Portal:Anglo-Saxon England

Anglo-Saxon England

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Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg

Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066, consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927, when it was united as the Kingdom of England by King Æthelstan (r. 927–939). It became part of the short-lived North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark and Norway in the 11th century.

The Anglo-Saxons were the members of Germanic-speaking groups who migrated to the southern half of the island of Great Britain from nearby northwestern Europe. Anglo-Saxon history thus begins during the period of sub-Roman Britain following the end of Roman control, and traces the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th and 6th centuries (conventionally identified as seven main kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex); their Christianisation during the 7th century; the threat of Viking invasions and Danish settlers; the gradual unification of England under the Wessex hegemony during the 9th and 10th centuries; and ending with the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.

Anglo-Saxon identity survived beyond the Norman conquest, came to be known as Englishry under Norman rule, and through social and cultural integration with Celts, Danes and Normans became the modern English people. (Full article...)

Selected article

Law of Æthelberht.jpg

The Law of Æthelberht is a set of legal provisions written in Old English, probably dating to the early 7th century. It originates in the kingdom of Kent, and is the first Germanic-language law code. It is also thought to be the earliest example of a document written in English, though extant only in an early 12th-century manuscript, Textus Roffensis.

The code is concerned primarily with preserving social harmony, through compensation and punishment for personal injury. Compensations are arranged according to social rank, descending from king to slave. The initial provisions of the code offer protection to the church. Though the latter were probably innovations, much of the remainder of the code may be derived from earlier legal custom transmitted orally. (more...)

Did you know?

Did you know...
  • ...that in Anglo-Saxon England, pregnant women were warned against eating food that was too salty or too sweet, or other fatty foods, and were also cautioned not to drink strong alcohol or travel on horseback?
  • ...that the ship-burial at Snape is the only one in England that can be compared to the example at Sutton Hoo?
  • ...that the name Taplow of the burial mound at Taplow, comes from Old English Tæppas hláw ('Tæppa's mound'), so that the name of the man buried in the mound would seem to have been Tæppa?
  • ...that the Ordinance Concerning the Dunsaete, which gave procedures for dealing with disputes between the English and the Welsh of Archenfield, stated that the English should only cross into the Welsh side, and vice versa, in the presence of an appointed man who had to make sure that the foreigner was safely escorted back to the crossing point?


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Selected image


Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit from the Gospel of Matthew. The Lindisfarne Gospels (now kept in the British Library) is an illuminated manuscript gospel book produced around the year 700.

Selected biography

Edith of Wilton.jpg

Saint Edith of Wilton (also known as Eadgyth, her name in Old English, or as Editha or Ediva, the Latin forms of her name) was an English nun, a daughter of the 10th century King Edgar of England, born at Kemsing, Kent, in 961. Following her death in 984, she became the patron saint of her community at Wilton Abbey and churches were dedicated to her in Wiltshire and in other parts of England. Her life was written by Goscelin, and her feast day is on 16 September. (more...)

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Media files used on this page

Darkgreen flag waving.svg
Author/Creator: TristanBomb, Licence: CC0
A dark green flag.
C Puzzle.png
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Law of Æthelberht.jpg
Opening page of the 7th century Law of Æthelberht
Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels, incipit to the Gospel of Matthew. The main text contains the first sentence of the Gospel According to Saint Matthew: "Liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David filii Abraham" ("The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham").

The first line contains the word "liber" ("the book") with illuminated letters in insular majuscule; the first three letters ("lib") are much more ornate than the last two ("er") in white. The next two lines are in runic capitals (i.e. Latin letters in a rune-inspired script, also seen in the Book of Nunnaminster for example): the first of these lines partially contains the word "generationis" ("generation" in the genitive case) as "-onis" appears in the next line, followed by the contracted form of "Iesu", namely "Ihu" with a tilde on the "h"; this type of contraction is called a nomen sacrum.

The last line is in insular majuscule and begins with another nomen sacrum, the contraction "χρi" with a tilde, meaning "Christi". This is followed by a more compressed series of words. The first is "filii" ("son", genitive) with an "fi" ligature and a letter "l" with two stacked "i" letters on its leg. Then "David" is seen and is formed with a letter "d" with an "a" stacked on a "v" in its counter followed by "id". After that, "filii" is present again, however this time the "fi" ligature is replaced with the Greek letter phi (φ) due to its phonetic similarity. The last word is "Abraham", which is split into two lines.
Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg
Miniature d'Édouard l'Ancien dans une généalogie royale du XIVe siècle.
Edith of Wilton.jpg
Edith of Wilton
The Metropolitan M Stamp.PNG
Author/Creator: Unisouth, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
The Metropolitan 'M' Stamp.
England green top 2.svg
Author/Creator: Hel-hama, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
variation of File:England green top.svg (enlarged text)
Brit Mus 17sept 005-crop.jpg
Author/Creator: Johnbod, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Anglo-Saxon openwork silver disk brooch, British Museum, 1980,1008.1 BM page from the Pentney Hoard