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The Anglo-Saxon Period and the Middle Ages


The Anglo-Saxon Period and the Middle Ages 449-1485 Dates to Remember 449 - Germanic tribes invade Britain 597 St. Augustine, establishes monastery in Canterbury ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Anglo-Saxon Period and the Middle Ages

The Anglo-Saxon Periodand the Middle Ages
  • 449-1485

Dates to Remember
  • 449 - Germanic tribes invade Britain
  • 597 St. Augustine, establishes monastery
  • in Canterbury
  • 664 British Christian Church and Roman
  • Catholic Church unite
  • 787 Danish invasions begin
  • 871 Alfred the Great takes throne
  • 1066 William the Conqueror invades England

Dates Continued
  • 1086 Domesday Book is created
  • 1170 Thomas A Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury,
    is murdered
  • 1215 Magna Carta is signed by King John
  • 1295 First Parliament is created
  • 1337 Hundred Years War begins between England
    and France
  • 1349 The Black Death sweeps through England
  • 1381 The Peasants Revolt is suppressed
  • 1455 The Wars of the Roses begins(series of
    wars between Houses of York and Lancaster)

Peasants Wheel of LIfe
  • See chart on Document Camera

  • A sum of money that a slain mans family would
    receive to avoid retaliation toward another
    family due to the slaying of their family member.
  • A nobleman or warrior was worth 1200 shillings
  • A free peasant was worth 200 shillings

Domesday Book
  • Commissioned by William the Conqueror
  • Contained census type records for 13,418 English
  • Used for tax purposes

The Black Death
  • During first wave approximately 300 people died
    each day
  • By the end of the plague almost 50 of the
    population of Europe had been killed

Historical, Social, and Cutlural Forces of the
Anglo-Saxon Period and Middle Ages
The Anglo Saxons
  • A.D. 43 - Romans conquered the Celtic tribes of
  • Introduced a much more modern way of living
  • 449 Angles, Saxons, and Jutes began invading
    Britains eastern shores
  • King Arthur was king and led a few of the
    victories against the Germanic tribes
  • Germanic tribes took over the southeastern
    section of the island and called it Angle-Land

The Germanic invaders formed small tribal
kingdoms, supported themselves through farming
and hunting, and believed in many different gods.
Only when Christianity was firmly established,
did a unified civilization emerge.
Vikings and Normans
  • 878 Lord Alfred, the Saxon king of Wessex, led
    his warriors to victory over the Danes in the
    Battle of Edington. Later captured, London and
    eventually most of England.
  • Became known as the Great.
  • During next century, his son and grandson
    recaptured all of England and country was finally
    at peace.

Vikings and Normans contd
  • Peaceful times were shortlived. 1066, William of
    Normandy, laid claim to English throne. English
    council chose Harold II, and William attacked and
    defeated the Anglo-Saxons at Battle of Hastings.
    William became first Norman King of England.

Feudal England
  • Feudalism Land was divided among noble
    overlords, or barons. Lesser lords, called
    knights, pledged their wealth and services to the
    overlords, who, in return, provided use of the
    land. At the lowest end of the social scale were
    the serfs(peasants pledged to the lord of the
    manor and bound to the land).

Feudal England
  • Early 1200s brought about the Peasants Revolt
    and forced King John to agree to a Great Charter,
    or the Magna Carta. By signing, he agreed NOT to
    raise taxes without the consent of the barons.
    This act began the current system of
    constitutional government in England including
    the right to trial by jury .

  • To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay
    right or justice.
  • King John, from Magna Carta

War and Plague
  • 100 years war began in 1337.
  • Drained England financially
  • Break with France helped England develop a
    national identity independent of the French

War and Plague
  • Black Death swept through Europe during the 100
    Years War.
  • First struck England in 1348
  • Killed almost 1/3 of Englands people
  • Totally eroded the feudal system
  • The shift of power from aristocracy to urban
    middle class set the stage for The Renaissance

  • A Warrior Society

The Epic Warrior
  • Embodied the qualities valued by the tribes who
    settled on Britains shores
  • Demonstrated courage
  • Achieved fame and immortality
  • Possessed physical strength to overcome his

Warrior Society
  • Warfare was a way of life
  • Their tribal organization, values, and beliefs
    as well as their poetry reflected in that
  • Comitatusthe warlord and his followers
  • Warlords often rewarded their fiercest warriors
    with gifts and therefore, the warriors pledged
    loyalty and allegiance

Question for thought.
  • What do you think is meant by the following
  • He who earns praise/Has under heaven the
    greatest glory.
  • Widsith, the Minstrel

Oral Literature
  • Anglo Saxons brought their Germanic language,
    religion, culture, and oral literary traditions
    to Britain.
  • Storytellers created heroic songs to depict the
    warriors battles and great deeds
  • The culture celebrated strength, courage, and
    loyalty which they believed could save people
    from the evils that threatened them
  • Scops minstrels who performed songs during the
    banquests held at the mead-halls of Anglo Saxon
  • In a mostly illiterate society, songs served as
    literary entertainment.

