Introduction to the Old English

An excellent easy-to-understand introduction to the Anglo-Saxons and early British history:

Somewhere around 450 AD (according to the Venerable Bede), the Celtic warlord Vortigern, embattled by the northern Picts, made a decision that would change the world: He invited the Frisian brothers Horsa and Hengest to bring their warriors across the sea as mercenaries and help him defeat the Picts. After the fierce northern Germanic warriors ensured Vortigern’s victory, he tried to cheat them out of their payment, and they responded by founding a kingdom in southern England. Thus began the Anglo-Saxon migration, and soon, conquest.

Back when I was in school, we were given a cartoonish historical overview of British history. The Anglo-Saxons were presented as brutish, just this side of barbarians, and William the Conqueror and his Normans brought civilization to the isles. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the British ethos began with the Anglo-Saxons. The Normans tried to quelch it, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

The term “Anglo-Saxon” really has little meaning except in Britain. We tend to see peoples, languages, and cultures in terms of the same degrees of separation we experience in our modern world, and think of these northern Germanic tribes as more distinct than they were at the time.

from Right Wing Nation

Both quibbles in the comments are correct.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge