The Celts were organized in tribes. Two of the most important ones were ‘Iceni’ and ‘Brigantes’. Before the Romans came, they called ‘Albion’ to England, ‘Alba’ to Scotland and ‘Ierne’ to Ireland.
Brythonic and Goidelic were two varieties of Celtic language. From Brythonic derive Welsh, Cornish and Breton (Celtic languages spoken today) andfrom Goidelic come languages spoken (also today) in Ireland, Scotland and in the Isle of Man.
Julius Caesar arrived in Britain in 54 BC after conquer Gallia and fought against the Celts, who were very good warriors. As the Celts were to fight painted in blue, the Roman started to call these lands as ‘Britannia’ (comes from Latin ‘Britannii’ that means ‘the tattooed people’). Julius Caesar was notsuccessful, by the way. It was the Roman Emperor Claudius who conquered the Celts in the year 43 AD and Britannia became part of the Roman Empire. Despite of that fact, only the southern part of the Isle (what today is England) were fully Romanized because the Celts ran away to Wales and Scotland, less accessible lands for the Romans. One of the most important Celtic tribes there were ‘the Picts’and in order to prevent their attacks, the Roman Emperor Hadrian orders to built a very large wall, in the year 122 AD, to protect from them. A second wall was built by Emperor Antonine in the year 142 AD.
The Romans stayed in Britannia for 300 years until they had to leave in order to defend Rome against the barbarian attack. In the year 410 AD, Britannia became kind of independent from Rome.It was also at the 5th century when the Germanic tribes invaded Britannia. The Saxons settled in the southern part, the Angles in the eastern one and the Jutes occupied a small region.
[300 years after the Anglo-Saxon invasion, the word ‘Englisc’ was used to refer at the people living in the southern and north-eastern parts of Britannia, people who spoke Anglo-Saxon. Britons in Wales spokeCeltic language and the Celts settled in the northern west spoke Brythonic.]
Around the year 500 AD, it was an important battle between the Britons and Romans against the Anglo-Saxon. It’s called the battle of Mount Badon. The Britons won and were able to stop the Anglo-Saxon invasion at least for 100 years. Between those who won was Arthur, a military commander. Lucius Artorius Castus. He becamea legend as King Arthur, but we don’t know if he really existed.
In the 6th century the Anglo-Saxons were already settled in England. They settlement was configured as an heptarchy (seven kingdoms): Northumbria (North of the river Humber); Essex, Sussex and Wessex (East, South and West Saxons); Kent (Canterbury); Mercia and East Anglia. The most important kingdom around the 7th and 8th centurywas Mercia, honour that would be transferred to Wessex. At the 9th century only three were remained: Northumbria, Wessex and Mercia.
Anglo-Saxon society was a warrior society, made up by tribes (or clans) which were called ‘Cynn’. The leader of the ‘Cynn’ was the ‘Cyning’ (king in present English). They were settled in ‘Wics’ (villages, from Latin ‘Vicus’). They were pagans.
The first work ofAnglo-Saxon literature is ‘Beowulf’ dated around 8th or 9th century. Beowulf was a Viking hero who, asked by the King Hrothgar of Danes, killed a monster named Grendel who was terrorizing the kingdom.
In 1939, a grave of a very Anglo-Saxon leader was found at Suffolk. He was buried with many objects and all of them buried into a ship that was also buried but only remained its shape. Later on,two years ago, was also found the Staffordshire treasure.
The Christianization of Britannia was carried on at 5th century by St Patrick and St Columba (who created a very important centre of Christianity in the Isle of Iona, Scotland) in Ireland, St Ninian with ‘the Picts’, St David in Wales, St Aidan in Northumbria (he also established a centre of Christianity in Lindisfarne).
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