England was a land susceptible to constant conquest by an enemy that came in waves.
43AD Romans conquer the Celtic natives. They engineer highways and great dividing Walls, and set up public baths, but make little or no change in the language of the populace.
408-10AD As the Roman Empire begins to collapse, Roman troops leave Britain making it susceptible to Viking invasions.
420-428 Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade Britain. Bede claims that Vortigern, (proud Celt? Romanized Briton? Tyrant), trying to conquer the whole island, invited the Germans to help him and then couldn't get them out. Hengest and Horsa were renowned mercenaries who were followed by other Germanic invaders. Britain became a land of tribes organized around chieftains who were called Bretwalas (in case you are at a party where this comes up).
560-616 Æthelbert, King of Kent, becomes the first English ruler to be baptized.
597 Augustine is sent from Rome to convert the English people.
600 England is a group of 10 independent kingdoms south of the Humber River.
614-680 Hild is prioress of a Double Monastery (no hanky-pank in the early days). She was a Deirean princess (Northern English kingdom) and the poet Cædmon's superior.
685 Most kings are Christian by now.
700-757 The Age of Bede and the composition of the "Dream of the Rood."
757-96 Offa becomes King of Mercia (in central England). He is the only English ruler besides Egbert of Wessex to be recognized by Charlemagne--King of the Franks and Holy roman Emperor. (Beginning of English unity.)
786802 Instability of the kingly reigns and successions provides the opportunity for the Vikings (Danes) to invade England. They set up a series of settlements in Northeast England that become known as the Danelaw.
871-899 Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, fights and weakensthe Danes producing a period in which Alfred's Anglo-Saxon became the language of literary and historical works. Alfred seeks to unite all of the English kingdoms under himself.
1016-35 Aided by problems of Alfred's successors and by the increasing political power of aristocrats in the Danelaw, King Knut of Denmark becomes King of England. Ultimately the problems of trying to rule two separate and widely separated countries results in the return of English rule to Alfred's Anglo-Saxon offspring.
1066 Continuing power struggles over the monarchy in a now-united England result in the final conquering of the island by the French-speaking William of Normandy. For the next 350 years, English government and political power will be in the hands of French speakers. The Anglo-Saxon language will be radically changed and become recognizably the precurser to the English spoken today.