Who are the English, anyway? Who were the Anglo-Saxons? Part Two   1 comment

Part Two: Trade and Travelling Saints


In the second, more peaceful half of the seventh century, East Anglian trade with the continent continued to prosper, and in the eighth century the minting of silver coins called sceattas began in the region. These coins have been found over a wide area of Frisia and north Germany while imported items of bronze, iron and pottery have been excavated from East Anglian sites. Ipswich became the leading port and industrial centre of the region. Kilns produced huge quantities of pottery which were distributed over wide areas of northern Europe. Dunwich became a thriving port and could afford to pay the king an annual rent of sixty thousand herrings. Economic depression did not follow political and military decline. It was also during this period that Norfolk and Suffolk began to emerge as distinct entities. There had always been differences between the Angles to the north and south of the Waveney and these differences asserted themselves more as the power of the Wuffings declined.

Saint cedd.jpgHowever, the area of the Deben Valley still seems to have exerted an important influence over the development of Christianity in the East. The site of Raedwald’s Temple of the two altars is unknown, but excavations have revealed that Rendlesham, located on the east bank of the River Deben, four miles upstream from Sutton Hoo, may well be the location of what Bede named as ‘the house of Rendil’ and as a royal site in the reign of Aethelwald, Raedwald’s nephew (ruled 655-664). The reference occurs in Bede’s account of the return of Christianity to the kingdom of the East Saxons at this time. The East Saxon King, Swithhelm, was baptised at an East Anglian royal site, and Bede named Aethelwald as his godfather. This implies that there was a consecrated church as part of a group of buildings, perhaps including a great hall, which formed a fortified royal homestead. It is possible that Raedwald’s Temple stood on, or close by the site of St Gregory’s Church at Rendelsham. It is even possible that the baptismal ceremony of Swithhelm took place within it, or near to it. If so, Raedwald’s pagan altar must surely have been dismantled by then, especially as the ceremony was conducted by the formidable Celtic bishop Cedd.

This fact, which Bede records, that Swithhelm was baptised by Cedd, who may very well have baptised Aethelwald beforehand, is of great significance in itself, because it represents an ‘incursion’ of Northumbrian Christianity, with its Celtic Rite, into south-eastern England. Celtic Christianity is said to have placed greater emphasis on feminine elements and on the interconnectedness of the natural world than the Roman Church, which may help to explain its relative success among the agrarian Angles and Saxons of the east. However, these differences have sometimes been exaggerated, since as early as 601 Pope Gregory had instructed his missionaries not to destroy pagan temples, but to gradually convert them to Christian form, so that the people would feel more comfortable to worship a new and unfamiliar god in familiar surroundings.

Above: A modern icon of St Cedd

The little that is known about Cedd comes to us mainly from the writing of Bede in his third book of his Ecclesiastical History. Cedd was born in the kingdom of Northumbria and brought up on the island of Lindisfarne by Aidan of the Irish Church, who had arrived at Lindisfarne from Iona, the island off the west coast of northern Britain where Columba had founded a monastery. Cedd was probably born in about 620, since the first date Bede gives us is that of his priesthood, in 653. He was probably the eldest of four brothers, since he took the lead, with Chad (Ceadda in Latin), the youngest brother, as his successor. It is reasonable to suppose that Chad and his brothers were drawn from the Northumbrian nobility:They certainly had close connections throughout the Northumbrian ruling class. However, the name Chad is actually of Brythonic (Early Welsh), rather than Anglo-Saxon origin. It is an element found in the personal names of many Welsh princes and nobles of the period and signifies “battle”. This may indicate a family of mixed cultural and/or ethnic background, with roots in the original Celtic population of the region, which had both Irish and Romano-British elements. From Cedd’s role at the Synod of Whitby, we can suppose that his native language was Welsh. Both were given missions to the kingdom of Mercia, which had been one of the more warlike territories under the overlordship of Penda, a pagan, and therefore inhospitable to Christian missionaries up to this point. In 653, Cedd was sent by with three other priests, to evangelise the Middle Angles, who were one of the core ethnic groups of Mercia, based on the mid-Trent valley. Peada, son of Penda was sub-king of the Middle Angles. Peada had agreed to become a Christian in return for the hand of Oswiu’s daughter, Alchflaed, in marriage. This was a time of growing Northumbrian power, as Oswiu had reunited and consolidated the Northumbrian kingdom after its earlier (641/2) defeat by Penda. Peada travelled to Northumbria to negotiate his marriage and baptism. This gave the Northumbrian priests a foothold in the Mercian overlordship, from which they could extend their ministry into the Mercian Kingdom itself.

