c 450 – 1066
Anglo-Saxons, virtuous and saintly or canny traders and fearful warriors?
Led by Hengist and Horsa, they arrive in response to a request for help from the Briton King,Vortigern. Having won every fight they are affronted to be denied the payment Vortigern had originally offered. Some stay refusing to leave until paid, some send for reinforcements. Vortigern then offers to pay; however the damage is done. The Anglo-Saxons have realised the Britons are easily defeatable and their lands perfect for farming. So they move in.
Most of what we know about the Anglo-Saxons has been written by them after they converted to Christianity. Lovers of recording information, their writings provide countless evidence about the laws of their lands, who was in charge, important events and more than the occasional complaint. They also copied and recopied earlier comments. In the 11th century the prior of St. Fridswides is complaining about the Danes (Vikings):
“Danes, thanks to their habit of combing their hair every day, of bathing every Saturday and regularly changing their clothes, were able to undermine the virtue of married women and even seduce the daughters of nobles to be their mistresses”
Were the Anglo-Saxons masters of propaganda or extremely biased? They neglect to say Christian traders in Europe had a policy across Christendom to charge two prices for goods. The higher being for heathen Vikings. Or, that they were also very capable of acts of atrocity. Such as throwing a surrendered enemy into a poisonous snake pit and laughing whilst watching them die. Equally, the numerous recordings offer intriguing glimpses into their lives and their thinking. It was important for the Christian Anglo- Saxon Kings to be able to trace their lineage, and hence authority, back to the earliest of times.
This fascinating period sees the rapid conversion of Britain to Christianity; being both invader and then later defender; the gradual move from many individual Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to one; introduction of the Dane Law and finally to being conquered by the Normans (‘Vikings’ who had settled in northern France).
The activities within a Creative History day tend to focus on home life, trading and artistic skills of the Anglo-Saxons. If you would like an idea at what a Creative History visit might offer you have a look at Neldars’ page.