Are the Anglo-Saxons the most warlike and expansionist tribe in human history?

Being an Anglo-Saxon myself, I ask this merely from curiosity. This tribe came out of the German marshes, grabbed England from the Celts and used that as a base to spread across the world. Sure, many others came along for the ride, the Scots, Irish, Welsh, etc, but it was always the Anglo-Saxons supplying the drive and direction, as they still do today in the quest for US domination of the planet. Im not saying thats a bad thing, I`d rather have US domination than Russian, Chinese, etc.

Er, aren’t you forgetting about the Normans?

Yeah, and the Danes pushed them back from the east coast of England for a sizeable portion of the country prior to the Norman invasion.

Anglos-Saxons-Normans-Celts-Scots all supplied “drive”. I’d say since the Normans built a seperate international expansionist empire elsewhere and Saxony and Juteland did not create such empires, that if you want to classify like this, you would have to say it was the Normans who were the “driving force” & not A/S.

I would add that Romans had an empire that lasted, depending on how you count, at least 2X as long as Britian and conqured people who were, for the most part, very near the Roman level of technology. Britian conqured people it was decades ahead of, for the most part.

I think the Romans are the ones who have provided the “drive and direction” to the entire West. Second I’d go with the Macedonians, then the Normans.

Actually, the celts have been an extremely expansionist people. From central Europe, they managed to gain control of most of this continent, from the black sea to the north sea.

Imperialist countries are those who who are economically/militarily dominant, nothing else.

And what are you calling “anglo-saxon” anyway? The countries which happen to speak a germanic language? Would it be related to the gene pool?

Angle and Saxons have invaded part of some large island at some point of the history. That’s hardly an extraordinary event in world’s history. 1500 years later, during the XIX° century, a nation of descendants of megalith builders, Picts, Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Normans, Frenchs and who know what else who lived in this place and happened to speak a germanic language bastardized by a romance language became a proeminent economical and colonial power. I fail to see a general trend here.

Oh the whole bloody structure of the analysis is crap.

Every one of these kinds of questions suffers from such severe logical failings and malignant ahistoricism that they give me a headache.

Let’s take the Celt example.

What the fuck does expansionist mean in terms of analyzing a pre-historic (in a strict sense) people?

Celts are what? Speakers of a certain I-E language family. What do we actually know of the mechanics of their ‘expansion’ – violent, haphazard, non-violent absorbtion? There are a multitude of stories to tell over a millenia. Any coherence? Does generalizing make any sense, based on a bleeding langauge family?

No. Apologies clairoscur, using the Celts as an object lesson.

I agree with Collounsbury. Its one thing to ask “Is England the most warlike/expansionist coutry” because you can point to the country that is England in its various forms throughout history and analyze it. Also, as has been mentioned English people are not entirely Anglo-Saxon. Cultural and genetic contributions from the Normans, Danes, Celts, Anglo Saxons,and others all make up what is now the country and people of England. How can you also project one of these tribes (a subset of English culture) onto the future when the ‘tribe’ has lost its political/economic/social unity/cohesiveness and has been completly absorbed into English society. I cant point out the “Anglo-Saxon’s Club” president or anything.

Well…I don’t disagree with you, Collonsbury. I just took the example of the Celts because they were in Britain before the Germanic tribes and to show that the anglo-saxon expansionism wasn’t particulary remarkable. They were a cultural entity spread on a large chunk of territory, where it replaced previous cultures. How it happened didn’t seem very important to me in this context.
But if you don’t like my example, I can give many others. What about the Wisigoths? They took control of Spain, and later Spain controlled an enormous empire in America. Can we say that the Wisigoths are the most warlike and expansionist tribe in human history? Does the fact that Spain doesn’t use a germanic language changes a thing? If so, can we say that the Romans are the most warlike and expansionist tribe in history, since romance languages are spoken from Bucarest to Montevideo?
I certainly agree the OP si [unappropriate word censored], so I didn’t bother posting a well-thought and historically accurate answer.

I understand, which is why I added the disclaimer as I simply siezed on the Celts to make my larger point.

Read Cecil’s answer to a much better-worded form of the question.

