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The four share a similar history, as they were all given into the "power of the barbarians" by Roman authority: three were deliberately settled with German federates and though the Vandals took Africa by force their dominion was confirmed by treaty.

The historical details are, as Snyder had it: "by-products from his recounting of royal-sins".

This is the 5th century Britain into which the Anglo-Saxons appear.

Surveying the historical sources for signs of the Anglo-Saxon settlement, and the people, assumes that the words Angles, Saxons or Anglo-Saxon have the same meaning in all the sources.

The Germanic-speakers in Britain, themselves of diverse origins, eventually developed a common cultural identity as Anglo-Saxons.

This process occurred from the mid-fifth to early seventh centuries, following the end of Roman power in Britain around the year 410.

However, another view, probably the most widely held today, is that the migrants were relatively few, centred on a warrior elite.

This hypothesis suggests that the incomers, having achieved a position of political and social dominance, initiated a process of acculturation by the natives to their language and material culture.

In this view, held by the majority of historians until the mid to late twentieth century, much of what is now England was cleared of its prior inhabitants.

If this traditional viewpoint were to be correct, the genes of the later English people would have been overwhelmingly inherited from Germanic migrants.

The writing of Patrick and Gildas (see below) demonstrates the survival in Britain of Latin literacy and Roman education, learning and law within elite society and Christianity, throughout the bulk of the 5th and 6th centuries.

There are also signs in Gildas' works that the economy was thriving without Roman taxation, as he complains of luxuria and self-indulgence.

Assigning ethnic labels such as "Anglo-Saxon" is fraught with difficulties and the term itself only began to be used in the 8th century to distinguish "Germanic" groups in Britain from those on the continent (Old Saxony in present-day Northern Germany).