Who Are Mitt Romney’s Anglo-Saxons?

This week, the internet is full of macros like this, thanks to Romney’s aide’s comment that Obama ‘doesn’t understand Anglo-Saxon heritage.’ I think Mr. Sutton Hoo Helmet on the right is rather more handsome, don’t you?

Romney’s general idiocy aside, I remember as a kid having a long discussion with my dad about how ridiculous it is to call modern English people Anglo-Saxons (and you wonder why I ended up being a historian). The poor Jutes are left out, even though they invaded along with the Angles and Saxons, according to Bede. So are the Vikings (mostly Danish and Norwegian, I think. Anyone?) who settled in what became the Danelaw, in the East of England. The Irish settled areas in the West in what is now Wales and Cornwall, had generally close ties to Anglo-Saxon England, and were the ‘Scotti’ who settled Scotland, formerly occupied by the Picts. This is to say nothing of the Celtic British, who occupied most of the island before being pushed West and North by the Anglo-Saxon invasions. Then, of course, there were the Normans, who invaded in 1066 and irrevocably changed the language and the culture.

So who, exactly, are these Anglo-Saxons of whom you speak?

As expected, the internet had a field day. Some choice tweets, mined from the The Toronto Star article:

“Will no one speak up on behalf of Norman culture?”

“Hoo boy — Romney’s ‘Anglo-Saxon’ remark is totally going to lose him the Norman, Druid, Jute and Saracen vote!”

“Glad Romney has a plan for Anglo-Saxon advancement. The Lombards and Visigoths are on the march, and the Frankish tribes grow restless.”

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