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Thread: Huns among Anglo-Saxons? No, no and again no!

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    Huns among Anglo-Saxons? No, no and again no!

    Just had a private query on this. Here is the relevant section from my draft text:

    Bede ... relied heavily on the 6th-century text by the Briton Gildas for the arrival of Germanic-speaking peoples in Britain. Gildas tells us that after Britain was stripped of its Roman legions, the wretched Britons lay open to predatory Irish and Picts, who butchered them like sheep. Eventually a British leader, Vortigern, decided to call in Saxon mercenaries for protection. Fierce and impious Saxons arrived in eastern Britain in three ships of war, their sails wafted by the wind. Gildas bewailed this folly, for the result was not protection of the Britons, but war on them, once the incomers were no longer satisfied with the provisions granted to them.

    Their mother-land, finding her first brood thus successful, sends forth a larger company of her wolfish offspring, which sailing over, join themselves to their bastard-born comrades.
    Bede inserted Angles into this picture of the earliest arrivals, removed the derogatory epithets about his ancestors and added a description of the larger wave of forces:

    They came from three very powerful Germanic tribes, the Saxons, Angles and Jutes. The people of Kent and the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight are of Jutish origin and also those opposite the Isle of Wight, that part of the kingdom of Wessex which is still today called the nation of the Jutes. From the Saxon country, that is the district now known as Old Saxony, came the East Saxons, the South Saxons, and the West Saxons. Besides this, from the country of the Angles, that is, the land between the kingdoms of the Jutes and the Saxons, which is called Angulus, came the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians and all the Northumbrian race (that is the people who dwell north of the river Humber) as well as the other Anglian tribes. Angulus is said to have remained deserted from that day to this.
    This passage was accepted by generations of historians, but in the revisionist zeal of the 1970s-1990s, it was dismissed as little more than fable. It is true that Bede was writing long after these events, but he lived all his life in Anglian Northumbria. We receive here the sense that he was reporting on an oral tradition of a mass movement from the homeland he calls Angulus, which later Anglo-Saxon accounts locate as the district known today as Angeln in eastern Schleswig, Germany.

    Another passage in The Ecclesiastical History has been much misunderstood. It comes in the chapter in which Bede describes the life of the Anglo-Saxon St Ecgberht (639-729), who planned to go Continental Europe, but never actually did:

    He planned to bring blessing to many peoples by ... carrying the word of God … to some of those nations who had not yet heard it. He knew that there were very many peoples in Germania, from whom the Angles and Saxons, who now live in Britain, derive their origin; hence even to this day they are by a corruption called Garmani by their neighbours the Britons. Now these people are the Frisians, Rugians, Danes, Huns, Old Saxons and Boruhtware [Bructeri]; there are also many other nations in the same land who are still practising heathen rites to whom this soldier of Christ proposed to go.
    Several authors have assumed this to be a list of the peoples who came to Britain. The phraseology is ambiguous, if taken out of context. Bede clumsily interrupted his story of Ecgberht, probably taken from a now lost life of the saint, with a digression to explain to his readers that the Angles and Saxons were Germanic. The list that follows is of the pagan peoples in Germania that Ecgberht hoped to convert. 'Germania' is generally translated from Bede's Latin as 'Germany', but this is misleading. Germany is a modern country, whose boundaries do not follow the Roman concept of Germania. The latter included the known parts of Scandinavia. This explains the inclusion of the Danes in this list. The inclusion of the Huns is more surprising, as they were neither Germani nor in Germania in Ecgberht's day. Attila had commanded large parts of Europe, but his forces disintegrated after Attila's death in 453. So it seems that Ecgberht partially relied on an archaic source. By the time Bede was writing, Anglo-Saxon missionaries were actually working on the Continent. Willibrord had been in Frisia since the 690s. He was joined in 716 by Wynfreth of Wessex. In 719 Wynfreth arrived in Rome, where Pope Gregory II gave him the name Boniface and a commission to preach to the pagans. In 738 Boniface, by then an archbishop, appealed to 'all God-fearing Catholics sprung from the English race' for their prayers in his mission to bring Christianity to the pagan Saxons. 'Have pity on them, for even they themselves are wont to say: 'We are of one and blood and one bone.'

    So to sum up this chapter so far, the Anglo-Saxons themselves pictured a past in what is now Germany and Scandinavia. The same picture emerges from the archaeological record....
    Last edited by Jean M; 05-08-2017 at 06:21 AM.

