The Anglo-Saxons: 449 1066 Introduction to the Literary Period

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The Anglo-Saxons: 449?1066. . . 300s B.C.Celts in Britain. 55 B.C?A.D.409Roman Occupation. A.D. 449Anglo-Saxon Invasion. . A.D. 400?699Spread of Christianity. . A.D. 1066Norman Invasion. . . A.D.878King Alfred against the Danes. Choose a link on the time line to go to a milestone.. A.D.600.
The Anglo-Saxons: 449 1066 Introduction to the Literary Peri...

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1. The Anglo-Saxons: 449?1066 Introduction to the Literary Period

2. The Anglo-Saxons: 449?1066 QUESTIONS: What four peoples invaded Britain in the period the time line covers? [the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, and the Normans] What effects might a series of invasions?one every three hundred to five hundred years?have on a culture? [Possible responses: Such a history might make a culture adaptable; people would learn to live with and absorb the influences of those who spoke a different language or practiced a different religion; a history of invasion would make a culture become militaristic.]QUESTIONS: What four peoples invaded Britain in the period the time line covers? [the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, and the Normans] What effects might a series of invasions?one every three hundred to five hundred years?have on a culture? [Possible responses: Such a history might make a culture adaptable; people would learn to live with and absorb the influences of those who spoke a different language or practiced a different religion; a history of invasion would make a culture become militaristic.]

3. The Celts in Britain BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Greek travelers to Britain in 4th century encountered tall, blond warriors who called themselves Celts. Animism is a belief that gods live in all things?trees, stones, water, air. Druids are known to have existed since the 3rd century B.C. The word druid means ?knowing the oak tree.? Celtic priests performed ceremonies in oak groves and considered the oak trees, as well as the mistletoe that grows on oaks, sacred. Stonehenge stands at the top of a gentle slope among the dry grasslands of the Salisbury Plain, in southern England. Scholars believe that Stonehenge (c.3100?1100 B.C.) was built by the Iberians, who lived in Britain before the Celts. Most archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was used by the Druids for religious ceremonies having to do with lunar and solar cycles. The name comes from the Saxon, combining stone and henge, ?hang??thus, a place of hanging stone. BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Greek travelers to Britain in 4th century encountered tall, blond warriors who called themselves Celts. Animism is a belief that gods live in all things?trees, stones, water, air. Druids are known to have existed since the 3rd century B.C. The word druid means ?knowing the oak tree.? Celtic priests performed ceremonies in oak groves and considered the oak trees, as well as the mistletoe that grows on oaks, sacred. Stonehenge stands at the top of a gentle slope among the dry grasslands of the Salisbury Plain, in southern England. Scholars believe that Stonehenge (c.3100?1100 B.C.) was built by the Iberians, who lived in Britain before the Celts. Most archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was used by the Druids for religious ceremonies having to do with lunar and solar cycles. The name comes from the Saxon, combining stone and henge, ?hang??thus, a place of hanging stone.

