What did the Angles, Saxons and Jutes do to the native English?

Jul 2013
1,003
America
#1
Hi, I'm pretty perplexed by this subject and that's being kind.
1. What exactly did the invading Germanic tribes do to the native English (Britons)? Did they kill them all off? Did they impose an Apartheid like system on the native British, where by Germanic men would rape and impregnate native English women (and British men were prohibited from marrying Germanic women) like some historians have suggested?
2. Or did the invading Germanics (Saxons, Angles, Jutes) actually intermarry with the native British?
3. What is the most current and valid theory on the subject?
4. At what point in British history, do the lines between Briton and say Saxon for example, become completely blurred? In other words, when are all British referred to as Anglo-Saxons? Why did this happen?
5. Just how Anglo-Saxon are the modern British?
 
Sep 2008
1,855
Halicarnassus, 353BC
#2
We don't know for sure. It's heavily debated. Genetic studies have found that a large proportion of men (between 50-100%) in the Eastern parts of England are genetically identical to the population of the Netherlands and nearby areas, which is where the Anglo-Saxons came from. So we know that they must have settled heavily in the east.

We also know that most people in the Western parts of England and the British isles are not descended from Anglo-Saxons, but come from native stock. So the native inhabitants were certainly not killed off (at least, not everywhere).

However, there are complications. The researchers couldn't tell the difference between Viking DNA from Denmark, and Anglo-Saxons (because they are too similar). As a result, we don't know whether the high proportion of 'invader' DNA in areas of East England, and especially around York (which was a major Viking centre) comes mainly from the Anglo-Saxons, or from the Vikings.

For example, it could be possible that very few Anglo-Saxons actually settled, and most of the DNA results are coming from people descended from later Viking settlers. Certainly, many place names and family names especially in the north east of England come from them.

Or it could be that there was in fact significant Anglo-Saxon migration, and the Viking invaders simply added to it. This would be my interpretation, given that there seems to be a lot of 'invader' DNA even in areas like Kent, which didn't belong to the Viking 'Danelaw', but were settled by Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

Question 4 is inaccurate - all British are NOT referred to as Anglo-Saxons. This never happened. Modern people from Wales and Scotland cannot be referred to as Anglo-Saxon - try it, and you are likely to receive a punch to the face! (from the locals, not from me, obviously) :)

Anglo-Saxon can only refer to the inhabitants of England, which is separate from Scotland and Wales.

I do appreciate that you are American, and it's widely known here in the UK that Americans don't understand these differences and just assume it's all 'England'.

 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
#3
I do appreciate that you are American, and it's widely known here in the UK that Americans don't understand these differences and just assume it's all 'England'.
Then I'm afraid what's widely known in the UK is incorrect. I live in America, and I don't think anyone here would get Scotland confused with England. And you'd probably be surprised at how many of us would think of something other than a pod of cetaceans when you say "Wales".

We don't know for sure. It's heavily debated. Genetic studies have found that a large proportion of men (between 50-100%) in the Eastern parts of England are genetically identical to the population of the Netherlands and nearby areas, which is where the Anglo-Saxons came from. So we know that they must have settled heavily in the east.
You know, this probably isn't at all relevant to the thread - but this part of your post made me think of a quote from the Agricola.

Tacitus said:
Who the first inhabitants of Britain were, whether natives or immigrants, is open to question: one must remember we are dealing with barbarians. But their physical characteristics vary, and the variation is suggestive The reddish hair and large limbs of the Caledonians proclaim a German origin...
 

Jim Casy

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
4,420
Scotland
#4
We don't know for sure. It's heavily debated. Genetic studies have found that a large proportion of men (between 50-100%) in the Eastern parts of England are genetically identical to the population of the Netherlands and nearby areas, which is where the Anglo-Saxons came from. So we know that they must have settled heavily in the east.

We also know that most people in the Western parts of England and the British isles are not descended from Anglo-Saxons, but come from native stock. So the native inhabitants were certainly not killed off (at least, not everywhere).

However, there are complications. The researchers couldn't tell the difference between Viking DNA from Denmark, and Anglo-Saxons (because they are too similar). As a result, we don't know whether the high proportion of 'invader' DNA in areas of East England, and especially around York (which was a major Viking centre) comes mainly from the Anglo-Saxons, or from the Vikings.

