Les Angles dans les coins : l'identité ethnique angle en Angleterre du Ve au VIIIe siècle

Magali Coumert 1
1 CRBC Brest - Centre de recherche bretonne et celtique
IBSHS - Institut Brestois des Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société, UBO - Université de Brest, CRBC - Centre de recherche bretonne et celtique
Abstract : This article studies the ambiguities in the use of the ethnonym “angle” in Anglo-Saxon England. The specificities of its use by Bede in his Ecclesiastical history of the English people, written in 731, have long been identified. The term could have two meanings at once: in its broader interpretation to designate all individuals and kingdoms that have a migration background and which were converted by the Gregorian mission, and in a narrower sense for certain kingdoms and their habitants, such as Northumbria, distinguished from the Saxon ones. Yet, a study of the use of this term in the Vita Sancti Wilfrithi by Stephen of Ripon, written just before 731, shows that the author exclusively uses “angle” in a wider and religious sense, but that this is not the case for the two previous sources that he quotes: Wilfrid’s petition in 679 and a Roman synod that took place between 701 and 705. These two texts illustrate that Wilfrid sought to start a new tradition by appointing himself as “Bishop of Saxony”, undoubtedly to defend the existence of an ecclesiastical province of York independent from the Archbishop of Canterbury. These variations in use of Angles or Saxons designations show us that each one had a great degree of freedom in the promotion of an ethnic identity. In England, an individual could define him/herself as Angle or as Saxon, thus advocating autonomy or unity, according to the different political and religious stances adopted.
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Magali Coumert. Les Angles dans les coins : l'identité ethnique angle en Angleterre du Ve au VIIIe siècle. De la mer du Nord à la mer Baltique, A; Gautier et S. Rossignol, Oct 2009, Boulogne-sur-mer, France. p. 45-59. ⟨hal-01117705⟩

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