Early Anglo Saxons

Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

he Anglo-Saxons were Germanic peoples who settled in Britain after the Romans withdrew in 410 A.D. It is doubtful whether there was any real distinction between Angles and Saxons other than the territory from which they started - Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Saxony.

Over the course of 150 years they founded a network of kingdoms concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the British Isles. Native Britons were pushed to the north and the western regions of Celtic Cornwall, Devon and Wales.

Germanic communities were based on kinship. There was no central authority. The tribesmen were freemen: they owned their land, had the right to carry arms, and the right to attend local and tribal assemblies. These assemblies functioned as the courts of justice and the parliaments of the village, district, tribe, and tribal federation.

In contrast to the formal regulated legal system of the Romans, law in Germanic society was more of a self-help process worked out between the parties with no state to enforce rules.

Laws were aimed at regulating relationships - whether between individuals or families. Individuals enforced the laws themselves through a system of
wergild meaning ‘man money’.
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