Apartheid and Economics in Anglo-Saxon England
By Alex Woolf
Britons in Anglo-Saxon England, edited by Nick Higham (Boydell, 2007)
Introduction: When considering and discussing the fate of the Britons within Anglo- Saxon England, we invariably seem to find ourselves forced to choose between two hypotheses. The first of these, and perhaps currently the less fashionable, is that a ‘mass migration’ of Germanic peoples committed genocide against the inhabitants of the Insular territories they conquered, creating a situation in which all subsequent generations of Anglo-Saxons were descended entirely, or almost entirely, from fifth-century immigrants.
The second, the ‘elite emulation model’, perhaps most clearly articulated in our editor’s 1992 monograph Rome, Britain and the Anglo-Saxons, holds that incoming Germans supplied only an aristocratic elite who farmed large estates tilled by native Britons, who gradually aped their lords and became culturally indistinguishable from them over time. Whilst the elite emulation model has become widely accepted amongst British archaeologists, who have, perhaps, become used to the concept of the diffusion of trends in material culture without recourse to models requiring large-scale population movement, it has proved less easy for historians and linguists to accept.