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The Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066 A.D.)


The Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066 A.D.) Anglo-Saxon England & Beowulf ... After the Norman Conquest, no king of England spoke English for the next 300 years! – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066 A.D.)

The Anglo-Saxon Period(449-1066 A.D.)
  • Anglo-Saxon England Beowulf

Historic Overview
  • First Germanic invasion- In 449 A.D., the jutes
    (from the peninsula of Jutland in Denmark)
  • Additional Germanic Invasions- the Angles
    Saxons (from Southern Denmark and along the coast)

Historic Overview Cont.
  • Anglo-Saxon England (Angleland) was established
    by these Germanic Tribes
  • Important Commonalities
  • Common Language- early English
  • Heroic Ideals- Courage, loyalty, valor, courtesy,
    generosity, of ruler and followers
  • Family Unit- The family unit formed the structure
    of society Family-gt Clan-gt Tribe-gt Kingdom.
  • Democratic Councils- Meetings and assemblies of
    open discussion
  • Art- high regard for beauty fine ornamentation
    (Sutton Hoo artifacts)

Sutton Hoo Artifacts
Historic Overview Cont.
  • Lack of Unity- The tribes divided into 7 major
  • North- Angles (East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria)
  • South and East- Jutes (Kent)
  • West- Saxons (Sussex, Essex, and Wessex)

Historic Overview Cont.
  • Angleland lasted until 1066, when the Normans
    invaded (Norman Conquest, led by William the

  • Pagan Beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons
  • Strong belief in fate (wyrd) - impersonal,
    irresistible force that determined most of life
  • Gods of the Anglo-Saxons were those of the Norse
  • Great admiration for heroic warriors- Human will
    and courage allowed individuals to control their
    own response to fate
  • No afterlife
  • Lifes Goal- Win fame and lasting glory in order
    to obtain immortality and became a model for
    others to follow

Religion Cont.
  • Influence of Christianity in England
  • First Archbishop in England- St. Augustine (597
    A.D.), Roman missionary (brought 40 missionaries
    with him to England)
  • Unity- the spread of Christianity served as a
    unifying force throughout Angleland
  • Literacy- Christianity brought literacy with
    it runic alphabet was replaced with Roman
    alphabet monasteries became places of learning
    and education.

  • Venerable Bede (673-735), Father of English
    History- Monk known for his great scholarship
    and learning wrote History of the English Church
    and People contemporary of the author of Beowulf

Education Cont.
  • Alfred the Great (849-899)- Patron of the
    scholars and educators held a strong belief in
    education. He new Latin and encouraged young men
    learn to read and write had books translated
    into English.
  • End of the Anglo-Saxon period- European rulers
    would send to England for teachers.

English Language
  • Runic Alphabet- Early Anglo-Saxons used runes to
    scratch inscriptions on ceremonial stones or as a
    means of identifying valued items they never saw
    their alphabets potential as a way of
    communicating thoughts across time.

English Language Cont.
  • Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and modern English are
    members of the Indo-European family of languages
  • Lasting ability and Influence in English
  • History of language in England Latin, Danish,
    Swedish, German, French (to name a few).
  • After the Norman Conquest, no king of England
    spoke English for the next 300 years! (1399-
    Henry IV) Aristocracy spoke French, English
    became the language of peasants
  • Despite the constant invasions upon England and
    the numerous people groups to come and go,
    English survived!

English Language Cont.
  • Present-day Influences of Anglo-Saxon- Tiw (god
    of war), Woden (chief Teutonic god), Thor (god of
    thunder), Frigga (goddess of the home)

  • Oral Tradition- Professional poets (scops) were
    the musicians, storytellers, and historians of
    their tribes. The scop remembered the kings,
    heroes, battles, and folklore of the tribe.
  • Heroic Epic Poetry (Beowulf)- Focuses upon
    bravery of central hero

Literature Cont.
  • Elegiac Lyric Poetry (Seafarer)- Expresses
    mourning due to the passing of better times,
    death, or other losses dark mood bleak
    fatalism are characteristic of Anglo-Saxon times
  • Riddles- Anglo-Saxons enjoyed the playful and
    intellectual challenge of riddles, which
    described familiar objects in ways that forced
    the audience to guess their identity. Kennings
    (Old English metaphorical descriptions used in
    poetry) were often used in riddles, which were
    written in verse.

  • Author
  • Unknown Poet- The poem is probably the work of a
    single author (consistent style used).
  • Probably a Christian man who lived in the 8th
    century a contemporary of the Venerable Bede.
  • Familiar with classical and biblical literature

Beowulf Cont.
  • Composition and Written Manuscript
  • The poem was probably composed sometime in the
    8th century (700-800 A.D.)
  • Written down around 1100 A.D.- hand copied
    probably by a monk written in Old English
  • Manuscript was preserved in a monastery for
    hundreds of years until the early 16th century
    King Henry VIII ordered the closure of
    monasteries when the church of England converted
    to Protestantism much of the contents of
    monasteries were destroyed

Beowulf Cont.
  • Robert Cotton- preserved the manuscript in his
    personal library
  • 1731- Fire nearly destroyed the manuscript, which
    was later donated to the British Museum
  • Myth or History?- Within the poem, no distinction
    is made between myth and history. Beowulf cannot
    accurately be described as fiction or fact.
    Dating the manuscript becomes important in
    determining which elements of Beowulf belong to
    the history of culture, to this history of myth
    and legend, to political history, or to the
    development of the English literary imagination.
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