The Picture above shows a page from the Lindisfarne Gospel.

Cedd, together with other priests, accompanied Peada back to Middle Anglia, where they won numerous converts of all classes. Bede relates that the pagan Penda did not obstruct preaching even among his subjects in Mercia proper, and portrays him as generally sympathetic to Christianity at this point – a very different view from the general estimate of Penda as a devoted pagan. But, the mission apparently made little headway in the wider Mercian polity. Bede credits Cedd’s brother Chad with the effective evangelisation of Mercia more than a decade later. To make progress among the general population, Christianity appeared to need positive royal backing, including grants of land for monasteries, rather than a benign attitude from leaders. Cedd was soon recalled from the mission to Mercia by Oswiu, who sent him on a mission with one other priest to the East Saxon kingdom. The priests had been requested by King Sigeberht to re-convert his people.The religious destiny of the kingdom had been constantly in the balance since the Gregorian mission had been forced out, with the royal family itself divided among Christians, pagans, and some wanting to tolerate both. Bede tells us that Sigeberht’s decision to be baptized and to reconvert his kingdom was at the initiative of Oswiu. Sigeberht travelled to Northumbria to accept baptism from Bishop Final of Lindisfarne. Cedd went to the East Saxons partly as an emissary of the Northumbrian monarchy. Certainly his prospects were helped by the continuing military and political success of Northumbria, especially the final defeat of Penda in 655. Practically, Northumbria gained hegemony among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

After making some conversions, Cedd returned to Lindisfarne to report to Finan. In recognition of his success, Finan ordained him bishop, calling in two other Irish bishops to assist at the rite. Cedd was appointed Bishop of the East Saxons. As a result, he is generally listed among the Bishops of London, a part of the East Saxon kingdom. Bede, however, generally uses ethnic descriptions for episcopal responsibilities when dealing with the generation of Cedd and Chad. Bede’s record makes clear that Cedd demanded personal commitment and that he was unafraid to confront the powerful, even King Sigeberht himself. After the death of Sigeberht, there were signs that Cedd had a more precarious position. The new king, Swithhelm, who had assassinated Sigeberht, was a pagan. He had long been a client of Aethelwald, King of the East Angles. who was increasingly dependent on Wulfhere, the Christian king of a newly resurgent Mercia. After some persuasion from Aethelwald, Swithhelm accepted baptism from Cedd. The bishop travelled into East Anglia to baptise the king at Aethelwald’s home. For a time, the East Saxon kingdom remained Christian. Bede presents Cedd’s work as decisive in the conversion of the East Saxons, although it was preceded by other missionaries, and eventually followed by a revival of paganism. However, despite the substantial work, the future suggested that all could be undone.

Certainly, Cedd founded many churches and monasteries. Caelin, the brother of Cedd and Chad, was chaplain to Aethelwald, a nephew of Oswiu, who had been appointed to administer the coastal area of Deira. Caelin suggested to Aethelwald the foundation of a monastery, in which he could one day be buried, and where prayers for his soul would continue. Caelin introduced Aethelwold to Cedd, who needed just such a political base and spiritual retreat. According to Bede, practically forced on Cedd a gift of land: a wild place at Lastingham, near Pickering in today’s North York Moors, close to one of the still-usable Roman roads. Bede explains that Cedd  “fasted strictly in order to cleanse it from the filth of wickedness previously committed there”. On the thirtieth day of his forty-day fast, he was called away on urgent business. Cynibil, another of his brothers, took over the fast for the remaining ten days. The whole incident shows not only how closely the Brythonic-Hiberian brothers were linked with Northumbria’s ruling Saxon dynasty, but also how close they were to each other. A fast by Cynibil was even felt to be equivalent to one by Cedd himself. It was clearly conceived as a base for the family and destined to be under their control for the foreseeable future – not an unusual arrangement in this period. Lastingham was handed over to Cedd, who was appointed as Abbot of the monastery at the request of Aethelwald. Cedd occupied the position of Abbot of Lastingham to the end of his life, while maintaining his position as missionary bishop and diplomat. He often travelled far from the monastery in fulfillment of these other duties.

