Angles

Angles
Ængle/ Engle
Britain.Anglo.Saxon.homelands.settlements.400.500.jpg
Spread of Angles (red) and Saxons (yellow) around 500 AD
Regions with significant populations
Schleswig, Holstein, Jutland, Frisia, Heptarchy (England)
Languages
Old English
(Anglic dialects)
Religion
Originally Germanic and Anglo-Saxon paganism, later Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Anglo-Saxons, Saxons, Frisii, Jutes
Map of the Roman Empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–138), showing the then homeland of the Angles (Anglii) on the Jutland peninsula in today's Germany and Denmark

The Angles (Old English: Ængle, Engle; Latin: Angli; German: Angeln) were one of the main Germanic peoples who settled in Great Britain in the post-Roman period. They founded a number of kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, and their name is the root of the name England ("land of Ængle"). According to Tacitus, before their move to Britain, Angles lived alongside Langobardi and Semnones in historical regions of Schleswig and Holstein, which are today part of northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein).[1]

Name

The name of the Angles may have been first recorded in Latinised form, as Anglii, in the Germania of Tacitus. It is thought to derive from the name of the area they originally inhabited, the Anglia Peninsula (Angeln in modern German, Angel in Danish). This name has been hypothesised to originate from the Germanic root for "narrow" (compare German and Dutch eng = "narrow"), meaning "the Narrow [Water]", i.e., the Schlei estuary; the root would be *h₂enǵʰ, "tight". Another theory is that the name meant "hook" (as in angling for fish), in reference to the shape of the peninsula; Indo-European linguist Julius Pokorny derives it from Proto-Indo-European *h₂enk-, "bend" (see ankle).[2]

During the fifth century, all Germanic tribes who invaded Britain were referred to as either Englisc, Ængle or Engle, who were all speakers of Old English (which was known as Englisc, Ænglisc, or Anglisc). Englisc and its descendant, English, also goes back to Proto-Indo-European *h₂enǵʰ-, meaning narrow.[3] In any case, the Angles may have been called such because they were a fishing people or were originally descended from such, so England would mean "land of the fishermen", and English would be "the fishermen's language".[4]

Gregory the Great, in an epistle, simplified the Latinised name Anglii to Angli, the latter form developing into the preferred form of the word.[5] The country remained Anglia in Latin. Alfred the Great's translation of Orosius's history of the world uses Angelcynn (-kin) to describe the English people; Bede used Angelfolc (-folk); also such forms as Engel, Englan (the people), Englaland, and Englisc occur, all showing i-mutation.[6]