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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe


Wehta's Folk (Angles) (Germanics)
Incorporating the Swæfe

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, Wehta was the father of Witta, a contemporary of Offa of Angeln and ruler of the Swæfe. These people were probably located immediately to the south of Angeln, in modern Schleswig near Schwabsted. The Swæfe are generally agreed to be the Suevi, or at least a division of the core Suevi, and it is assumed that they and the Angles were related, especially as some classical writers name the Angles as part of the Suebi confederation of tribes.

Witta's father was the originator of the line of princes which migrated to Britain in the fifth century to found the Jutish kingdom of Kent. It is possible that Hengist, by about AD 445, was an exile due to the feuds between his own people. He sought the service of a Danish prince, and journeyed with him to Frisia about 448 (see The Fragment and the Episode), and from there to Britain.


(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), from the Alan Bliss/J R R Tolkien examination of the fragment known as The Fragment and the Episode, and from External Link: An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Bosworth and Toller, 1898, p 728).)


Son of Woden of Angeln (or Wihtlæg?). Cantware originator.


Son. Ruler of the Swæfe.


Son. Seemingly added to the list of Saxon rulers as Guictglis.


Hnæf of the Danes is killed at the 'Fight at Finnesburg' in Frisia, as is Finn's eldest son. Finn is subsequently killed by Hengist, Hnæf's Anglian comrade in arms. Hengist appears to be the leader of a sizable portion of Hnæf's comitatus, perhaps as much of half of the force of sixty or so warriors who follow him on this visit to Frisia, and these thirty or so are all Jutes.

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)

They appear to owe allegiance to Hengist while he is in Hnæf's service alongside Hnæf's own Danish retinue. With the death of the Danish prince, Hengist is in command of the entire force, and is sworn to avenge his lord's death.

455 - 488


Son. Born c.420-425. Landed in Kent as a mercenary leader.


Hengist and his brother Horsa are invited to Britain by the country's leading figure, Vortigern, and they land at Ypwines fleot (Ebbsfleet) with their Jutish followers. Traditionally, they fulfil the terms of their contract by fighting back Pictish and Irish Scotti invaders and receive territory on which to settle.

Very shortly they begin to carve out a kingdom of their own which they call Kent. It seems that Hengist takes with him large numbers of Frisians, which would account for archaeological findings in Kent which originate from the mouth of the Rhine.

Remains of Roman Canterbury
The invasion of Roman Canterbury in British Kent was led by Hengist, but his followers included Jutes and Frisians in large numbers

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