The picture above (left) shows the altar in Lastingham crypt, probable site of the early Anglo-Saxon church where Cedd and Chad officiated at Eucharist. Cedd and his brothers regarded Lastingham as their monastic base, providing intellectual and spiritual support and refreshment. Cedd delegated daily care of Lastingham to other priests, and it is likely that Chad operated similarly.

In 664, supporters of both the Celtic and the Roman rites met at a council within the Northumbrian kingdom known as the Synod of Whitby. The proceedings of the council were hampered by the participants’ mutual incomprehension of each other’s languages, which probably included his native Gaelic, Mercian, Northumbrian and Anglian forms of English, Frankish and Brythonic (early Welsh), as well as Latin. Bede recounted that Cedd interpreted for both sides. Cedd’s facility with all these languages, together with his status as a trusted royal emissary, made him a key figure in the negotiations. When the council ended, he returned to Essex, to his work as bishop, abandoning the practices of the Irish and accepting the Gregorian dating of Easter. A short time later, he returned to Northumbria and the monastery at Lastingham. He fell ill with the plague and died on 26 October 664. Bede records that immediately after Cedd’s death a party of thirty monks travelled up from Essex to Lastingham to do homage. All but one small boy died there, also of the plague. Cedd was initially buried in a grave at Lastingham. Later, when a stone church was built at the monastery, his body was moved and re-interred in a shrine inside it.

Chad succeeded his brother as Abbot at Lastingham. From the various written sources, we think that Chad began his ministry about a decade after his eldest brother, companion was Egbert, an Anglian, who was of about the same age as himself. The two travelled in Ireland for further study. Bede tells us that Egbert himself was of the Anglian nobility, although the monks sent to Ireland were of all classes. Bede places Egbert, and therefore Chad, among an influx of English scholars who arrived in Ireland while Finan and Colmán were bishops at Lindisfarne. This means that Egbert and Chad must have gone to Ireland later than the death of Aidan, in 651.Bede gives a long account of how Egbert fell dangerously ill in Ireland in 664 and vowed to follow a lifelong pattern of great austerity so that he might live to make amends for the follies of his youth. His only remaining friend at this point was called Ethelhun, who died in the plague. Hence, Chad must have left Ireland before this. In fact, it is in 664 that he suddenly appears in Northumbria, to take over from his brother Cedd. Chad’s time in Ireland, therefore must fit into period 651–664. Bede makes clear that the wandering Anglian scholars were not yet priests, and ordination to the priesthood generally happened at the age of thirty – the age at which Christ commenced his ministry. The year of Chad’s birth is thus likely to be 634, or a little earlier, although certainty is impossible. Cynibil and Caelin were ordained priests by the late 650s, when they participated with Cedd in the founding of Lastingham. Chad was almost certainly the youngest of the four, probably by a considerable margin.

Christianity in the south of Britain was closely associated with Rome and with the Church in continental Europe. This was because its organisation, at least to the south of the Thames, had developed from the aborted mission of Augustine to Canterbury in 597, sent by Pope Gregory I. However, the churches of Ireland and of western and northern Britain had their own distinct history and traditions. The churches of most of western Britain, from Clydeside and Cumbria (‘north-walea’) through Cymru (‘mid-Walea’) down to Cornwall (‘west-Walea’) had an unbroken connection tradition stretching back to Roman times. Ireland traced its Christian origins to missionaries from Wales, while Northumbria looked to the Irish (Hiberian) monastery of Iona, in the western Hebridean islands, as its source. Although all western Christians recognised Rome as the ultimate fount of authority, the semi-independent churches of Britain and Ireland did not accept actual Roman control. Considerable divergences had developed in practice and organisation. Most bishops in Ireland and Britain were not recognised by Rome because their ordination in the apostolic succession (from St Peter of Rome) was uncertain and they condoned non-Roman practices. Monastic practices and structures were very different: moreover monasteries played a much more important role in Britain and Ireland than on the continent, with abbots regarded as de facto leaders of the Church. Many of the differences related to disputes over the dating of Easter and the monastic tonsure (hairstyle), which were markedly and notoriously different in the local churches from those in Rome.

