Germanic Invasions and Cultural Assimilation in Britain

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Germanic invasions: 'Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum'

Official account of the Germanic invasions (449). Angles in Britain first drove the enemy, after they made a league with them and went against their allies. The Heptarchy: 7 Anglo-Saxon 'kingdoms' - Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex. England as a politically unified nation in the 10th century.

Dialects of Old English:

River Humber, River Thames, South, South/South-West.

The Germanic occupation of Britain was cruel, and most Britons died. The culture of Britons was not assimilated by Germanic tribes. Atheling (royal family), Earl (major nobility), Thegn (Minor nobility), Freemen, and Serf. Conversion of Germanic invaders to Christianity: Christianity was brought to England by two sources:

  • Sent from Rome by Pope Gregory, St. Augustine arrived in Kent to convert the English people.
  • Irish influence in the North - Disglossic speech community. Latin was prestigious as a superstratum, while Vernacular English was used in the oral domain as a substratum. King Alfred promoted the use of the vernacular as the dominant language.

Scandinavian Invasion:

Three stages: 1. Raiding stage 2. Settlement stage 3. Political assimilation. Mixing of Anglo-Saxons and Danes. Place names with common Scandinavian suffixes: -beck, -by, -slack, -thorp(e), -thwaite or -toft.

Linguistic features of OE: OE was not a uniform language - most of OE was not written standard. Diachronic and geographical differences. Few texts from Northumbrian, Mercian, and Kentish. West-Saxon was the dominant regiolect.

4.2.1: Orthography and phonology.

Germanic people were 'illiterate'. Futhark: 24 runes. Used on stone, bones, and wood. Brief texts like inscriptions and dedicatory formulae on stone memorial monuments indicate ownership. Examples include the Franks Casket (c. 700) and Ruthwell Cross (8th century).

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