For example, it could be possible that very few Anglo-Saxons actually settled, and most of the DNA results are coming from people descended from later Viking settlers. Certainly, many place names and family names especially in the north east of England come from them.

Or it could be that there was in fact significant Anglo-Saxon migration, and the Viking invaders simply added to it. This would be my interpretation, given that there seems to be a lot of 'invader' DNA even in areas like Kent, which didn't belong to the Viking 'Danelaw', but were settled by Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

Question 4 is inaccurate - all British are NOT referred to as Anglo-Saxons. This never happened. Modern people from Wales and Scotland cannot be referred to as Anglo-Saxon - try it, and you are likely to receive a punch to the face! (from the locals, not from me, obviously) :)

Anglo-Saxon can only refer to the inhabitants of England, which is separate from Scotland and Wales.

I do appreciate that you are American, and it's widely known here in the UK that Americans don't understand these differences and just assume it's all 'England'.
Just being a pedant but lowland scots are included when Highlanders use the term sassunoch (Sassenach).
 
Jul 2013
1,003
America
#5
Question 4 is inaccurate - all British are NOT referred to as Anglo-Saxons. This never happened. Modern people from Wales and Scotland cannot be referred to as Anglo-Saxon - try it, and you are likely to receive a punch to the face! (from the locals, not from me, obviously)
Apologies, solely referring to the English (not those living in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland).

How did the English adapt or rather adopt an Anglo-Saxon identity? I'm pretty perplexed by this to be honest.
 
Sep 2008
1,855
Halicarnassus, 353BC
#6
Then I'm afraid what's widely known in the UK is incorrect. I live in America, and I don't think anyone here would get Scotland confused with England. And you'd probably be surprised at how many of us would think of something other than a pod of cetaceans when you say "Wales".
Fantastic! This raised a smile. :lol:

I'm actually from Wales, I knew Americans were pretty aware of Scotland but I always imagined Americans had never heard of my home country. This is good news. O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau!

(long may the old language endure)

Just being a pedant but lowland scots are included when Highlanders use the term sassunoch (Sassenach).
Interesting, thanks. Isn't it ironic that in the film 'Braveheart', William Wallace is shown as a Highlander peasant from the pre-Roman period, whereas in fact he was a low-lander noble and would have looked and dressed exactly the same as his English enemies! Also in that film, they replaced the Welsh unit that deserted to the Scots with an Irish one. Bastards!

Apologies, solely referring to the English (not those living in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland).

How did the English adapt or rather adopt an Anglo-Saxon identity? I'm pretty perplexed by this to be honest.
Well it's really down to the language. When England was conquered by the French-speaking Normans in 1066, a huge number of French words entered the English language, to such an extent that French makes up an equal part of our "vocabulary" (even this word itself is of French origin). But - crucially - the new French words entered the language and were 'fitted in' and conjugated exactly as if they were Anglo-Saxon (Germanic) words.

So the baseline of our language and many of the simpler words are still of Anglo-Saxon origin. Also, the Anglo-Saxons, whether by blood or culture, were the majority of the population at that time and have been ever since.
 
Jul 2013
1,003
America
#7
So the baseline of our language and many of the simpler words are still of Anglo-Saxon origin. Also, the Anglo-Saxons, whether by blood or culture, were the majority of the population at that time and have been ever since.
Do we know exactly why or how the native Britons adopted a Germanic identity/culture? Did the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles look down upon them for it.
 
Dec 2013
365
Nowhere
#8
Not sure what the Angles did to the English;

But before the Angles and before the Romans the Britons were more diverse as also in Agricola [Tac.Ag.XI] an Iberian characteristic is described:

The dark complexion of the Silures, their usually curly hair, and the fact that Spain is the opposite shore to them, are an evidence that Iberians of a former date crossed over and occupied these parts
 
Dec 2013
365
Nowhere
#9
However the masses of Britons were described akin to the Gauls and as being from a crossing over from Belgae/Armorica into the island [B.Gal. V/XII / Bede I/I];

