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Old October 11th, 2010, 08:14 AM   #1

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Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


I know that we have done similar threads on this before, but lets put a different twist on it. I seem to have read in a place or two that it wasnt just the Anglo-Saxon tribes that we know so well that were the invaders. I have read (maybe Arthurian cycles) that Germanic warriors from all over the German lands actually came on crusade to Britain.

Is there any truth to the possibility that non Anglo-Saxon German adventurers did participate in the conquest of Britain? How could we know for sure?

I think archeology might give us the answer. And so, what artifacts from ther Eastern Germanic tribes would likely have been conclusively different from the Anglo-Saxon Germans? And...have any of those artifacts ever been found in Britain? Weapons, rune stones, or grave goods perhaps?

Was the conquest of Briton a true pan-Germanic crusade?
I think it wasnt as organized as we think of it today, nor did it even start with Hengst and Horsa. I think it must have been more disorganized, much like the American westward movement. The real influx of organized Germanic warbands probably started only after the Germanic presence was well established in Britain. And then is where we might see something like a pan-Germanic mingling of Germanic warriors?

How did the Anglo-Saxon tribes get on with thier Germanic neighbors back on the Continent, anyway?

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Old October 11th, 2010, 09:12 AM   #2

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


This isn't my area of expertise, but I've read that some clans of the Vandals and Alamanni may have participated in the Germanic incursions into Britain in the early 5th Century. I've also read that the Slavic Wends may have also come along.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 01:57 PM   #3

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


What conquest and which Briton ? (Briton in "British" usage refers to a single individual)

The Angles, Saxons, Jutes and whatever else tagged along were only interested in the rich bits in the south east of England. So the few hundred (or thousand) invaders only conquered the East Anglia / Essex, Wessex and Sussex areas.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 08:50 PM   #4

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


And if we ken that there may have well been German mercenaries in the Roman units stationed in Britain even before the withdrawl...we might conclude that the Germanification of Britain was well underway even before the last of the legions left?

A kind of creeping culture war that weakened British-Celtic resistance when the collapse and later, the organized warbands came.

Kind of like how the Americanization of Texas went?

Only not as organized.

But the German culture was already well established in Britain, no doubt. There must have been large communities of Germanics (not Belgic Germanics) already on the island. Little enclaves of second class citizens, etc. And that might well explain some of the reports of civil war and strife within the cities and towns of Britain even before the "Anglo-Saxon" invasion started in earnest.

And this scenario would make the Dark Ages look a whole lot darker.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 12:07 AM   #5

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


Saxon mercenaries and POWs were knows as Roman foederati and laeti already in the 2nd half of the 3rd century. They supported usurpations from Postumus to magnentius. They also served as limitanei under Julian and Valentinian I. This gets supported by a strong appearence of roman material in saxon burial in NW-Germany. So not all these soldiers stayed inside the Roman empire, but returned after their service in the Roman Army. This Roman material dissapears in the burial with the destruction of the Roman defense after 400.
saxons as well were pirates along the southern North Sea coast and in the channel long before 400. some of them were as well engaged to settle in Britannia as foederati or laeti. So an early phase of controlled settlements was between 360 and 410. these foederati served against their saxon fellow citizens and later greater groups were engaged to fight against Picts and Scots. Among them we find the quite mythical Hengist and Horsa.
After 410 we can see an cleary increase of germanic fibula in britannic burilas. The strongest saxon migration was to cambridge, the southern midlands, the valley of Thamse and Sussex. We can find there "Schalenfibeln" from the former Elbe-weser region. These fibulas don't exist there after 450, but they do in Britannia. We have two "gleicharmige Fibeln" in Little Wilbraham and in the Lower Saxon Dösemoor. We have urns that dissappear in the Elbe-wser-region and appear short time later in East and Southeast-Britannia. we have two quite identical urns with faces, one from Wehden and the other from Markshall/Norfolk.
In the phase of Germanic settlement we can see a partly heavy decrease of population in Northern Germany and in some other parts of Northern Europe.

these migration gets support by the "Ortsnamenforschung" (place nemes research). Place names in Britannia are identical with those in NW-Germany and Flandern. Place names from Schleswig-holstein and danmark are widely unknown. That doesn't mean migration from there is not existing. These people just came not across the Sea, but via the Dutch and Belgish coast. I mentioned Sutton Hoo before. He we must suppose Swedish groups and we have as well migration from Norway (read herefor Yorke, B., Anglo-Saxon gentes and Regna; in H-W Goetz, J.Jarnut, W. Pohl (Hgg), Regna and gentes, Leiden et al. 2003, 381-407).

