After Rome withdrew from Britain in 410 AD, the country was vulnerable to invasion. Over the next two centuries Germanic warriors would come and go from across the English Channel and North Sea, fighting both natives and each other for conquest and territory. In an account of these times written by the prophet and preacher, Gildas, and then later in more detail by the Venerable Bede, some of them were mercenaries invited to aid in the defense against northern raiders, and others were unwelcome invaders.1 Among them were the Saxons from the Saxony province of Germany, the Angles from southern Denmark and the Danish Islands, Jutes from Jutland in southern Denmark, and the Franks and Frisians from northwest Germany. Modern historians have identified them as Anglo-Saxons, collectively, and their arrival in or around the middle of the fifth century marked the beginning of the period now known as Anglo-Saxon England. The six-hundred years of Anglo-Saxon rule produced many lasting legacies. The Anglo-Saxons achievements were social, political, and economic, and much of their impact persists in England still today.
The native Celtics were Christian and their religion was established firmly in the culture. The Anglo-Saxons were pagan. Attempts by the Celts to convert the invaders to Christianity were futile and resulted in Anglo-Saxon forces pushing them to the lands of Cornwall, Wales, and the British speaking north.2 In 597 AD, Augustine, commissioned by Pope Gregory of the Roman Catholic Church, along with a band of missionaries set out for England. The missionaries had some success in converting the Anglo-Saxons. This success was not matched in the far west where Augustine tried to convert the Celtic Church.3 Following King Aethelbert, other kings began converting and Christianity was the predominant religion. Several kingdoms then began to relapse. Kent remained converted and the Scottish church initiated further conversion efforts.