NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


d’Angleterre, Engeland, Engelonde, Englaland, Englond, Engleterre, Ingland, Ingelande, Inghiltarre, Inglaterra, Inglond, Inglonde, Logres, Logris, Yngland, Ynglandes

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom, located on the island of Great Britain in northwestern Europe. It shares borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea.

Since “England” was in general usage when a good part of the Arthurian romances were written, however, the name appears quite often, indicating all or some portion of Britain. Malory, for instance, uses “England” without reservation. Usually, it is named as Arthur’s kingdom, although there are some notable exceptions. In Wirnt von Grafenberg’s Wigalois, for instance, the King of England wages war on Arthur, whose kingdom is in Brittany. In the Middle-English Sir Tristrem and the Norse and Icelandic Tristan sagas, it is Mark’s kingdom.

Sub-kingdoms include ArroyAvilionCameliard, the Delectable IsleKing Aman’s Land, Leicester, Listeneise (Listenois), Malahaut, Nohaut, Northumberland, and Roestoc.

Although Arthur is often thought of as the King of England, the designation “England” (signifying “Angle-Land”) for the country below Scotland and east of Wales was not used until after the Anglo-Saxon conquest in the sixth and seventh centuries.

England | 0 to the 9th century AD

Pre-Roman Britain
The first Celts to land in England are traditionally thought to have arrived c. 600 BC. England remained a Celtic stronghold until the Roman invasion, although even then the English Celts retained a fair degree of autonomy. Prior to this, the area now thought of as “England” was called Logres. (In the Prose Brut, the name is derived from “Engist”, the Saxon leader.)

Roman Britain | 1st – 5th centuries
The Roman conquest of Britain began in the first century, and by the early second century, most of England was part of the Roman Empire. Roman influence introduced urbanization, infrastructure, and the Latin language. Cities like Londinium (London) became important centers.

Roman Withdrawal | Early 5th century
In the early fifth century, the Roman Empire faced challenges, and the legions withdrew from Britain. This marked the beginning of the post-Roman period known as as Sub-Roman Britain.

Anglo-Saxon Migrations | 5th – 7th centuries
The departure of Roman authority left a power vacuum, and Germanic tribes, notably the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, migrated to Britain. These migrations, known as the Anglo-Saxon migrations, led to the establishment of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, including Wessex, Mercia, Kent, Sussex, East Anglia, and Northumbria. These kingdoms were often in competition with each other for power and territory. Tribal societies with warrior elites and a complex social structure emerged.

The Anglo-Saxons brought their own Germanic languages, which evolved into Old English. Despite the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, Celtic and Romano-British communities continued to exist in various parts of England. The native Britons and the incoming Anglo-Saxons interacted and intermingled, leading to a blending of cultures and languages.

Christianization | 6th – 7th centuries
Christianity began to spread in England during the sixth and seventh centuries. In 597 AD, Saint Augustine of Canterbury arrived and successfully converted King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. This marked the beginning of the Christianization of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Viking Invasions | 8th – 9th centuries
In the late eighth century and throughout the ninth century, Viking raids and invasions became a significant challenge. Norsemen from Scandinavia, known as Vikings, targeted monasteries, towns, and coastal areas. This period included the famous attack on Lindisfarne in 793. Viking raids and invasions became a significant threat to England, leading to conflicts and changes in power dynamics.

Alfred the Great | 871-899
Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, played a crucial role in resisting Viking invasions. He is known for his military successes and for promoting learning and education. Alfred’s reign is considered a key period in the development of a unified Anglo-Saxon identity.

Danelaw and Treaty of Wedmore | Late 9th century
The Viking invasions led to the establishment of the Danelaw, a region in England where Viking law and influence were predominant. The Treaty of Wedmore in 878 between Alfred the Great and the Viking leader Guthrum defined the boundaries between Anglo-Saxon and Viking-controlled territories.

First King of England | 927
The process of unification and consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms eventually led to the formation of the medieval kingdom of England. This process culminated in the crowning of King Aethelstan as the first King of England in 927 AD.

See also
The Roman Empire | The Legend of King Arthur

Wigalois | Wirnt von Grafenberg, early 13th century
Tristrams Saga ok Ísöndar | 1226
Prose Brut | Late 13th century to late 15th century
Sir Tristrem | c. 1300
Saga af Tristram ok Isodd | 14th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470