Saint Chad.jpgThese political and religious issues were constantly intertwined, and interacted in various ways. Christianity in Britain and Ireland largely progressed through royal patronage, while kings increasingly used the Church to stabilise and to confer legitimacy on their fragile states. A strongly local church with distinctive practices could be a source of great support to a fledgling state, allowing the weaving together of political and religious elites. Conversely, the Roman connection introduced foreign influence beyond the control of local rulers, but also allowed rulers to display themselves on a wider, European stage, and to seek out more powerful sources of legitimacy. These issues are also crucial in assessing the reliability of sources: Bede is the only substantial source for details of Chad’s life, writing about sixty years after the crucial events of Chad’s episcopate, when the Continental pattern of territorial bishoprics and Benedictine monasticism had become established throughout the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, including Northumbria. His foremost concern was thus to validate the Church practices and structures of his own time, while also seeking to present a flattering picture of the earlier Northumbrian church and monarchy: a difficult balancing act because, as he himself had constantly to acknowledge, the earlier institutions had resisted Roman norms for many decades. Bede’s treatment of Chad is particularly problematic because he could not conceal that Chad departed from Roman practices in vital ways – not only before the Synod of Whitby, which Bede presents as a total victory for the Roman party and its norms, but even after it. However, Chad was the teacher of Bede’s own teacher, Trumbert, so Bede has an obvious personal interest in rehabilitating him, to say nothing of his loyalty to the Northumbrian establishment, which not only supported him but had played a notable part in Christianising England. This may explain a number of gaps in Bede’s account, based on the oral traditions of the Lastingham monks, whom he could ill afford to offend. Chad lived at and through a watershed in relations between the Anglo-Saxons and the wider Europe. In writing his account of the ministries of the early Celtic saints, from Fursey to Cedd and Chad, he seems to underestimate their role, and certainly that of the royal houses of rival kingdoms, such as the Wuffings of East Anglia, in ensuring the continuity of the Christian Church in the East at a time when the power of Rome in southern England was obviously weak.

Above left: Stained glass from Lichfield Cathedral (C19th).

Chad was invited then to become bishop of the Northumbrians by King Oswiu, in the unexpectedly extended absence of the initial candidate, Wilfrid, who had gone abroad to seek consecration, since the Archbishop of Canterbury had died of plague. Chad is often listed as a Bishop of York and Bede refers to Oswiu’s desire that Chad become bishop of the church in York, which later became the diocesan city partly because it had already been designated as such in the earlier Roman-sponsored mission of Paulinus to Deira. So it is not clear if Oswiu and Chad were considering a territorial basis and a see for his episcopate, but it is quite clear that Oswiu intended Chad to be bishop over the entire Northumbrian people, over-riding the claims of both Wilfrid and Eata. Chad set off to seek consecration amid the chaos caused by the plague. Bede tells us that he travelled first to Canterbury, where he found that the Archbishop had died three years before and his replacement was still awaited. The journey seems pointless, and the most obvious reason for Chad’s tortuous travels would be that he was also on a diplomatic mission from Oswiu, seeking to build an encircling alliance around Mercia, which was rapidly recovering from its position of weakness. From Canterbury he travelled to Wessex, where he was ordained by bishop Wini (‘Wine’) of the West Saxons, the first Bishop of Winchester, and two Welsh bishops. None of these bishops was recognised by Rome, and Bede points out that at that time there was no other bishop in all Britain canonically ordained except Wini and that even he had been installed irregularly by the King of the West Saxons. Bede justifies his seeking consecration in this dubious way by explaining that Chad was, at this point, behaving as a diligent performer in deed of what he had learnt in the Scriptures should be done and following the in teaching of Aidan and Cedd. His life was one of constant travel, visiting continually the towns, countryside, cottages, villages and houses to preach the Gospel. Clearly, the Celtic model he followed was, like his brother had shown, one of the bishop as prophet and missionary. Basic Christian rites of passage, baptism and confirmation, were almost always performed by a bishop, and for decades and centuries to come, under the Roman Rite, they were generally carried out in mass ceremonies, probably with little systematic instruction or counselling such as Cedd and Chad would have given.

