Is it true that:

  1. For quite a long period Germans ruled England.
  2. They dominated English so much so that the English language was about to lose its prime importance amongst the populace.
    Later on,
  3. An English statesman (I forgot the name) prepared a policy to revive their native language i.e. English.
  4. He (the said Statesman) was successful in his ambition and the English tongue was rejuvenated.
  5. The period for which Brits were ruled by Germans spanned about 400 years.

I read this couple of years back. I fail to recollect accurate details of reference.

Please verify and update me.

  • 2
    Welcome to History:SE. Have you tried to research these questions anywhere else (e.g. on Google, for example) ? What has that research shown you so far? You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 14:59
  • 5
    By Germans do you mean the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes that migrated to the British Isles? Or the Windsor royal family, descended from Germans (like almost all European monarchies)?
    – SPavel
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 15:16
  • 2
    One could argue that "England" only exists because of the Germanic tribes that gave it the name and the language. "Brits" generally refers to all of the peoples of the British Isles, many of whom are not English (and are very keen not to be seen as such).
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 15:22
  • 2
    Question has an answer, with references and citations. Question appears to be sincere (based on a false premise, but one with underlying ?proto-facts?, and I can't claim I've never been guilty of that). Let's not close the question, let's move the comments to answers.
    – MCW
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 16:21
  • 2
    Maybe the question is confusing German for French....From 1066 until 1417 when Henry V promoted the use of English (351 years). Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


The answer to all of your questions is no.

The name "England" derives from the Old English name Englaland, which means "Land of the Angles". It is worth noting that, in the context of language, Old English is a synonym for Anglo Saxon. (The earliest recorded use of the term that I'm aware of is in the late ninth century translation into Old English of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which had been written in Latin in in the early eighth century.)

The first "King of England" was Ecgherht (Egbert), who ruled from 827 – 839. His actual Anglo-Saxon title was Bretwalda (“ruler of the British”), rather than King, but it meant broadly the same thing. There was no entity called "England" before that.

Egbert was almost certainly descended from Germanic invaders who arrived in the early post-Roman period, but probably also from native Romano-British peoples. The truth is that we lack the evidence to be at all precise about his ancestry. By this stage, the "English" people were, by-and-large probably a mixture of these peoples. Not German, not Romano-British, but - for want of a better word - "English".

So, the answer to your first question is no. By the time there was an "England", the people who ruled there were no longer "German".

For your second, third and fourth questions, the answer is also no. If you look at the Wikipedia page for the History of English, you will see that the Old English (a.k.a "Anglo Saxon" - see above) of Beowulf, developed into the Middle English of Chaucer, which in turn became the early modern English of Shakespeare, which eventually became modern English (and, via Webster et al., American).

The language was never lost, and so never needed a statesman to champion its cause.

For question 5, see question 1.

  • 5
    Not only was there no entity called England until the 9th century, there was no entity called Germany (as opposed to simply the region of Germania) until 1871.
    – SPavel
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 16:52
  • @SPavel That is not correct. There was a political entity sometimes called Germany since 843. In 962 Otto I the Great, king of East Franks or of Germany & King of Italy or Lombardy, was crowned emperor. Since that time the jobs of King of Germany & King of Italy were united with the office of Emperor. The emperors used only the imperial title until they began to add the titles of their hereditary fiefs. Then in 1508 Maximilian I took the title of Elected Emperor of the Romans and King of (or in) Germany, to show the difference between the kingdom of Germany and the larger Roman Empire.
    – MAGolding
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 20:05


The only thing I can think of that is even close to this is the Danelaw, where for a period of about 100 years a subset of England was being run by Danish (Norse) peoples, and to which they were immigrating in sizable numbers. Note that both Norse and English are Germanic languages (and neither are "German" in the modern sense)

About 60 years after that, Cnut the Great conquered England, but this time Danish rule only lasted Cnut's lifetime. After his death (and a bit of excitement) the Normans conquered England, and made the country's official language Norman French. The common people never took to that language, and the French looked down on it, so it was quietly dropped in favor of English about 350 years later.

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