The Development of Anglo-Saxon Britain


The British Isles before Rome
Julius Caesar was the first Roman leader that we know about to bring a serious expeditionary force to the British Isles. But what were they like before Caesar arrived? Who were the Celts and the Picts and the Welsh? Learn more about their religion and their warfare and their daily life.

Julius Caesar's 'Visits' to Britain
Roman General Julius Caesar went to Britain twice. His voyages were the beginnings of what would become Roman Britain.

Claudius's Conquest of Britain
Roman Emperor Claudius finished what Caesar started, completing the Roman conquest of Britain.

Roman Britain
Trade flourished between Britain and the Roman world for a few decades after Julius Caesar left for good, but no Roman troops crossed the Channel for a good while. Eventually, a new emperor, Claudius, found the need to prove himself so he decided to have his troops invade Britain. Claudius ordered an expedition of conquest, sending 40,000 troops and several war elephants to Britain. ... And so on, as Rome rolls across Britain and eventually conquer it and Wales. Find out more about Roman Britain – its people and armies and religion and daily life.

The British Isles after Rome
After painstakingly conquering much of the British Isles and then making it over in significant regard, the Romans left, in 407. It was still Roman Britain, but the Romans were no longer in Britain. The Picts and Scots saw this, and took advantage. Not satisfied with poking their noses across Hadrian's Wall, they mounted a full-scale invasion and drove the Britons far, far back to the south. In a panic, the Britons appealed to Rome. This appeal had been turned down the first time around, in 410, when the Western Roman Emperor had admonished the Britons to fight their own battles; but the Britons lived in hope and so tried again.

King Arthur: Birth of a Legend
Stemming the tide of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England for a tide, or so the stories go, was a shadowy figure of questionable historicity named Arthur. Some stories say that he was king, perhaps of all England. Other stories say that he was a Roman soldier left behind, trying to keep the Roman dream alive even as the rest of Rome's troops had disappeared to defend the homeland. Through the years, the legends have proliferated, multiplying much more quickly than the facts. It was only in the 19th Century that archeologists really started to look for proof of the existence of Arthur Pendragon. By that time, the stories of magic and strange sights and a Round Table and a beautiful queen had long been "known."

The Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy
The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes eventually conquered most of what is now called England (after Angle-land). In doing so, they established seven major kingdoms called the Heptarchy. Learn more about these seven kingdoms, including their leaders and their fates and fortunes through a few years before the arrival of the Danes and then the Normans.

Anglo-Saxon Life
The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes fought much of the time–among themselves and against one another–but they also had other facets of their daily lives. Find out more about Anglo-Saxon farming, religion, laws, cultures, and more.

Anglo-Saxon Riddles
One of the favorite pastimes of the Anglo-Saxons, when they had spare time, was to tell and guess riddles. Many of these exist to this day. Discover the wit of these medieval people and try your hand at some hundreds-year-old riddles.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2018
David White