As well as Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, mentioned by Cecil, I would strongly recommend David Landes’ book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, which convincingly attributes many of Europe’s initial advantages to the region’s geography. (EG, the relatively low level of disease and a climate that is cool enough to allow for high levels of manual labor.)

As for why the Anglos grabbed the best bits…
I would guess it’s primarily because the post-Civil War/Glorious Revolution institutional infrastructure was superior. It was several centuries before most other European countries developed stable non-despotic government, and most of their colonial expansion was state-controlled and designed to enrich the king or nobility. The British expansion (ditto the Dutch, btw) was more of a private sector affair, driven by the profit motive and plain greed (or “individual liberty” as the school textbooks put it).

Don’t forget the Jutes. Everyone always forgets the Jutes.

At the Straight Dope? Never :smiley: :

  • Tamerlane

hmm what about djengis khan? The mongols werent pussy’s either


Interesting. Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel which has received so much attention in these fora, argues almost the opposite. At least with respect to the role of disease anyway.

I’m not too sure about climate being conducive to high volumes of labour either. Sure, cool, temperate climes are more comfortable but it doesn’t stop the sweat shops of the Philipines or Thailand pumping out masses of production. Without air conditioning in most cases too.

Actually this is a good point. In 19th century India the British Raj, in the course of some political infighting and fallout resulting from the Great Sepoy Mutiny of the 1850’s, started dividing up the peoples of India into “martial” and “non-martial” classes based at least in part on geography. The idea developed that constant exposure to an “enervating” tropical climate naturally bred indolence and lassitude and made people from those regions unsuited to the rigors of combat. Of course this had more to do with a) The embarassment of the politically well-connected officers of the mostly non-tropical Bengal Presidency in the north, who were embarassed to have been the center of the mutiny, b) European reaction to the tropical climate, and c) conveniently ignored that some of the most ferocious resistance the British encountered was in southern India, Burma, etc. .

Meanwhile at roughly the same time the stereotype had grown up in the Antebellum South of the U.S. that southerners were naturally more quick-witted, gallant, better fighters and altogether superior to the dour, phlegmatic northerners, as a result of the South’s warmer climes :D.

Both ideas were a lot of hooey of course. One has only to look at the great temple cities like Angkor Wat, Ayyuthia, or Pagan or exploits of dynasties like that of the Tamil Cholas of south India or the maritime empire of Sri Vijaya in the Indonesian archipeligo to see that plenty of tropical nations were capable of pretty sustained feats of labor.

Europe did indeed have some serious geographic advantages. But the capacity to work harder because of a cooler climate was probably not one of them :).

  • Tamerlane

Really? Prove it. I expect an uninterrupted family tree for the last 1000 years at an absolute minimum. 100% Anglo-Saxon blood or all bets are off.

And here’s me thinking you were just talking up “your tribe’s” achievements under the guise of a question.

Oops, looks like we missed out on a few more invasions and a total conquering by the Normans.

How are you identifying these people? Did they have ‘passenger only’ tickets?


Very big of you, I’m sure. But I’m sure all this Anglo-Saxon dominance must make you very proud, being Anglo-Saxon yourself.

Well nobody mentioned the Huns. They started near china and ended at Italy. Yes their empire didn’t last that much but still that was a hell of a ride.

No, I can`t really defend my description of myself as Anglo-Saxon, it was dumb. I should have recalled this poem by Defoe,

BTW by US dominance I meant the dominance of the Western liberal philosophy that lies at the heart of the US constitution, and, yes, I am proud that Englishmen like Locke shaped the thinking of the original framers, and, no, that doesnt mean that I dont recognize that people like Montesquieu and other European thinkers were equally important. And I would rather live in a world dominated by a country with such a philosophy than any other currently on offer.

I must have skipped the lesson in history where they showed the Normans totally conquering the English, driving them into the sea and taking their place. I was under the impression that it was the Norman elite that came over, rather than a mass migration, and they were gradually assimilated into the majority.

is still breaking a lans for the mongols just as the huns they started at china made a ride to Hungary but the conquer china also and some countries like perzian and other small stug like india:O)