- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

PARIS — The Anglo-Saxons who conquered England in the fifth century set up a system of “apartheid” that enabled them to master and outbreed the native British majority, according to gene research being published today.

In fewer than 15 generations, more than half of the population in England had the genes of the invaders, investigators say.

“The native Britons were genetically and culturally absorbed by the Anglo-Saxons over a period of as little as a few hundred years,” said Mark Thomas, a University College London biologist.

“An initially small invading Anglo-Saxon elite could have quickly established themselves by having more children who survived to adulthood, thanks to their military power and economic advantage.

“We believe that they also prevented the native British genes getting into the Anglo-Saxon population by restricting intermarriage in a system of apartheid that left the country culturally and genetically Germanized,” he said.

“This is what we see today — a population of largely Germanic genetic origin, speaking a principally German language.”

The Anglo-Saxons — Germanic tribes who lived in present-day Germany, the northern Netherlands and Denmark — invaded Britain in 450 A.D. after the fall of the Roman Empire. They conquered England but were unable to penetrate far into the Celtic fringes of what are now Wales and Scotland.

The population of England at that time was probably about 2 million while the number of Anglo-Saxons was tiny: The lowest estimate puts the number of migrants at fewer than 10,000 about 200 years after the invasion, although others put it at more than 100,000.

How could such a small minority have ruled a country so emphatically? How could it skirt assimilation with the native British majority and impose a language, laws, economy and culture whose stamp is visible today?

The answer, suggest Mr. Thomas and his colleagues: An “apartheidlike social structure” that enshrined Anglo-Saxons as the master and the native Britons (called “Welshmen,” from the Germanic word for slave) as the servants.

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