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The Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117-38), showing the location of the Anglii then inhabiting the neck of the Jutland peninsula (Denmark)

The Angles is a modern English word for a Germanic-speaking people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The Angles were one of the main groups that settled in Britain in the post-Roman period, founding several of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, and their name is the root of the name "England".

Contents

Etymology

The ethnic name "Angle" has had various forms and spellings, the earliest attested being the Latinized name Anglii, a Germanic tribe mentioned in the Germania of Tacitus.

The original noun from which this adjective was produced has not been determined with confidence. The stem is theorized to have had the form *Ang?l/r-. The more prominent etymological theories concerning the name's origin have included:

  • Derivation from the Latin word angulus, translating as "angle".
  • The Old English word for the Baltic district of Angeln (where the Angles are believed to have emigrated from) is Angel. This is the preferred etymological theory amongst historians, and may connect to Angle (the peninsula is noted for its "angular" shape).
  • It may mean "the people who dwell by the Narrow Water," (i.e. the Schlei), from the Proto-Indo-European language root ang- meaning "narrow".
  • Derivation from the Germanic god Ingwaz or the Ingvaeones federation of which the Angles were part (the initial vowel could as well be "a" or "e").

Pope Gregory the Great is the first known to have simplified Anglii to Angli, which he did in an epistle, the latter form developing into the preferred form of the word in Britain and throughout the continent (the generic form becoming Anglus in answer). The country remained Anglia in Latin. Meanwhile, there are several likenesses of form and meaning attested in Old English literature: King Alfred's (Alfred the Great) translation of Orosius' history of the world uses Angelcynn (-kin) to describe England and the English people; Bede used Angelfolc (-folk); there are also such forms as Engel, Englan (the people), Englaland, and Englisc, all showing signs of vocalic mutation and later developing into the dominant forms.

Angle is used as the root of the French and Anglo-Norman words Angleterre (Angleland, i.e. England) and anglais (English).

Early history

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Angles under other names

Two important geographers, Strabo and Pliny, are silent concerning the Angles. Their reasons for this exclusion was their consideration of the south shore of the Baltic to be terra incognita, "unknown land." However, both Strabo and Pliny describe that shore. Since the Angles took a geographic name, they likely had other names not based on geography.

Strabo's mention of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest places his knowledge in the final years of Augustus' reign and after, which is the early first century. Strabo (7.2.1, 4 and 7.3.1) states that the Cimbri still live on the peninsula (Jutland) where they always did, even though some of them liked to wander. Beyond the Elbe the coastal people are unknown in Strabo's work, but south of them are the Suebi from the Elbe to the Getae (Goths). Strabo worked eastward from the Rhine.

Pliny, on the other hand, worked from east to west (4.13.94). His description leaves the Black Sea, crosses the Ripaei mountains to the shore of the northern ocean, and follows it westward to Cadiz. In the first direction is Scythia, where the Sarmati, Venedi, Sciri, and Hirri are located, as far as the Vistula. Then the Inguaeones begin. Baunonia (Bornholm) is an island opposite Scythia. Cylipenus, probably the Bay of Kiel, is described, and from there a gulf called Lagnus, which is on the frontier of the Cimbri. Its location is not known, but it was likely in the Angeln region.

In Pliny, the Inguaeones consisted of the Cimbri and the Teutones (the Chauci as well, but they were not in this region). If Lagnus was situated on the Cimbrian frontier and after Kiel, then Angeln must have been in the territory of the Teutones. They were perhaps not named "Angles" at that time; however, the territory of the Teutones probably included the Vorpommern and the region south to the Elbe (mainly Holstein), accounting for the implied larger range of the Angles in later sources.

Tacitus

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

Possibly the first instance of the Angles in recorded history is in Tacitus' Germania, chapter 40, in which the "Anglii" are mentioned in passing in a list of Germanic tribes. He gives no precise indication of their geographical situation but states that, together with six other tribes, they worshiped a goddess named Nerthus, whose sanctuary was located on "an island in the Ocean". The other tribes are the Reudigni, Aviones, Varini, Eudoses, Suarini and Nuitones[1], which together are described as being behind ramparts of rivers and woods[2], i.e., inaccessible to attack. As the Eudoses are the Jutes, these names probably refer to localities in Jutland or on the Baltic coast, in which case their inhabitants would be Cimbri or Teutones for Pliny. The coast contains sufficient estuaries, inlets, rivers, islands, swamps and marshes to have been then inaccessible to those not familiar with the terrain, such as the Romans, who considered it unknown and inaccessible country.

The majority of scholars believe that the Anglii lived on the coasts of the Baltic Sea, probably in the southern part of the Jutish peninsula. This view is based partly on Old English and Danish traditions regarding persons and events of the 4th century, and partly on the fact that striking affinities to the cult of Nerthus as described by Tacitus are to be found in pre-Christian Scandinavian, especially Swedish and Danish, religion.

