QUESTIONS: What four peoples invaded Britain in the period the time line covers? [the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, and the Normans] What effects might a series of invasions—one every three hundred to five hundred years—have on a culture? [Possible responses: Such a history might make a culture adaptable; people would learn to live with and absorb the influences of those who spoke a different language or practiced a different religion; a history of invasion would make a culture become militaristic.]
QUESTIONS Which three tribes are known as the Anglo-Saxons? [Angles, Saxons, and Jutes] Where did they come from? [northern Germany, Denmark, and northern Holland] How did they get to Britain? [They rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats.] BACKGROUND King Alfred the Great came from Wessex. By the middle of the tenth century, the Wessex kings had become the kings of all England. Northumbria was known as a center of learning and the arts. The religious art mixed Celtic and Anglo-Saxon influences. The Monastery of Lindisfarne (from which come the Lindisfarne Gospels) is located on Holy Island, off the northwest coast of Northumbria. In Sutton Hoo, East Anglia, a burial mound of an Anglo-Saxon king was discovered in 1939.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION Old English was the language of the Anglo-Saxons. It is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Modern English is directly descended from Old English. During the Anglo-Saxon period, people spoke what we call Old English, but the language of study was Latin until the time of King Alfred. During his reign, King Alfred instituted the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a lengthy running history of England that covered the earliest days and continued until 1154. Partly because of King Alfred’s efforts, English began to gain respect as a language of culture. An electronic copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is available on the Internet.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION : Greek travelers to Britain in 4 th century encountered tall, blond warriors who called themselves Celts. Animism is a belief that gods live in all things—trees, stones, water, air. Druids are known to have existed since the 3 rd century B.C. The word druid means “knowing the oak tree.” Celtic priests performed ceremonies in oak groves and considered the oak trees, as well as the mistletoe that grows on oaks, sacred. Stonehenge stands at the top of a gentle slope among the dry grasslands of the Salisbury Plain, in southern England. Scholars believe that Stonehenge (c.3100–1100 B.C.) was built by the Iberians, who lived in Britain before the Celts. Most archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was used by the Druids for religious ceremonies having to do with lunar and solar cycles. The name comes from the Saxon, combining stone and henge, “hang”—thus, a place of hanging stone.
2 tribes of Celts: Britons (settled in what is now Great Britain) Gaels (settled in what is now Ireland)
From about 700 B.C., the Celts dominated most of what is now western and central Europe. Skilled artisans, they introduced the use of iron to the rest of Europe. They also had a highly developed religion, mythology, and legal system that specified individual rights. The Celts were also adept at curing hams, keeping bees, and making wooden barrels. The language of the Celts was dominant in Britain until around the 5th.
Refer to British Isles map in contents pages Picture of Hadrian's Wall on page 7 The great defensive wall is Hadrian's Wall, which linked the North Sea and the Atlantic near the present-day border between England and Scotland, and held back the marauding Picts and Scots for two hundred years. Along this wall were seventeen large stone forts to house the Roman legions guarding the frontier.
The 5,000 miles of stone roads the Romans built linked tribal capitals and towns, especially London, York, and Winchester. These roads faciliated trade, the collection of taxes, and the movement of troops. With the Romans gone and no central government in place, how did this leave the Britains? Vulnerable to outside attacks? Clans fighting for control?
What are some of the names of Anglo-Saxon gods that has survived and still very much part of our daily lives? Tuesday – from Tiw Wednesday from Woden Thursday – chief Teutonic god – Thor – god of thunder Friday – from Frigga, goddess of the home
Viking Ship, known as the Oseberg Ship, dates 825 AD, and is thought to be the burial chamber of Asa, a Viking queen, whose active life belied the passive role women played at this time in history. Married against her will to a Norwegian king, Asa had her husband killed and ruled alone until her death in 850. Accompanying Asa on her voyage to the afterlife was the body of a maidservant, priceless gold and gems (which subsequently were stolen by looters), and objects such as sleds and a wagon. These would permit Asa to travel in the afterlife as much as the Vikings enjoyed traveling while living. Not a true longboat, this royal barge was tied to a rock before it was buried. The ship was unearthed in 1904.