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    The Huns have often been treated as primitive barbarians with no advanced political organisation. Their place of origin was the so-called 'backward steppe'. It has been argued that whatever political organisation they achieved they owed to the 'civilizing influence' of the Germanic peoples they encountered as they moved west. This book argues that the steppes of Inner Asia were far from 'backward' and that the image of the primitive Huns is vastly misleading. They already possessed a highly sophisticated political culture while still in Inner Asia and, far from being passive recipients of advanced culture from the West, they passed on important elements of Central Eurasian culture to early medieval Europe, which they helped create. Their expansion also marked the beginning of a millennium of virtual monopoly of world power by empires originating in the steppes of Inner Asia. The rise of the Hunnic Empire was truly a geopolitical revolution.
    http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/c...sbn=1107069378

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    Quote Originally Posted by gravetti View Post
    The Huns have often been treated as primitive barbarians with no advanced political organisation.
    Gravetti - The political organisation of the Huns makes no difference to my conclusion, I assure you. The Germani at this time did not have an advanced political organisation. If people want to call them primitive barbarians, well that is pretty much how they looked to the Romans. That includes the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. I make a point of explaining this. The Anglo-Saxons had no central political organisation until finaly united, centuries after their arrival in Britain.

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    Is it possible to entirely rule out though that some of the peoples who arrived in the UK during the A/S period may have had at least some Hun ancestry? This article seems rather speculative to me but I don't have the level of historical knowledge to judge the content :-

    https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...uc3wR43Y2-WJmg

    Here is an article about the spread of "Hun DNA" across Europe whether it's factually accurate I don't know. possibly not. :-

    https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...g9Kg6elYi9jVJA

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnHowellsTyrfro View Post
    Is it possible to entirely rule out though that some of the peoples who arrived in the UK during the A/S period may have had at least some Hun ancestry?
    Pretty much. The Huns did not enter Jutland or what is northern Germany. See map https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Huns450.png

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnHowellsTyrfro View Post
    This article seems rather speculative to me but I don't have the level of historical knowledge to judge the content
    John - I'm afraid that I don't have time to read the article and comment. But perhaps someone else will.

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    Map of the Hunnic Empire under Attila
    https://www.awesomestories.com/asset...e-under-Attila

    http://www.emersonkent.com/map_archi...empire_450.htm

    It is argued that the Huns, as a historical fact, were present in Scandinavia in the early fifth century. Their impact was to generate an‘episodic transition’ that opened up a whole new set of social, religious andpolitical strategies, in Scandinavia in particular as well as in Barbarian Europein general, and gave rise to a new Germanic identity in the aftermath of the Roman Empire.
    http://www.medievalists.net/2014/07/...migration-era/

    http://samla.raa.se/xmlui/bitstream/...2/2008_111.pdf

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    From the Caitlin Green article :-

    "Second, Lotte Hedeager has recently argued at length that a variety of archaeological and literary evidence indicates that the main 'Anglo-Saxon' homelands of northern Germany and southern Scandinavia were actually conquered and made a part of the Hunnic Empire during the first half of the fifth century, with a Hunnic presence maintained in this region for a period.(18) Needless to say this is a conclusion of considerable interest to both the present post and the study of the Adventus Saxonum in general. Certainly, if Hedeager is right, then the idea that the continental immigrants to eastern and southern Britain included Huns amongst their number and that there was a degree of Hunnic overlordship for at least the areas of Britain that had fallen under the immigrants' sway by the 440s would seem rather less surprising than might otherwise perhaps be the case."
    Is the answer one way or the other in the DNA? John

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    http://www.academia.edu/5352394/Scan..._Migration_Era

    Clearly, north of continental Europe is an ocean with islands, and scholars agree that itis the islands of the Baltic Sea to which herefers (Gibbon 2005:370, Thompson 1996:84with references

    This is an obvious conclusion from the fact that the Huns gained supremacy over the Gothic tribes living in the north along the Vistula basin. Thus, if this is in accordance with truth, the Huns’supremacy included part of Scandinavia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean M View Post
    Just had a private query on this. Here is the relevant section from my draft text:

    Bede ... relied heavily on the 6th-century text by the Briton Gildas for the arrival of Germanic-speaking peoples in Britain. Gildas tells us that after Britain was stripped of its Roman legions, the wretched Britons lay open to predatory Irish and Picts, who butchered them like sheep. Eventually a British leader, Vortigern, decided to call in Saxon mercenaries for protection. Fierce and impious Saxons arrived in eastern Britain in three ships of war, their sails wafted by the wind. Gildas bewailed this folly, for the result was not protection of the Britons, but war on them, once the incomers were no longer satisfied with the provisions granted to them.



    Bede inserted Angles into this picture of the earliest arrivals, removed the derogatory epithets about his ancestors and added a description of the larger wave of forces:



    This passage was accepted by generations of historians, but in the revisionist zeal of the 1970s-1990s, it was dismissed as little more than fable. It is true that Bede was writing long after these events, but he lived all his life in Anglian Northumbria. We receive here the sense that he was reporting on an oral tradition of a mass movement from the homeland he calls Angulus, which later Anglo-Saxon accounts locate as the district known today as Angeln in eastern Schleswig, Germany.

