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Mrs. O’Brien’s. Anglo-Saxon Notes. Great Britain created a political system “by and for the people”  used today by many nations, including us…in a way.

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mrs o brien s

Mrs. O’Brien’s

Anglo-Saxon Notes

Great Britain created a political system “by and for the people” used today by many nations, including us…in a way

(we also have political influence from the ancient Greeks, but we’re not studying the Greeks. If you want to study the ancient Greeks, take mythology after Christmas)

invaders shaped great britain with their own customs and traditions
Invaders shaped Great Britain with their own customs and traditions.

Think about it--if you were a victorious invader, would you want to learn the victims’ ways, or would you want to enforce your own beliefs and customs?

Many of our customs and traditions are the result of invaders forcing their ways on other people.

topic our celtic ancestors heroes and heroines
Topic: Our Celtic Ancestors:Heroes and Heroines
  • Celt is pronounced KELT or SELT


  • The Celts were a group called Brythonsthat’s where we get the word “Britain.”
  • Celtic life and mythology popular with writers
TERM ANIMISM = Celts saw spirits everywhere…in rivers, trees, rocks, etc. Spirits controlled all aspects of life…priests called Druids…..Stonehengeperhaps a Druid temple, perhaps a Druid calendar, perhaps used as a sun dial???
  • The religion of the Celts and the religions of North American Indians were very similar, even though they had no contact with each other…that we know of.
topic our romans ancestors
Topic: Our Romans Ancestors
  • Julius Caesar invades Britain in 55 B.C. Why? He wanted to rule the world.
  • 100 years later, Claudius invades and succeeds….Britain was conquered
  • Romans built roads, protective walls…many town names from the Romans still exist there today
Christianity begins to take over…slowly
  • In 409 A.D., Romans leave Britain. Why? Rome was in danger from other invaders, so they needed to bulk up the military presence back home. This left Britain vulnerable with no centralized government. This made England “easy pickins” for more invaders.
topic our anglo saxon ancestors
Topic: Our Anglo-Saxon Ancestors
  • Invaders from Germany and Denmark drive out the old Britons (Celtic-Roman mixture) and settle.
  • Anglo-Saxon language becomes dominant….new name Engla LandThis is where we get the word “England.”
  • King Alfred (Alfred the Great) unifies England; he’s the first to manage it—used Christianity as a tool, along with a really big army
Viking invaders take over and settle. As a result, we now have many Norse words.
  • Christianity still growing—connects England with continental Europe
  • In 1066, William the Bastard (France) defeats the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings…France takes over. As a result, we now have many French words. These were the last invaders.
    • By the way, after William wins, he gets a title change: William the Conqueror.
topic anglo saxon life
Topic: Anglo-Saxon Life
  • Warfare was common…need to protect home and family
  • Responsibility of a leader….kingdom, tribe, family….everything needed one
Importance of LOYALTY to the leader. If loyalty was missing, disaster would result. Loyalty was the most important thing for them.
    • King Arthur / Guinevere / Lancelot as an example of disloyalty
topic anglo saxon religion
Topic: Anglo-Saxon Religion
  • Christianity still growing
  • From Germany…common to Norse mythology
  • More concerned with ethics than with mysticism….focused on bravery, loyalty, generosity, friendship. Their focus wasn’t really on things like miracles or magic.
  • Since they lived in a life-or-death society by the minute, they didn’t have time to get mystical. They needed to focus on the behaviors that would keep them alive.
topic bards superstars
Topic: Bards: Superstars
  • Communal halls (like big banquet rooms) provided place for storytelling, singing, dinners, parties, games…Fun, fun, fun.
  • Storytellers (bards) sang of gods and heroes
  • A good bard was equal to a good warrior….the bard had to keep history alive. So, if you weren’t the warrior type, and you weren’t good at farming, working with cattle, or making weapons, you could be a bard and still get girls and glory.
topic ireland minding its own business
Topic: Ireland—Minding its own Business
  • was not taken over by Anglo-Saxon invaders because hardly anyone knew the island was even there. Christianity found it, though.
  • Patrick converts Ireland to Christianity (St. Patrick). That’s why the big day for the Irish is St. Patrick’s day. I don’t think the native Irish appreciated his efforts at first, though.
Experienced a “Golden Age” of learning. Since people there were not under constant attack of being murdered by invaders, they had time for such things as developing literacy.
  • So, in a way, English speakers have the Irish to thank for being able to read and write. Thank you, Irish Catholic monks.
topic christian monasteries speaking of monks
Topic: Christian Monasteries: Speaking of Monks
  • Monasteries---centers of learning. In order to learn to read/write, money was required. The Catholic Church was of the only entities around that had money. All monks had certain chores—some monks were in charge of reading, copying down things….like the Bible, and teaching other monks and rich people to read/write.
  • If you could get your hands on an original manuscript copied down by an Anglo-Saxon monk, you would be very rich. So, check those attics! $$$
Since the Catholic Church had a monopoly on learning, Latin was the language of serious study…because the language of the Church was Latin.
  • King Alfred changed all this. Since he spoke English, he wanted the English language to be the respected language. Because of him, English started to gain respect as a language…and we speak and write it today.
    • Thank you, King Alfred.