Investigations in this subject have rendered it very probable that the island of Nerthus was Sjælland (Zealand). The kings of Wessex traced their ancestry to a certain Scyld, who is clearly to be identified with Skiöldr, the mythical founder of the Danish royal family (Skiöldungar). In English tradition this person is connected with "Scedeland" (pl.), i.e. Scandinavia, while in Scandinavian tradition he is associated with the ancient royal residence at Lejre in Sjælland.

The account in Germania is inconsistent with Strabo's and Pliny's on a major point. Tacitus called the Baltic the Suebian Sea and viewed the seven tribes that included the Anglii as Suebi. For Pliny the Suebi were among the tribes of Herminones in central Germany. For Strabo, the Suebi were to the south of the coast. The Suebian language developed into Old High German, while the Angles and Jutes were among the speakers of Old Saxon.

Suevi Angili

Ptolemy in his Geography (2.10), half a century later, presents a somewhat more complex view. The Saxons are placed around the lower Elbe, which area they could have reached merely by an extension of the Saxon alliance. East of them are the Teutones and also a dissimilation of them, the Teutonoari, which denotes "men" (wer); i.e., "the Teuton men." These Teutons or Teuton men appear to have been in Angeln and the land around it.

The Angles, as such, are not listed at all. Instead there are Syeboi Angeilloi, Latinized to Suevi Angili, located south of the middle Elbe. Owing to the uncertainty of this passage, there has been much speculation regarding the original home of the Anglii. One theory is that they dwelt in the basin of the Saale (in the neighbourhood of the canton Engilin), from which region the Lex Angliorum et Werinorum hoc est Thuringorum is believed by many to have come.

A second possible solution is that these Angles of Ptolemy are not those of Schleswig at all. According to Julius Pokorny the Angri- in Angrivarii, the -angr in Hardanger and the Angl- in Anglii all come from the same root meaning "bend", but in different senses. In other words, the similarity of the names is strictly coincidental and does not reflect any ethnic unity beyond Germanic. The Suevi Angeli would have been in Lower Saxony or near it and, like Ptolemy's Suevi Semnones, were among the Suebi at the time.

Bede

Manuscript of Bede.

Bede states that the Anglii, before coming to Great Britain, dwelt in a land called Angulus, and similar evidence is given by the Historia Brittonum. King Alfred the Great and the chronicler Æthelweard identified this place with the district that is now called Angeln, in the province of Schleswig (Slesvig) (though it may then have been of greater extent), and this identification agrees with the indications given by Bede. Confirmation is afforded by English and Danish traditions relating to two kings named Wermund and Offa, from whom the Mercian royal family were descended and whose exploits are connected with Angeln, Schleswig, and Rendsburg. Danish tradition has preserved record of two governors of Schleswig, father and son, in their service, Frowinus (Freawine) and Wigo (Wig), from whom the royal family of Wessex claimed descent. During the 5th century, the Anglii invaded Great Britain, after which time their name does not recur on the continent except in the title of Suevi Angili.

The province of Schleswig has proved rich in prehistoric antiquities that date apparently from the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. A broad cremation cemetery has been found at Borgstedterfeld, between Rendsburg and Eckernförde, and it has yielded many urns and brooches closely resembling those found in heathen graves in England. Of still greater importance are the great deposits at Thorsberg moor (in Angeln) and Nydam, which contained large quantities of arms, ornaments, articles of clothing, agricultural implements, etc., and in Nydam even ships. By the help of these discoveries, Angle civilization in the age preceding the invasion of Great Britain can be fitted together.

Angle kingdoms in England

Angles and Saxons throughout England

According to sources such as the History of Bede, after the invasion of Great Britain, the Angles split up and founded the kingdoms of the Nord Angelnen (Northumbria), Ost Angelnen (East Anglia), and the Mittlere Angelnen (Mercia). In early times there were two northern kingdoms (Bernicia and Deira) and two midland ones (Middle Anglia and Mercia). As a result of influence from the West Saxons, the tribes were collectively called Anglo-Saxons by the Normans, the West Saxon kingdom having conquered, united and founded the Kingdom of England by the 10th century. The regions of East Anglia and Northumbria are still known by their original titles to this day. Northumbria once stretched as far north as what is now southeast Scotland, including Edinburgh, and as far south as the Humber Estuary.

The rest of that people stayed at the centre of the Angle homeland in the northeastern portion of the modern German Bundesland of Schleswig-Holstein, on the Jutland Peninsula. There, a small peninsular area is still called "Angeln" today and is formed as a triangle drawn roughly from modern Flensburg on the Flensburger Fjord to the City of Schleswig and then to Maasholm, on the Schlei inlet.

