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.

The individuals who arrived or lived in Britain in the 5th century perceived themselves differently from the people who were on the island two centuries later or inhabit the United Kingdom nowadays. Once the link between modern England and Anglo-Saxonism is acknowledged and deconstructed, it is even difficult to define whether being Anglo-Saxon made consistently sense in the early Middle Ages.

Although the term derives from Bede’s mention of an Anglorum siue Saxonum gens, identities were more fluid than they appear at first sight. Bede himself, few lines later, makes reference to Saxones, the Angli, and the Iuti. Gildas, in the early 6th century, mentioned only the Saxones in his problematic De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. Several decades later, Gregory the Great addressed Æthelberht as king of the Anglians, ignoring the political fragmentations testified by contemporary and later sources.

Legitimisations based on kinships were artificially shaped by competing elites. As far as non-elite social contexts are concerned, we lack most information on identity perceptions and lineages. What is certain is that elites put in place legitimising strategies to consolidate and expand their power on wider territories. To do so, they combined references to authoritative legacies from the past with radical transformations, in line with the hegemonic dynamics shared across the European continent and the Mediterranean.