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British Literature. Unit 1 The Anglo-Saxons 449-1066. Celtic Britain . Britain first mentioned by ancient Greeks Legendary: remote and mysterious Island originally occupied by Celtic Britons Conquered by the Romans in the first c entury

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British literature

British Literature

Unit 1

The Anglo-Saxons 449-1066

Celtic britain
Celtic Britain

  • Britain first mentioned by ancient Greeks

  • Legendary: remote and mysterious

  • Island originally occupied by Celtic Britons

  • Conquered by the Romans in the first century

  • Around 410, Romans left the Celtic people to find their own means of defense

Rise of the anglo saxons
Rise of the Anglo-Saxons

  • In 449, the Jutes (from the Jutland in Denmark) were the first of the Germanic invaders

  • In600-850, the Angles and Saxons, wealthy independent lords and kings, invaded as well

Fall of the celtic
Fall of the Celtic

  • But the Celtics did not retreat without a fight

  • Celtics experienced brief military success under leadership of King Arthur, Medieval legend

  • Celtic British culture collapsed by 600- Celts driven into Wales

Tribes and language
Tribes and Language

  • These Germanic tribes brought Old English, Anglo-Saxon

  • Together they created Anglo- Saxon England

  • Old English is a branch of West German, related to modern German and Dutch

  • Modern English evolved from the language of Germanic Invaders

Fall of anglo saxons
Fall of Anglo-Saxons

  • 871-899

    Viking Norsemen (“Danes”) began to attack and were defeated

  • In 1066, the Normans invaded from across the English Channel instituted their own culture, bringing an end to the Anglo-Saxons

Anglo saxon culture
Anglo-Saxon Culture

  • Well developed society organized around the family, the clan, the tribe, and the kingdom

  • 2 classes: The eorls, ruling class

    The ceorls, bondsmen, ancestors were former slaves

  • King relied on witan, wise men

Anglo-Saxon Social Life

  • Center of social life was the mead hall

  • Professional singers, scops, entertained

    served as poets and chroniclers

    kept stories alive

  • Until end of 6th century, worshipped pagan gods---associated with Norse mythology now

Rise of Christianity

  • At first, Christianity had little impact

  • Until Saint Augustine, a famous missionary, who came in 597, became the first Archbishop of Canterbury

  • Within 2 generations, Christianity spread throughout England

  • Missionaries brought education and culture

  • Christianity influenced literature, as monks recorded poetry that had been oral

  • Yet Anglo-Saxons still clung to pagan superstitions and customs

Anglo saxon values
Anglo-Saxon Values

  • Men of courage were admired

  • Loyalty to the leader & the tribe were essential

  • Persons of rank were respected

  • The ruler was expected to be generous

  • Everyone was aware life was transitory

  • Impersonal fate ,“wyrd”, ruled life

Anglo saxon literature
Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Anglo-Saxons brought literary traditions from the continent

  • Brought oral literature steeped in pagan beliefs

  • Focused on the brave and heroic deeds of warriors possessing valued attributes

  • Only surviving full length epic in Old English (from this tradition) is Beowulf

Anglo saxon poetry
Anglo Saxon Poetry

  • The lyric and the riddle

  • The lyric is personal and emotional

  • The riddle describes person or object

  • Both reveal

    • love of language

    • terror of northern winter

    • awareness of death

    • reverence & fear of the sea