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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe

 

Baeldaeg's Folk (Angles) (Germanics)

The story of the Angles is one of migration in Europe until as late as the eighth century AD. To start with, they gradually headed west from what is now Poland around the first century AD until, by the fourth century they had settled in modern central Denmark, replacing or absorbing the semi-Germanic Cimbri and Teutones who had existed there in diminished numbers since the first century BC.

The region gradually gained the name of the new settlers, becoming Angeln, Angel, or Angulus. By the fifth century, this covered the territory between the River Eider in the south (now in Schleswig-Holstein), bordering the Saxons, to the River Kongeaen in the north, bordering the Jutes.

Angle settlement also extended farther southwards into Germany and along the Frisian coast of the Netherlands. King Alfred of Wessex was careful to note this himself, suggesting a wide-ranging area of settlement for the Angles, and a relatively large population.

FeatureWoden, legendary king of Angeln, is claimed as an ancestor figure by many of the Anglian, Jutish, and Saxon tribes which migrated to Britain. Although entirely impossible to prove, one theory is that this semi-mythical figure represents a powerful Anglian king whose many sons and their descendants found or created positions of power as the Anglian peoples fragmented before and during their migration (see feature link for more).

One of the sons of Woden, Bældæg (or Baeldaeg) was claimed as the originator of the line of princes which migrated to Britain in the fifth century. These princes are claimed as the founders of the Saxon Gewissae peoples who may have occupied the Thames Valley region of southern England. The problem here is that their lineage seems to have been hijacked by the West Saxons at a later date and appended to the Cerdingas, the founders of the West Saxon kingdom.

Bældæg himself is perhaps better known as Baldur or Baldr, the god of Norse tales, and Balday of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. His elevation to godhood would have been a natural feature of Norse and Anglo-Saxon society with its focus on the heroic figure, and making him a son of Woden would have been part of that process.

The name 'Baeldaeg' consists of 'bael' and 'daeg'. That 'daeg' is more familiar in modern English as 'day'. Could Bael be the Celtic god, Belenus/Belenos? Early Germans were often infused with cross-cultural Celtic borrowings. Germans though would not have used the singular noun suffix '-us' or '-os'. The '-en' would have looked like a plural to them and would have been dropped, leaving Bel as the deity name.

Germanics

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, from Ulwencreutz's The Royal Families in Europe V, Lars Ulwencreutz, from the Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum Episcopum (The Story of the Church of Rochester up to Bishop Ernulf), known as the Textus Roffensis or Annals of Rochester, from the Historia Brittonum (The History of the Britons), Nennius (J A Giles, Ed & Trans, 1841, published as part of Six Old English Chronicles (Henry G Bohn, London, 1848)), from The Oxford History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton, from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), and from External Link: An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Bosworth and Toller, 1898, p 728).)

Bældæg / Baeldaeg

Son of Woden of Angeln. Originator of the Gewissae.

Brand

Son. Father of Benoc.

Freothogar

Son.

Freawine

Son. A repetition from the pre-Woden list in Angeln.

360s

The Saxons have by now formed a loose state which is composed of a large coalition of tribes in modern north-western Germany, in territory between the Frisian coastline and the lands to the south of Angeln.

River Eider
The River Eider, in modern Schleswig-Holstein, formed the southern border of the general mass of Anglian settlements, although some groups could be found further southwards

Wieg / Wig

Son. Added by Wessex. Son of Saxon hero, Freawine.

c.370s

While Freawine is included in later English royal genealogies as an ancestor figure, Wieg is shown as his son (see below). However, in the story of Offa (see the Myrging of Widsith) they are shown as contemporaries and enemies, suggesting that the genealogies subsequently arrange them in series, making them genealogically father and son in the manner of most genealogies.

fl c.450s?

Gewis (Wis?)

Son. Founder of the Gewissae. Settled the Thames Valley?

c.450s?

FeatureGewis is probably the one who leads his people into Britain to settle a new territory. Although later claimed by the West Saxons as an ancestor figure of theirs, it seems more likely that the Gewissae settle along the Thames Valley. This is still very much conjecture, but it does fit the known circumstances (see feature link).

Thames Valley
The Thames Valley forms an east-west passage through the hills between London and Surrey and also through the hills of Wiltshire, providing easy access for river users to the River Avon around Bath

The word 'Gewisse(n)' is a plural form. A personal name has been backwards-formed from it by removing the plural, but it is an obvious fabrication. The prefix is 'ge-'. This indicates more than one person is doing something together, or it is something else acting which is not a single thing.

The 'ge-' prefix gradually degenerates over the centuries into 'y-' and 'i-' (for example the Anglo-Saxon 'Sumer is icumen in' [summer is a-coming in]), and then later into 'a-', and is now entirely archaic and has been dropped. When reading the old sentence 'a-hunting we will go', the 'a-' on the front indicates that at least two people, maybe more, will go hunting.

Thanks to the 'ge-' on the front of 'wisse' there is no way it can be a personal name. Instead, 'wis' and 'wit' mean 'to know'. It is still used in modern English as deliberately archaic slang, for instance when someone says 'to wit'. It can also be seen in 'wise'.

Map of England AD 475-500
In the last quarter of the fifth century AD Saxons were starting to take firm control of the Thames valley region, as shown on sequential map No 2 of this series (click or tap on map to view full sized)

fl c.460s?

Esla

Son. Thames Valley Saxon?

fl c.480s?

Elesa

Son. Thames Valley Saxon?

519 - 534?

Cerdic

'Son of Elesa' & British woman. Conquered West Saxons.

495 - 519

Cerdic leads what is apparently a takeover of areas of southern England in 495, and by 519 he has conquered the West Saxons, probably made up of Jutish settlements to the immediate east.

Later chroniclers claim Elesa as his father in order to give him a pedigree, but although this claim appears doubtful today, it does seem certain that Cerdic shares a mixed Romano-British-Saxon heritage.

 
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