The manuscript is the eight-century “St Peterburg Bede”, formerly known as the “Leningrad Bede”.

The animation shows transcriptions in abbreviated and non-abbreviated Latin, and then the English translation by Annie Maud Sellar (1907), slightly revised.

Image from: Arngart 1952.

There is an ongoing debate about the use of the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ in modern times, especially in the US where it can be linked to white supremacy. When British history is defined as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ history, the mobility and diversity during this period across Asia, Africa, Europe and the British Isles is overlooked.

People in Britain during the 5th century didn’t see themselves in the same way we see them, or even as those who lived two centuries later saw them. When we consider this it becomes clear that, strictly speaking, what we view as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ may not actually make sense in an early medieval context.

We get the word Anglo-Saxon from Bede’s Anglorum siue Saxonum gens, but as we’ve discussed identity and groupings were more flexible. He talks about five different groups, which is more than the contemporary writer Gildas who only mentioned the Saxons. Æthelberht was called King of the Anglians, even though it is difficult to identify a clear group under this name

Kingships were legitimised because of competing elites within a group, but we don’t know how those outside the elite perceived their identity or lineage. Elites combined their past legacies of authority, with the culture of kingship shared across Europe and the Mediterranean.

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