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The Anglo-Saxon Period History
Ancient British History • There were many tribes in Pre-Roman Britain. Collectively, they are referred to as the Celts. • Brythons(Britons) settled most of the island of Britain now known as England • Gaels settled on Ireland • Picts(tattooed people) settled in Scotland • The Celts are believed to have built Stonehenge.
Stonehenge Stonehenge may have been used for religious rites centering on lunar or solar cycles.
The Celts -- Religion • The religion of the Celts is a form of animism, from the Latin for “spirit.” • Celts worshipped the spirits in the natural world around them, such as trees, water, stones, thunder, and fire. • The Celtic religious leaders were called Druids. • Druids thought that the soul was immortal, passing in death from one person to another. They considered mistletoe, rowan trees, and oak trees sacred and generally held their rites in old oak forests. • Druids appeased the spirits through ritual dances and sacrifices.
The Rowan Tree The rowan tree was one of the trees held most sacred by the Celts. Celts also revered rivers, rocks, and fire.
Roman Britain • The Romans, sent by Julius Caesar, first landed on the island of Britain in 55 B.C. • By A.D. 43, Roman forces formally occupied Britain, driving the Celts to the North and West. • The Celts, who were formidable enemies, were known to fight naked and wear blue dye called woad on their skins during battle, making them appear terrifying even to the Romans. Since woadwas a hallucinogen, the Celts were often unconcerned about their own safety which made them more dangerous warriors.
Warrior Celts • The Romans battled the Celts for almost 70 years, including fighting the powerful Celtic forces of the famous Queen Boadicea, who handed the Romans defeat after defeat.
Hadrian’s Wall • Finally in A.D. 122, the Roman emperor Hadrian ordered that fortifications be built to keep out the Northern Celts, including a wall that ran for almost 80 miles across Britain.
Hadrian’s Wall Hadrian’s Wall still stands today.
End of Roman Occupation • Between 407 – 409, the Romans withdrew their forces from Britain. Rome had been overrun by invading Germanic tribes. The Romans left Britain to defend their home. • Britain was once again in the hands of the Britons and Celts. However, their freedom did not last very long.
The Anglesand Saxons • After the departure of the Romans, the Britons and the Celts were left to rule themselves. • These people, unused to self-rule, began fighting each other. • The Britons hired warriors from both the Angle and Saxon tribes to assist in securing their supremacy over the Celts. • However, their efforts backfired.
The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes • In 449, the first wave of invading Germanic tribes landed up and down the eastern coast of the island of Britain. • The Angles and the Saxons were obviously already familiar with the island; the Jutes were from the southern region of Denmark. • Like the Romans before them, these invaders moved from east to west. • Once again, the Celts were pushed west and north, this time to what is now Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland. • Many of the Britons tried to stand their ground but many were also assimilated.
Angles, Saxons, and Jutes • The Germanic tribes of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invaded in waves over the next 100 years or so.
The Seven Kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England • Britain was divided into several kingdoms, governed mainly by rulers who traced their ancestry back to the god Woden. There were seven main kingdoms, 1) Northumbria, (Angles living North of the River Humber.) This eventually stretched to Edinburgh – created by Edwin a Saxon war lord (Edwins Town.)2) Mercia (Middle Angles.) 3) East Anglia (East Angles.)4) Essex (East Saxons.)5) Wessex (West Saxons.) This eventually took in Cornwall, which became fully English. 6) Sussex (South Saxons.) 7) Kent (Formed from the original Jutes who landed with Hengist in 449 AD and who formed the ‘Men of Kent’)
Christianity in Roman Britain • By the time that Rome withdrew their forces in 409, Christianity was spreading in the Roman world. • Some Celts had also converted from animism to Christianity. • Early Christian missionaries began evangelizing in the mid 400’s. • St. Patrick and his follower Columba spread Christianity from Ireland to Iona, a settlement in the far northwest of what is now Scotland. • Nevertheless, animism and polytheism dominated.
Anglo-Saxon Religious Beliefs • In Roman Britain, many people had been Christians. • The early Anglo-Saxons were pagans; they believed in many gods. • Anglo-Saxon gods: • Woden- a German version of the Scandinavian god Odin. From his name comes our day of the week Wednesday or 'Woden's day'. • Thunor, god of thunder • Frige, goddess of love • Tiw, god of war. • Anglo-Saxons were superstitious. They believed in lucky charms. They thought 'magic' rhymes, potions, stones or jewels would protect them from evil spirits or sickness.