Tacitus also remarks (Ag. XI) that the language of the Britons differs but little to that of the Gauls and also the mythology (Druidism) of the Gauls is deeply rooted in the superstition of the Britons; This is also giving in Linguistics as Brythonic is P-Keltic (as is Gaulish) but Goidelic is Q-Keltic;

The arrival of the Germani:

Chronica Gallica - AD 441 [Chronicle of 452]
HONORIUS XVI (410) -
Britanniae Saxonum incursione devastatae
The British provinces were devastated by an incursion of the Saxons
THEODOSIUS II XVIII/XVIIII (441) -
Britanniae, usque ad hoc tempus variis cladibus eventibusque latae in dicionem Saxon rediguntur
The British provinces, which to this time had suffered various defeats and misfortunes, are reduced to Saxon rule

Bede -
V/XXIV
- In the year 449, Martian being made emperor with Valentinian, reigned seven years; in whose time the English, being called by the Britons, came into Britain.
I/XV - Then the nation of the Angles, or Saxons, being invited by the aforesaid king, arrived in Britain with three ships of war and had a place in which to settle assigned to them by the same king, in the eastern part of the island, on the pretext of fighting in defence of their country, whilst their real intentions were to conquer it. Accordingly they engaged with the enemy, who were come from the north to give battle, and the Saxons obtained the victory. When the news of their success and of the fertility of the country, and the cowardice of the Britons, reached their own home, a more considerable fleet was quickly sent over, bringing a greater number of men, and these, being added to the former army, made up an invincible force.....Those who came over were of the three most powerful nations of Germany Saxons, Angles, and Jutes.....In a short time, swarms of the aforesaid nations came over into the island, and the foreigners began to increase so much, that they became a source of terror to the natives themselves who had invited them.

Bede - V/IX
Quarum in Germania plurimas noverat esse nationes, a quibus Angli vel Saxones, qui nunc Britanniam incolunt, genus et originem duxisse nos****ur. Unde hactenus a vicina gente Britonum corrupti Germani nuncupantur. Sunt autem Fresones, Rugini, Dani, Hunni, antiqui Saxones, Boructuarii.
---
many of which nations he knew there were in Germania, from whom the Angles or Saxons, who now inhabit Britain, are known to have derived their origin; for which reason they are still corruptly called Garmani by the neighboring nation of the Britons. Such are the Frisians, the Rugini, the Danes, the Huns, the old Saxons, and the Boructuari.


But the Saxons raided the channel as early as the 3rd cen AD and prob. also the coast of Britannia - hence the fortifications of the Saxon Shore - litus saxonicum in SE England;

Eutropius
- IX/XXI
During this period, Carausius, who, though of very mean birth, had gained extraordinary reputation by a course of active service in war, having received a commission in his post at Bononia, to clear the sea, which the Franks and Saxons infested, along the coast of Belgica and Armorica
 
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Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,686
Europe
#10
Hi, I'm pretty perplexed by this subject and that's being kind.
1. What exactly did the invading Germanic tribes do to the native English (Britons)? Did they kill them all off? Did they impose an Apartheid like system on the native British, where by Germanic men would rape and impregnate native English women (and British men were prohibited from marrying Germanic women) like some historians have suggested?
2. Or did the invading Germanics (Saxons, Angles, Jutes) actually intermarry with the native British?
3. What is the most current and valid theory on the subject?
4. At what point in British history, do the lines between Briton and say Saxon for example, become completely blurred? In other words, when are all British referred to as Anglo-Saxons? Why did this happen?
5. Just how Anglo-Saxon are the modern British?
About England (not Britain)

1 It is not clear that it was an "invasion" .
2 no one knows for sure
3 no one knows for sure
4 The descriptive terms Anglo Saxon (and Celt) became popular and fashionable during the Victorian period
5 the English are not all Anglo Saxon in origin , they are a mixture, but areas like East Anglia and the south east (of England) probably had more of an "Anglo Saxon " influence than the west and north of England . However , during the industrial revolution there was a massive migrations of people around the Island (Britain) , for example from Wales into the industrial areas of the north and Midlands (of England) . Also of paupers from the agriculturally depressed south into the same. Industrial revolution people moved from the countryside to City/Town, huge changes in demographics. . London and other ports also had people settling from allover the Empire. After WW2 there was further immigration from the commonwealth and parts of Europe into industrial areas.
 
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