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Old English History

Old English History

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Old English History

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  1. Old English History 449 to 1066 *Anglo-Saxon Period or “The Dark Ages”

  2. *Inhabitants include • Iberians • Celts • Romans

  3. Germanic Tribes (Jutes, Angles, Saxons) • * 449 AD to 1066 * settled in Kent • * brought with them • 1) heroic ideals and set of traditional heroes • 2) Old English Language • 3) literature: melancholy, stern, dangers

  4. *King Alfred the Great of Wessox 1) 849-899 / reigned 871-899 2) was able to unite the three tribes and push Danish invaders (Vikings) to the N.E. part of England 3) rebuilt his kingdom: restored England to a learning, leading facility; and reestablished just law 4) Greatly influenced OE Literature (see more in OE Literature)

  5. *Germanic tribes of England lived peacefully for two hundred years (850-1066)

  6. Meanwhile . . . • Christianity came to England, again • 2nd or 3rd c. (314 AD) • from the North (Celtic Christianity of Ireland, known as “the center of Christ”) • from the South (St. Augustine and monks landed in Kent—Canterbury; St. Augustine was the first Archbishop of Canterbury) • wrote in Latin • wrote about scripture and theology • set up monasteries (Northumbria),which became important learning centers • monks spent their days copying manuscripts in cloistered settings • Caedmon—1st English religious poet

  7. Two Great Men of the Church St. Augustine, Archbishop of Canterbury Caedmon’s prayer invites us to “Cradle a sense of wonder” in every person

  8. *Bede the Venerable 1) most outstanding writer 2) wrote about Caedmon 3) prolific writer 4) foremost scholar of his time 5) regarded as the greatest ecclesiastical authority until Reformation 6) “Father of English History” 7) Wrote The Ecclesiastical History of the English Church and People 8) began translating Gospel of St. John into Latin 9) lived 673-735 10) Regarded as a prodigy (in later times may have been considered a “Renaissance Man”

  9. And then came the . . . Vikings (Danes), meanest and most hated

  10. and finally, the Normans • Edward the Confessor Dies, (1-5-1066) leaving no heirs and a three-way rivalry for the crown *Harold Godwinson, advisor to Edward, very powerful in England, brothers-in-law *William, Duke of Normandy, distant cousin to Edward, swore he received word of his succession by Harold, himself; claimed to have the Church’s support *HaraldHardradaof Norway; claims extended beyond Edward’s ownership of throne

  11. William was the Conqueror • Harold had assumed the throne, but William invaded and won in what is known as The Battle of Hastings

  12. *Norman Conquest (1066), lead by William the Conqueror of France, marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) time period Battle of Hastings

  13. End of Anglo Saxon/Old English Period "King Harold is killed". Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings. Harold grasps the arrow lodged in his eye. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy

  14. Bayeux Tapestry *230 feet long *Contains 50 scenes leading up to the Battle of Hastings *Embroidered on linen with colored woolen yarn *commissioned in the 1070s *currently displayed in Bayeux, Normandy, France

  15. At this time, look at the map of the Roman Invasion and the charts of the Indo-European Languages and the Germanic Tribes

  16. A-S Levels of Society Earldorman --nobility -- king Thane --wealthy but owed allegiance to King Geneat --(means companion) – owed land and allegiance to earl, thane, king Peasants --owed rents or services to those who owned land; farmed Theows and Thralls --(serfs and slaves) prisoners of war; performed menial tasks on the land or in homes of upper class

  17. OLD ENGLISH LITERATURE • *Characteristics: • *melancholy • *stern • *haunted by sea and dangers • *shortness of life • *eager to depict and praise acts of heroism • *heroic traditions and exploits • *elegiac traditions • *fatalism—dominant mood • *old pagan heroic tradition was later mixed with Christianity • *Little literature available

  18. Caedmon and Bede: contributors of Old English Literature (Bede, below) * Caedmon—first English religious poet • Bede (673-735)—most outstanding writer • 1) wrote about the life of Caedmon in The History of the English Church and People • 2) sang it, as most lyrics were • 3) began translating Gospel of John into Latin • 4) child prodigy • 5) wrote 40 books, considered the last word on their subjects for centuries (saints, grammars, biblical, commentaries, literary criticism, scientific treatises) • 6) without him we would know little about English History up to the Norman Conquest

  19. *Anglo Saxon Poetry • poetry was memorized and recited by scops • not written down, thus not read • riddles, caesuras, kennings, alliteration, repetition, variation, simple, but full of imagery • few surviving pieces (Exeter Books, Beowulf, among few)

  20. Anglo Saxon Riddle

  21. *Beowulf • 1) name means “bear” • 2) Beowulf was an actual Swedish warrior in early 6th c. • 3) poem refers to historical events that date as early as 516 – 520 • 4) composed around 700 AD (Bede’s day) • 5) 3,182 lines long • 6) anonymous author / recited, not read • 7) written in Old English around 1000 AD • 8) oldest surviving in any modern European Language

  22. 9) Epic poem • long story on a serious theme, narrating the adventures of a hero • one central heroic character • set in distant past • mood is noble, religious, dignified, and sublime • includes formal, genealogical introductions • warrior heroes, perilous journeys, monsters, eternal struggle of good versus evil

  23. 10) Scandinavian setting 11) offers glimpses of Scandinavian feuds between the Geats and Swedes, Frisians and Danes, but mostly reflects English life as was in 7th c. 12) monster-battles 13) story is an allegory *initiation into adulthood * testing one’s courage as an adult * honorable conquest by one’s death 14) told with concreteness, adventure, detail, and sympathy

  24. 15) Beowulf embodies the characteristics of an epic hero • embodies outstanding char’s of race • involved in a struggle against opposing forces of nature • represents his people through good deeds, linked together in a narrative • represents a heroic ideal • honesty, integrity, courage, loyalty • sadness, fear • symbolic role as a fighter of monsters

  25. Alfred the Great (849-899) / aka King Alfred As a Literary Figure . . . * continued the translation of the Gospel of St. John into Latin (began by Bede—see below) • 2) produced “great books”—set of translations Europe’s classics such as Bede’s English History and Anglo-Saxon Chronicles • 3) considered the “Father of English Prose” • 4) helped to bring respect for the English Language to England • 5) Responsible for starting the first “public” schools • 6) All of this while he was nearly single-handedly saving the Germanic Tribes from Danish invasion!!! (see notes on OE History)