Anglo-Saxon England Old English Literature Beowulf
Anglo-Saxon History • 449-1066 • 50 BCE: Julius Caesar arrived in Britain • Romans pushed native Celts to outskirts • Celts who remained became “Romanized” • 407 CE: Rome pulled troops from Britain • Troops needed to defend Rome against Germanic tribes • No more protection or centralized government
449: Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) arrived from what is now Denmark, Northern Germany, and northern Holland
597-664: Conversion of England • 789-878: Viking invasions • 871-899: reign of King Alfred the Great • defended Wessex against Vikings • reorganized military • augmented navy • created law code • had Latin works translated into (Old) English
1042-1066: Edward the Confessor • Remember this name! • nicknamed “the Confessor” because of his piety • unclear plan for succession • Earl Harold Godwinson? • King HaraldHardrada of Norway? • Duke William of Normandy?
1066: Norman Invasion and Conquest • January 5: Edward dies • January 6: Harold Godwinson crowned • September: HaraldHardrada arrives • September 25: HaraldHardrada killed • September: William of Normandy arrives • October 14: Harold Godwinson killed • December 25: William of Normandy crowned
Anglo-Saxon Culture • Buildings • Houses • Small • Wood • Danger of fires • Churches: stone • Large “mead hall” (“feasting hall”) • Mead is honey wine. • The hall provided warmth, safety, and companionship.
Anglo-Saxon House (recreation)
Anglo-Saxon Mead Hall (recreation)
Political structure (early Anglo-Saxon Age) • Tribal • King—chosen by “witan” (group of advisors) • Warriors • Comitatus • Relationship between king and warriors • Warriors gave king protection. • King gave warriors gold.
Religion • Paganism • Analogous to Norse beliefs • Týr (Tuesday), Woden (Wednesday), Thor (Thursday), Frigg (Friday) • Christianity • Full-scale conversion began in 597 • Augustine—sent by Pope Gregory • Conversion did not occur overnight; Paganism and Christianity lived side-by-side for a while
Paganism Christianity Monotheistic Focused on the afterlife Spirit lives on Valued humility God controls People trusted in God Prayer • Polytheistic • Focused on this world • Name lives on • Valued pride • Wyrd controls • People read omens • Sacrifices
Language: Old English Fæderureþuþeeart on heofonum; Si þinnamagehalgod to becumeþin rice gewurþeðinwilla on eorðanswaswa on heofonum. urnegedæghwamlicanhlafsyle us todæg and forgyf us uregyltas swaswa we forgyfaðurumgyltendum and ne gelædþu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfelesoþlice
Old English Modern English Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us, And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Fæderureþuþeeart on heofonum; Si þinnamagehalgod to becumeþin rice gewurþeðinwilla on eorðanswaswa on heofonum. urnegedæghwamlicanhlafsyle us todæg and forgyf us uregyltas swaswa we forgyfaðurumgyltendum and ne gelædþu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfelesoþlice
“Anglo-Saxon” for people and culture • “Old English” for language • Germanic • Inflected (word form more important than word order)
Literature • Only monks could write • Wrote in scriptoria • Sometimes added commentary • Poetry • Did not rhyme • Alliteration • Stressed syllables
Beowulf • Began in oral tradition • Written down in 8th century • Preserved in one manuscript • Parts damaged by fire • Setting • 6th century • What is now Denmark and Sweden