Home » Norman England » Insight to Pre-Norman England

Insight to Pre-Norman England

Pre-Norman Conquest England Map
Pre-Norman Conquest England

Before the Normans invaded England in 1066, England was ruled first by the Romans and then by the Anglo Saxons. Romans had a nice control over England and it is also said that when the Anglo Saxons first came to invade England, the Roman drove them away. This signifies that the Romans were militarily stronger than the Anglo Saxons.

However, after leaving England at the hands of no one, it was easier for the Anglo Saxons to invade England and take control over them when they again attempted for the second time. Let us have an insight to what was England like before the Normans.

In order to understand the fact on how was pre-Norman England and the ruling back then, it is important to study differently about the Romans and the Anglo Saxons who ruled over England before the Normans invaded England.

England’s Rule during the Romans

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

In history it is found that the first person from Rome to visit England was Julius Caesar which was in 55 BC and 54 BC. But this was only to please the public back at Rome.

England was actually invaded by the Romans and came under the rulership of the Romans from 43 AD.

Under Aulus Plautius’ command, the work of invading England was started in 43 AD by the Emperor Claudius. It is said that this was done in order to resume the work which Julius Caesar intended to do back in his time.

Chief of England
Caractactus, Chief of England

Caractacus, who was a chief of England back then initially fled from Camulodunum but showed his resistance before the Romans. He was finally defeated by the Romans and was captured by the Romans in 51 AD. After he was captured, he was sent off to Rome and later he was released with due respect to the courage which he showed against the Romans. Later, his death was reported to happen in Rome itself.

During the time period of the 70s and the 80s, the Romans successfully extended their control region of England to the Northern and western parts of England. Having said that, they started their invasion from the southern region of England. This was successfully done under the leadership of Gnaeus Julius Agricola. The limits of the civil zone were then marked by the legions located at Chester, York and Caerleon.

Though the Romans were strong and prevailing, they could never earn success in subduing the entire region of England. In order of controlling the threats which originated from the unconquered tribes, the Romans always had to significantly maintain the presence of the military forces. However, the picture in southern region of Britain was different.

Most of the people who lived in the southern region of Britain, had settled to the orders and the disciplinary regulations set by the Romans. Roads were built by the military forces of the Normans through which they could easily carry out the distribution of the luxury items belonging to the Romans, like wines, spices, glasses and many more. It is reported by the historians that the Romanisation which took place in Britain mainly effected the people who belonged to the rich category.

England’s Rule during the Anglo Saxons

Post Roman Era
Anglo Saxon Era post Roman Settlement

The Anglo Saxons successfully invaded England and came to rule in the fifth century, 449 AD approximately and ruled over England until 1066, when the Normans invaded England.

In the initial stages of the Anglo Saxons rule over England, the entire nation of England was divided into many small kingdoms of the Anglo Saxons. In the year 927, King Ethelstan decided to unite the nations rule as one and established the kingdom of England which was ruled by the Anglo Saxons.

Before the Roman empire collapsed from England, it is noted by the historians that there was infiltration of Germans in England. The Anglo Saxons were Germans in nature and used to speak the German language. However, after the invasion of England and through the years, they developed the old English which became the most popularly and widely used language by the people of England.

The period in which the Anglo Saxons invaded England, that period was termed as the Migration period as many German people used to move in and around Europe. An example being the Anglo Saxons coming into England and taking control of England from their own native land.

In this migration period, even the Britons migrated or moved to the peninsula of American. Even in the present day, discussions and studies are being conducted to know whether it was only the Anglo Saxons, who were considered as the small band of elite people who moved to England or there was a massive amount of migration which resulted in the overwhelming of the Britons.

King of Wessex, Ceawlin
King of Wessex, Ceawlin

In the year 577, it was found that there was a major campaign which was led against the Britons. This campaign was led by the King of Wessex, Ceawlin. This campaign against the Britons resulted in the success of taking over Gloucester, Cirencester and Bath. It is popularly known as the Battle of Dyrham.

Through this step and many more in the near future times from 577, Ceawlin successfully went over to expand Wessex. However, as short lived this success was, Ceawlin forced himself to return to his own territory and stop this expansion due to the conflicts amongst the Anglo Saxons which led to the Anglo Saxons ending up fighting themselves rather than fighting their enemies.

After Ceawlin retreated himself, Ceol (who is possibly considered to be the nephew of Ceawlin by the historians) took charge in his place to become the King of Wessex. The following year after Ceol gained his throne, Ceawlin was killed, but it was not disclosed by the annals that who killed Ceawlin.

Subsequently in the later years, Cirencester did end up to be a part of the kingdom ruled by the Anglo Saxons but, it came to be so under the influence of the Mercians rather than that of Wessex, as it initially started to be by Ceawlin, the then king of Wessex.

Found info useful?