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Anglo-Saxon Time Period. Shannon Luster. History of Great Britain. To understand British literature, one must first understand the history of the country. Great Britain has been occupied by several different groups of people: The Celts The Romans The Angles and the Saxons The Vikings

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history of great britain
History of Great Britain
  • To understand British literature, one must first understand the history of the country.
  • Great Britain has been occupied by several different groups of people:
      • The Celts
      • The Romans
      • The Angles and the Saxons
      • The Vikings
      • The Normans
  • Each of these groups brings different religions, governments and languages which leave an imprint on the country and the literature.
the celts beginning of history 55bc
  • This group of people call themselves Britons.
  • Their religion is focused on animism.
  • Animism: The belief that “spirits” and “souls” are in every living thing.
  • Their priest were called Druids, and their job was to act as an intermediary between humans and gods.
  • The Celts pride themselves upon being warriors, and they are greatly feared by others.
celtic literature
Celtic Literature
  • Celtic literature is based mostly in mythology.
  • The literature has strong female characters as the heroes of the stories.
  • The females are the fiercest warriors in this culture.
  • Imagination, magic, and love affairs are central to their stories.
the romans 55bc 45 ad
The Romans (55Bc-45 AD)
  • Caesar conquers the Celts and the island of Great Britain in 55 BC.
  • The Romans remain in control of the country until King Claudius’s era in 45 AD.
  • During Roman rule, Christianity gradually becomes the central religion.
  • Coming with the Romans is the Italian language, which mixes with the Celtic-Irish language already in place.
  • Christianity does not become the sole focus of the people. What happens is actually a mixture of the Celtic Druidism and the Roman Christianity (Catholicism).
the anglo saxons 45 1066
The Anglo-Saxons (45-1066)
  • The Anglo-Saxons were a Germanic tribe made up of people known as Angles and Saxons from Germany and of Jutes from Denmark.
  • This was a group of fierce warriors. They completely drive out the Celts who had settled in the outer regions of the country after the Roman occupation, and they completely destroy the Druidism which was still being practiced there.
  • Those Romans who had not abandoned the country during the time of constant fighting in the country are also driven out by the Anglo-Saxons.
  • The Anglo-Saxons call the land Engla Land.
  • They drive the Celts to Wales, which is still largely Celtic-Irish.
a unified britain
A Unified Britain
  • King Alfred of Wessex is credited with unifying the country when he keeps the country from being conquered by the Danes (Vikings).
  • The Vikings attacked the country by sea on large boats with dragons carved into the hulls. (Pay attention to how this imagery is imbedded into the literature of the Anglo-Saxon time period.)
  • Unification of the country occurs largely because the people support King Alfred of Wessex in his defense of the land because they were tired of the constant battles.
  • The country is also unified under one religion for the first time in its history when Christianity takes hold.
women in the anglo saxon culture
Women in the anglo-Saxon culture
  • Women’s rights were numerous in the Anglo-Saxon culture.
  • They could own property.
  • They could inherit property.
  • They could accept the family inheritance.
  • They held positions in the church
      • They could be nuns.
      • They could be Abesses.
      • They could run the Abbeys in areas where men were not able to do so.
anglo saxon literature
Anglo-saxon literature
  • The literature reflected the culture.
  • The characteristics:
  • Loyalty is the most respected of all qualities. (The Epic heroes must reflect this characteristic.)
  • The plot will show religious characteristics of both Druidism and Christianity.
  • Scops are highly respected members of society.
  • Monks are important in the literature, as well as in the society.
        • The Monks were the first group of people in the culture to offer education in a unified language and to copy the manuscripts to preserve the history of the nation.