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Title: The%20Anglo-Saxon%20Period

The Anglo-Saxon Period
  • The Birth of a Language Old English

The Indo-European Family of Languages
  • Originated from central
  • Europe to the steppes
  • of southern Russia
  • Indian, Iranian, Armenian, Hellenic, Albanian,
    Italic, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Celtic, Hittite,
  • We will focus on the Celtic, Italic, and Germanic

Britains First Language
  • Archeological records indicate that humans may
    have inhabited England (hereby referred to as
    the island) anywhere between 50,000 and 250,000
    years ago.
  • The language that we are studying has had a
    history of only 1,500 years.
  • While historians have discovered that no
    civilization has gone without a language, any
    trace of these have been lost to time.

  • The 1st language on the island was that of the
    Celtic peoples.
  • Celtic is divided into two dialects Gaelic and
  • It is not known for sure how this culture made it
    to the island
  • Both dialects have contributed very little (about
    50 words mostly place-names and loanwords)
  • The Celtic language contains a branch witch is
    called the Brythonic branch. The people called
    themselves Brythons this is where we get the
    terms Britain and British.
  • Today both dialects are quickly dying out

The Romans on the Island
  • The Romans first attempted conquest of the island
    in 55 B.C. initiated by Julius Caesar.
  • The Roman invasion was miscalculated and
    subsequently was not completed until 43 A.D, by
    the Emperor Claudius..
  • With the Romans came their language (Latin),
    culture, and architecture.
  • The Romans occupied the island until about 410
    A.D. in an area extending from the southern
    shores of the island to the northern boundary at
    Hadrians Wall.
  • The Roman military presence protected the Celtic
    people from outside invasion.
  • When the Romans had left, only about 5-10 words
    had entered the native language. The most
    significant remnant of the settlement was the
    architecture and the road system.

The Germanic Invasions
  • Several tribal groups speaking dialects of the
    Proto-Germanic tongue lived on the western
    borders of mainland Europe.
  • The tribes that invaded were the Angles, the
    Frisians, the Saxons, and the Jutes.
  • These tribes began their invasion in 449. Due to
    the lack of military presence, coupled with the
    Celtic people not having had to defend themselves
    from invasion in over 400 years, the Germanic
    invasion was swift and effective.
  • While the invaders were generally referred to as
    Saxons, Saxones, and Saxonia by the Celts, the
    language of the Angles was consistently referred
    to as Englisc, from where we get English.
  • Through intensive invasion, trade, and commerce,
    the impact of this language was widespread and

The Germanic Invasions
Effects of the Germanic Invasion
  • Celtic people driven to the west, Wales, and to
    the north, Scotland.
  • Germanic tongue gains dominance.
  • Matriarchal society replaced by patriarchal.

The 2nd Latin Influence
  • The Christianization of the island began in 597
    by St. Augustine, commissioned by the later Pope
    Gregory the Great.
  • Latin was the language of the church (Papal
  • Added around 450 words
  • Hierarchy of language
  • Latin spoken in the church, the court, and
    official duties
  • O.E. spoken by the serfs (lower classes/the
    common man)
  • Monasteries served as hubs of education and
    learnedness time period source of print

Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy c. 650
Heptarchy (from Greek) Hepta- seven -Archy
rule or government
The Language of Beowulf
First Viking Invasions
  • Viking (also labeled Norse, later Danish)
    invasions begin in 787.
  • Plunder and sack only. No settlement.
  • Mainly along NE coast
  • Attacked monasteries more wealth with less
  • 787-850

Second Wave of Viking Invasions
  • Second wave begins c. 850
  • Massive waves to conquer and settle
  • Reason Greener lands and more favorable climate
  • Hit NW and NE coasts
  • 750-878

Some of the Viking Routes
King Alfred the Great and Danelaw
  • Viking raids and settlement force remaining
    Anglo-Saxons into Somerset region (SW area/West
  • King Alfred (of the West Saxons) gathers a large
    army, successfully attacks, and stops the Viking
  • Alfred signs Treaty of Wedmore with Guthrum,
    leader of the Vikings (later king) to establish

King Alfred the Great
  • Nearly single-handedly saved the English tongue
  • Seeing that English was the language of the
    common people, decided to have certain Latin
    texts translated in O.E.
  • Champion of education and craftsmanship
  • Considered Englands greatest monarch
  • Compiled the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles beginning in
  • Had Biblical texts translated to O.E. to break
    down language barriers
  • Latin official language of church however,
    translated texts allowed the everyman to read and
    comprehend the Bible

  • Treaty of Wedmore signed by Alfred and Guthrum
    establishing Danelaw after the Viking defeat at
    the Battle of Ethandune, Wessex (878)
  • Divided the Island on a line from London to
    Chester giving control to the Danes in the NE
    half (Northumbria East Anglia) and the SW to
    the Anglo-Saxons (Wessex, Sussex, Kent, East

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Third Wave of Viking Invasion
  • Viking raids soon resume, ignoring Danelaw
  • All of England under Danish rule by 1017
  • Scandinavian influence adds around 900 words
  • Different from Latin influence
  • Language of the people, rather than of a papal,
    governmental, or scholarly nature (everyday life)
  • Similar vocabularies allowed for a greater
    diversity of the language

1066 The Norman Conquest
  • End the Old English/Anglo-Saxon Period