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The Angle's have been pretty much overlooked by history, yet are mentioned regularly in our modern world. The Angle's are usually referred to when we speak of ethnicity or a political agreement ( eg Anglo-Irish agreement ). The Angle's or the most commonly used Anglo describes the lineage of this relatively obscure Germanic tribe in relation to the English speaking world. Together with the Saxon's of what is now modern Germany they were instrumental in creating the eventual Kingdom of England.
The Angle's colonized large parts of the British Isles and created a new frontier away from their own homeland on the European continent. With their fellow Germanic tribe they shaped the destiny of the embryonic Kingdoms of Wessex, East Anglia and other ancient lands.
The Angle's tribal lands
The Angle's take their name from their original tribal lands of Angeln, It is an area located near to where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea. The area is often associated with the German territory of Schleswig-Holstein. The Angles alongside the Saxon's are one of the most recognisable groups who sought settlement in the British Isles after Rome lost it's control over it's most North-Western Province.
The new lands in Great Britain offered the Angle's the chance to increase their productivity, wealth and territory. Like other European tribes who lived by the coastal regions on continental Europe, they had experience widespread flooding due to North Sea levels rising and treacherous weather patterns.
The Angle's also had to deal with the aggression of other European tribes such as the Frank's. The migration of more Eastern tribes into their ancestral lands also gave many Angle's the reason to try and find new lands to make a living from. Much of England was sparsely populated, undefended and ripe for settlement.
The division of Roman lands
The Angle's would have first come over with the Roman's, usually as auxiliaries paid to defend the Northern Borders such as Hadrian's Wall or to patrol the coastline for other Germanic tribes raiding or settling ( this could have involved fellow Angle tribes people and most definitely Saxon Pirates). After their services were no longer required they may have returned to mainland Europe and made plans to colonize the foreign land.
Many Angle's would have entered Britain when the British under Vortigern asked the Saxon's for help in securing the peace. The Angle's are known to be allied with the Saxon's at numerous points in time. The Angle's would have settled away from the major Romano-British settlements and would have formed communities like their lands in Germany. The Angle's like the Saxon's were pagan and this would have continued for at least another century after they settled.
It was the Irish Christians who brought the Church back to the people of England during the Anglo-Saxon period. Their belief structures mirrored their settlements in the mainland, by the middle of the Seventh and Eighth century the new settlers were becoming more influenced by the Christian faith. Christianity was spreading throughout Europe, the major King's of Central and Western Europe had adopted Christianity under the rule of powerful Germanic force.
The Angle's British territories.
- East Anglia
Area's of settlement
The Angle's in their settlement of the new lands tended to populate villages around expanses of Sea, Lakes or River's. The Angle's concentrated on the North of England and the East, already the Saxon's had taken the lower Eastern parts of England and made inroads up to the Cornish region where much of the Native Britons had taken refuge over the years of settlement.
The area of England known as East Anglia points to the scale of settlement and influence of these Germanic people's. There was conflict with the Romano-British who held the lands but the new settlers quickly adapted to the natural order of the realms they inhabited. The Angle's did not take over many of the established Roman settlements, they preferred their own smaller settlements which would have removed some of the animosity from the previous settlements.
What became of the Angle's
The Angles's that remained in their ancestral lands freely mixed with the other Germanic peoples and became as Danish or German as the rest of the population. The policies of the Carolingian Empire meant that much of the Germanic culture was discarded and replaced with a Frankish Christian culture. No longer was the worship of Odin, Thor or Frey allowed, those who clung to the old ways were soon the minority in the area that was to become part of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Angle's in Great Britain soon intermixed with the Saxons and the British indigenous population. Over several generations the ethnic mix became less apparent and a single Germanic culture which in parts celebrated paganism flourished. The nation of England was a collection of Kingdoms split between Christianity and Pagan faiths. As Christianity grew in the Kingdoms more of the Angles identity was diminished.
The invasion and settlement of the Norseman diluted the Angle influence in England as the power lay in the Saxon Kings to the South and West. Much of the Angle's settled lands were taken over by Scandinavian settlers and raiders. The lasting legacy of the Angle's is in the name England, it is thought to have evolved from the name Land of the Angles to Angleland.
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