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View Diary: Ancient England: The Anglo-Saxons (116 comments)

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  •  I recommend John Morris' "Age of Arthur" (1975) (9+ / 0-)

    Morris was Professor of History at Imperial College, London. In this book, he disputes that there was a tribe called "Saxons"  Saxon = Sassenach.  As some have noted, it is the word the British used for stranger or thief.  Morris maintains the three tribes were the Jutes, Angles and Frisians.  These invaders were pillaging from the Wash to the Solent from the mid third century on.  The Romans called that shore line "Littorom Saxonum".  I believe they meant the "Shore of the Thieves".

    Hengist and Horsa arrived (invited as mercenaries by Vortigern as commented above) in 429.  The first Saxon revolt, when they double crossed Vortigern and started their conquering of the south was in 449.  

    The British rallied themselves under Ambrosius Aurelianius and defeated the Saxons at the battle, or siege, of Mons Badon probably in 495.  The Saxons were pushed back to their original lands in Kent.

    The second Saxon revolt was in 549.  Someone maintained peace during this 50 year period.  Some one a lot like a King Arthur.

    Like Morris, I am firmly in the pro-Arthur camp. Just because Gildas, the only contemporary writer does not mention him by name does not mean he did not exist.

    A comment about language.  The Anglo-Saxons purposefully obliterated the British culture and language.  They enslaved the British.  For example, the penalty for stealing a sheep if you were German was to have your hand cut off.  The penalty if you were Welsh (British) was hanging.

    The are simply no Brythonic or Welsh place names in the Anglo-Saxon areas of England.  Cumbria was never conquered and Cumbric survived until the Norman invasion. Cornish survived into the eighteenth century.  Likewise, of course, Wales was not conquered until Edward Longshanks and the language proudly survives.

    The Breton language is a different story.  Check out the story of Magnus Maximus, a wanna-be Roman Emperor around the year 380.  Brittany, or as the French pronounce it, "Britannia" was a gift to the British people by Magnus for their help in laying siege to Rome.  

    After the first Saxon revolt, 10,000 British emigrated to Brittany, strengthening that community and that language proudly survives.

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