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II. It took place at Senlac Hill, approximately 10 km (614 miles) northwest of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex, and was a decisive Norman victory.

Harold II was killed in the battle—legend has it that he was shot through the eye with an arrow. He was the last English king to die in battle on English soil until Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. The battle marked the last successful foreign invasion of the British Isles. Although there was further English resistance, this battle is seen as the point at which William gained control of England, becoming its first Norman ruler as King William I.

The famous Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events before and during the battle. Battle Abbey marks the site where it is believed that the battle was fought. Founded by King William "the Conqueror" (as he became known), it serves as a memorial to the dead and may have been an act of penance for the bloodshed. The site is open to the public and is the location of annual re-enactments of the battle.(more...)

Did you know?

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?

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The Anglo-Saxon runes
Credit: Rursus

The Anglo-Saxon runes (also Anglo-Frisian), also known as futhorc (or fuþorc) were used probably from the 5th century.

Selected biography

Sweyn Forkbeard.jpg

Sweyn I Forkbeard (Old Norse: Sveinn Tjúguskegg; c. 960 − 3 February 1014) was king of Denmark and England, as well as parts of Norway. His name appears as Swegen in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

He was a Viking leader and the father of Cnut the Great. On his father Harald Bluetooth's death in late 986 or early 987, he became King of Denmark; in 1000, with allegiance of the Trondejarl, Eric of Lade, he was ruler over most of Norway. After a long effort at conquest, and shortly before his death, in 1013 he became the first of the Danish Kings of England. (more...)

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