The Anglo-Saxon Era
43CE Romans invade Britain.
Encountered the Celts.
Romans build roads, villas, huge buildings, and forts.
• 420CE Romans leave.
• 450CE Jutes from Denmark, and the Angles and Saxons
from Northern Germany invade England.
– Germanic tribes.
– Anglo-Saxons push out Celts
597CE Anglo-Saxons become Christian
• 787CE Viking raids begin
• 871-899CE King Alfred the Great becomes King of
– Established education systems, rebuilt monasteries.
– Fought Danes and forced them from Wessex.
– Unified Anglo-Saxons under one king to resist the Viking
Danes ruled in the North, Anglo-Saxons in the South.
• 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 Medieval Period.
Early Anglo-Saxon religion was a pagan belief system
based on Germanic mythology. Remnants of these gods
remain in the English names for the days of the week:
Tuesday - Tiw(god of war), Wednesday - Woden (god of
the dead), Thursday – Thor (god of thunder) and Friday -
Fréo(goddess of love). In AD 597,St. Augustine was sent
to England by Pope Gregory (the head of the Roman
Christian church) to convert the Saxons to Christianity.
Augustine landed in Kent and converted King Aethelbert
of Kent and his court to Christianity and founded a
monastery at Canterbury. Christianity gradually spread
across England replacing the Anglo-Saxon pagan religion.
Old English was the language spoken until the Norman
Conquest of AD 1066 when, influenced by the Anglo-
Norman language spoken by the ruling class, it gradually
changed into Middle English. Before literacy in Old
English or Latin became widespread, Runes were used for
inscriptions. Anglo-Saxon literature included epic poetry,
sermons, Bible translations, legal works, chronicle sand
riddles. Famous works include the poem Beowulf and The
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle– a collection of writing important
for early English history.
• Anglo-Saxon society.
– 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
• Became Christian but still valued heroic ideals and traditional
• 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.
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