Seaxe (Middle Saxons / Middlesex)
Incorporating the Geddingas, Gillingas, Gumeningas,
Groups of Saxons
migrated across the North Sea throughout the second half of the fifth century,
perhaps coming in successive waves. Moving westwards up the Thames along with
groups which were already forming the
Thames Valley Saxons, the
Middle Saxons apparently detached themselves from this westwards movement when
they reached British
Londinium. They founded settlements to the west and north of the city (in modern
Hertfordshire and the former county of Middlesex), threatening the Britons at
Caer Mincip (St Albans) in the process. Londinium itself was largely abandoned
for much of the sixth century while the Saxons settled villages in the
countryside. Their fellow Saxons south of the Thames became known as the
Suther-ge, or 'southern region'
of the Middle Saxons.
It seems that many of the early members of the Middel Seaxe came from
Kent, having taken part in the
successful conquest of that land from the British in 455-457. These probably
would have been the foederati who had been stationed along the Saxon Shore,
near to the forts, and also outside important cities such as Canterbury,
before they joined Hengist's successful conquest of the territory. As the
Middle Saxons, they are not known to have formed a definitive kingdom, but
they were a recognisable group, as they gained their name from their location
between two other, greater divisions of their people, the East and West Saxons.
They may have been organised much the same as the
Middle Angles, independent
groups of closely related folks who perhaps formed a confederation.
Those folk groups included the Geddingas, Gillingas, and the
Mimmas of Yeading, Ealing, and Mimms respectively. One more, the
Gumeningas, settled Gumeninga hearh (modern Harrow). The apparent
similarity in many of the names - beginning with the letter 'g' - is probably
coincidental. Ripping off the suffixes from Geddingas, Gillingas,, and
Gumeningas leaves 'Ged', 'Gil', and 'Gumen', probably all men's names.
Gumen may be a compound word used as a non-compound, perhaps either 'Gu'
plus 'men' or, more likely, 'Gum' plus '-en' (a plural used by Saxons in
the way the
used '-as'). The Mercians
had the non-royal and very working class habit of using single names instead
of the pretentious compound names that were often favoured by 'great kings'
and their followers. It appears that the distinctly non-royal Middel-Seaxen
also maintained the old custom of electing leaders rather than rubber-stamping
kings from a royal family. Theoretically speaking, potentially dictatorial
kings in the east (Kent and
Essex) managed to annoy the
common warriors sufficiently so that they settled further to the west to
get away from them and, in revulsion, rejected the use of compound names.
The historical county of Middlesex represented the southern limit of the
franchises of St Alban's Abbey. While this may have formed the northern
border of the Middel Seaxe, there was no natural obstacle to stop them
venturing farther until they reached the foothills of the Chilterns. However,
there seems to have been an enclave of Britons in the Chilterns
may well have fended them off from there and from Verulamium (the Roman city
that lies adjacent to modern St Albans). The territory protected by this
enclave may also be reflected in the territory which was later under the
authority of St Alban's. Until the start of the seventh century, the Middel
Seaxe appear to have remained under the influence of Kent. By AD 704, the
region was mentioned in a charter as Middelseaxan, and by 1086 it was
Midelsexe (in Domesday Book).
(Additional information by Edward Dawson, and from The Oxford History
of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, and The Oxford
History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton.)
In the abandoned
city of Londinium, with a small Saxon settlement to the west known as
Lundenwic ('wic' meaning 'trading post'), Mellitus lays the foundations for
a cathedral dedicated to St Paul, his episcopal see as the first bishop of
London. The crumbling walls probably still carry some of their paint, the
gateways at Ludgate and Newgate are probably still largely intact, and the
great amphitheatre on the hill near modern Guildhall, while containing a
few breaches, probably still fills the sky, although the great east-west
thoroughfares are doubtless choked with weeds and moss. The ruins provide
the masonry and tiles for much of the construction work.