Jutes

The Jutes (/dʒuːts/), Iuti, or Iutæ (DanishJydeOld EnglishĒotas) were one of the Anglo-Saxon tribes who settled in England after the departure of the Romans. According to Bede, they were one of the three most powerful Germanic nations.

The Jutes are believed to have originated from what is now the Jutland Peninsula (called Iutum in Latin) and part of the North Frisian coast, consisting of the mainland of DenmarkSouthern Schleswig (Germany) and North Frisia (Germany).

The Jutes invaded and settled in southern Britain in the late fourth century during the Migration period, as part of a larger wave of Germanic settlement in Britain. The Jutes are also speculated to have spread to SavoniaFinland, as the Finnish surname Juutilainen (English: Juutila), which comes from the word “juutti”, refers to the Jutes.

A map of Jutish settlements in Britain circa 575.

Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain

The early migrations of Germanic peoples from coastal regions of northern Europe to areas of modern-day England. The settlement regions correspond roughly to later dialect divisions of Old English.

Homeland and historical accounts

Although historians are confident of where the Jutes settled in England, they are divided on where they actually came from.

The chroniclers, ProcopiusConstantius of LyonGildas, Bede, Nennius, and also the Anglo-Saxon ChronicleAlfred the Great and Asser provide the names of tribes who settled Britain during the mid-fifth century, and in their combined testimony, the four tribes mentioned are the AngliSaxonesIutae and Frisii.  The Roman historian Tacitus refers to a people called the Eudoses a tribe who possibly developed into the Jutes. The Jutes have also been identified with the Eotenas (ēotenas) involved in the Frisian conflict with the Danes as described in the Finnesburg episode in the Old English poem BeowulfTheudebert, king of the Franks wrote to the Emperor Justinian and in the letter claimed that he had lordship over a nation called the Saxones Eucii . The Eucii are thought to have been Jutes and may have been the same, as a little-documented tribe, called the Euthiones . The Euthiones are mentioned in a poem by Venantius Fortunatus (583) as being under the suzerainty of Chilperic I of the Franks. The Euthiones were located somewhere in northern Francia, modern day Flanders , an area of the European mainland opposite to Kent.

Bede inferred that the Jutish homeland was on the Jutland peninsula. However there is evidence that the Jutes who migrated to England came from northern Francia or from Frisia. Historians have posited that Jutland was the homeland of the Jutes, but when the Danes invaded the Jutland Peninsula in about AD 200 some of the Jutes would have been absorbed by the Danish culture and others may have migrated to northern Francia and Frisia.

There is a hypothesis, suggested by Pontus Fahlbeck in 1884, that the Geats were Jutes. According to this hypothesis the Geats resided in southern Sweden and also in Jutland (where Beowulf would have lived).

The evidence adduced for this hypothesis includes:

  • primary sources referring to the Geats (Geátas) by alternative names such as IútanIótas, and Eotas
  • Asser in his Life of Alfred (893) identifies the Jutes with the Goths (in a passage claiming that Alfred the Great was descended, through his mother, Osburga, from the ruling dynasty of the Jutish kingdom of Wihtwara, on the Isle of Wight).
  • the Gutasaga is a saga that charts the history of Gotland prior to Christianity. It is an appendix to the Guta Lag (Gotland law) written in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It says that some inhabitants of Gotland left for mainland Europe. Large burial sites attributable to either Goths or Gepids were found in the 19th century near Willenberg, Prussia (after 1945 Wielbark in Poland).

However, the tribal names possibly were confused in the above sources in both Beowulf (8th – 11th centuries) and Widsith (late 7th – 10th century). The Eoten (in the Finn passage) are clearly distinguished from the Geatas.

Read more here: Jutes – Wikipedia

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