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The Anglo-Saxon Period


Strength and Honor: A Heroes Journey British Legends The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Theme: Heroes and Heroism – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Anglo-Saxon Period

The Anglo-Saxon Period
Strength and Honor A Heroes Journey British
  • 449-1066
  • Theme Heroes and Heroism

Do Now 9-19-12
  • What are your prior experiences with epics? What
    is an "epic"? What is a "hero"?

Proto Indo European
Greek Albanian
Welsh Bretan Gælic
Romanian French Spanish Portuguese Italian
Russian Ukrainian Czech Slovak Serb-Croatian
Latvian Lithuanian
Persian Kurdish
Hindi Bengali
Where did the Anglo-Saxons come from?
  • Between 800 and 600 B.C., two groups of Celts
    from southern Europe invaded the British Isles.
  • Brythons (now spelled Britons) settled on the
    largest Island, Britain.
  • Gaels, settled on the second largest island,
    known to us as Ireland.

The Celts
  • farmers and hunters
  • organized themselves into clans
  • clans had fearsome loyalty to chieftains
  • looked to priests, known as Druids, to settle
    their disputes

Where did the Anglo-Saxons come from?
  • Roman conquest of Britain AD 43
  • Britain annexed as a province in the Roman Empire
  • Difficult to control such a large piece of land
  • Brought Christianity to Britain around AD 300
  • Pagan vs. Christian themes throughout never
    fully indoctrinated at this time
  • The last Romans left around 407 A.D.
  • Needed to defend against rebelling European
    countries England left to its own devices

Roman Empire
Roman Gatehouse in Britain Arbeia
Where did the Anglo-Saxons come from?
  • 449AD 3 Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, and
    Jutes) invade.
  • Destruction of Roman influence, including
  • New land Angle-land
  • - small tribal kingdoms
  • - no written language
  • - supported themselves through farming and

Anglo Saxon King and Warrior early 7th century
An Anglo-Saxon Hall
An Anglo-Saxon Farmstead
West Stow reconstructed village
(No Transcript)
The Reemergence of Christianity
  • 596AD attempt to convert Anglo- Saxons to
  • 597AD Saint Augustine
  • converted King Ethelbert of Kent to Christianity.
  • set up a monastery in Canterbury in Kent.
  • 650AD most of England is Christian some hold on
    to previous beliefs
  • The church provided counsel to quarreling rulers
    in efforts to unify the English people.
  • At this time, the British Isles were not unified
    and included separate kingdoms with separate
    rulers. They fought continuously over the
    fertile, green land

Constant Conflict
  • 9th Century
  • Norway invaded Northumbria (Anglo-Saxon kingdom
    in northern and central England), Scotland,
    Wales, and Ireland.
  • The Danes of Denmark targeted eastern and
    southern England

Do Now 9-20-12
  • What two groups of Celts, from southern Europe,
    invaded the British Isles?

Alfred the Great King of Wessex 871-899
  • 866resisted Danish intrusion and earned the
    great title
  • Saxons acknowledged Danish rule in East and North
  • Danes respected Saxon rule in South
  • End of 10th CenturyDanes want to widen Danelaw
  • Forced Saxons to select Danish Kings
  • 1042Kingship returned to Alfred the Greats
    descendent Edward
  • Edward the Confessor died in 1066. His death led
    to the end of the Anglo-Saxon Period.

Literature of Anglo-Saxon Times
  • 2 major influences
  • 1) Germanic Traditions of the Anglo-Saxons
  • 2) Christian Traditions of the Roman Church

1) Germanic Traditions of the Anglo-Saxons
  • Germanic language
  • Mixture of various Germanic dialects Old
  • Old English (often looks like a foreign

Page of Beowulf manuscript in Old English
Listen to me!
Heroic Ideals Dominate
  • Warrior culture
  • Poems and stories depict a society like the
  • Military and tribal loyalties
  • Bravery of warriors
  • Generosity of rulers
  • Oral tradition - Scop
  • Songs and stories often sung and told about
    the valiant struggles of heroic warriors
  • More than just entertainment provided a model
    for living and a form of immortality they could
    aspire to
  • Note all of these provided the foundation for
    early written literature in Old English

