Historically, people in early England or Englelond did not call themselves “Anglo-Saxons”. The term was used sporadically during the early English period, but by and large, the people in early medieval England referred to themselves as Englisc or Anglecynn. There is evidence that people on mainland Europe referred to the early English people using Latinate forms of “Anglo-Saxon”, but within early England it was sparsely used and such uses were mainly found in regal documents. It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that “Anglo-Saxon” gained popularity, mostly for racial segregation and to promote white superiority. Today, white supremacists misuse the term to mean “white” (which is untrue of the period) and to falsely claim indigeneity to Britain when the separate tribes referenced were migrants. Today, scholars in my field are coming together to interrogate this term’s use to reflect accuracy in our work. No term is perfect but both “early English” or “early medieval English” represent the people in early medieval England more accurately.
Mary Rambaran-Olm is a literary historian and palaeographer of early medieval England, also specialising in digital humanities