THE ANGLO-SAXON PERIOD 449---1066. Three Major Periods in English Literature Old English--449-1066 Middle English--1066-1485 Modern English--1485+

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  • Three Major Periods in English LiteratureOld English--449-1066

    Middle English--1066-1485

    Modern English--1485+

  • Pre-Anglo-Saxon England2000 B. C. inhabited by IberiansIberians invaded by Celts55 B. C. Julius Caesar invaded43 A. D. became a part of the Roman Empire under Claudius

  • By 300-400 A. D. Romans withdraw from Britain

    449 A. D.--first Anglo-Saxon invasions


  • Hadrians Wall (Romans)

  • Anglo-Saxon SocietyMajor tribes were the Angles, Saxons, and JutesSocial unit was the clanEach member bore responsibility for any wrongs inflicted or suffered by his kinsmen--duty to seek revenge

  • wergyld--system of payment or restitution (peaceful settlement based on property or money)

  • Anglo-Saxon society (cont.)Comitatus--feudal arrangement whereby a youth would attach himself to a strong leader in exchange for economic and legal protection---also gold, horses, armor, etc.Believed in a strong sense of fate, doomwyrd--Anglo-Saxon term for fatemead hall--center of social life

  • A MeadHall

  • Anglo-SaxonBattleHelmet

  • Anglo-Saxon ReligionWere pagan when they came to EnglandSt. Augustine sent by Pope Gregory to England in 597Landed at Canterbury, which became the center of the English Church--remains so todayDid not try to immediately stamp out old pagan religionAnglo-Saxons easily converted

  • IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITYHad a civilizing effect on societyEncouraged scholarly learning--monks could read and write--though mostly in LatinScholarly monks wrote down the literature, which had been communicated orally

  • Page from theBeowulfManuscript

  • The Danish (Viking) InvasionsBegan near the end of the 8th centuryBegan periodic raids on the English coastRavaged Northhumbria and turned southward to WessexStopped by Alfred the Great

  • Danish Ship

  • Why Alfred Was Great!!!Turned back Viking invaders, who were threatening the complete overthrow of Anglo-Christian civilizationPromoted use of written Old English and commissioned writing of Anglo-Saxon ChroniclesEncouraged scholarly endeavorBegan first public schoolsInstituted the royal navy

  • Characteristics of Anglo-SaxonsCourageousloyalgeneroushospitableHighly moralfond of boasting and fightingValued treasure and worldly goods

  • Anglo-Saxon PoetryAnglo-Saxon poetry came from an oral tradition.It was recited/sung by a scop, who provided entertainment in the mead hall.

  • Features of Old English PoetryExtensive use of alliterationUse of caesuraFour-beat lineLiberal use of kennings

    (Kenninga type of metaphorical phrase or compound word used to name a person, place, or thing.)

  • Wine-hall of warriors gleaming with gold.caesurakenningalliterationhemistich



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