    Another passage in The Ecclesiastical History has been much misunderstood. It comes in the chapter in which Bede describes the life of the Anglo-Saxon St Ecgberht (639-729), who planned to go Continental Europe, but never actually did:



    Several authors have assumed this to be a list of the peoples who came to Britain. The phraseology is ambiguous, if taken out of context. Bede clumsily interrupted his story of Ecgberht, probably taken from a now lost life of the saint, with a digression to explain to his readers that the Angles and Saxons were Germanic. The list that follows is of the pagan peoples in Germania that Ecgberht hoped to convert. 'Germania' is generally translated from Bede's Latin as 'Germany', but this is misleading. Germany is a modern country, whose boundaries do not follow the Roman concept of Germania. The latter included the known parts of Scandinavia. This explains the inclusion of the Danes in this list. The inclusion of the Huns is more surprising, as they were neither Germani nor in Germania in Ecgberht's day. Attila had commanded large parts of Europe, but his forces disintegrated after Attila's death in 453. So it seems that Ecgberht partially relied on an archaic source. By the time Bede was writing, Anglo-Saxon missionaries were actually working on the Continent. Willibrord had been in Frisia since the 690s. He was joined in 716 by Wynfreth of Wessex. In 719 Wynfreth arrived in Rome, where Pope Gregory II gave him the name Boniface and a commission to preach to the pagans. In 738 Boniface, by then an archbishop, appealed to 'all God-fearing Catholics sprung from the English race' for their prayers in his mission to bring Christianity to the pagan Saxons. 'Have pity on them, for even they themselves are wont to say: 'We are of one and blood and one bone.'

    So to sum up this chapter so far, the Anglo-Saxons themselves pictured a past in what is now Germany and Scandinavia. The same picture emerges from the archaeological record....
    Although Shore (1906) is obviously outdated he gives a somewhat cryptic clue about the "Huns":: "The Hunsings were the same people as the Hunni mentioned by Bede(14) as one of the tribes by which England was settled. The country they occupied was a district in the province of Groningen, in the North of Holland, where the river Hunse flows from the south is, or was within the last century, known by its old name as the `District of Hunsing.`(15) The `Hundings` also are alluded to in the `Traveller`s Song,` Hundingum being mentioned as if the people were a separate tribe. The Phundusii, also mentioned by Ptolemy, were probably the same people at an earlier date, although located by him further to the north.(16) Hunnaland and Friesland are mentioned among the counties the Norse Vikings ravaged.(17) The pagus of the Huntanga, apparently, was located between the River Hunte in Oldenburg and the province of Groningen.(18) The name Hun, Hune, or Hunni is one which in the sense of giant prevails in the popular traditions of North Germany. Grimm(19) tells us that it is especially characteristic of the prehistoric traditions of Westphalia, and that it extends as far westward as the Groningen country and the river Drenth in Holland. Barrows and Dolmens, known as giant hills and giant tombs, are also called in these parts of Europe hunebedde and hunebedden, `bed` being commonly used for `grave.` Another country of the Hunni has been identified by some Northern writers with the northern part of Jutland, where a few place-names that contain the word Hune still survive. As the Frisians formerly extended much further north than their present limit in Schleswig, the occurrence of these names maybe quite consistent with the later connection of the same name with the Frisian Hunsings. It is quite certain that the name is a very ancient one, probably as old as that of Frisians themselves.
    From these circumstances and references we may see that the Hune or Huni name was probably applied to some of the inhabitants of Schleswig, as well as to some in East Friesland. In the eighth century we read of the boundaries of the Hune in the south part of Denmark.(20) There is a reference also to the forest which separates Hunaland(21) from Reidgotaland, the latter name having been identified as referring to Jutland. In the province of Drenthe in Holland, where the river Hunse has its source, there still exists a remnant of a more ancient population than the old Frisian. These people are of different physical characters from their neighbours. They are broad-headed, while the true Frisians are long-headed. They are brown in aspect, while the Frisians are fair, and they are supposed to be descendants of a remnant of the very ancient brown race of Europe who were left when their country was overrun at a remote period by people of the gothic or Germanic stock. We have no knowledge of the physical characters of the hunsings or Hunni mentioned by Bede, but as these brown people of Holland who are to be found in Drenthe and Overijssel occupy the country which was in part occupied by the Hunsings, there may have been some connection between them."

    Set the broad headed, racial thing, aside, but I guess there can be some truth in the fact that they partly came from Hunsingo: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunsingo
    Last edited by Finn; 07-05-2017 at 04:54 PM.
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