Feudal Society has four classes The earls are a hereditary class of ruling warlords who owed their position to the king Freeman are allowed to own land and engage in commerce
BACKGROUND: Anglo-Saxon king was an absolute ruler and mighty warrior. The Anglo-Saxons had a two-class society: the thanes, or earls, who ruled and were related to the leader of the tribe; and the churls, or bondservants, whose ancestors had been captured by the tribe. King consulted with the witan (“wise men”), an assembly of respected earls. Churls provided hard labor and were bound to the earls’ service unless they could earn possessions and special royal favor to become freemen (independent landholders). Warriors were admired. Social organization based on strict laws and a sense of obligation to others.
Descendant of Woden Warrior who relied on his strength to control Advised by a council called the Witan, which was made up of influential earls Hereditary but the tribe could remove the king if he was too old, weak or unsatisfactory in any way Known as Ring-Giver
BACKGROUND INFORMATION Woden would help humans communicate with spirits and was associated especially with burial rites and ecstatic trances, important for both poetry and religious mysteries. Not surprisingly, this god of poetry and death played an important role in the lives of people who produced great poetry yet maintained a somber, brooding outlook on life. Thunor was the god of thunder and lightning. His sign was the hammer and possibly also the twisted cross we call the swastika, which is found on so many Anglo-Saxon gravestones.
QUESTIONS The main text of the Lindisfarne Gospels (7 th century) is written in Latin, the designs are influenced by Celtic art, and the marginal notes are written in Anglo-Saxon (Old English). What does that tell us about early Christianity? [Possible response: The spread of Christianity encouraged cross-cultural exchange.] BACKGROUND Ireland began a golden age during the 5th century. Unlike England, Ireland was not overrun by invaders. Then, in 432, the whole of Celtic Ireland was converted to Christianity by a Romanized Briton named Patricius (Patrick). From 432 to 750, while Europe and England sank into constant warfare, Ireland experienced a golden age. Monasteries in England served as centers of learning just as they would in the Middle Ages. The monks preserved not only the Greek classics but also some of the great works of popular literature such as Beowulf, which was first written down around A.D. 700. Due to the Christian elements in the epic, scholars believe the poet who wrote down the version of Beowulf we have today was a monk.
The society had become Christian about 100 years before the poem was composed. Drew on pagan legends and folk tales Christian beliefs of poets also enter the poem Beowulf is a pagan warrior and a Christian hero Beowulf: Celebrates pagan life but contains references to Christian beliefs Types of burial Pagan Ideas-loyalty, valor, unselfishness, and a sense of justice to all Beowulf cuts off Grendal’s head Dragons and monsters Christian idea- good vs. evil (Beowulf vs. Grendal) Monks may have added some of the Christian ideas when they wrote the poem down Grendal “fiend from Hell”
Scops Would speak, chant, sing the poem May also use a harp Scops stayed with a king until they were disfavored Some traveled telling stories Memorized and changed stories to fit the situation
PRONUNCIATION GUIDE scops (skahps) BACKGROUND The literature of the Anglo-Saxons was handed down orally by scops who sang in the lords’ mead halls, where warriors gathered to celebrate the events of the day. These scops, like the Greek poets before them, remembered their stories by using accentual meter and many stock phrases called kennings. The word wyrd was used by the Anglo-Saxons to represent one’s fate in life. The early Anglo-Saxons did not believe strongly in an afterlife; they believed that immortality, or lof —fame that survives death—could be earned through heroic action. The Anglo-Saxon lyre (a type of harp) on the slide is a replica of a six-stringed instrument found at the Sutton Hoo archaeological site. It is a reconstruction based on fragments.
BACKGROUND: The illustration of King Sweyn’s invasion of England is notable for its lack of historical accuracy. The ship and soldiers are typical of the Middle Ages rather than the eleventh century. QUESTION: What does the illustration’s lack of historical accuracy suggest about the medieval approach to history? [Possible response: Medieval artists were not concerned with how customs changed from one historical period to another.] BACKGROUND: The Danes were one of the fierce Viking peoples who crossed the North Sea in dragon-prowed ships. The Danes plundered and destroyed all in their path, eventually settling in northeast and central England. King Alfred (849–899) truly deserves the appellation “the great.” Not only did he help save Wessex and other kingdoms in England from the Danes, but he also helped create a cohesive English society from a collection of small, fractious kingdoms. In addition, he restored cities destroyed during invasions and revived interest in learning and in the English language. King Alfred is the only British monarch who is called “the great.” The Alfred jewel is a gold and enamel jewel (9 th century) thought to have belonged to King Alfred and is possibly the handle to a pointer used for following manuscript text. QUESTION The Alfred jewel shows an enameled figure of a man holding two scepters. The inscription around the edge reads: “Alfred ordered me to be made.” What symbolic significance do the two scepters have? [Possible response: They symbolize the political unity Alfred was trying to achieve.]
