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The Anglo-Saxons 450-1066


Beowulf & The Beowulf Poet ... crosses sea to Denmark to defeat Grendel Beowulf later returns to homeland to succeed his uncle as king Themes Celebrates warrior ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Anglo-Saxons 450-1066

The Anglo-Saxons450-1066
Why Study British History?
  • America and many world democracies would not be
    what they are today without the legacy of
  • Common Law
  • Parliamentary Government
  • Language
  • Literature

Isolation and Invasion
  • Great Britain (including modern day England,
    Scotland, and Wales) is isolated from the main
    European continent.
  • Invaded and settled many times over centuries
  • Iberians
  • Celts (Britons, Picts, Gaels)
  • Romans
  • Anglo-Saxons
  • Vikings
  • Normans

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  • The Centuries of Invasion Romans
  • Began with invasion by Julius Caesar, 55 B.C.
  • Introduced cities, roads, written scholarship,
    and Christianity (missionaries)
  • Provided organized leadership and military
    protection against invasion
  • Evacuated in 409 A.D., leaving no centralized
    government and an island ripe for invasion

  • The Anglo-Saxons Invasion
  • Begin around 449 A.D.
  • Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (Germany and Denmark)
  • Met resistance from Celts
  • A-S settled main part of Britain (Angle-land)
  • Anglo-Saxon culture basis for English culture
    and language (Old English)

Viking Invasion
  • Began around 790s
  • From Denmark Norway
  • Settled much of north and east
  • Defeated by Anglo-Saxons in south
  • Clans unified by King Alfred the Great

The Norman Conquest
  • William, Duke of Normandy (French) challenges
    claim to throne
  • Harold, appointed by nobles and church
  • Face off at Battle of Hastings, 1066
  • Harold dies William the Conqueror becomes king
    of England
  • Ended Anglo-Saxon dominance Norman privileged
    class emerges

  • The Anglo-Saxon Religion
  • Early AS invaders were seafaring, pagan
  • Belief in wyrd ones fate in life
  • Immortality (known as lof) through heroic action
  • Influenced by Scandinavian mythology of warrior
  • Odin god of death, poetry, and magic
    associated with burial rites
  • Thunor/Thor god of thunder and lightning
  • The three key ethics of Anglo-Saxon society
  • Loyalty
  • Bravery
  • Generosity

  • Anglo-Saxon Life
  • Centered on warfare not barbaric
  • Communal, centered around the hall of the leader
  • Had a system of law and order that involved
    responsibility of leaders to subjects, and
    loyalty and gift-giving to leaders.
  • Loyalty and closeness meant survival and safety
    in times of war.

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The Spread of Christianity
  • Early invaders were seafaring, pagan
  • Belief in wyrd ones fate in life
  • Immortality (known as lof) through heroic action
  • Spread aided by Roman missionaries
  • Spreads to Ireland and Scotland, 300-500 A.D.
  • Missionaries convert A-S kings? convert subjects
    common faith, morality, and connection to Europe

The Spread of Christianity (contd)
  • Monasteries places of learning, preserving great
    written works, preserved stories of the period
  • Scriptorium writing room where monks copied
    manuscripts by hand during daylight hours
  • Most written work was in Latin, serious language
    of study.

  • The Epic Tradition
  • Mostly epic poetry
  • Praised deeds of heroic warriors
  • Reflected the reality of life (brutal)
  • Stressed fame in the afterlife achieved through
    bravery and good works in life
  • Topics of fate and religion
  • Told by scops (bards)
  • Skilled storytellers who sang poems
  • Oral recitation passed from generation to
    generation orally
  • Honored in society for keeping history and for
    instilling cultural pride, as as for entertaining
  • Stories are eventually written by monks
  • Only a few manuscripts exist today
  • Christian influences present in manuscripts

  • Old English Poetics
  • Transmitted through song, recited usually
    accompanied by harp
  • Great emphasis placed the poems sound
  • Emphasis on stressed/unstressed syllables in a
    line (number of syllables not important)
  • Alliteration repetition of consonant sounds at
    beginning of words, helps unify the lines
  • Caesura rhythmical pause dividing a line
  • Kennings (see next slide)

  • What is a kenning?
  • A metaphorical compound word or phrase for a
  • Examples
  • whale-paths oceans
  • wave-rider ______________
  • ring-giver, folk-friend, or friend to the people
  • Why use them?
  • Poets created alliterative words by combining
    existing words
  • Bards valued ready-made phrases to help memory
  • Must have appealed to the audience

Beowulf in Old English (Anglo-Saxon)
  • HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum, þeodcyninga þrym
    gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon! oft
    Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum, monegum mægþum
    meodosetla ofteah, egsode eorlas, syððanærest
    wearðfeasceaft funden he þæs frofre gebad,weox
    under wolcnum weorðmyndum þah,oð þæt him æghwylc
    ymbsittendraofer hronrade hyran scolde, gomban
    gyldan þæt wæs god cyning!
  • What does it sound like?

Beowulf The Beowulf Poet
  • Oldest surviving epic poem in English
  • Poet who unified, recorded poem in writing is
  • Written in Old English
  • Shows Christian influences
  • Only one copy in existence

Beowulf The Basics
  • Setting - Scandinavia, 500s
  • Characters - Danes (Denmark) and Geats (Sweden)
  • Plot
  • Beowulf, Geat warrior, crosses sea to Denmark to
    defeat Grendel
  • Beowulf later returns to homeland to succeed his
    uncle as king
  • Themes
  • Celebrates warrior culture
  • Celebrates deeds of great strength and courage
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