Angeln: Wikis


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The map shows both the Angeln peninsula (to the east of Flensburg and Schleswig) and the Schwansen peninsula (south of the Schlei).

Modern Angeln, also known as Anglia (German and English: Angeln, Danish: Angel, Latin: Anglia), is a peninsula in Southern Schleswig in the northern Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, protruding into the Bay of Kiel. It is separated from the neighbouring peninsula of Schwansen (Danish: Svans or Svansø) by the Schlei inlet, and from the Danish island of Als by the Flensburger Förde ("Firth of Flensburg"). Whether ancient Angeln conformed to these borders is uncertain. It may have been somewhat larger; however, the ancient sources mainly concur that it included the territory of modern Angeln.

Angeln has a significance far beyond its current small area and country terrain, in that it is believed to have been the original home of the Angles, Germanic immigrants to central and northern England, and East Anglia. This migration led to their new homeland being named after them, from which the name "England" derives. Both England and the English language thus ultimately derive their names from the Angles and Angeln.



In one theory the name of the Angles came from Germanic words for "narrow" (compare German eng = "narrow"), and meant "the people who live beside the Narrow [Water]", i.e. beside the Schlei estuary. The root would be *angh-, "tight".

The word Engel in German means "angel", but is used as a way to designate the area they occupied (Anglia). The most common theory is that the name Angeln itself etymologically means "hook", as in angling for fish. Many reputable etymological dictionaries are silent on its root. Julius Pokorny, a major Indo-European linguist, derives it from *ang-, "bend". The meaning would be Anwohner der Holsteiner Bucht, "residents at the Bay of Holstein". The problem with this derivation is that Grimm's Law does not appear to apply to it. The theory that "Angeln" refers to a landform resembling a hook would have required advanced mapmaking abilities by its people, and is thus misleading.

The town of Schleswig on the Schlei

Angeln is situated on the large bight linking the Baltic coast to Jutland, which is mainly the Bay of Kiel (Kieler Bucht), but might be seen as Holsteiner Bucht.

The Angles were part of the Federation of the Ingaevones, with their mythyical ancestor and god of fertility Yngvi, and both terms might well share the same root (inglish -> anglish), say as the origin of the federation. Pokorny points out the possible use of this etymological root in other ancient names, such as Hardanger and Angrivarii.

Early history

The region was home to the Germanic people, the Angles, who, together with Saxons and Jutes, left their home to migrate to Britain in the 5th-6th centuries. For the years 449-455, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ca. 890 A.D., describes how King Vortigern (a British tribal king) invited the Angles to come and receive land in return for helping him defend against marauding Picts. Those successful Angles sent word back that good land was available and that the British were worthless (presumably as soldiers). A wholesale emigration of Angles and kindred German peoples followed.

The Chronicle, commissioned by King Alfred the Great, drew on earlier oral traditions and on the few written fragments available. The best of these, written around 730 A.D., was by the monk Bede whose history of English Christianity had the following brief account of Anglo origins:

"...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." (Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I, Chapter XV, 731 A.D.)

The phrase "north of the Humber" refers to the northern kingdom of Northumbria which includes what is now north and north-eastern England and part of southern Scotland. Mercia was located in central England and broadly corresponds to what is now known as the English Midlands.

It had long been suspected from all the Germanic sources that this report is too simple, a suspicion confirmed by the archaeology; namely, the fibulae, or brooches, worn by the women. There are essentially two kinds, the saucer brooch and the cruciform brooch. East coastal and northern Britain were settled by women wearing cruciform brooches, which came from coastal Scandinavia, all of Denmark, and Schleswig-Holstein all the way south to the lower Elbe and all the way east to the Oder, as well as a pocket in coastal Friesland, the embarkation point.

South central Britain was settled by women wearing the saucer brooch, which came from Lower Saxony, the south side of the lower Elbe, and pockets among the then Franks up the Rhine and along the coast to the mouth of the Seine.

Eastern Sweden, except in the far north, did not use either brooch, which may indicate that they were not as close culturally to the westward-looking population; i.e., they formed a conservative subculture of their own, the nucleus of a future Sweden. They would have looked adventurously rather to the east, where the Goths had gone and where the Vikings who would found Russia were to go.

The most logical conclusion is that the "Angles" were the people who populated all of Schleswig-Holstein and Western Pomerania south to the first big bend in the Elbe. They must have included identities mentioned under other names in the more ancient sources, just as the Angles themselves must have had other names. A more complete presentation is given under Angles.

Later history

The Isted Lion, Berlin copy.

After the Angles departed from Anglia, by the 8th century the region was occupied by Danish Vikings. This is reflected in the large number of place names ending in -by (meaning -village) in the region today. In the Viking period, the chronicler Æthelweard reports that the most important town in Angeln was Hedeby.

Later Angeln's history is subsumed in that of the larger surrounding region, which came to be known as Southern Jutland or Schleswig (Danish: Slesvig). Until the 19th century, the area primarily belonged to Denmark. But ethnically and linguistically a mixed German/Danish population evolved. Denmark lost Schleswig to Austria and Prussia in 1864 as a result of the second war of Schleswig. In 1920, following Germany's defeat in World War I, a plebiscite was held to determine which areas should return to Danish control. As a result of the plebiscite, much of Schleswig returned to Denmark, but Angeln remained in Germany. See Schleswig-Holstein Question for a detailed history.

See also


  • Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I, Bede, ca. 731 A.D.,
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Translated and collated by Anne Savage, Dorset Press, 1983, ISBN 0-88029-061-7
  • Malcom Falkus and John Gillingham, Historical Atlas of Britain, Crescent Books, 1987, ISBN 0-517-63382-5

External links

Coordinates: 54°40′39″N 9°39′23″E / 54.677404°N 9.656296°E / 54.677404; 9.656296


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Angeln f.

  1. Plural form of Angel.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Map of Angeln and Schwansen]] Modern Angeln, (Danish: Angel; Latin: Anglia, which also means in direct translation from Latin: England), is a peninsula in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Ancient Angeln may have been somewhat larger than the Angeln of today, but following the ancient sources it included the territory of modern Angeln.

Angeln has an importance far beyond its small area, as it seems to have been the original home of the Angles who invaded the southern part of Great Britain, which was named after them, England. And so the name of the major world language, English, seems to have taken its name from this little region.

Following the departure of the Angles from Anglia about 350 [1], the region was occupied by Danish settlers not later than the 8th century.


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