The Anglo-Saxons were fierce Germanic warrior-farmers who invaded Britain during 450 AD and emerged as one of the first Kingdoms of England after the Romans.
They mainly ruled the southern and eastern regions of England during the 6th century until they were defeated and overthrown by the Normans in 1066.
410 CE-The Romans retreat and the Anglo-Saxons arrive in Britain
In 410 CE, the Romans led by Roman Emperor Honorius pulled back his troops from Britain due to a possible strike in Rome. He feared that his resources were not sufficient enough to protect his homeland.
The departure of the Romans left Britain defenceless. During this time the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles arrived in the shores of Britain and started to attack and raid the local Britons.
449 CE-Kingdom in Kent was founded
In 449 CE, the Scots and the Celtic Picts were attacking the Briton populations. Vortigen, a local Kent ruler invited the Jutes of Denmark to help him defend his territory. The Jutes gradually took control of Kent and established the first-ever Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Kent.
477 CE-The Kingdom of Sussex
In 470 CE, Ӕlle, a Saxon warlord arrived in the South of Sussex. He carried out a war against the local Britons and after months of prolonged combat, he finally established himself as the dominant leader of Sussex in 477. He was one of the earliest Saxon kings of Britain.
495 CE-The Kingdom of Wessex
In 495 CE, King Cedric, a Saxon warlord arrived in West Saxons in Winchester. He defeated the local king and emerged as the ruler of West Saxons or Wessex.
527 CE-The Kingdom of Essex
In 527 CE, the Kingdom of Essex was established by another Saxons tribe leader in the East Saxons area mainly between East London and St. Albans.
547 CE-The Kingdom of Northumberland
In 547, another body of the Angles landed in the North of the River Humber. They established the separate Kingdom of Northumbria.
575 CE-The Kingdom of East Anglia
In 575 CE, a tribe of Angles established their Kingdom of East Anglia in the North of Folk or Norfolk and South of Folk or Suffolk.
586 CE-Kingdom of Mercia
Finally, the last pact of Angles arrived in 585 CE and occupied the regions of East Midlands forming the Kingdom of Mercia.
613-731 CE-Rule of Northumbrian Kings
Finally, the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxons or Heptarchy were formed. These Kingdoms tried to establish themselves and pitted against one another for power and control. The Northumbrian Kingdom was the first one who had most of the hold in England except for Kent. They ruled till 731 CE until they were defeated by the Picts and Scots.
679-796 CE-Rule of Mercian Kings
The decline of the Northumbrian power marked the rise of the Mercian rule in England. By the mid-7th century, the Mercians have established themselves in the English territory including Wessex. The Mercian King Offa became the dominant ruler and maintained a cordial relationship with the Charlemagne continent.
802-858 CE-Rule of Saxon Kings
After the Mercians, the Saxons of Wessex consolidated power and under the able guidance of King Egbert gained control over England. By 825, England amalgamated as a single kingdom until the continuous Viking raids in 870.
849-899 CE-King Alfred the Great
In 849 CE, the mighty ruler Alfred the Great came to power. He was successful to defend his kingdom against the continuous raids of the Vikings in 878 AD.
870-900 CE-Conflict with Danish Vikings
A large group of the Danish Vikings arrived in England in 870 CE and took over the kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia. Although the Kingdom of Wessex was still free they were continuously plundered and attacked by the Vikings. Eventually, in 878, Alfred the Great made a decisive victory against Danes of Edington and became one of the most significant rulers of England.
976-1016 CE-The Fall of the Danes and the Revival of Anglo-Saxons
In order to establish a single dominance in Anglo-Saxon England, the Saxon King of Wessex was married to Anglian nobility thus confirming the Anglo-Saxon merge under a common power. The Wessex kings became the dominant rulers of England and dictated their own laws and customs.
In 1013, the Danish King Swein Forkbeard managed to conquer major territories of England. In 1015, King Forkbeard’s son Cnut became the King of England, but the reign of the Danes was short lived. After the death of Cnut, no Danish king could take over the throne and eventually the tides turned in favor of the Wessex rulers. King Edward became the new ruler and established the Westminster Abbey.
1066 CE: End of Anglo-Saxon Era
In 1066, the Norman Conquest led by William the Conqueror defeated and killed Harold II the reigning King of England at the Battle of Hastings. King Harold II was the last Saxon King of England and this marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon period.
William’s victory destroyed the connections England had with Scandinavia. It brought the country closer to France instead. Situations inside England were also changing. Land tenure reforms and military reforms were being introduced.
William made several changes in the upper ranks of English society. It was divided among Norman chiefs tenants and intermediate tenants. They held their lands by knight services.
William also made several changes in the church’s character. He even presided over some of the church councils. He brought about legislation against simony and clerical marriages. The Norman conquest thus had wide and important consequences, apart from the fact that it marked the ending of the Anglo-Saxon era.