San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

The historical relationship between
the people of Britain and Denmark.

During a pause in the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 Admiral Horatio Nelson addressed a message to the Danish authorities as to the Danes, the brothers of the Englishmen. There was a good deal of validity to that characterization of the relationship between the Danes and the English. Nelson was probably referring that period starting in the ninth century A.D. when Danes occupied the eastern portion of the island of Britain. English speakers and Danish speakers were in close contact with each other for a century or so. As a result the grammar of the Anglo-Saxon language was simplified. Horatio Nelson was probably descended from those Danes in England. But the relationship between the English and Denmark goes deeper and farther back in history.

When the Romans withdrew troops from Britain the Celtic tribes of the north began to attack the Roman Britons of the south. These civilized Roman Britons found they were no match for the wild, barbaric Celts. They sought help from the nearby Germanic tribes. They chose not to call upon the Franks closeby across the Channel. Instead they made contact with the tribal leaders of the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons.

Where these tribes located? The Jutes were located on the main peninsula of Denmark (northwestern Denmark) and that area is still called Jutland. The Angeles were located in or near the southwest corner of Denmark. The Saxons were located along the German coast to the west of Denmark.

These Germanic tribes came to the aid of the Roman Britons in 457 A.D. and stopped the invasion of the Celtic tribes from the north but these Germanic tribes decided to stay, settle and occupy Britain. The Angles settled in the middle and north of Britain up to and including the Lowlands of Scotland. The Saxons settled in the southwest of Britain and Jutes in Kent in the southeast and the Isle of Wright. The people from the lowlands of Scotland who were settled in northeastern Ireland and became known as the Scot Irish were simply the descendants of the Angles.

The language spoken by the Germanic tribes came to be known as English, even though there were dialect differences. So the people of the north and east of Britain to a great extent were from Denmark.

(To be continued.)

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