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Thread: The English Nation's Germanic Roots

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    Arrow The English Nation's Germanic Roots

    Here is the most classical description known of the history of the English people, made by the Venerable Bede. I have visited the "shrine" to him in Newcastle, "Bede's World", a fascinating open-air museum which illustrates the early lifestyle of the Germanic Anglo-Saxons, the forefathers of the English nation. Here I will quote from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This book, although written from a Christian perspective, can be considered England's Germania. It is unrivalled.

    From Chapter XV

    Those who came over were of the three most powerful nations of Germany * Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the people of Kent, and of the Isle of Wight, and those also in the province of the West Saxons who are to this day called Jutes, seated opposite to the Isle of Wight. From the Saxons, that is, the country which is now called Old Saxony, came the East Saxons, the South Saxons, and the West Saxons. From the Angles, that is, the country which is called Anglia, and which is said, from that time, to remain desert to this day, between the provinces of the Jutes and the Saxons, are descended the East Angles, the Midland Angles, Mercians, all the race of the Northumbrians, that is, of those nations that dwell on the north side of the river Humber, and the other nations of the English.

    The two first commanders are said to have been Hengist and Horsa. Of whom Horsa, being afterwards slain in battle by the Britons, was buried in the eastern parts of Kent, where a monument, bearing his name, is still in existence. They were the sons of Victgilsus, whose father was Vecta, son of Woden; from whose stock the royal race of many provinces deduce their original. In a short time, swarms of the aforesaid nations came over into the island, and they began to increase so much, that they became terrible to the natives themselves who had invited them. Then, having on a sudden entered into league with the Picts, whom they had by this time repelled by the force of their arms, they began to turn their weapons against their confederates. At first, they obliged them to furnish a greater quantity of provisions; and, seeking an occasion to quarrel, protested, that unless more plentiful supplies were brought them, they would break the confederacy, and ravage all the island; nor were they backward in putting their threats in execution. In short, the fire kindled by the hands of these pagans proved God's just revenge for the crimes of the people; not unlike that which, being once lighted by the Chaldeans, consumed the walls and city of Jerusalem. For the barbarous conquerors acting here in the same manner, or rather the just Judge ordaining that they should so act, they plundered all the neighbouring cities and country, spread the conflagration from the eastern to the western sea, without any opposition, and covered almost every part of the devoted island. Public as well as private structures were overturned; the priests were everywhere slain before the altars; the prelates and the people, without any respect of persons, were destroyed with fire and sword; nor was there any to bury those who had been thus cruelly slaughtered. Some of the miserable remainder, being taken in the mountains, were butchered in heaps; others, spent with hunger, came forth and submitted themselves to the enemy for food, being destined to undergo perpetual servitude, if they were not killed even upon the spot some, with sorrowful hearts, fled beyond the seas. Others, continuing in their own country, led a miserable life among the woods, rocks, and mountains, with scarcely enough food to support life, and expecting every moment to be their last.

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    I have to say, though, calling Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum England's version of Germania is rather misleading. Bede's work is rather along the lines of Saxo Grammaticus's Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes ) and vice-versa. Tacitus' Germania is in a strict class all by itself--it is the possession of Latins by culture, but it is the topical possession of all modern Englishmen, Danes, et al. Germania is unrivalled universally, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is unrivalled among Englishmen, and Gesta Danorum is unrivalled (I suppose) among Danes.
    Last edited by +Suomut+; Saturday, November 20th, 2004 at 03:05 AM.

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    New Member Earl Uhtred's Avatar
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    I'm glad you approve I'm down there every week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Uhtred
    I'm glad you approve I'm down there every week.
    R U English, Earl? Where'd U get the custom avatar from? Good battle scene, I suppose the guys with the axes are Norsemen & the guys with swords/spears are Englishmen! LOL Oh, the good ole' days of inter-Germanic warfare, ah, those were the days! "The Germanic brother that doesn't destroy me only makes me stronger." (I would WINK, but the freaking smilies DON'T WORK, gggggrrrrrr) Cheers.

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    New Member Earl Uhtred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suomut2_13
    R U English, Earl?
    Oh yes.

    Where'd U get the custom avatar from?
    I scanned it out of an Osprey title, 'Viking Hersir' - it's supposed to be the Battle of Brunanburh.

