(449 - 1066 CE). Reliable evidence
of that period is extremely scarce. The story of the invasion is told
(673-735), a monastic scholar who wrote the first history of England.
The Old English
language (also called Anglo-Saxon) dates back to 449 CE. The
Celts had been living in England
when the Romans
invaded. Although they invaded twice, the Latin never
overtook the Celtic language. The
Romans finally left England
in 410 CE as the Roman Empire was collapsing, leaving the Celts
defenseless. Caesar attacked Britain for economic
reasons — to obtain tin ore,
pearls and corn, — and also for strategic
reasons, since rebels and refugees from
Gaul found support among their British kinsmen. Although Caesar
failed to subjugate Britain, Roman economic penetration to Britain
grew: traders and colonists from Rome came in large numbers to settle
in the south-eastern towns. In A.D. 43 Britain was again invaded by
Roman legions under Emperor Claudius, and towards the end of the
century was made a province of the Roman Empire.
Germanic tribes from the present-day
area of Denmark arrived. The four main tribes were the
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians.
These tribes set up seven kingdoms
called the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy
that included: Mercia, Northumbria, Kent, Wessex, Sussex, Essex, and
East Anglia. Four dialects
were spoken in these kingdoms: West Saxon, Kentish, Mercian and
Northumbrian. The Celts
moved north to Scotland, west to Ireland and south to France, leaving
the main area of Britain.
In 865 a 'Great
Army' of Danish Vikings invaded England. There were fierce battles
for several years. In the end the Vikings conquered all of northern,
central and eastern England, and seized much of the land for their
own farms. This area was called The
Vikings and Christianity England,
Scotland and Wales had been Christian countries for a long time. As
the years went by, most Vikings
living in Britain also became Christians. However, some continued to
follow their old religion at the same time.
Great was the king of Wessex from
871-899 while Wessex was the dominant kingdom. During his reign, he
united the kingdoms together and commissioned the Anglo-Saxon
chronicles, a historical record of important events in England.
Alfred also settled a truce with the Vikings who repeatedly invaded
the area. The Treaty of Wedmore was signed in 878 CE and this
"Danelaw" gave the northeast half of England to the Danes
for structured settlement. However, because the languages were so
similar, the Danes quickly
assimilated and intermarried into
the English society.
The most important force in shaping Old English was its Germanic
heritage in its vocabulary,
sentence structure and grammar, which it shared with its related
languages in continental Europe. Like other Germanic languages of the
period, Old English was fully
inflected with five
(nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and instrumental), which
had dual plural
forms. It also assigned gender
to all nouns, including those that describe inanimate objects.