& Tornado Alley
The Language of the Anglo-Saxons
Significant Dates and Periods in the History of the Anglo-Saxons
- 400 A.D.: The start of sporatic immigration of Germanic immigrants from the mainland
of northwest Europe to Britain
- 449: The wide scale invasion of Britain by the Angles, Saxons and Justes as result of
one side of a war in Britain calling for their help. The leaders of the invaders were
Hengist and Horst.
The Angles came from what is now southwest Denmark; the Jutes
form northwest Denmark and southern Sweden and the Saxons from what is now the northwest coastal
area of Germany. The Friesians from the coastal islands of northwest Germany were also involved.
The Saxons settled in what is now southern England, the Jutes in southwest England (Kent and the Isle of Wight)
and the Angles in northern England.
- 560-616: The reign of King Æthelbert of Kent.
- 563: St. Columba begins conversions of Britons in Iona to Celtic Christianity
- 597: St. Augustine begins conversion of Britons in Kent to Roman Christianity
- 616-632: The reign of King Edwin of Northumbria.
- 625: Sutton Hoo burial
- 627: King Edwin of Northumbria converted to Christianity
- 632: Pagan King Penda of Mercia kills King Edwin of Northumbria.
- 635: Aidan begins conversion of Britons in Lindisfarne
- 641: Pagan King Penda of Mercia kills King Oswald of Northumbria.
- 654: King Oswy of Northumbria kills King Penda of Mercia
- 664: Synod of Whitby where proponents of Roman and Celtic Christianity contest
the matter of which is the truer version of Christianity. The test was
in the matter of determining the proper date for Easter. The proponents of Roman
- 735: The Venerable Bede, one of the foremost scholars of his day, dies.
- 793: The raids of the Vikings on Britain begin with the sacking
- 851: The first year that the Danes stay in Britain over the winter.
- 865: The Danes invade Britain in major force in East Anglia.
- 867: The Battle of York in which the Northumbrian Kingdom is defeated
and its leadership destroyed.
- 870: East Anglia conquered by the Danes and King Edmund killed.
- 871: Alfred becomes King of Wessex (West Saxony).
- 874: Danes occupy Yorkshire.
- 877: Danes invade and occupy East Mercia.
- 880: The Dane Guthrum and his army occupy East Anglia.
- 886: The boundaries of Danish-occupied Britain, the Danelaw, agreed to
by Guthrum and Alfred. Alfred captures London.
- 890: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is circulated.
- 892: More Danes invade Britain.
- 896: King Alfred begins to build a navy.
- 899: King Alfred dies.
Germanic Invader/Immigrants to Britain
The German invasion of Great Britain started about 400 A.D. They brought with them a western branch of the
Germanic language family. The nature of this early version of English
can be heard in the Friesian language. Friesisan was close to the languages of
the Angles and Saxon at the time of the invasion. In particular, the
definite article the can still be heard in Friesian speech.
But Friesian underwent much less
change than did the language of the invaders and now sounds much more
Germanic than modern English.
(To be continued.)