St. Gregory

The Angles are the subject of a legend about Pope Gregory I which apparently has roots in history. Gregory happened to see a group of Angle children from Deira for sale as slaves in the Roman market. Gregory inquired about their background. When told they were called "Anglii" (Angles), he replied with a Latin pun that translates well into English: “Bene, nam et angelicam habent faciem, et tales angelorum in caelis decet esse coheredes” ("It is well, for they have an angelic face, and such people ought to be co-heirs of the angels in heaven"). Supposedly, he thereafter resolved to convert their pagan homeland to Christianity.[3]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Tacitus, Germania, 40, Medieval Source Book. Code and format by Northvegr.[1]
  2. ^ Tacitus (1877), Germania, 40; translation from The Agricola and Germania, A. J. Church and W. J. Brodribb, trans., London: Macmillan, pp. 87-110(?), as recorded in the Medieval Sourcebook [2]
  3. ^ Ecclesiastical History of the English People, book 2 by Bede

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ANGLI,' 'ANGLII or ANGLES, a Teutonic people mentioned by Tacitus in his Germania (cap. 40) at the end of the 1st century. He gives no precise indication of their geographical position, but states that, together with six other tribes, including the Varini (the Warni of later times), they worshipped a goddess named Nerthus, whose sanctuary was situated on "an island in the Ocean." Ptolemy in his Geography (ii. 15), half a century later, locates them with more precision between the Rhine, or rather perhaps the Ems, and the Elbe, and speaks of them as one of the chief tribes of the interior. Unfortunately, however, it is clear from a comparison of his map with the evidence furnished by Tacitus and other Roman writers that the indications which he gives cannot be correct. Owing to the uncertainty of these passages there has been much speculation regarding the original home of the Angli. One theory, which however has little to recommend it, is that they dwelt in the basin of the Saale (in the neighbourhood of the canton Engilin), from which region the Lex Angliorum et Werinorum hoc est Thuringorum is believed by many to have come. At the present time the majority of scholars believe that the Angli had lived from the beginning on the coasts of the Baltic, probably in the southern part of the Jutish peninsula. The evidence for this view is derived partly from English and Danish traditions dealing with persons and events of the 4th century (see below), and partly from the fact that striking affinities to the cult of Nerthus as described by Tacitus are to be found in Scandinavian, especially Swedish and Danish, religion. Investigations in this subject have rendered it very probable that the island of Nerthus was Sjaelland (Zealand), and it is further to be observed that the kings of Wessex traced their ancestry ultimately to a certain Scyld, who is clearly to be identified with Sk16ldr, the mythical founder of the Danish royal family (Skidldungar). In English tradition this person is connected with "Scedeland" (pl.), a name which may have been applied to Sjaelland as well as Skane, while in Scandinavian tradition he is specially associated with the ancient royal residence at Leire in Sjaelland.

Bede states that the Angli before they came to Britain dwelt in a land called Angulus, and similar evidence is given by the Historia Brittonum. King Alfred and the chronicler ZEthelweard identified this place with the district which is now called Angel in the province of Schleswig (Slesvig), though it may then have been of greater extent, and this identification agrees very well with the indications given by Bede. Full confirmation is afforded by English and Danish traditions relating to two kings named Wermund and Offa, from whom the M e rcian royal family were descended, and whose exploits are connected with Angel, Schleswig and Rendsburg. Danish tradition has preserved record of two governors of Schleswig, father and son, in their service, Frowinus (Freawine) and Wigo (Wig), from whom the royal family of Wessex claimed descent. During the 5th century the Angli invaded this country (see Britain, AngloSaxon), after which time their name does not recur on the continent except in the title of the code mentioned above.

The province of Schleswig has proved exceptionally rich in prehistoric antiquities which date apparently from the 4th and 5th centuries. Among the places where these have been found, special mention should be made of the large cremation cemetery at Borgstedterfeld, between Rendsburg and EckernfOrde, which has yielded many urns and brooches closely resembling those found in heathen graves in England. Of still greater importance are the great deposits at Thorsbjaerg (in Angel) and Nydam, which contained large quantities of arms, ornaments, articles of clothing, agricultural implements, &c., and in the latter case even ships. By the help of these discoveries we are able to reconstruct a fairly detailed picture of English civilization in the age preceding the invasion of Britain.

- Bede, Hist. Ecc. i. 15; King Alfred's version of Orosius, i. 1. §§ 12, 19; fEthelweard's Chronicle, lib. i. For traditions concerning the kings of Angel, see under OFFA (i). L. Weiland, Die Angeln (1889); A. Erdmann, Ober die Heimat and den Namen der Angeln (Upsala, 1890 - cf. H. Moller in the Anzeiger fiir deutsches Altertum and deutsche Litteratur, xxii. 129 ff.); A. Kock in the Historisk Tidskrift (Stockholm), 1895, xv. p. 163 ff.; G. Schutte, Var Anglerne Tyskere? (Flensborg, 1900); H. Munro Chadwick, The Origin of the English Nation (Cambridge, 1907); C. Engelhardt, Denmark in the Early Iron Age (London, 1866); J. Mestorf, Urnenfriedhofe in Schleswig-Holstein (Hamburg, 1886); S. Muller, Nordische Altertumskunde (Ger. trans., Strassburg, 1898), ii. p. 122 ff.; see further ANGLO-SAXONS and BRITAIN, Anglo-Saxon. (H. M. C.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also angli

Italian

Proper noun

Angli m. plural

  1. Angles

Anagrams

  • Anagrams of agiln
  • lagni

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