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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

The landing of Hengist and Horsa


_Second settlement of invaders from Germany._--A.D. 477 invaders from Northern Germany made the second permanent settlement in Britain. The coast of Sussex was the spot whereon they landed. The particular name that these tribes gave themselves was that of _Saxons_. Their leader was Ella. They established the kingdom of the South Saxons (Sussex or Sudh-Seaxe); so that the county of Sussex was the second district where the original British was superseded by the mother-tongue of the present English, introduced from Germany.

_Third settlement of invaders from Germany._--A.D. 495 invaders from Northern Germany made the third permanent settlement in Britain. The coast of Hampshire was the spot whereon they landed. Like the invaders last mentioned, these tribes were Saxons. Their leader was Cerdic. They established the kingdom of the West Saxons (Wessex or West-Seaxe); so that the county of Hants was the third district where the original British was superseded by the mother-tongue of the present English, introduced from Germany.

_Fourth settlement of invaders from Germany._--A.D. 530, certain Saxons landed in Essex, so that the county of Essex [East-Seaxe] was the fourth district where the original British was superseded by the mother-tongue of the present English, introduced from Northern Germany.

_Fifth settlement of invaders from Germany._--These were _Angles_ in Norfolk and Suffolk. The precise date of this settlement is not known. The fifth district where the original British was superseded by the mother-tongue of the present English was the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk; the particular dialect introduced being that of the _Angles_.

_Sixth settlement of invaders from Germany._--A.D. 547 invaders from Northern Germany made the sixth permanent settlement in Britain. The southeastern counties of Scotland, between the rivers Tweed and Forth, were the districts where they landed. They were of the tribe of the Angles, and their leader was Ida. The south-eastern parts of Scotland constituted the sixth district where the original British was superseded by the mother-tongue of the present English, introduced from Northern Germany,

s. 4. It would be satisfactory if these details rested upon contemporary evidence. This, however, is far from being the case.

1. _The evidence to the details just given, is not historical, but traditional._--a. Beda,[2] from whom it is chiefly taken, wrote nearly 300 years after the supposed event, i.e., the landing of Hengist and Horsa, in A.D. 449.

b. The nearest approach to a contemporary author is Gildas,[3] and _he_ wrote full 100 years after it.

2. _The account of Hengist's and Horsa's landing, has elements which are fictional rather than historical_--a. Thus "when we find Hengist and Horsa approaching the coasts of Kent in three keels, and Aelli effecting a landing in Sussex with the same number, we are reminded of the Gothic tradition which carries a migration of Ostrogoths,[4] Visigoths, and Gepidae, also in three vessels, to the mouth of the Vistula."--Kemble, "Saxons in England."

b. The murder of the British chieftains by Hengist is told _totidem verbis_, by Widukind[5] and others, of the Old Saxons in Thuringia.

c. Geoffry of Monmouth[6] relates also, how "Hengist obtained from the Britons as much land as could be enclosed by an ox-hide; then, cutting the hide into thongs, enclosed a much larger space than the granters intended, on which he erected Thong Castle--a tale too familiar to need illustration, and which runs throughout the mythus of many nations. Among the Old Saxons, the tradition is in reality the same, though recorded with a slight variety of detail. In their story, a lapfull of earth is purchased at a dear rate from a Thuringian; the companions of the Saxon jeer him for his imprudent bargain; but he sows the purchased earth upon a large space of ground, which he claims, and, by the aid of his comrades, ultimately wrests it from the Thuringians."--Kemble, "Saxons in England."


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