Above (Right): From a late copy of The old Englisch Homely on the life of St. Chad, c. 1200, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

However, in 666, Wilfrid returned from Neustria, bringing many rules of Catholic observance, as Bede says. He found Chad already occupying the same position as bishop. It seems, however, that Wilfred did not in fact challenge Chad’s pre-eminence in monasteries which would have been supportive of his appointment, like Gilling and Ripon, but rather asserted his episcopal rank by going into Mercia and even Kent to ordain priests there, where there were no bishops at that time. Bede tells us that the net effect of his efforts on the Church was that the Irish monks who still lived in Northumbria either came fully into line with Catholic practices or left for home. Nevertheless, Bede cannot conceal that Oswiu and Chad had broken significantly with Roman practice in many ways and that the Church in Northumbria had been divided by the ordination of rival bishops. In 669, a new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, arrived in England. He immediately set off on a tour of the country, tackling ‘abuses’ of which he had been forewarned. He instructed Chad to step down and Wilfrid to take over. According to Bede, however, Theodore was so impressed by Chad’s show of humility that he confirmed his ordination as bishop, while insisting he step down from his position at York. Chad retired gracefully and returned to his post as Abbot of Lastingham, leaving Wilfrid as Bishop of York.

Mercia in time of Chad.jpg

Later that same year, King Wulfhere of Mercia requested a bishop. Wulfhere and the other sons of Penda had converted to Christianity, although Penda himself had remained a pagan until his death (655). Penda had allowed bishops, including Cedd, to operate in Mercia, although none had succeeded in establishing the Church securely without active royal support. Archbishop Theodore refused to consecrate a new bishop. Instead, greatly impressed by Chad’s humility and holiness, he recalled him from his retirement at Lastingham. According to Bede, Chad refused to use a horse: he insisted on walking everywhere. Despite his regard for Chad, Theodore ordered him to ride on long journeys and went so far as to lift him into the saddle on one occasion. Chad was consecrated bishop of the Mercians (literally, frontier people) and of the Lindsey (Lincolnshire) people. Later Anglo-Saxon episcopal lists sometimes add the Middle Angles to his responsibilities. It was their sub-king, Peada, who had secured the services of Chad’s brother Cedd in 653.

They were a distinct part of the Mercian kingdom, centred on the middle Trent and lower Tame – the area around Tamworth, Lichfield and Repton that formed the core of the wider Mercian polity. Wulfhere donated land at Lichfield for Chad to build a monastery. It was because of this that the centre of the Diocese of Mercia ultimately became settled there. The Lichfield monastery was probably similar to that at Lastingham, and Bede makes clear that it was partly staffed by monks from Lastingham, including Chad’s faithful retainer, Owin. Lichfield was very close to the old Roman road of Watling Street, the main route across Mercia, and a short distance from Mercia’s main royal centre at Tamworth. Wulhere also donated land sufficient for fifty families at a place in Lindsey, referred to by Bede as Ad Barwae. This is probably Barrow-upon-Humber: where an Anglo-Saxon monastery of a later date has been excavated. This was easily reached by river from the Midlands and close to an easy crossing of the River Humber, allowing rapid communication along surviving Roman roads with Lastingham. Chad remained Abbot of Lastingham for the rest of his life, as well as heading the communities at both Lichfield and Barrow. (The picture above (right) shows St Chad, Peada and Wulfhere, as portrayed in 19th century sculpture above the western entrance to Lichfield Cathedral.)

Above left: “Saint Chad”, stained glass window by Christopher Whall. Currently exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Chad then proceeded to carry out much missionary and pastoral work within the Kingdom. Bede tells us that Chad governed the bishopric of the Mercians and of the people of Lindsey ‘in the manner of the ancient fathers and in great perfection of life’. However, Bede gives little concrete information about the work of Chad in Mercia, implying that in style and substance it was a continuation of what he had done in Northumbria. The area he covered was very large, stretching across England from coast to coast. It was also, in many places, difficult terrain, with woodland, heath and mountain over much of the centre and large areas of marshland to the east. Bede does tell us that Chad built for himself a small house at Lichfield, a short distance from the church, sufficient to hold his core of seven or eight disciples, who gathered to pray and study with him there when he was not out on business. Chad worked in Mercia and Lindsey for only two and a half years before he too died during a plague on 2 March 672. He was buried at the St. Mary’s Church which later became part of Lichfield Cathedral. Bede wrote that Mercia came to the faith and Essex was recovered for it by the two brothers Cedd and Chad. In other words, Bede considered that Chad’s two years as bishop were decisive in converting Mercia to Christianity. The winning over of the powerful Kingdom of Mercia for Christianity finally ensured the complete and continued establishment of the religion throughout the whole of the British isles. King Swithhelm of the East Saxons had died at about the same time as Cedd and was succeeded by the joint kings Sighere and Sebbi. Some people reverted to paganism, which Bede said was due to the effects of the plague. Since Mercia under King Wulfhere had again become the dominant force south of the Humber, it fell to Wulfhere to take prompt action. He dispatched Bishop Jaruman to take over Cedd’s work among the East Saxons. Jaruman, working (according to Bede) with great discretion, toured Essex, negotiated with local magnates, and soon restored Christianity.