QUESTIONS: In what country is Normandy located? [France] How did the Norman Invasion (also called the Conquest) affect the English language? [Many English words are of French origin.] BACKGROUND King Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Although tapestry usually involves the weaving of thread, this tapestry is actually an embroidered band of linen, 231 feet long and 19 ½ inches wide. Of particular value to historians are the details of battle tactics and equipment depicted in the work.
URCA – Universidade Regional do Cariri Departamento de Línguas e Literaturas Letras – VI Semestre Literatura Inglesa – Renaissance – 18 th Century 449 BCE-1066 BCE Anglo-Saxons Prof. Esp. Fabione Gomes
The Anglo-Saxons: 449–1066 300s B.C. Celts in Britain 55 B.C–A.D.409 Roman Occupation A.D. 449 Anglo-Saxon Invasion A.D. 400–699 Spread of Christianity A.D. 1066 Norman Invasion A.D.878 King Alfred against the Danes A.D. 600 A.D. 300 A.D. 1 300 B.C . A.D. 900 A.D. 1200
Lived in tribal groups with a high class of warriors.
Kings emerged as society developed.
Spoke Old English. This was the language that Beowulf was written in.
Became Christians but still valued heroic ideals and traditional heroes.
Their culture valued human contact, family, virtue, and a good story. They feared humiliation and loneliness in their lives. In addition, the Anglo-Saxons desired richness, power, and appreciated heroic actions of warriors .
What were Anglo- Saxons buildings like? Life Where did the Anglo- Saxons live?
In few buildings.
In Suffolk buildings around larger hall, 1 room with hearth
Felt small and insignificant, pitted against hostile elements
Struggles with the forces of nature
Brags about deeds and boasts about future deeds
Once a promise is made it must be kept or he will die trying
Life Civilized yet violent the sea is a part of life Glorification of war and death Fame-attain glory, be brave Slavery Male dominated Weapons are important and handed down Swords may have names Wyrd-fate Battle is a way of life
Life Freeman or slave A freeman - land and slaves. A slave – nothing Richer freemen - 'thanes'.
Life Crime and punishment For minor crimes - a nose or a hand might be cut off. If a person killed someone they had to pay money to the dead person's relatives.
Following the time periods, religion can be seen as a great influence in literature as a writer’s own religious views can impact a story. Also, during this time period, literature that was written out was largely that which could influence the religious beliefs of the literate. Sometimes, the religious affiliation was also in control of what kinds of materials were printed, so as not to influence people differently than instructed by government or heads of church. Therefore, literature of the time period was often recited or written to preach/teach values, morals and religion to the illiterate crowd.
Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (applies to riddles, Beowulf, The Seafarer, etc.)
Kennings – a metaphorical phrase used to replace a concrete noun. Ready made descriptive compound words that evoke vivid images
Kennings are formed by
Preposition phrase – Giver of knowledge Possessive phrase – mankind’s enemy Compound word – sea path
Old English Poetics Epithets : Using an appropriate adjective (often habitually) to characterize a person or thing. " Bravely bold Sir Robin rode forth from Camelot. He was not afraid to die, oh brave Sir Robin. He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways, brave , brave , brav e, brave Sir Robin." ( Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
The small kingdoms fought amongst each other until 829—King Egbert of Wessex won control of all A/S kingdoms. Unfortunately, by the end of Egbert’s reign, Vikings had captured much of the kingdom (Vikings were Scandinavian—called Norse because they had crossed the North Sea—predominantly Danes); Vikings had taken over much of France, and that area became known as Normandy.
In 878, Alfred, King of Wessex (Egbert’s grandson) defeated the Danes at the Battle of Edington. Alfred went on to recapture most of England, as well as promote education and literacy among his people. He became known as “Alfred the Great.” Alfred’s son and grandson won back the rest of England and made peace with the Vikings.
King Alfred against the Danes 8th–9th centuries Vikings called Danes invade Britain 878 King Alfred unifies Anglo-Saxons against the Danes. 871 Alfred of Wessex is king of England.
England becomes a nation.
King Sweyn and his Danish troops arrive in England, from a manuscript (c. 14 th century)