The Anglo Saxon Era

Who were the Saxons?

The Saxons were a Germanic Tribe that occupied the regions of Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. The term is given to the ‘Saxons’ is derived from the word Seax which is the knife that each one always carried to attack an opponent.

anglo saxons
A picture of Anglo Saxon people

The Saxons were not literate. They have no records of art and style or culture and innovation. They were strong and primarily barbaric in nature. They had a common attire and majority of them had a military background. The Romans were a mixture of military, artists, writers, Latin scholars, etc but the Saxons that defeated them were not the same.

Dawn of the Anglo Saxon Era

The Anglo Saxon Era came to be expanded when they attacked Britain during the Roman British Rule. They attacked the Roman British rule during the late 3rd century and destroyed a network of forts. They captured the South coast of England and settled in the same areas. The South Coast later came to be known as the Saxon Frontier.

The Roman commander – Caurasius, was given the responsibility to wipe out all the Frankish and the Anglo Saxons from the British Empire. He was successful in his attempt to made a minor faulty at guarding the sea frontier which made the emperor angry and had him killed. These internal differences between the Romans made the Saxons powerful.

More and more Saxons migrated from continental Europe and settled in the southern coast of England. On the other hand, there was more pure Barbarian invasion from the northern coast. This weakened the Roman Empire.

Invasion by the Anglo Saxon Rule

The Anglo Saxion regions were the seven main townships of Great Britain, that is, the Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex. Their rule was common and out of these areas, the major ruling areas were Northumbria, Mercia, Anglia, and Wessex while the others were the minor ruling areas.

The Northern areas of Britain were ruled by Anglo Saxon ruler, Kent. He was efficient but died in 616 and another powerful Ruler took his place and his kingdom was East Anglia.

Many kings were defeated and many remained but there is a high instability seen in the Anglo Saxon rule in terms of handling the monarchy.

Role of Christianity in the Anglo Saxon Era

Christianity came to widespread in the 5th and 6th century AD. The spread of Christianity influenced many cultures, traditions, and cults that existed in the era. The Roman influence in Britain gave rise to the spread of Christianity. In the fourth century, Christianity was even made the official religion of the Romans by the Emperor Theodosius “the Great” who was the ruler after Constantine.

The influence of St Patrick in Ireland helped spread Christianity in the Irish villages and townships. Pope Gregory the I, noticed this influence of Christianity among the people and sent the Benedictine monk – Augustine of Canterbury to the Anglo Saxons to spread Christianity for political reasons.

Augustine was given a church by the Saxons and that’s how the Saxons resorted to priestly learning and civilization in the Anglo Saxon Period.

The Anglo Saxon Kings and Queens

Many Anglo Saxon Kings contributed to the spread and learning of English from Latin. The Viking Invasion in the north of England led to the people being oppressed. The Sons of Edward the Elder, an Anglo Saxon King of the 7th and 8th Century fought the Vikings and stopped their invasion. They were known as Athelstan, Eadred, and Edmund I. One of the sisters of Edward the Elder married Aethelred, a Viking King who died leaving his wife a widow who then took over the Kingdom of Mercia. She was known as the ‘Lady of the Mercians’.

She was powerful and resorted to the Anglo Saxon clan, she encouraged her brother Edward the Elder to recapture Essex which he did in 913. After him, his son Edgar took over the kingdom. His coronation was a huge affair and a celebrated controversy.

King Edward the Confessor

A Glass Window Painting of King Edward the Confessor

King Edward the Confessor is also known as ‘Saint Edward the Confessor’. He was born in the 11th century to Aethelred the Unready and his second wife. At a young age, due to Viking invasions, his mother took him and flee to Normandy where he spent a lot of his childhood. His father died when he was young and his half brother took over the throne at the age of thirteen and fought several wars as his brother – Edward fought alongside according to the Scandinavian traditions.

His half brother Edmund died in a war which left Edward alone to rise to the throne. His grand coronation took place in London, in the cathedral of Winchester. Throughout his reign, he was loved by his people. He had four mighty sons of which he was very proud. He promised each of them that they would be Kings after him.

However, there was no clear heir at the time of his death. Harold Godwinson was a man by his side and conquered Wales in 1063. He was the first English King after the death of Edward the Confessor. He also was known as King Harold II. He was defeated by William the Conqueror, the Norman King.

Edward the Confessor, for his goodness, generosity, and kindness as a King made him a Saint and was declared so by Pope Alexander III. October 13 across English nations is commemorated as the feast of Saint Edward the Confessor.

Thus, after the reign of King Edward, the Anglo Saxon Era in Great Britain came to an end.

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