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Introduction To Anglo Saxon Warfare


From the fifth to the eleventh centuries AD, Anglo-Saxon warfare took place in England and was notable for its unique military strategies. While the Anglo-Saxons shared characteristics with other European cultures of the Early Medieval Period, such as the Franks and the Goths, they did not battle on horseback regularly.

Here are some elements of Anglo-Saxon military warfare strategy:

Shield Wall Formation

The shield wall formation was a defining feature of Anglo-Saxon warfare. Warriors stood shoulder to shoulder, interlocking their shields to form a solid defensive barrier. This arrangement provided defense while also allowing for coordinated strikes.

Infantry Priority

Unlike other Germanic tribes, the Anglo-Saxons generally relied on foot warriors rather than horses. They highly valued individual fighters' ability and bravery, stressing close combat and hand-to-hand warfare.

Hit-and-Run Tactics

Like the Vikings, Anglo-Saxon fighters were adept at hit-and-run tactics, utilizing their mobility and terrain expertise to launch surprise attacks on opposing forces. They would strike quickly and retreat, avoiding lengthy conflicts.

Leadership and Strategy

Anglo-Saxon leaders were vital in warfare. They would organize and direct their forces, laying battle lines and preparing for combat. Maintaining discipline and coordinating strikes required strong leadership.


Swords, spears, axes, and arrows were among the weapons used by the Anglo-Saxons. These weapons were frequently individualized and passed down through generations. The warrior's standing and duty in battle dictated the weapons he used.

It should be highlighted that Anglo-Saxon warfare evolved in tandem with their society. They were minor tribal groups in the fifth century, but by the eleventh century, they had united into a single state. This resulted in modifications to their military organization and tactics. Shield wall formation, infantry focus, hit-and-run tactics, strong leadership, and various weapons typified Anglo-Saxon military battle tactics. These strategies profoundly impacted the history and government of the Anglo-Saxon period.


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