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Anglo-Saxon History. Great Britain . Is Famous for both old-world “flavor” and modern advances Government – “by the people and for the people” Model for other countries America rebelled against it, but formed a government very similar to it

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Anglo-Saxon History

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Anglo-Saxon History

Great Britain

  • Is Famous for both old-world “flavor” and modern advances

  • Government – “by the people and for the people”

    • Model for other countries

    • America rebelled against it, but formed a government very similar to it

  • Settled by various cultures/became a mixture of all

The Celtic Heroes and Heroines: a Magical World

  • Religion = animism (spirit)

    • Spirits were in everything

    • Spirits controlled all aspects of existence; must be satisfied

    • Druids were priests that acted as intermediaries between gods and world


  • May have been a place of worship and ritual

  • The land and beliefs affected writers…

    • Sir Thomas Malory took Celtic legends + chivalric qualities = King Arthur

    • William Butler Yeats used Celtic history in literature to increase awareness of Irish heritage

  • Celtic stories full of strong women

  • Enchanted; magic and imagination rule

Map of Rome, England, and Ireland

The Romans: The Great Administrators

  • Invaded England in 55 BC – Julius Caesar and again by Claudius in 45A.D.

  • Protected England from other invaders

  • Christianity began to spread/Celtic religion lost power

  • Due to trouble at home – left England by 409 A.D.

  • England became separate clans; easily invaded by non-Christian groups.

The Anglo-Saxons Sweep Ashore

  • Angles and Saxons from Germany invaded (along with Jutes from Denmark)

  • Celts receded into Wales

  • Country divided into different tribes again

Anglo-Saxon Religion: Gods for Warriors

  • Dark, fatalistic religion (Norse/Scandinavian mythology)

    • Symbols from nature

      • Dragon was the protector of treasure

    • They did not believe in an after-life

    • To be remembered after death, a person would have to stand out as extremely brave, loyal, strong, etc.

    • Heroes were treated like they were gods because they were so important

The Bards: Singing of Gods and Heroes

  • Entertainment = storytelling in communal hall

  • Poetry was about fighting, hunting, farming, and loving

  • Poets sang to the strumming of a harp

  • Since the Anglo-Saxon religion had no afterlife, glory had to be found in the present life (bravery, honor, etc) and by finding a place in the poems/tales of days to come after…

The famous parade helmet found at Sutton Hoo.

Anglo-Saxon Life: The Warm Hall, the Cold World

  • War-faring people, though not as harsh as usually depicted

  • There was always the threat of attack from another tribe

  • People were very faithful to the king/leader

  • It was important to be brave and willing to defend the tribe

  • Communal Living

    • Lived in single-family dwellings

    • livestock near homes to protect them and to be protected

    • Surrounded by wooden fence

    • Family huts surrounded common court (cheiftain’s hall or Mead Hall)

  • Ruled by consensus – families had a voice in decisions affecting the tribe

  • The Danes took over with harsh fighting tactics and they settled in northeast and central England

  • Missionaries converted Anglo-Saxon rulers to Christianity, which was a unifying force

The Christian Monasteries: The Ink Froze

  • Hope in Anglo-Saxon Culture came from

    • Being immortalized through poetry

    • The idea that Christianity could be accurate

  • Monks spent time writing old stories in a savable form (that’s why we now know the story of Beowulf).

  • King Alfred instituted the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

  • English became recognized as a language of culture; works preserved by Monks became thought of as great literature.

  • Anglo-Saxons/Danes and all the separate tribes continued fighting until country was overtaken by Norman Troops

Works Cited

Leeming, David Adams. “The Anglo-Saxons.” Elements of Literature: Sixth Course: Literature of Britain with World Classics. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000.

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