Did The Angles and Saxons Invade Britain?

Nov 2010
1,681
Londinium
I always thought that the Angles and the Saxons invaded Britain shortly after the Romans left. I'm not so sure now. I'm reading a book called Britain After Rome by Robin Fleming and she describes how after Magnus Maximus left Britain and took most of the British troops with him the city and town economies crashed. She goes on to say that within a generation the towns and cities were deserted and general populations had declined. The city of York, for example, had been taken over by nature and became marshland once more because there was nobody there to maintain the it.

Shortly after, the Angles and Saxons came. It can hardly be called an invasion if there's nobody to fight and subjugate. More like moving into an empty house. It was a settlement.

Is this a new theory, or am I just late for the party?
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,953
UK
They were there before the Romans left.

This may be worth a little look:
[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxon_Shore]Saxon Shore - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 
Feb 2014
110
Frisia
Not all of the Anglo-Saxons that came to England came there to fight. In the fourth and fifth century a lot of land on the continent was lost due to floods. There were almost no people living close to the sea in the Netherlands (I think a big part from the south of the Netherlands to Nord-Frisia was uninhabited) in that time. A lot of farmers lost their lands and they were looking for new grounds. A group decided to sail to England and become farmer there, mixing the people who were already inhabitans (Saxons and Britons.) I don't know a battle in England in the fifth century that is proven by archeological findings so I think you can call it an settlement.
 
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Dec 2013
218
SC
Not all of the Anglo-Saxons that came to England came there to fight. In the fourth and fifth century a lot of land on the continent was lost due to floods. There were almost no people living close to the sea in the Netherlands (I think a big part from the south of the Netherlands to Nord-Frisia was uninhabited) in that time. A lot of farmers lost their lands and they were looking for new grounds. A group decided to sail to England and become farmer there, mixing the people who were already inhabitans (Saxons and Britons.) I don't know a battle in England in the fifth century that is proven by archeological findings so I think you can call it an settlement.
The only one that come slightly close to meeting any kind of criteria of an early battle between the Saxons and Britons is the Battle of Mercredesburne.

The Sussex Archaeological Society (1894&1896) investigated pre-Saxon earthworks known as town creep, from their investigations it seems it may be a probable site for the battle.

SAC XL - 040 - 1896

But as you say, not proven, although I hope one day one of these sites will give up some of their mysteries.. I can only hope :D
 
Dec 2012
449
USA
Why would something simple like the removal of troops crash the society everywhere in the first place? Was the Roman army the only source of wealth in Britain?
 
Feb 2014
110
Frisia
Why would something simple like the removal of troops crash the society everywhere in the first place? Was the Roman army the only source of wealth in Britain?
No, the Sub-Roman economy was still functioning pretty well. The people continued to use Roman coins and barter returned too. Tin-mining still existed. There was trade with mainland Europe. But al of these facts are nothing compared to Roman trade.
 
Nov 2010
1,681
Londinium
Why would something simple like the removal of troops crash the society everywhere in the first place? Was the Roman army the only source of wealth in Britain?
The way it was explained in the book, the soldiers presence encouraged economic growth. Ships from the Mediterranean would often take supplies up river across Europe to Britain. Enterprising business men would fill the spare space with non-essential goods such as olive oil, for example, and sell it once they got to Britain. Soldiers would buy the goods and this filtered through to the British elite who were keen to Romanise which filtered down to the wider population. When the soldiers left, the business men went with them. The empire taxed Britain heavily to pay for the army. The elite avoided paying taxes which meant the common man had to pay more. The common man became poor and returned to a barter system. The rich no longer had a market to sell to and became broke - mostly because they spent their money on gaining prestige instead of investing it for future gain. With no rich people to pay for city maintenance the cities fell apart. The people moved out. The Angles and Saxons moved in.

I think I've got that right :notrust:
 
Feb 2014
110
Frisia
The way it was explained in the book, the soldiers presence encouraged economic growth. Ships from the Mediterranean would often take supplies up river across Europe to Britain. Enterprising business men would fill the spare space with non-essential goods such as olive oil, for example, and sell it once they got to Britain. Soldiers would buy the goods and this filtered through to the British elite who were keen to Romanise which filtered down to the wider population. When the soldiers left, the business men went with them. The empire taxed Britain heavily to pay for the army. The elite avoided paying taxes which meant the common man had to pay more. The common man became poor and returned to a barter system. The rich no longer had a market to sell to and became broke - mostly because they spent their money on gaining prestige instead of investing it for future gain. With no rich people to pay for city maintenance the cities fell apart. The people moved out. The Angles and Saxons moved in.

I think I've got that right :notrust:
I think you've got that right too, don't get me wrong.
I also completely agree with you that the economy went downhill, but I was just trying to explain that there were also other things that caused wealth in Britannia :)
 
Jan 2014
296
Tasmania, Australia
Popular history has it that the Angles, Saxon and the Jutes, all Germanic tribes, invaded England as separate entities.

The Saxons eventually prevailed and England, essentially, became a Saxon Kingdom.

It was still a Saxon country (or, in reality, part of a country) when the Normans came calling, but the Saxons were unable to hold them off. So once again a cultural change for England, becoming a Norman (French) Kingdom.

So, I suppose it begs the theoretical question, "When was England ever English"?
 
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