The A-S Conquest
- few written accounts
    Gildas (Gilas?), British monk, wrote The Ruin of Britain  c. 540 AD;
     moral tract denouncing sins of Britons
     Bede the Venerable, A-S monk, wrote The Ecclesiastical History
    of the English People c. 700 AD.
     archaeological evidence predominates
- Britons may have invited A-S settlers to defend against Picts and Scots
    450 Vortigern asked Saxons to settle in SE as mercenaries
    Quarrels with hosts? News of British wealth?
- 5th and 6th c. Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Frisians crossed North Sea

King Arthur
- Nennius, 9th c. Welsh chronicler wrote of victory of British over A-S at Mount Badon c. 500 by general named Arturus
- basis for Arthurian legend slim
    tales derive from Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings
    of Britain in 12th c.
    claimed Britain founded by King Brut (origin of Britain), descendant of Aeneas
    peopled stories with armored knights who fought on horseback and
    behaved chivalrously (problem?)

Fate of Celtic Britain?
- most of “England”controlled by A-S by 6th c. AD
- Britons fled to Wales, Cornwall, SW Scotland,“Brittany
- some killed or enslaved;Wales and Welsh from A-S for slave (Wealh’z)
- some intermarriage
- Celts helped convert A-S to Christianity (indirectly)
    survived in parts of Wales and Scotland
    spread by British missionaries to Celtic tribes of Ireland in 5th c.
    St. Patrick (died 461)
    followers established monasteries/schools and produced beautifully
    illustrated manuscripts (e.g., Book of Kells)
- In 6th and 7th c. Ireland important center of Western and Christian culture.
    563 Irish monk St. Columba established monastery on the Isle of Iona
    gradually converted Scots and Picts Scottish converts
    established monasteries in N. England

Roman Christianity
- 597 Pope Gregory I sent a mission led by Augustine
- converted King of Kent (wife was Christian)
- established headquarters in Canterbury
- appointed archbishop and primate of England

Celtic v. Roman Christianity
- conflict resolved at Whitby in 664
- according to Bede, synod called  by King Oswy of Northumbria
(Celtic Christian with RC wife)
- Oswy decided in favor of Rome (Pope was successor of St. Peter)
- after Synod of Whitby conversion of A-S proceeded quickly
- conversion brought literacy (in addition to Bede’s history, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)

Political Development
- A-S tribes established kingdoms (seven)
- by 7th c. three kingdoms paramount and dominated in succession
- dominant kings called Bretwealda, Ruler of Britain
    7th c. mostly kings of Northumbria were Bretwealdas
    8th c. title generally held by kings of Mercia
    9th c. dominance passed to kings of Wessex, who established first
    united English kingdom

Alfred the Great
- most famous king of Wessex, only English monarch called “The Great”
- came to the throne of Wessex in 871 at low point (By 870 Danes had conquered other A-S kingdoms) 
- 878 victory at Edington
    Danes surrendered, king baptized,withdrew from Wessex
    Alfred regained much of territory
- 899 Danes controlled about half of England (the Danelaw)

Alfred’s Accomplishments
- Successors in 10th c. recovered Danelaw and subjected all of England to House of Wessex
    Danes returned in late 10th c.
    Cnut King of England in 1016 but ruled in tradition of English kings
- After 1035, the kingdom was ruled again by House of Wessex
- memorialized in biography by official, Bishop Asser
- was literate (unusual; next English king to be literate was Henry II )
- started A-S Chronicle
- translated religious and historical works from Latin into A-S
“That man is very foolish and very wretched who will not increase his intelligence while he is in this world.”