Anglo Saxon England up to 800 AD

For four centuries after their full-scale invasion, the Romans could massively transform the character of the island making of it a life-enhancing province. Yet, their presence in the island began to decrease for a couple of factors, which were particularly political. In fact, the Roman officials and the Britons alike could no longer bear those persistent, and mainly howling, incursions led by foreigners. The island became again an object of desire. It became a helpless victim to a second wave of invaders after it had been left for its own destiny. 

Germanic Invasions 430 AD

 By the end of the fourth century, a rash of raids flowed from different sides. They were sudden, violent and above all obstinate. A group of Germanic tribes, namely the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, raided the island in great numbers. They showed no reluctance in killing, plundering and looting the riches of the island. Soon, they could found a number of settlements and bring about a number of changes (Trevelyan 45).

 Like the Romans, and from their early days, the Anglo-Saxons introduced their pattern of living. For they were men of countryside, farming was the chief source of survival, but this does never mean that their economy was less varied. Hunting, whaling, weaving, bee-keeping and many other crafts did greatly contribute to the development of their communities. Latin became no longer the dominant language, but a Saxon dialect instead. In fact, this dialect would form the basis of the language people use today in England.

For their local interests, it was necessary to maintain order and protect the confines of their manors and kingdoms. Anglo Saxon communities were the first to devise mechanisms to defend their territories, allocate products and manage their realm. It was during the Saxons days that kingship started to develop. The Anglo Saxons possessed the fyrd and formed the witan. The latter was a governing organ to help rule every single aspect of life in the kingdoms. Thus, it is again in these days that one can understand the origins of royal councils, legislative bodies and many other institutional organs in the present day England (Trevelyan 46).

The Anglo Saxon period was indeed another formative stage for England’s institutions, character and thus future. It is true that Germanic invasions were, in some respects, unimaginably violent and destructive, but the accomplishments they could effect in the ensuing years are still part of the nation’s culture and identity.


G. M. Trevelyan, A Shortened History of England, England: Longman Books, 1942

Related Topics:

Life in Roman Britain

Alfred the Great