Saxon Origins Of The Word
The word "Anglo-Saxon" is a term that was prominently used during the reign of Alfred the Great. The word can be found in a number of Latin documents. The Latin form of this name would be Anglorum Saxonum. The term "Anglo" is said to refer to the people who lived in the northern region of Great Britain, as well as Northumbria, and Mercia. The word "Saxon" is used to refer to people who lived in Sussex, Wessex, or Old Saxony. In addition to these two areas, the term was also used to describe people who lived in Kent or the southern part of Hampshire. The writer Bede talked about the word in his document called Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
While Bede was very distinct when he talked about the origins of the word, other writers were not. Writers who were from West Saxon would refer to their own nation as making up a portion of Angelcyn. These same writers also referred to their language as being English. Another writer that mentioned the word "Anglo-Saxon" was Paul the Deacon, who was an important historian among the Lombards. Some feel that he may have tried to make a distinction between continental Saxons and the English Saxons. The actual word "Anglo-Saxon" was in prominent use by the 18th century. It was featured in Old English.
Those who used this word in the 19th century were typically those who were dealing with philology. A number of historians felt that contemporary political ideas could be traced to the Anglo-Saxons, predating the arrival of the Normans. Historians today have not agreed on whether or not the term Anglo-Saxon should be use to describe an ethnic group. Because of the presence of Celts, Danes, and Normans in Great Britain, some say that the term should not be used, while others feel that this term should be used to describe a group of people who were distinct. However, it should be noted that the vast majority of these groups mixed together.
The word Anglo-Saxon is used differently by politicians compared to those who work in academic circles. While those working in academic institutions will almost always use the term "Anglo-Saxon" in a historical sense, politicians may use it to refer to those who originate in either England or Europe, or those who have a certain status economically. Therefore, it could be said that the word has evolved over the last few hundred years.
Original Authors: Stephen Palmer
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 15/07/2008