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History of the Saxons and Angles

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The etymology of the word “Saxons” is not yet fully understood. Probably, the self-name of the Saxons was different, and the ancient authors, who first used this word, produced it from the name of the combat knife Sax – a typical weapon of the Saxons.

Since the II century, it covers approximately Eastern Netherlands, today’s German lands of Westfalia , Lower Saxony (excluding territories inhabited by the Frisian tribes), Holstein, Mecklenburg and northern Saxony-Anhalt.

In the Roman sources, starting from the III century, there are complaints of sea robbery and piracy of the Saxons.

In the period from the 3rd to the 5th century, part of the Saxons, along with the Angles and Utes, moved to the southern part of the island of Britain . Due to the forceful seizure of land and the merger with the Angles, they became a community of Anglo-Saxons, which became politically and linguistically dominant in England.

The language of the Saxons became the basis of the Anglo-Saxon language, from which modern English developed.

The current generic name of the country – England – comes from the name of a tribe of Angles , and the names of such territories as Wessex (“West-Saxons”), Essex (“East-Saxons”), Sussex (“South-Saxons”) and Middlesex indicate their descent from the Saxon settlers.

Up to the subordination and conversion to Christianity by Charlemagne, the continental Saxons retained their ancient tribal statutes and did not have a king, and all important issues were decided at the annual meeting of tribal elders. The dukes (military leaders) took over the leadership of the people only during military conflicts.


Angles an ancient Germanic tribe that inhabited the north-eastern coast of Germany and the central part of the Jutland peninsula at the beginning of our era. It is first mentioned in written sources by ancient Roman historians Tacitus and Ptolemy.

The most likely historical homeland of the Angles is considered to be the terrain on the small peninsula Angelne (part of the Jutland peninsula ), which is in the northeast of the modern German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.

In the era of the Great Migration of Peoples, beginning in the 3rd century and most intensely in the middle of the 5th century (440 AD), the Angles, together with the neighboring Germanic tribes of the Saxons, Utovs and Frisians, moved to Britain, inhabited at that time mostly Christianized by Rome Celtic tribes. By exterminating the local population and fighting with the Saxons and the Utahs, the Angles created three kingdoms there: the northern Angles — Northumbria , the middle Angles — Mercia and East Anglia. In the VII — X centuries of our era, the Angles and Saxons merged into a single ethnos — the Anglo-Saxons , which served as the ethnic basis for the modern English nation.


Sharon Turner . The history of the Anglo-Saxons from ancient times to the Norman Conquest

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