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Anglo Saxon Literature
Anglo Saxon Literature
410 CE-1066 CE
Before the Roman Empire, England was inhabited by the Celtic and the Gaelic
tribe. The Celts spoke Brittonic language, while the Gaelic spoke Gaelic.
England before the Anglo Saxons
In 43CE, the Roman king Claudius invaded England which marked the beginning
of the Roman Empire in the continent. The Roman Empire flourished till 410 CE.
The Roman Empire in England came to an end by 410 CE, and this marked the
advent of the Anglo Saxons in England.
The Anglo Saxons invaders were the Germanic tribes including the Angles,
Saxons, and the Jutes.
Christianization of England
Majority of literature produced by the Anglo Saxons was sung and transmitted orally.
The works belonging to this age were eventually written by the Roman monks who
came to England to spread Christianity in the 6th century. Riddles were a significant part
of Anglo Saxon literature
The Romans that had left England in 410 CE, returned to the country in the 6th century.
However, this time they came to Christianize the pagan Anglo-Saxon society.
During this time, books were written in Latin, and the Runic alphabets of the Germanic tribes
replaced the Roman alphabets.
Latin became the language of the written works while the oral literature continued to
flourish.
Due to Latin, Anglo Saxon England gained presence and visibility in the mainstream, western
European culture.
Vikings Invasion - 793 CE
All the Anglo Saxon literature that was written during the
Christianization of England by the Romans, was destroyed
when the Vikings invaded England in 793 CE. They
exclusively attacked the monasteries as they were a
vulnerable but rich target.
It was King Alfred who began to restore the destruction
suffered during the Vikings raid. All the Anglo Saxon
monasteries were restored. Almost all of the Anglo Saxon
literature that we have today belongs to this period.
Characteristics of Anglo Saxon Literature
Characteristics of Anglo Saxon Literature
Heroic poetry or epic poetry is the most prominent genre belonging to Anglo
Saxon literature.
Most poetry was religious in nature. This is because most of the literature that
was written and preserved was done by monks.
Anglo Saxon literature glorifies loyalty and individual heroism with an
emphasis on fate.
Most popular heroic poetry of the Anglo Saxon period includes Widsith,
Beowulf, Deor, Battle of Maldon, The Battle of Brunanburh, and Waldhere.
Almost all of Anglo Saxon literature was meant to be orally recited by a scop.
Besides heroic poetry, most of the Anglo Saxon poetry that survives today is
religious or Christian poetry.
The Junius Manuscript: Genesis, Exodus, Daniel, and Christ and Satan.
The Beowulf Manuscript or the MS Cotton Vitellius: Includes poems such as
Beowulf, Judith and prose such as The Life of Saint Christopher, Wonders of the
East, and Letters of Alexander to Aristotle
The Vercelli Book: Andreas, The Fates of the Apostles, Address of the Soul to the
Body, The Dream of the Rood, and Elene.
The Exeter Book: Christ, Juliana, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, Widsith, Deor, and
many other shorter poems
Anglo Saxon Works.
List of Anglo Saxon Poetry
Beowulf
The Wanderer
The Seafarer
The Battle of Maldon
The Dream of the Rood
Judith
Widsith
Genesis
Exodus
Daniel Christ and Satan
Elene
Address of the Soul to the
Body
The Fates of the Apostles
Andreas
Juliana
Christ
The Wife’s Lament
The Husband’s Message
The Battle of Brunanburh
List of Anglo Saxon Prose
Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede
Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy by Alfred
Pope Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care by Alfred
The Life of Saint Christopher
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Orosius's Histories by Alfred
Letters of Alexander to Aristotle
Wonders of the East
List of Anglo Saxon Writers
Cynewulf
Caedmon
King Alfred
Bede
Wulfstan
Aelfric
By
literatureandcriticism.com

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Anglo Saxon Literature

  • 1. Anglo Saxon Literature Anglo Saxon Literature 410 CE-1066 CE
  • 2. Before the Roman Empire, England was inhabited by the Celtic and the Gaelic tribe. The Celts spoke Brittonic language, while the Gaelic spoke Gaelic. England before the Anglo Saxons In 43CE, the Roman king Claudius invaded England which marked the beginning of the Roman Empire in the continent. The Roman Empire flourished till 410 CE. The Roman Empire in England came to an end by 410 CE, and this marked the advent of the Anglo Saxons in England. The Anglo Saxons invaders were the Germanic tribes including the Angles, Saxons, and the Jutes.
  • 3. Christianization of England Majority of literature produced by the Anglo Saxons was sung and transmitted orally. The works belonging to this age were eventually written by the Roman monks who came to England to spread Christianity in the 6th century. Riddles were a significant part of Anglo Saxon literature The Romans that had left England in 410 CE, returned to the country in the 6th century. However, this time they came to Christianize the pagan Anglo-Saxon society. During this time, books were written in Latin, and the Runic alphabets of the Germanic tribes replaced the Roman alphabets. Latin became the language of the written works while the oral literature continued to flourish. Due to Latin, Anglo Saxon England gained presence and visibility in the mainstream, western European culture.
  • 4. Vikings Invasion - 793 CE All the Anglo Saxon literature that was written during the Christianization of England by the Romans, was destroyed when the Vikings invaded England in 793 CE. They exclusively attacked the monasteries as they were a vulnerable but rich target. It was King Alfred who began to restore the destruction suffered during the Vikings raid. All the Anglo Saxon monasteries were restored. Almost all of the Anglo Saxon literature that we have today belongs to this period.
  • 5. Characteristics of Anglo Saxon Literature Characteristics of Anglo Saxon Literature Heroic poetry or epic poetry is the most prominent genre belonging to Anglo Saxon literature. Most poetry was religious in nature. This is because most of the literature that was written and preserved was done by monks. Anglo Saxon literature glorifies loyalty and individual heroism with an emphasis on fate. Most popular heroic poetry of the Anglo Saxon period includes Widsith, Beowulf, Deor, Battle of Maldon, The Battle of Brunanburh, and Waldhere. Almost all of Anglo Saxon literature was meant to be orally recited by a scop. Besides heroic poetry, most of the Anglo Saxon poetry that survives today is religious or Christian poetry.
  • 6. The Junius Manuscript: Genesis, Exodus, Daniel, and Christ and Satan. The Beowulf Manuscript or the MS Cotton Vitellius: Includes poems such as Beowulf, Judith and prose such as The Life of Saint Christopher, Wonders of the East, and Letters of Alexander to Aristotle The Vercelli Book: Andreas, The Fates of the Apostles, Address of the Soul to the Body, The Dream of the Rood, and Elene. The Exeter Book: Christ, Juliana, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, Widsith, Deor, and many other shorter poems Anglo Saxon Works.
  • 7. List of Anglo Saxon Poetry Beowulf The Wanderer The Seafarer The Battle of Maldon The Dream of the Rood Judith Widsith Genesis Exodus Daniel Christ and Satan Elene Address of the Soul to the Body The Fates of the Apostles Andreas Juliana Christ The Wife’s Lament The Husband’s Message The Battle of Brunanburh
  • 8. List of Anglo Saxon Prose Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy by Alfred Pope Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care by Alfred The Life of Saint Christopher The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Orosius's Histories by Alfred Letters of Alexander to Aristotle Wonders of the East
  • 9. List of Anglo Saxon Writers Cynewulf Caedmon King Alfred Bede Wulfstan Aelfric