    Good battle scene, I suppose the guys with the axes are Norsemen & the guys with swords/spears are Englishmen! LOL


    If you have the whole picture it's apparent the English are on the right and the Viking alliance on the left. The bloke at the centre of my avatar is supposed to be a Norseman, yes.

    Oh, the good ole' days of inter-Germanic warfare, ah, those were the days! "The Germanic brother that doesn't destroy me only makes me stronger." (I would WINK, but the freaking smilies DON'T WORK, gggggrrrrrr) Cheers. [/color]
    Aye, but then internecine strife is part of our common story isn't it? By such rocks men killed Bloodaxe...
    Last edited by Earl Uhtred; Sunday, December 14th, 2003 at 04:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Uhtred
    Oh yes.
    I'm happy to hear this, Earl. We need more English folks in this Ting posting English-related pieces. I've posted my fair share.

    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Uhtred
    I scanned it out of an Osprey title, 'Viking Hersir' - it's supposed to be the Battle of Brunanburh.
    I've got a seperate post for this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Uhtred
    If you have the whole picture it's apparent the English are on the right and the Viking alliance on the left. The bloke at the centre of my avatar is supposed to be a Norseman, yes.
    My suspicions were correct, the axes flying were a dead give away! Thanks for blowing it up a little, lad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Uhtred
    Aye, but then internecine strife is part of our common story isn't it? By such rocks men killed Bloodaxe...
    Perhaps I'm not off base in stating that the modern English are descended from some of the most VIOLENT Germanics who have ever walked this earth. Needless to say, Englishmen are GOOD at fighting and waging war, it's in the 'blood.' lol

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    New Member Earl Uhtred's Avatar
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    Cheers, Suomut I registered after reading one of the articles you posted as it happens. Much as I like SF - where I post as 'godwinson' - there's more in the way of credible cultural / historical discussion here.

    Said I was English, not strictly true, though I have lived in this country all my life I'm in large part German, right down to the surname.

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    By the way, what happened to Bede's monastery?
    The Phora

    "There are no principles; there are only events. There is no good and bad, there are only circumstances. The superior man espouses events and circumstances in order to guide them. If there were principles and fixed laws, nations would not change them as we change our shirts and a man can not be expected to be wiser than an entire nation."
    —Honoré de Balzac

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    I saw this and knew instantly that Loki would enjoy it so I thought I would post it. :p

    "The aspect of Europe was changing, but the fundamental character of its life remained the same. These States, which have been described as national States [Fade: the barbarian kingdoms], were not really national at all, but were merely fragments of the great unity which had been replaced. There was no profound transformation except in Britain.

    There the Emperor and the civilization of the Empire had disappeared. Nothing remained of the old tradition. A new world had made its appearance. The old law and language and institutions were replaced by those of the Germans. A civilization of a new type was manifesting itself, which we may call the Nordic or Germanic civilization. It was completely opposed to the Mediterranean civilization syncretized in the Late Empire, that last form of antiquity. Here was no trace of the Roman State with its legislative ideal, its civil population, and its Christian religion, but a society which had preserved the blood tie between its members; the family community, with all the consequences which it entailed in law and morality and economy; a paganism like that of the heroic poems; such were the things that constituted the originality of these barbarians, who had thrust back the ancient world in order to take its place. In Britain a new age was beginning, which did not gravitate towards the South. The man of the North had conquered and taken for his own this extreme corner of that “Romania” of which he had no memories, whose majesty he had repudiated, and to which he owed nothing. In every sense of the word he replaced it, and in replacing it he destroyed it.

    The Anglo-Saxon invaders came into the Empire fresh from their Germanic environment, and had never been subjected to the influences of Rome. Further, the province of Britain, in which they had established themselves, was the least Romanized of all the provinces. In Britian, therefore, they remained themselves; the Germanic, Nordic, Barbarian soul of peoples whose culture might almost be described as Homeric has been the essential factor in the history of this country."

    Henri Pirenne, Mohammed and Charlemagne (London, 1954), pp.140-41
    The Phora

    "There are no principles; there are only events. There is no good and bad, there are only circumstances. The superior man espouses events and circumstances in order to guide them. If there were principles and fixed laws, nations would not change them as we change our shirts and a man can not be expected to be wiser than an entire nation."
    —Honoré de Balzac

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    Bloody excellent article, thanks!

    Her ealswa we sculon ofercuman!
    I am Ripper... Tearer... Slasher... Gouger.
    I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night.
    Mine is Strength... and Lust... and Power!
    I AM BEOWULF!

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