Germanic and Christian Traditions
  • Two most important influences on Anglo-Saxon
    literature were Germanic tradition and the
    Christian religion
  • Anglo Saxon Lit focused on the dark, heroic tales
    of Germanic mythology which depict a tragic world
    in which even the gods ultimately perish
  • Christian religion focused on an omnipotent God
    and promise of eternal life
  • In works such as Beowulf, both Germanic and
    Christian elements were combined. Grendel is
    described as a troll-like creature and also a
    descendent of Cain.

  • The Anglo Saxon word for fate and fate was
    believed to control human destiny and that ones
    ultimate and inescapable fate was death.
  • The epic heros only appropriate response was to
    face death with courage

The Power of Faith
Question for thought.
  • Do you think that a communitys tallest buildings
    reveal its dominant values? Why or Why not?

Christianizing England
  • 596 Pope Gregory I sent missioniaries to
    convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.
  • By 650 most of England was Christian in name
    though many retained some of the pagan beliefs
    and traditions
  • Christianity brought glimmerings of education and
  • By 8th century, Anglo-Saxon culture reached its
    peak in many of the Northumbrian monasteries that
    produced decorated books(illuminated
  • Book of Durrow and Lindisfarne Gospels rank among
    the most beautiful works of art in the Middle Ages

The Monasteries
  • Some men and women chose to dedicate their lives
    to work and prayer. These men(monks) and
    women(nuns) would join religious orders which
    varied in their communal orders. Some were very
    strict demanding poverty, fasting, absolute
    obedience, and manual labor.
  • English monks established libraries and schools
    and emphasized the importance of the written
    wordespecially of the Bible.

  • One way people expressed religious devotion was
    to undertake a pilgrimage, or journey, to a
    sacred site.
  • One of the most important journeys was to
    Canterbury Cathedral where in 1170 Sir Thomas a
    Beckett was slain
  • Canterbury Tales will be your glimpse into this
    type of journey.

Religious Drama
  • Alternative to reading
  • Most were illiterate
  • Dramas developed from enactments of biblical
    stories during church services
  • Two types Mystery Plays
  • Morality Plays

Mystery Plays
  • Plays which were complete cycles developed with
    the beginning of creation of the world and
    concluded with the last judgment and performed by
    local guilds.
  • Mystery meant trade or craft.

Morality Plays
  • Less realistic
  • Featured allegorical figures representing good,
    evil, and other abstract qualities
  • These plays presented moral lessons

The World of Romance
Question for Thought
  • What do you believe are the basic elements of a
    good romance?

The Knight
  • Enjoyed great social prestige
  • Formed necleus of the feudal aristocracy
  • Pledged allegiance (and military prowess) to
    specific lords and vassals in exchange for land
  • Main responsibility was to train and fight
  • When not in battle, they provided sport and
    entertainment in showy tournaments
  • Jousting was one of the tournament games but
    around 1500 was changed to encourage a safer form
    of entertainment
  • The church tried to regulate knightly violence by
    outlawing fighting on Sundays and holidays.

Chivalry and Courtly Love
  • Chivalry derived from chevalier, meaning
  • Refers to a code of ethics the knight was obliged
    to uphold.
  • Knights were to be honorable, generous, brave,
    skillful in battle, respectful to women, and
    protective of widows and orphans
  • Code of chivalry helped to civilize the conduct
    of k nights and elevate the status of women

Courtly Love
  • The relationship between a knight and a courtly
    lady(usually married to someone else)
  • Marriages were commercial arrangements involving
    exchange of property or goods or an alliance of

The Rise of Romance
  • Originating in France romance became the most
    popular literary genre in medieval England
  • Most romances describe adventures of knights and
    celebrate chivalry and courtly love
  • Most highly regarded verse romance in English is
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • In 1470, Sir Thomas Malory retold the entire
    cycle of Arthurian legend in Le Morte d Arthur

The Epic and its form
  • Poetic lines that have regular meter and rhythm
    and formal, elevated, or even lofty language
  • Main characters who have heroic or superhuman
  • gods or godlike beings who intervene in the
  • Action on a huge scale, often involving the
    fates of entire people
  • Stories that begin in the middle of things or at
    a critical point in the action

The Epic Form contd
  • Uses a variety of literary devices
  • Epithet a word of brief phrase often used to
    characterize a particular person, place, or
    thing. Ex.-Athena is gray-eyed and the sea is
  • Kenning a standardized comparison between two
    things. Ex.-the king is a ring-giver and the
    sea is the whale-road
  • Both epithets and kennings helped epic poets mold
    their ideas to their poetic forms
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