I think it is wrong to speak about a creeping war in Britannia before 410. the Saxons weren't invaders, they were laeti and foederati and as those Roman military personal. But allthough they were there already since about 100 or 150 years it is not correct to speak of a germanification. All information from the continent shows, that greater migrations happend since about 450. Between 410 and 450 there was already a migration across the channel. Those groups came as mercenaries, pirates and settlers. Not only to subdue the Britons. Saxons in Britain fought together with Britannic lords against other britannic lords and against other germanic groups and they fought as well among themselves.

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Old October 12th, 2010, 04:57 AM   #6

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


Thank you for the excellent post, beorna. That was very well done.

You did mention something that I had not thought of before, and that is a depopulation of NW Germany during the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest/invasion... whatever it was. I hadnt really thought of NW Germany being kind of depopulated by the migration to Britain.

So it was something of an exodus?

I wish that we knew more about why the more settled types of German society would suddenly pull up stakes and move. The warrior/adventurer types, and pirates, I can understand. But when whole sections of the population pull up stakes and move, then that is something else. Here I mean potters, merchants, farmers, smiths, and thier families. Not at all the warrior types. But they all went too.

They were following somebody.

And it seems that the journey from Germany would have made certain arrangements with local warlords a neccessity. In fact, the more I look into it, the more it does start to resemble a crusade. For there would need to be a certain ammount of organizational authority behind it. There was a lot of people moving about.

And that would mean a quite well organized, and substantial logistical plan. There would have to be passage routes of safe conduct for travellers, fodder for draft animals and food for the people at certain times and places, sheltering places or camp grounds, firewood...

We are talking about a lot of people moving, families, tools for tradesmen, wagons, herds of animals. And they would have had to pass through a lot of other tribes territory before getting an embarkation point, wherever that was.

So, what was the real drive behind it? Was there some 5th century Horace Greely (Go West young man) that had motivated the Germans to just take Britain? Could the everyday German even go there without permission of a tribal leader?
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Old October 12th, 2010, 05:22 AM   #7
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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


I reckon that the Romans hired gangs of whatever and that these famous 'tribes' were just that - armed gangs. It was noted that when the 'Vandals' finally laid seige to Rome vast numbers of them were of clearly African appearance. I'd guess the 'Anglo-Saxons' were a mixture of a few German oarsmen (Saxons don't seem to have had sails) and plenty of escaped slaves and so on from Britain -given the conditions of late-Roman life, what was in it for ordinary people, after all? Certainly if North German became deserted it was - to judge from Oppenheimer's genetics - not because they came here. Probably they just died of the plague, like other people. We see too much of the past through the distorting glass of current racism, I think.

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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:24 AM   #8

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


Quote:
Originally Posted by Iolo View Post
I reckon that the Romans hired gangs of whatever and that these famous 'tribes' were just that - armed gangs. It was noted that when the 'Vandals' finally laid seige to Rome vast numbers of them were of clearly African appearance. I'd guess the 'Anglo-Saxons' were a mixture of a few German oarsmen (Saxons don't seem to have had sails) and plenty of escaped slaves and so from Britain -given the conditions of late-Roman life, what was in it for ordinary people, after all? Certainly if North German became deserted it was - to judge from Oppenheimer's genetics - not because they came here. Probably they just died of the plague, like other people. We see too much of the past through the distorting glass of current racism, I think.
of course a decrease of population can be caused by an unknown plague or other desease. What we can see is, that at the same time some artefacts disappear in NW Germany, they appear in Britannia. And of course the main reason for our knowlege is, that we see the facts, that Anglo-Saxons conquered Britannia. They weren't masses, but they were enough to be powerful.
Lower Saxony has e.g about 50.000 sq.km, the Netherlands have 41.000 sq.km, Northrhine-Westfalia has 34.000 sq.km, Belgium 30.000 sq.km, Danmark 43.000 sq.km. that is at all about 200.000 sq.km. If we suppose a population density of 4-5, we had there at all just 800.000 or 1 million people. We had migrations from there into all directions, not only to Britannia and not all migrated. Some areas were nearly depopulated, others not. So we shouldn't expect more than perhaps 100.000 or 200.000 people to settle in Britannia. In recent England there lived at those day more than a million people. During the great migration after 375 we usually have groups around 100.000 people. so if we expect a migration to Britan from 400 to 600, there was no mass invasion, but enough to change the political situation in Britannia.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:39 AM   #9
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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


