Who Were The English

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The Anglo-Saxons, or English, came from the continent of Europe and began settling in Britain about 200 years before the time of the Sutton Hoo burial. Until about AD400, Britain had been part of the great Roman Empire, which covered most of the known world. In the fifth century, a great movement of peoples known as barbarians invaded the western half of this great Empire. To us a barbarian is brutal, uncivilised person. But the Romans called all foreigners barbarians, even though many of them were far from being savages. The Romans in Britain had been threatened by barbarian attacks many times before they left the country in about 410. They had fought to keep out the fierce Picts from the North, the Scots [then living in Ireland] who attacked thr west coasts, and raiders called Soxons from across the North Sea. But when the Roman legions were ordered back to fight in Italy the Britons had to defend themselves. The Saxons and other seafaring peoples from the Continent saw their chance. At first they had come for plunder; carrying away corn, weapons and slaves. But after the Roman legions had gone, they turned from piracy to full-scale invasion. The fertile soil and mild climate of Britain must have been very inviting to these tribes from the bleack, windswept lands of northern Europe. The Romans, and many earlier peoples, left written records of their history. But hardly any barbarians could read or write. So the threads of history are difficult to unravel in the few centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. We call this period the Dark Ages because so little is known about it. Historians have to work like detectives, piecing together astory from few-scattered clues. The English invaders are usually said to have come from three different barbarian tribes-Angles, Saxons and Jutes. The Angles and Saxons probably came from the borderlands of present-day Denmark and West Germany. But historians are still not sure about the Jutes. It used to be thought that their homeland was in the part of Denmark we call Jutland [Jute-land]. But archaeologists have found remains in the lands round the mouth of the River Rhine similar to those in the Jutish parts of England. Possibly Jutland was the original home of the Jutes before they moved south, first to the Rhine estuary and then, later, to England. One thing we are sure about is a link between the language of the English settlers and that spoken by the Frisians, who lived in the area that is now the Netherlands. This may mean that there had been some mixing of the tribes in Frisia before the invasions began. No doubt Frisians took part in the great movement of peioles, just as Angles, Saxons and Jutes did. The Frisians had a good reason for wanting to leave home. Their lands, mostly at or below sea level, were often flooded, and they had to build homes on artificial mounds to raise them above the surrounding marshland. ...


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