England is perhaps the most well-known of the Anglo-Saxon countries. It was during this period that the English language developed and the legendary figures of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table emerged. The Anglo-Saxons also built many of the famous churches and cathedrals that still stand today, such as Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral. One of the most significant events in English history during the Anglo-Saxon period was the Norman Conquest in 1066. This marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon era and the beginning of Norman rule in England. Despite this, the influence of the Anglo-Saxons can still be seen in many aspects of English culture, including the language and place names.
Many are shocked to hear that English and French were once the same languages, which was also marked by the Norman Conquest. William of Normandy, sometimes also referred to as William the Conqueror had taken most of England and ruled France. While his lineage was long, the languages would eventually separate. The French language would stick more to its Latin roots, whereas English had become more Germanic.
Scotland also has a rich history during the Anglo-Saxon period. In the 6th and 7th centuries, the Kingdom of Northumbria, which included parts of modern-day Scotland, was a major center of learning and Christian missionary activity. It was during this time that the famous Lindisfarne Gospels were produced.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Vikings began to raid and settle in Scotland, and this had a profound impact on the country's history and culture. The Vikings introduced new languages and customs, and many Scottish place names, such as Kirkwall and Shetland, are of Viking origin. The harsher sounds of the language would change and shape the Gaelic language, which would eventually soften into the iconic accent that we know today. Scotland was constantly fighting against British rule but finally joined together in 1707 to form Great Britain.
Wales also has a fascinating history during the Anglo-Saxon period. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the Welsh kingdoms of Gwynedd and Powys were major powers in Britain. However, by the 11th century, the Normans had conquered much of Wales and established several castles and strongholds. Although some would look back at this with some disdain, it changed the shape and future of Welsh evolution forever, as it marked a different branching from the original Norse cultures which had dominated the region.
Despite the Norman conquest, the Welsh language and culture survived, and in the later Middle Ages, Wales became a center of literary activity. The famous poet Dafydd ap Gwilym lived during this time, and his work is considered to be some of the greatest in the Welsh language. Wales is famously known as the first colony to be annexed into the British Empire, beginning as early as 1535. This would eventually soften the unique Welsh language into the one that is recognizable today. The Laws in Wales Act was enacted between 1535 and 1542.