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The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Anno domini (In the year of our Lord)


The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Anno domini (In the year of our Lord) The following overview of major historical events relative to the Anglo-Saxon Period provides a ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Anno domini (In the year of our Lord)

The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Anno domini (In
the year of our Lord)
  • The following overview of major historical events
    relative to the Anglo-Saxon Period provides a
    context for which interpretative analysis of
    Beowulf and Grendel can develop.

Western Civilization and Western Thought
  • Grew out of three ancient civilizations
  • Greeks individual truth
  • Romans the state
  • Hebrews God above all

England Before the Anglo-Saxon Invasion
  • Stonehenge

England Before the Anglo-Saxons
  • Celtic speakers arrived in England in about 900
  • 3 Groups
  • The first group called themselves the Britons,
    and they inhabited what is now Britain.
  • The second group were the Picts, and they
    settled in present day Scotland.
  • The third group were the Gaels, and they
    settled in present day Ireland.

The Celts 900 BC
  • Celtic groups spoke their own languages, and
    these languages and cultures live on in modern
    times. Celtic languages are still the official
    languages of such countries as Wales, Scotland,
    Ireland, and Brittany.
  • These were thriving cultures by most standards of
    the day. The Celts lived in closely tied clans,
    were skilled in agriculture and metalwork, and
    traded with their neighbors throughout the
    British Isles.

The Celts 900 BC
  • Their leaders were often Druids, who were
    priests however, the druids also served as
    judges and counselors.
  • The Celtic clans had a long-standing oral
    tradition by which to preserve their myths and
    legends. The Druids assisted with such
    preservation by reciting long, heroic poems.

The Romans 55 BC 407 AD
  • The next group to invade England was the Romans.
  • They ruled for some 300 years.
  • They established roads and towns.
  • They brought Christianity to the British Isles

The Romans 55 BC 407 AD
  • Their rule ended because Italy was under attack
    from northern invaders. Basically, the troops
    were called home.
  • The last troops left in 407 AD, and the stage was
    set for Anglos and the Saxons. to invade.

The Anglo-Saxons 449 - 1066
  • The Anglo-Saxon invasion of modern day England
    began in 449 AD but actually takes place over
    several decades.
  • Three major groups the Angles, the Saxons, and
    the Jutes.
  • The Britons- perhaps led by a commander named
    Arthur- fought a series of legendary battles in
    an effort to stop the invasion.

The Anglo-Saxons 449 - 1066
  • Efforts to stop the invasion failed, and the
    Germanic Anglo-Saxon tribes organized themselves
    into a confederation of seven kingdoms call the
  • In the early history of the Heptarchy, the Angles
    were dominate.
  • Their settlement or kingdom became known as
    Angle-land or England, and its people came to be
    called English.

The Anglo-Saxons 449 - 1066
  • Like all cultures, the Anglo-Saxons evolved over
  • Early on, they were seafaring wanderers whose
    lives were bleak, violent, and short.
  • Settling into their new land, the Anglo-Saxons
    became an agricultural people, less violent, and
    more civilized.
  • Serving the island for centuries, the
    Anglo-Saxons established a basis for poetry and
    reestablished the acceptance of Christianity.

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The Danish Invasions
  • In the 790s a new group of invaders - the Danes,
    also known as the Vikings, began to devastate the
    flourishing culture.
  • English King Alfred the Great was able to resist
    the first invasion. He was a strong proponent of
    learning and education. He oversaw the writing
    of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which recorded early
    English life.
  • He could not hold off subsequent invasions,
    however, and in an effort to protect his people,
    he was forced to agree to a truce.

The Norman Conquest
  • By 1042, the Danes were out of power, and Edward
    the Confessor was on the throne.
  • Edward died in 1066, and that year found the
    Normans overpower the Anglo-Saxons. This was
    their last defeat.

Anglo-Saxon Hierarchy
  • 1. King he was expected to be generous to his
    loyal subjects
  • 2. Earls/Thanes/Free Warriors claimed kinship
    to founder of tribes. Loyalty to the king was
  • The Witan served as the Kings council,
    assisting in the decision process.

Anglo-Saxon Hierarchy
  • 3. Freemen/Genlats independent landowners
  • 4. Churls boundmen who trace ancestry to former
    captives of tribe did the hard labor worked for
    Earls could move up to freemen with
    possessions special royal favor

Anglo-Saxon Hierarchy
  • 5. Slaves/Thralls
  • Women were a subclass. They were viewed as only
    important for domestic duties.

The Anglo-Saxons What did they eat and drink?
  • They ate what was around them like hare, rabbit,
    veal, fish and chicken. Many times this was made
    into a stew.
  • Along with their meal, they would often have
    mead. Mead is a drink made by fermenting honey.

Anglo-Saxons What did they admire in their
  1. Good sportsmanship
  2. Endurance
  3. Loyalty to king
  4. Athletic prowess
  5. Bravery
  6. Respect for each other
  7. Action and fighting

The Anglo-Saxons Religion
  • They came to Britain with their own pagan
  • They had a firm belief in fate (wyrd).
  • They worshiped ancient Germanic gods like Tui,
    god of war and the sky Woden, chief of the gods
    and Fria, Wodens wife and goddess of the home.
  • Do the names sound a bit familiar?

Tiu, Woden, and Fria today
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Friday

Something to consider
  • According to Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, safety
    and shelter must be firmly established before
    more thoughtful ideas can take root. (A person
    cannot skip levels.) Therefore, religion was
    not important to the Anglo-Saxons until their
    primary needs were met.

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The Anglo-Saxons Religion
  • Christianity had been introduced by the Romans,
    and the Celts were converted.
  • Irish monks helped establish a strong Christian
    hold on the island.
  • Scots were converted easily, and many monasteries
    were built in Scotland.

The Anglo-Saxons Religion
  • Roman cleric Saint Augustine arrives in 597.
  • Saint Augustine was able to convert King
    Ethelbert of Kent this led to the kingdom being

The Anglo-Saxons Religion
  • The Church promoted peace, helping to unite the
    English people.
  • The Church also brought education and a written
  • Monks often worked as scribes, recording and
    duplicating written work by hand.

The Anglo-Saxons Religion
  • Venerable Bede (673-735) The Father of English
  • He wrote A History of the English Church and
    People the clearest account of early
    Anglo-Saxon times.

It is better never to begin a good work than,
having begun it, to stop.
  • Bede, A History of the English Church and People

Anglo-Saxon Literature
  • Spread by scops who recited long epic poems.
    These poems were either heroic or literary.
  • The verses were easy to memorize for many reasons
  • 1 They were lyrical.
  • 2 They had mid-line pauses (caesuras).
  • 3 They had alliterations, repeated sounds.

Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry
  • Caesuras a pause in a line
  • Alliteration- repetition of initial consonant
  • Kennings metaphorical phrases used to
    characterize a person or thing.

Reading Poetry in general
  • Dont stop at the end of a line, stop at the
    punctuation mark. The end of the line has to do
    with the beat of the line it has nothing to do
    with the meaning of the line. Reading to the
    punctuation mark is called enjambment.

Anglo-Saxon Literature
  • Only about 30,000 lines of Anglo-Saxon verse
    still exist. These lines are either heroic
    (recount achievement of a warrior) or elegiac
    (sorrowful laments) poetry.
  • Alfred the Great is credited for changing the
    course of British literature because he started
    having things written in English. (That would be
    Old English to us.)

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