By Matt Schwoebel (an amateur historical Arthur scholar/enthusiast)

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Friday, July 16, 2004

4. Anglo-Saxons

The leadership of the Anglo-Saxons counts as one of the most inaccurate parts of this inaccurate movie.  Cerdic and Cynric ruled the West Saxons that settled what became known as Wessex in southern England.  In case British geography is not a strong point for the reader, Wessex is about as FAR SOUTH as one can go in England before needing swim trunks (roughly modern Hampshire & the Island of Wight in its early days as a kingdom).  Yet in this movie Cerdic and Cynric are placed in the borderlands between southern Scotland and far northern England.  The greatest of Wessex kings, Alfred the Great, would be turning over in his grave (a possible Cerdic descendant).
The north of Britain was actually the last area to see the Anglo-Saxons gain considerable influence.  They were locked into coastal Deira and Bernicia during the Arthurian period by the rival northern Briton kingdoms of the Gwyr y Gogledd or Men of the North (Ebrauc or York, Rheged, Strathclyde, Gododdin, Elmet, Bryneich, & possibly Gorre).  Ida of Bernicia expanded his territory into lowland Scotland & northeastern England during the 540’s to 570’s A.D. (a century after the movie) when the northern English were united under the earliest version of the kingdom of Northumbria (sort of united, Bernicia and Deira tended to split apart into separate kingdoms for quite some time).
On a side note, Cerdic is a CELTIC name.  He may well have been a Briton leader who intermarried with the West Saxons, invited them to Britain as allies, and led them against fellow Britons (the Gewisse theory).  Ironically, in the movie Cerdic has a line about not mixing with the Britons and diluting their good Saxon blood.  
Go To 5. Arthurian Period


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