Anglo-Saxon Literature cont.
  • Anglo-Saxon poetry falls mainly into two
  • Heroic poetry recounts the achievements of
  • Elegiac poetry laments the deaths of loved ones
    and the loss of the past
  • Beowulf is the most famous example of heroic

Sutton Hoo
  • Burial site discovered in 1939
  • Important links to Anglo-Saxon world and Beowulf
  • Remains of a boat were discovered and large
    burial chamber containing numerous artifacts
  • Artifacts suggest a distinctly Christian element
    intermingled with pagan ritual.

Epic Elements
Epic Element Definition As seen in
Epic Hero  the central character of an epic. This character is a larger-than-life figure, typically of noble or semi-divine birth, who pits his courage, skill, and virtue against opposing, often evil, forces.   
Quest a long, dangerous journey or mission undertaken by the epic hero. The quest is the heros opportunity to prove his heroism and win honor and undying renown.  
Valorous deeds something that is done or accomplished, by being courageous, valiant, and brave.  
Divine intervention  In many epics, the hero receives help from a god or another supernatural force who takes an interest in his quest.  
Great events  Important events from the history or mythology of a nation or culture often provide the backdrop for the epic narrative.      
  • Unknown author
  • The national epic of England (first work to be
    composed in English)
  • A long heroic poem, about a great legendary
    warrior renowned for his courage, strength, and

The Epic Hero
A man of high social status whose fate affects
the destiny of his people
  • Defeats his enemies using
  • Physical strength
  • Skill as a warrior
  • Nobility of character
  • Quick wits
  • Is not modest boasting is a ritual
  • Embodies the ideals and values of his people
  • Is eager for fame
  • Because the Germanic tribes believed death was
    inevitable, warriors sought fame to preserve the
    memory of their deeds after death

Heroic Values in Beowulf
  • Relationship between king and his warriors
  • The king rewards his warriors with gifts
  • If a kinsman is slain, obligation to kill the
    slayer or obtain payment (wergeld) in

Courage in Beowulf
  • All the warrior can do is meet every challenge
    fearlessly, increasing his own reputation.
  • When he dies - renowned for his bravery.
  • There are a lot of cowards in Beowulfor, if
    that's a little harsh, people who aren't willing
    to live by this fatalistic code of honor.
  • Courage - the foundation of the warrior culture
    that underlies the story of Beowulf.
  • a true warrior's bravery comes from a completely
    fatalistic attitude toward life and indifference
    to death.
  • Someday, he will die and be defeated. Everything
    happens as God wills it.

Epic Hero Cycle
Are Modern Super Heroes Epic?
  • Using the profile provided to your group and your
    own prior knowledge fill out the epic hero cycle
    chart for the super hero, then answer the
    question at the bottom of the page using the
    chart to back up your opinion.

  • Danes
  • Hrothgar
  • Unferth
  • Dane Monsters
  • Grendel
  • Grendels Mother
  • Geats
  • Beowulf
  • Wiglaf
  • Hygelac
  • Ecgtheow
  • Geats Monsters
  • Dragon

Places Herot
The Beowulf Poet
  • Christian reflects established tradition
  • Allusions to the Old Testament
  • Beowulf is a Redeemer who is sent by God to save
    man from sin
  • Christ archetype Correspondences between
    Beowulfs death and the death of Christ
  • The price of salvation is life itself
  • Pagan fate and human will, offerings to
    gods/shrines, come to aide.

Conflict Christian Values and Heroic Values
  • This tension is at the heart of the poem
  • Pagan history and myth are made to point to a
    Christian moral
  • Beowulf is poised between two value systems

Mix of pagan and Christian Values
  • Fate vs. choice of good and evil
  • Mythological monsters vs. references to God and

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, "A hero is no
    braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver
    five minutes longer.
  • Do you agree or disagree with his statement and
    why? Are heroes just ordinary men who do
    something when other men have already given up?