The history of England starts with the Anglo-Saxon people. There is a lot to know about the people who shaped England. Here are 15 interesting facts about the Anglo-Saxons.
1. The Saxon war tribes from Germany were hired to defend Britain. The Romans built defenses to keep the Picts out, but they were neglected as the Empire fell apart. In AD 367 the Picts broke through.
2. The Anglo-Saxons were made up of three main tribes who came to Britain: the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.
3. The Anglo Saxons overthrew the British and their leader, Vortigern. At a conference between the nobles of the Britons and Anglo-Saxons somewhere between 472 and 463 AD, the Anglo-Saxons killed the British and took over.
4. Britain was not a united country. It was actually 7 different kingdoms: Northumbria, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex, Kent, and Wessex.
5. The Anglo Saxons did not call themselves that. The name Anglo Saxons was given during the 8th century to differentiate between Germanic-speaking peoples who lived in Britain and those that lived on the continent.
6. King Penda of Mercia was one of the most feared leaders. He took over many Anglo-Saxon realms and killed rivals with his own hands.
7. Although Anglo-Saxons started out pagans they converted because the church said the Christian God would give them victory in battle.
8. When the promise of religious success in battle fell flat many returned to their pagan ways. Theodore of Tarsus and Hadrian ‘the African’ were sent to bring them back into the fold.
9. King Offa referred to himself as the first ‘King of the English.’ He’s best known for his Dyke along the border of England and Wales that protected Mercians from invasion.
10. King Alfred of Wessex stood against a Viking threat. He paved the way for his son and grandsons to unite England.
11. King Alfred suffered from several chronic illnesses. One was piles, also known as hemorrhoids. The other was either Crohn’s Disease, an STD, or severe depression.
12. During Aethelred’s reign, he tried to make Danes the enemy. On Nov. 13 1002 orders were given to slaughter all the Danes. Massacres happened all over southern England.
13. In 1066 William of Normandy and Harold Godwinson fought for the throne of England. Neither of them was the rightful English king. Edgar the ‘Aetheling’ had the best claim to the throne at only 14 years old. Due to age and lack of battle experience, Godwinson was chosen.
14. The Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity and eventually converted their tribal homelands in Germany.
15. In July 975 Edward was crowned king. In 978 Edward went to visit his half-brother and was attacked by the grooms. He managed to escape, bled to death, and buried quickly. He was later buried in Shaftesbury Abbey but the monastery was lost. He was not laid to rest until 1984.
The Anglo-Saxons had a great influence on England for good and for bad, but in the end, there are some amazing facts and stories because of their history.