The Spread of Christianity • Roman British Christians didn't convert the Anglo-Saxons when they came into England in the fifth century. The Anglo-Saxons were therefore largely converted by missionaries from abroad. Followers of St. Patrick and Columba moved south from Iona.
Celtic Christianity • Followers of Columba moved south from Iona. • The most notable was Aidan (died 651), who at the invitation of Oswald, the king of Northumbria in northern England, set up a monastery and missionary centre on the island of Lindesfarne around 635. • Other missionaries from Lindisfarne were Cuthbert (ca. 634−687), Cedd (c. 620−664), Chad (d. 672), and Wilfrid (ca. 634−709). Stories of the great Celtic saints and missionaries to northern England were told a century and a half later by a great northern English scholar, The Venerable Bede.
Roman Christianity • The other set of missionaries came from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory the Great. The first mission leader was named Augustine; he arrived in 597. He arrived in Kent, in the area known as Canterbury, in southwest England. • Augustine was welcomed by King Ethelbert, whose wife Bertha was a Christian from Gaul. The king was converted, gave the missionaries a monastery at Canterbury, and allowed them to preach. • Augustine became the first archbishop of Canterbury, and founded other bishoprics at London and Rochester.
The Synod of Whitby: A Meeting of the Minds • With Celtic Christianity spreading through England from the north, and RomanChristianityspreading through England from the south, the two styles were bound to come into conflict. • In 664, at Whitby Abbey, a monastery in Northumbria, representatives of Roman Christianity argued their case before King Oswiu of Northumbria against representatives of Celtic Christianity.
Romans Rule in the Church • The king sided with Rome, even though the head of the monastery, Hilda, supported the Celtic ways. • The king based his decision on the grounds that it had been the see of Peter, the chief of Jesus' disciples. This event was later reported by The Venerable Bede as the victory of Roman Christianity in England, although in fact the Celtic style continued in many places. • St. Hilda of Whitby
The Venerable Bede - Biography • The Venerable Bede is widely regarded as the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar. • Born in 672, Bede began his education at the monastery of St. Peter in Wearmouth. • After finishing his education, Bede moved to the twin monastery of St. Paul in Jarrowto live as a monk for the rest of his life. • Bede died in 735. His body is now buried in Durham Cathedral.
Monks at the Monastery in Jarrow This is a recreation of a ceremony at St. Paul’s Monastery at Jarrow. Bede’s World is an attraction that honors the Venerable Bede and recreates the life of monks in the early church.
Bede’s Accomplishments • Corresponded with monks at other monasteries across Britain, and even sent the Bishop of London to research the papal archives in Rome on his behalf. • Wrote History of the English Church and People, which includes the famous stories “Caedmon’s Hymn” and “The Conversion of King Edwin” • Was the first English person to use the term 'English', two centuries before England would be united • Popularized the AD/BC dating system • Devised the method now used to calculate when Easter falls • Worked out how the moon affects the tide • He was a true Renaissance man, 700 years before the Renaissance!
First Viking Raid • In 793, the first wave of Danes, also known as Vikings, landed off the east coast of Britain on the island of Lindesfarne. Many of the monks of Lindesfarne were killed and the monastery was looted.
Danish Invasions • The Danes continued to invade Britain, landing up and down the eastern coast and moving inland. • Many Danes settled in Northumbria in the early 800’s. • Danes fought for control in the southern areas of Britain as well. • Danes attacked and won their first battle against King Alfred of Wessex in 871, the first year of Alfred’s reign
Alfred the Great • Reigned as king of Wessex from 871-899 • Won decisive battle against the Danes in 878 • Considered first King of England for his ability to make peace with the warring Danes by assimilating them into his kingdom • Credited with starting The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the first publication written in Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. Old English)
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of yearly records in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. • The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created in the late 800’s during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that original which were distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. • The Chronicles record past history (from 55 BC) and continue with the present, until the 1100’s. • The Petersborough Chronicle
The Cause of the Norman Conquest • King Edward, known as Edward the Confessor, died in 1066. • On his deathbed, Edward named his son Harold as his heir. • Harold had previously sworn to support his cousin, William of Normandy, as the next king. • William decided to challenge Harold’s claim to the throne.
The Battle of Hastings • 14 October 1066, William’s forces attack King Harold’s at Hastings • At first, Harold’s forces are winning • William takes off his helmet to prove he is alive and rallies his troops • Harold dies from an arrow in his eye
William the Conqueror • William the Conqueror was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066. • He ushered in an era of French-speaking Normans in positions of power. • William’s ascension to the throne marks the end of the Anglo-Saxon Period.