Quote:
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of course a decrease of population can be caused by an unknown plague or other desease. What we can see is, that at the same time some artefacts disappear in NW Germany, they appear in Britannia. And of course the main reason for our knowlege is, that we see the facts, that Anglo-Saxons conquered Britannia. They weren't masses, but they were enough to be powerful.
Lower Saxony has e.g about 50.000 sq.km, the Netherlands have 41.000 sq.km, Northrhine-Westfalia has 34.000 sq.km, Belgium 30.000 sq.km, Danmark 43.000 sq.km. that is at all about 200.000 sq.km. If we suppose a population density of 4-5, we had there at all just 800.000 or 1 million people. We had migrations from there into all directions, not only to Britannia and not all migrated. Some areas were nearly depopulated, others not. So we shouldn't expect more than perhaps 100.000 or 200.000 people to settle in Britannia. In recent England there lived at those day more than a million people. During the great migration after 375 we usually have groups around 100.000 people. so if we expect a migration to Britan from 400 to 600, there was no mass invasion, but enough to change the political situation in Britannia.
Yes - but the current estimate for the population of Roman Britannia is in fact three million plus, so I reckon the population of the three eastern provinces must have been pushing two million. My informants point to the Plague of Justinian as killing off a lot of people in those areas too. I think we lack information about such things, and, for myself, I rely heavily on what I find out from geneticists and climatologists. A great deal depends on what proportion of people were still using towns, and where, because where there were towns there where large grain stores, and where there were grain stores there were rats. Assuming that the Plague was in fact the Black Death, that matters, for if we assume the controlling British were still centred on towns and the Germans sneaking down the Midlands rivers to settle in tiny hamlets, that would give an important differential in death rates.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:40 AM   #10

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Re: Anglo Saxon Conquest of Briton...who was invited along


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Originally Posted by Richard Stanbery View Post
Thank you for the excellent post, beorna. That was very well done.

You did mention something that I had not thought of before, and that is a depopulation of NW Germany during the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest/invasion... whatever it was. I hadnt really thought of NW Germany being kind of depopulated by the migration to Britain.

So it was something of an exodus?

I wish that we knew more about why the more settled types of German society would suddenly pull up stakes and move. The warrior/adventurer types, and pirates, I can understand. But when whole sections of the population pull up stakes and move, then that is something else. Here I mean potters, merchants, farmers, smiths, and thier families. Not at all the warrior types. But they all went too.

They were following somebody.

And it seems that the journey from Germany would have made certain arrangements with local warlords a neccessity. In fact, the more I look into it, the more it does start to resemble a crusade. For there would need to be a certain ammount of organizational authority behind it. There was a lot of people moving about.

And that would mean a quite well organized, and substantial logistical plan. There would have to be passage routes of safe conduct for travellers, fodder for draft animals and food for the people at certain times and places, sheltering places or camp grounds, firewood...

We are talking about a lot of people moving, families, tools for tradesmen, wagons, herds of animals. And they would have had to pass through a lot of other tribes territory before getting an embarkation point, wherever that was.

So, what was the real drive behind it? Was there some 5th century Horace Greely (Go West young man) that had motivated the Germans to just take Britain? Could the everyday German even go there without permission of a tribal leader?
To know why they migrated, you must have a look to their society. It was a dayly struggle to survive. The gentile system was responsible for continuing wars with the neighbour clan, the neighbour village, the neighbour tribe. bad weather conditions could destroy your harvest and cause hunger. The west was rich and promissed better living conditions. Even for the ruling class it was more attractive to become a roman officer than a germanic lord. Perhaps Britannia was not as attractive as some other parts, but attractive enough to go to.
The migration started with raiders, followed by mercenaries. They called for their families and when parts of the population migrated westwards others had to follow to. If you were a merchant, a craftsman, a farmer, you had to follow your markets.
For the migration we have to see that it was not a mass migration. There was no king who called for his clients and invaded the island with 100.000 people and 20.000 warriors. They came in smaller groups, some hundreds of warriors or less. they occupied land and if they were stronger than the britannic owner there, they stayed there. When they were succesful others followed. The more they became, the more they were succesful......
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