The migrations of the Saxons

Saxons seem to have originated in Holstein, in the extreme South of Jutland, most of which is now Denmark. Jutes and Angles were further North in Jutland.

And from about the 3rd century AD, the Saxons began to spread out, Eastwards to the adjacent lands of the Ostsee (meaning "East sea" but referring to what we now call the South Baltic coast) and South to what we now know as Lower Saxony, a large Northern province of modern Germany. Lower Saxony in those days contained various different tribes (and by some accounts still does) so the conquest probably took some time.

But the primary push by the Saxons continued Southward -- so that, in modern Germany as you go South, you encounter first lower Saxony (in the North!), then Saxony-Anhalt and then Saxony itself further South again. Those Saxons were clearly a militarily successful tribe so are now located up and down North Germany. So given their very successful push South, why would they get into boats and sail across to Romanized Britannia? That was well outside their major focus.

Britannia was a tempting destination. It was a well-established agricultural and pastoral civilization that grew wheat and rye and ran lots of juicy sheep. But the inhabitants had become soft after living for centuries behind the protection of Roman central government and Roman legions: Easy marks for any Germans

With its mild climate and frequent rainfall, Britannia was more lush than anywhere in Germany (and still is) so envious eyes had long been cast upon it. North Germans can (and do) speak fondly of the Luneburger Heide but it is a desert compared to almost anywhere in England.

But any invasion of Britannia by Northern Europeans during the Roman imperium had to be very short-lived. On hearing of such invasions, the central Roman authorities in Londonium would send a disciplined Roman legion or two marching North on the excellent Roman roads -- and any invaders who got wind of that would promptly skedaddle. If they didn't they would live (or die) to regret it. The Roman Gladius was a very good chopping weapon

Another possibility that seems fairly firm concerns the Jutes and Angles -- who together originally occupied most of Jutland. Most of Jutland is now occupied by Scandinavians: Danes. The Danes pushed the Angles and Jutes out, which is why a lot of them sailed off to Britannia. But the Saxons were the tough guys of the W. Baltic area so the Danes were stopped more or less at the border of Holstein just South of Jutland. The Danes even appear to have occupied Schleswig, though the Prussians in a much later era took half of that back.

The origin of the Danes is obscure but it seems most likely that they came South from Norway -- early precursors of the Norse Vikings. Until about a century ago, Dano-Norwegian was regarded as a single language, so that tells you a lot.

Neither the Danes nor the Swedes, however, seem to have had much success on the South Baltic coast. That remained thoroughly German despite what we now know as Sweden looming over it to its immediate North. And that failure was most likely the work of the Saxons. Saxons were expansionist from early on and the easiest route for expansion would have been Eastward along the South Baltic coast -- assisted by the greater ease of movement by sea.

So the Germans who kept the Scandinavians out of the South Baltic coast were probably in the main tough-guy Saxons by the time conflict arose

So the Jutes and Angles were driven out to Britannia by tougher Danes but nobody was tougher than the Saxons. They just kept expanding, mostly Southwards but also to some extent Westward to Britannia

The fact that the Angles had their name attached to the new land probably reinforces the idea that the Saxons were there in relatively small numbers. It appears that, in the absence of a substantial Saxon presence, the Angles led the conquest of the Celts . The Saxons were more interested in the lands to the South of them: Northern Germany as we know it today. They are still there

The Saxons in Germany today

It is interesting to note that the people who were in place before the Saxons over-ran them were in both Britain and Germany Celts. And such invasions normally lead to a substantial amount of interbreeding. So the Saxons of Germany and the Anglo-Saxons of Britain both ended up partly Celtic

And it is of course a coincidence but Britain today is ruled by a Saxon dynasty. The surname of the British Royal family was changed to "Windsor" during WWI but before that it was Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha

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