• General Overview
The withdrawal of the Roman Legions in around c.410AD to defend their frontiers in continental Europe as their Empire declined signalled the end Roman domination of the island and the leaving of Britannia to her fate.
Following the Roman retreat Britain was left vulnerable to invasion by pagan seafaring warriors known as Saxons and Angles, and by 441AD the mass migration from Germany had begun.
The Angles and Saxons were Teutonic tribes who lived between the mouth of the Rhine and Denmark. During the course of the 5th century they advanced from the east to west of England, up rivers and along the Roman roads slaughtering and enslaving the native Britons. In c.500AD Ambrosius Aurelianus, a romanised Celt, checked the invaders at the Battle of Badon, somewhere in either Dorset or Wiltshire.
However the 6th century ultimately saw the consolidation and settlement of the English. Reliable contemporary accounts from this period are scarce, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age.
By the 7th century seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms known as the Heptarchy had emerged in England. They were: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex. The title Bretwalda, the high king of Britain, changed depending upon which leader of the seven kingdoms was the most powerful and influential at a given time.