–Lived in tribal groups with a high class of
–Kings emerged as society developed.
•Spoke Old English.
•This was the language that Beowulf was written in.
•Became Christian 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.
•787CE Viking raids begin
•871-899CE saxon King Alfred the Great becomes
King of England.
–Established education systems, rebuilt
–Contributed with artfacts
–Fought Danes and forced them from Wessex.
–Unified Anglo-Saxons under one king to resist
the Viking invasions.
–Danes ruled in the North, Anglo-Saxons in the
•1066CE Norman Conquest by
William the Conqueror.
–From Norman French.
–Defeated Danes and Anglo-Saxons.
–Officially ended Anglo-Saxon era and
brought about the beginning of the
cru·sade (kr-sd) n. 1. often Crusade Any of the military expeditions undertaken by
European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to recover the Holy Land from
2. A holy war undertaken with papal sanction.
3. A vigorous concerted movement for a cause or against an abuse. See Synonyms at
intr.v. cru·sad·ed, cru·sad·ing, cru·sades To engage in a crusade.
Anglo-Saxon literature began as an oral tradition.
Stories, poems, and songs were all told aloud and
passed from generation to generation orally through
minstrels (also called scops).
Poems traditionally had a strong beat, alliteration,
and no rhyme.
Caesura: “a cutting.” A break in a line of poetry, used
in Old English to depict a half line. We use a comma
for a modern effect.
i.e. Da com of moreunder mistheleopum
“Out from the marsh, from the foot of the hills.”
Kenning: derived from the Norse word “kenna” which
means “to know, to recognize.” It is a compact
metaphor that functions as a name.
i.e. helmberend: “Helm bearer” or “warrior”
• Beowulf is the most well-known Anglo-Saxon
poem, and is a form of poetry called the epic.
• Such other examples are Homer’s The Iliad
and The Odessey.
• Long narrative that celebrates a
hero’s long journeys and heroic
• J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Ring series and
George Lucas’ Stars Wars could be called
• Characteristics include a noble hero whose
character traits reflect their society’s ideals.
The hero performs brave acts and appears
The epic poem Beowulf strengthens the Heroic Code.
This code was derived from the Anglo-Saxons’
Germanic roots, and called for strength, courage, and
loyalty in warriors. It also required kings to be
hospitable, generous, and have great political skills.
This code was a basis for Anglo-Saxon honor.
• Universal themes of epic poetry
• Good vs. evil
• Beowulf vs. Grendel
• Courage and honor
• Beowulf is fearless and brave while fighting the monsters.
• Gods or semi-divine creatures
• Grendel, Grendel’s mother, the dragon
• Tale involves the fate of an entire race
• Most famous of early Germanic poems
• Written anywhere between 400-1000, but most
likely after the 500s. Period of the barbarian
author is unknown, but likely to be
Christian. It is likely that a few different authors
elaborated on the tale.
• Takes place in Sweden, Denmark, and
– The Norse were at this time attacking
The events described in the poem take place in
the late 5th century, after the Anglo-Saxons had begun
migration and settlement in England, and before the
beginning of the 7th century, a time when the Saxons were
either newly arrived or in close contact with their fellow Germanic
kinsmen in Scandinavia and Northern Germany.
dark mood, Alliteration and
Beowulf is an example of Medieval Anglo-Saxon poetry which was
written by monks c1100. Beowulf describes the adventures of a great
Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century. The poem of Beowulf is
distinguished by its heavy use of alliteration which was used instead of
the modern rhyme. There are therefore many examples of alliteration in
Beowulf, often three examples in every line. Like a rhyme, alliteration
makes a poem easy to remember. Examples from Beowulf are
Cunningly creeping, a spectral
Hot-hearted Beowulf was bent
He had often haunted Hrothgar's
Life would have ended
[...] under wide earth
Would have died
Lake, pond, swamp
• Beowulf: main character, a hero featuring all the qualities
of an epic hero. He has superhuman strength and is
fearless and brave in battle.
• Hrothgar: the king of the village that Beowulf saves
• Grendel: a monster terrorizing Hrothgar’s village.
• Grendel’s mother: a monster set out to avenge her
• Roles (4 students) and start telling the plot
Pagan vs. Christianity in Beowulf
Strength of the
God is mentioned by
two of the main
characters in the
poem: Beowulf and
Grendel as Lucifer
Both are outcasts
Perform a task for
Grendel is described
as a son or
descendant of Cain,
a clear Biblical
Plot (movie here)
Beowulf travels to Hrothgar’s village to save them from
Grendel, a terrifying monster eating their warriors.
An epic battle ensures Beowulf is the winner.
Of course, Grendel’s mother comes seeking
vengeance for her son’s death. Again, Beowulf is
called upon to save them all, and he fights heroically
and defeats the evil monster.
After being vastly rewarded and refusing an offer from
Hrothgar to be his heir, Beowulf makes the long trek
back to his homeland where he becomes a mighty and
generous king for many years.
He fights a massive dragon who is threatening his
Funeral pyre lit and Beowulf burned.
[Question: why is this old woman placed here in
the book? Is this a woman's comment on all the
men's actions and male dominated society that
creates such continual misery with their warrior
OLD WOMAN predicts that the Geats will be
overrun. She seems to know 'what goes round
comes around' and 'they'll get theirs.' They build
the tower and twelve Geats ride around the tower
praising Beowulf, best of kings.