Historically, the term Anglo-Saxon refers to the people of the Germanic tribe who inhabited and ruled England and Wales from the 5th century CE to 1066, time of Norman Conquest. They originally came from Northern Germany to the territory now called England.
Subsequently, they settled there and formed the kingdoms of Essex, Sussex, Wessex, East Anglia, Middle Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria.
What is Anglo-Saxonism?
However, in the 19th century, Anglo-Saxonism once more gained a prominent light owing to several reasons. Firstly, in both Europe and the United States of America, racial theories gained momentum anew.
Old English values and notions started to be re-emphasised and attempt to naturalise slavery started to be made through naturalising the concepts of empire and racial superiority.
A new language of hierarchy was created which argued that the moral virtues and characteristics of people could continue through their bloodline just like they could be dissipated through assimilation of other races.
It led to the development of a particular race in both countries.
The Anglo-Saxons clearly believed in the superiority of their race, that is, the race of the white people that were the descendants of the Germanic tribe. They created the binary of higher and lower, superior and inferior in terms of race in order to justify their claim.
In popular terms, the Anglo-Saxons were a race of natural leaders and adventurers, superior in both intellect and strength. They were the ones capable of “self-governance” whose expansion all over the earth was a matter of inevitability.
In the Nineteenth-century, Anglo-Saxons mostly followed Christianity and viewed Catholics as outsiders. Ideologically, they were hence opposed to other races such as the Celts and Latins.
Anglo-Saxon Race in America
Anglo-Saxonism in America was stirred by the same founding notions in Britain. It is chiefly the reason why the USA entered the Second World War also. The leaders of the USA connected the ideals of American liberty with the myth of Anglo-Saxon heroes who fought against the Norman oppressors.
Towards the turn of the twentieth century, Anglo-Saxonism was linked with pseudo-scientific explanations about the supremacy of the United-States and Britain.
Anglo-Saxon America, therefore, refers to the regions and communities where English is the primary language and where the British culture has had a significant influence. They believed that the Anglo-Americans inevitably had better standards of living. They would have better jobs, escape poverty and illness and any sort of conflict.
This belief system was backed by politicians and academics as well which gave it impetus.
The myth of Anglo-Saxon Superiority
Of course, the whole idea of Anglo-Saxon supremacy was a myth and people came to realise that eventually. The racial belief system was that English speaking white civilizations were superior in strength, courage and intellect that any other civilization.
They believed they had inherited their traits from the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain in the 5-7th century.
Originally, the Anglo-Saxons constituted of the tribes of Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Friesians. They came to Britain from Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands.
What did the Anglo-Saxons believe before Christianity?
The Anglo-Saxons were originally pagan and believed in supernatural creatures like giants, elves and fairies. They worshipped the same Gods as the Germanic and Norse people.