Let us see about Anglo-Saxons. By the end of the 8th century, Britain’s people, known as the Anglo–Saxons, had created a rich culture which included masterpieces of jewelers, architecture and literature. Originally these people had come from northern Germany and southern Denmark where they were known as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, these tribes traveled to various parts of the Roman Empire including Gaul or present–day France where their influence was short–lived. They traveled to Britain in the 5th century where they settled and formed several separate kingdoms. Eventually the kingdom of Wessex became the dominant power.


There was always a struggle for supremacy among the settlers. Northumbria was earliest under Edwin (d. 633). Then it was Mercia’s turn under Aethelbald (d. 757) and Offa (d. 796). Finally, Wessex dominated under Alfred the Great. When Vikings from Denmark attacked and occupied northern England, Alfred stopped them from pushing farther south and the Anglo–Saxons reconquered the north in the 10th century.

King Canute The Great:

By 1016, The Danes rules all England under the popular Canute (c. 995-1035). Canute’s sons inherited England. But the Anglo – Saxon Edward the Confessor (c. 1003-10066) regained the country in 1042. He had no children and when he died, an unsettled England was vulnerable to conquest by the Normans.

Alfred the Great:

Ruler of Wessex and Mercia, Alfred the Great (c. 849 – 899) was an able soldier. He loved learning and education and arts and crafts flourished in his reign. He could not drive the Vikings from northern England. But most people saw him as their protector. He was the first England king to become a national symbol.


Cultural life centered on the monasteries and on the royal court. Alfred the Great gathered scholars and artists around him and he himself translated many of the Latin classics in to Anglo-Saxon or old English.


Anglo – Saxon churches, like the one at Earls Barton - England, often have square towers decorated with stone relief. This pattern may be based on timber buildings of the period which have all perished.

Decorated Manuscripts:

Monks produced quality manuscripts. One monk wrote the work while a second illustrated it with figures such as St. Dustan (c. 909 – 988) knelling before Jesus and a third decorated it.


The jewel is inscribed Alfred ordered me to be made and may have belonged to Alfred the Great. The inscription and animal head decoration are finely worked in gold. The portrait, perhaps of the king himself is made of enamel.

Written Records:

In the 7th century, missionaries from mainland Europe, such as St. Augustine of Canterbury, converted The Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. The creation of monasteries meant that more people learned to read and write. Monks produced historical works such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which today give insights into the events of the period.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

In the ninth century, Alfred the Great ordered the Chronicle, a year by year account of the history of England. It covers the lives of kings and church leaders, military history and other major events. Such as the Viking invasions and was last updated in 1154.


Bede who was an English monk (c. 673-735) and teacher in Jarrow wrote A History of The English Church and People. This is one of the most important and authentic sources of knowledge of Anglo-Saxon times.


450: Angles, Saxons and Jutes from northern Germany and Denmark begin to arrive in the England. They settle mainly along the eastern coast – East Anglia.

802–39: Reign of Ebert of Wessex. There are many Viking attacks.

871 – 99: Rein of Alfred the Great famous for law making, translating books into old English and defeating the Vikings at Evington in 878.

1016: Canute the Great, a Dane, is elected king by the British. He rules until 1035.

1042: Anglo-Saxons regain power under Edward the Confessor.

1066: Last Anglo-Saxons king Harold II is killed by William of Normandy at the battle of Hastings.

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