Right: An example of a late sculpture of St. Chad, from St. Chad’s Church, Lichfield, Staffordshire, 1930.


The growing separation between Norfolk and Suffolk was recognised by the Church when in 673 Archbishop Theodore divided the East Anglian diocese. A new ecclesiastic seat was established at North Elmham while Suffolk’s church continued to be administered from Dunwich. Preachers were sent out from the latter on regular tours. The monks of Burgh Castle, Soham and Bury St Edmunds ministered to the souls in their immediate localities and they wandered the hamlets of Suffolk to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments. Other early religious houses were also built during the after the death of King Anna. Botolph built a monastery on the Alde estuary at Iken, and not far from the present county boundary, one of the daughters of Anna, Aetheldreda, built the beginnings of Ely Cathedral. At an early age she came under the influence of St Felix and his monks, so much so that her only ambition was to lead a life devoted to contemplation and prayer. However, this seemed impossible, because as an Anglo-Saxon princess she was even less free to follow her inclinations than other noblewomen. She was married off , firstly to a fenland earldorman and then, following his death, to Prince Egfrid of Northumbria. According to legend, she survived both these ‘unions’ with her virginity intact. After twelve years of unconsummated marriage, a frustrated Egfrid gave his holy wife her freedom. Aetheldreda went straight to the lonely Isle of Ely, where she founded a double monastery for monks and nuns, presiding over it as Abbess.

DSC09864Nevertheless, these early Anglo-Saxon Christians, monks and nuns, were not worshipping in impressive stone churches as minsters, like those we see on the English landscape today, either ruined or in continual repair. Those buildings mostly date from Norman times, or later. Although Rendelsham (pictured right and below) may have been one of the first examples of a stone church, built on an earlier royal temple (notice the absence of transepts and a cruciform shape), the first Suffolk churches were very simple constructions of wood and thatch. Stone was not a natural building material, and only existed for ready use where there had been pagan shrines or fortifications, such as at Burgh Castle. However, it was not always the kings or the ecclesiastical hierarchy who determined the location and construction of churches. The foundations of the parochial system were laid at this time, largely through lay piety. Anglo-Saxon landlords often asked the bishops to supply them with priests for their own home-built churches so that they, their household, and their peasants could be ministered unto.

Sometimes it was the small land-owning freemen who would raise the first shrines, for reasons of personal comfort as well as devotion. Services were held in the open, with only a covered altar as a permanent feature, often converted from a pagan shrine. Regular attendance in all weathers was expected by the priest, under the lord’s command. Gradually, the villagers built barn-like structures before the altar to protect themselves from the elements, with roofs which used old long-boats turned over, or constructed in the same fashion, as ‘naves’. The nave remained the responsibility of the villagers, into modern times, whereas the sanctuary was the priest’s concern, only used by the people in receiving communion at the altar rail.

DSC09863In these ways, Christianity now became established at the centre of Anglo-Saxon life, together with the support of the kings, great lords and lords of the manor. It passed from the age of itinerant Celtic missionary zeal to dominant Roman religion. The upkeep of churches was met by grants of ‘Glebe’ land and by special levies approved by royal writ. There were seasonal payments like ‘plough-alms’ and ‘Church-scot’, the latter giving the expression ‘to get off scot-free’, applied to landowners who did not have to pay. Tithes (‘tenths’) of produce and stock were originally non-obligatory donations for the relief of the poor and needy, but before many decades had passed they too had become part of the law. As the eighth century progressed, such conflicts as did take place did so in the context of a pattern of established relationships. Priest and layman, thane and churl, warrior and monk – everyman knew his place in society, and what his God and his King required of him. Then came the Norsemen, the Vikings, the Danes. Suddenly, those whose families had lived in Eastern Britain for three and a half centuries and had settled into an Engelische way of life, found themselves facing previously unimaginable terror and confusion.


Additional Sources (see part one for published and printed materials):



One response to “Who are the English, anyway? Who were the Anglo-Saxons? Part Two

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  1. Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

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