4. The Roman Occupation QUESTIONS At the beginning of the 5th century, the Roman Empire was attacked by barbarian tribes, and in A.D. 410 the Visigoths sacked Rome itself. Given this information, why do you think the Romans evacuated their troops in A.D. 409? [Possible response: Roman generals and troops were needed to help out at home. Rome was constantly under barbarian attack.] BACKGROUND INFORMATION The Roman Empire occupied not only the British Isles, but also most of Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and North Africa?including what is now Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Armenia, parts of southern Russia, western Romania, Greece, Turkey, Persia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The five thousand miles of stone roads built by the Romans linked tribal capitals and towns, especially London, York, and Winchester. The defensive wall, Hadrian?s Wall, linked the North Sea and the Atlantic near the present-day border between England and Scotland. Hadrian?s Wall held back the marauding Picts and Scots for 250 years. The Visigoths sacked Rome in A.D. 410, and the Vandals attacked in A.D. 455. The last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed in A.D. 476 by the German chief Odovacar.QUESTIONSAt the beginning of the 5th century, the Roman Empire was attacked by barbarian tribes, and in A.D. 410 the Visigoths sacked Rome itself. Given this information, why do you think the Romans evacuated their troops in A.D. 409? [Possible response: Roman generals and troops were needed to help out at home. Rome was constantly under barbarian attack.] BACKGROUND INFORMATION The Roman Empire occupied not only the British Isles, but also most of Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and North Africa?including what is now Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Armenia, parts of southern Russia, western Romania, Greece, Turkey, Persia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The five thousand miles of stone roads built by the Romans linked tribal capitals and towns, especially London, York, and Winchester. The defensive wall, Hadrian?s Wall, linked the North Sea and the Atlantic near the present-day border between England and Scotland. Hadrian?s Wall held back the marauding Picts and Scots for 250 years. The Visigoths sacked Rome in A.D. 410, and the Vandals attacked in A.D. 455. The last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed in A.D. 476 by the German chief Odovacar.

5. The Anglo-Saxon Invasion QUESTIONS Which three tribes are known as the Anglo-Saxons? [Angles, Saxons, and Jutes] Where did they come from? [northern Germany, Denmark, and northern Holland] How did they get to Britain? [They rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats.] BACKGROUND King Alfred the Great came from Wessex. By the middle of the tenth century, the Wessex kings had become the kings of all England. Northumbria was known as a center of learning and the arts. The religious art mixed Celtic and Anglo-Saxon influences. The Monastery of Lindisfarne (from which come the Lindisfarne Gospels) is located on Holy Island, off the northwest coast of Northumbria. In Sutton Hoo, East Anglia, a burial mound of an Anglo-Saxon king was discovered in 1939.QUESTIONS Which three tribes are known as the Anglo-Saxons? [Angles, Saxons, and Jutes] Where did they come from? [northern Germany, Denmark, and northern Holland] How did they get to Britain? [They rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats.] BACKGROUND King Alfred the Great came from Wessex. By the middle of the tenth century, the Wessex kings had become the kings of all England. Northumbria was known as a center of learning and the arts. The religious art mixed Celtic and Anglo-Saxon influences. The Monastery of Lindisfarne (from which come the Lindisfarne Gospels) is located on Holy Island, off the northwest coast of Northumbria. In Sutton Hoo, East Anglia, a burial mound of an Anglo-Saxon king was discovered in 1939.

6. BACKGROUND: Anglo-Saxon king was an absolute ruler and mighty warrior. The Anglo-Saxons had a two-class society: the thanes, or earls, who ruled and were related to the leader of the tribe; and the churls, or bondservants, whose ancestors had been captured by the tribe. King consulted with the witan (?wise men?), an assembly of respected earls. Churls provided hard labor and were bound to the earls? service unless they could earn possessions and special royal favor to become freemen (independent landholders). Warriors were admired. Social organization based on strict laws and a sense of obligation to others. BACKGROUND: Anglo-Saxon king was an absolute ruler and mighty warrior. The Anglo-Saxons had a two-class society: the thanes, or earls, who ruled and were related to the leader of the tribe; and the churls, or bondservants, whose ancestors had been captured by the tribe. King consulted with the witan (?wise men?), an assembly of respected earls. Churls provided hard labor and were bound to the earls? service unless they could earn possessions and special royal favor to become freemen (independent landholders). Warriors were admired. Social organization based on strict laws and a sense of obligation to others.

7. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Old English was the language of the Anglo-Saxons. It is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Modern English is directly descended from Old English. During the Anglo-Saxon period, people spoke what we call Old English, but the language of study was Latin until the time of King Alfred. During his reign, King Alfred instituted the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a lengthy running history of England that covered the earliest days and continued until 1154. Partly because of King Alfred?s efforts, English began to gain respect as a language of culture. An electronic copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is available on the Internet.BACKGROUND INFORMATION Old English was the language of the Anglo-Saxons. It is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Modern English is directly descended from Old English. During the Anglo-Saxon period, people spoke what we call Old English, but the language of study was Latin until the time of King Alfred. During his reign, King Alfred instituted the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a lengthy running history of England that covered the earliest days and continued until 1154. Partly because of King Alfred?s efforts, English began to gain respect as a language of culture. An electronic copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is available on the Internet.

8. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Woden would help humans communicate with spirits and was associated especially with burial rites and ecstatic trances, important for both poetry and religious mysteries. Not surprisingly, this god of poetry and death played an important role in the lives of people who produced great poetry yet maintained a somber, brooding outlook on life. Thunor was the god of thunder and lightning. His sign was the hammer and possibly also the twisted cross we call the swastika, which is found on so many Anglo-Saxon gravestones.BACKGROUND INFORMATION Woden would help humans communicate with spirits and was associated especially with burial rites and ecstatic trances, important for both poetry and religious mysteries. Not surprisingly, this god of poetry and death played an important role in the lives of people who produced great poetry yet maintained a somber, brooding outlook on life. Thunor was the god of thunder and lightning. His sign was the hammer and possibly also the twisted cross we call the swastika, which is found on so many Anglo-Saxon gravestones.

9. PRONUNCIATION GUIDE scops (skahps) BACKGROUND The literature of the Anglo-Saxons was handed down orally by scops who sang in the lords? mead halls, where warriors gathered to celebrate the events of the day. These scops, like the Greek poets before them, remembered their stories by using accentual meter and many stock phrases called kennings. The word wyrd was used by the Anglo-Saxons to represent one?s fate in life. The early Anglo-Saxons did not believe strongly in an afterlife; they believed that immortality, or lof?fame that survives death?could be earned through heroic action. The Anglo-Saxon lyre (a type of harp) on the slide is a replica of a six-stringed instrument found at the Sutton Hoo archaeological site. It is a reconstruction based on fragments. PRONUNCIATION GUIDE scops (skahps) BACKGROUND The literature of the Anglo-Saxons was handed down orally by scops who sang in the lords? mead halls, where warriors gathered to celebrate the events of the day. These scops, like the Greek poets before them, remembered their stories by using accentual meter and many stock phrases called kennings. The word wyrd was used by the Anglo-Saxons to represent one?s fate in life. The early Anglo-Saxons did not believe strongly in an afterlife; they believed that immortality, or lof?fame that survives death?could be earned through heroic action. The Anglo-Saxon lyre (a type of harp) on the slide is a replica of a six-stringed instrument found at the Sutton Hoo archaeological site. It is a reconstruction based on fragments.

10. King Alfred against the Danes BACKGROUND: The illustration of King Sweyn?s invasion of England is notable for its lack of historical accuracy. The ship and soldiers are typical of the Middle Ages rather than the eleventh century. QUESTION: What does the illustration?s lack of historical accuracy suggest about the medieval approach to history? [Possible response: Medieval artists were not concerned with how customs changed from one historical period to another.] BACKGROUND: The Danes were one of the fierce Viking peoples who crossed the North Sea in dragon-prowed ships. The Danes plundered and destroyed all in their path, eventually settling in northeast and central England. King Alfred (849?899) truly deserves the appellation ?the great.? Not only did he help save Wessex and other kingdoms in England from the Danes, but he also helped create a cohesive English society from a collection of small, fractious kingdoms. In addition, he restored cities destroyed during invasions and revived interest in learning and in the English language. King Alfred is the only British monarch who is called ?the great.? The Alfred jewel is a gold and enamel jewel (9th century) thought to have belonged to King Alfred and is possibly the handle to a pointer used for following manuscript text. QUESTION The Alfred jewel shows an enameled figure of a man holding two scepters. The inscription around the edge reads: ?Alfred ordered me to be made.? What symbolic significance do the two scepters have? [Possible response: They symbolize the political unity Alfred was trying to achieve.] BACKGROUND: The illustration of King Sweyn?s invasion of England is notable for its lack of historical accuracy. The ship and soldiers are typical of the Middle Ages rather than the eleventh century. QUESTION: What does the illustration?s lack of historical accuracy suggest about the medieval approach to history? [Possible response: Medieval artists were not concerned with how customs changed from one historical period to another.] BACKGROUND: The Danes were one of the fierce Viking peoples who crossed the North Sea in dragon-prowed ships. The Danes plundered and destroyed all in their path, eventually settling in northeast and central England. King Alfred (849?899) truly deserves the appellation ?the great.? Not only did he help save Wessex and other kingdoms in England from the Danes, but he also helped create a cohesive English society from a collection of small, fractious kingdoms. In addition, he restored cities destroyed during invasions and revived interest in learning and in the English language. King Alfred is the only British monarch who is called ?the great.? The Alfred jewel is a gold and enamel jewel (9th century) thought to have belonged to King Alfred and is possibly the handle to a pointer used for following manuscript text. QUESTION The Alfred jewel shows an enameled figure of a man holding two scepters. The inscription around the edge reads: ?Alfred ordered me to be made.? What symbolic significance do the two scepters have? [Possible response: They symbolize the political unity Alfred was trying to achieve.]

