During the 5th century Anglo Saxons had invaded and settled in the lands of the Iceni in eastern England, they were divided into two communities the North Folk and the South Folk. Within a century it had merged into the kingdom known as East Anglia, which was to become one of the most powerful of the seven Anglo Saxon kingdoms in England, however in 794 it fell to the Mercian forces, and King Offa brought the kingdom under his control.
There followed two centuries of toing and froing between rulers, the Anglo Saxons rebelling against the Mercians in 827, the Vikings taking control in 869, the Anglo Saxons retook the kingdom in 920, with Canute conquering it in 1015. When the Norman invasion came East Anglia was united as part of a Norman England, but not without facing rebellion and dissent from the local inhabitants.
The land to the north west of East Anglia stretching southwards to Cambridge is very flat and only a few feet above sea level. The Fens and around the Wash into Lincolnshire was largely marshland and salt flats, with "island" communities on any high ground available, and much of the transportation being done by water. The coastline is also subject to erosion and silting, so a shifting coastline has also defined the character of the area. Despite efforts to control water since Roman times by the cutting of dikes and canals, it was not until the 17th century that Dutch settlers finally got on top of the problem, having developed the system "of sticking their thumbs in holes!" in their homeland.
East Anglia has an chequered history and many historic cities. Amongst which are Colchester, the first recorded Roman town which claims to be the oldest town in Britain; Cambridge, the medieval university town; Ely, the island town that became a county and then a city; Norwich, the county town of Norfolk that was second only in size to London in medieval times; and Bury St Edmunds, the Suffolk town named after a burial.
East Anglia's political importance during the medieval centuries was reflected by the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk monopolising the position of Earl Marshal of England, a practice that has continued up to modern times. Its economy however, based on agriculture, wool and textiles, deteriorated somewhat on the advent of the industrial revolution.