11. The Spread of Christianity QUESTIONS The main text of the Lindisfarne Gospels (7th century) is written in Latin, the designs are influenced by Celtic art, and the marginal notes are written in Anglo-Saxon (Old English). What does that tell us about early Christianity? [Possible response: The spread of Christianity encouraged cross-cultural exchange.] BACKGROUND Ireland began a golden age during the 5th century. Unlike England, Ireland was not overrun by invaders. Then, in 432, the whole of Celtic Ireland was converted to Christianity by a Romanized Briton named Patricius (Patrick). From 432 to 750, while Europe and England sank into constant warfare, Ireland experienced a golden age. Monasteries in England served as centers of learning just as they would in the Middle Ages. The monks preserved not only the Greek classics but also some of the great works of popular literature such as Beowulf, which was first written down around A.D. 700. Due to the Christian elements in the epic, scholars believe the poet who wrote down the version of Beowulf we have today was a monk. QUESTIONS The main text of the Lindisfarne Gospels (7th century) is written in Latin, the designs are influenced by Celtic art, and the marginal notes are written in Anglo-Saxon (Old English). What does that tell us about early Christianity? [Possible response: The spread of Christianity encouraged cross-cultural exchange.] BACKGROUND Ireland began a golden age during the 5th century. Unlike England, Ireland was not overrun by invaders. Then, in 432, the whole of Celtic Ireland was converted to Christianity by a Romanized Briton named Patricius (Patrick). From 432 to 750, while Europe and England sank into constant warfare, Ireland experienced a golden age. Monasteries in England served as centers of learning just as they would in the Middle Ages. The monks preserved not only the Greek classics but also some of the great works of popular literature such as Beowulf, which was first written down around A.D. 700. Due to the Christian elements in the epic, scholars believe the poet who wrote down the version of Beowulf we have today was a monk.

12. The Norman Invasion QUESTIONS: In what country is Normandy located? [France] How did the Norman Invasion (also called the Conquest) affect the English language? [Many English words are of French origin.] BACKGROUND King Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Although tapestry usually involves the weaving of thread, this tapestry is actually an embroidered band of linen, 231 feet long and 19 ? inches wide. Of particular value to historians are the details of battle tactics and equipment depicted in the work. QUESTIONS: In what country is Normandy located? [France] How did the Norman Invasion (also called the Conquest) affect the English language? [Many English words are of French origin.] BACKGROUND King Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Although tapestry usually involves the weaving of thread, this tapestry is actually an embroidered band of linen, 231 feet long and 19 ? inches wide. Of particular value to historians are the details of battle tactics and equipment depicted in the work.

13. What Have You Learned?

14. END


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