449-1485 The Middle Ages
Overview • Time of enormous upheaval and change in England. • Some of most famous and infamous kings in the history of England. • Disastrous wars, both internal and external • Foreign invasions • Reconsolidation and emergence of England as an important nation.
England’s Coming of Age • During the middle ages, England moved slowly from the oral tradition of scops and gleemen of the Anglo-Saxon period, to Geoffrey Chaucer, the “father of English literature”, to the printed word.
The Anglo Saxon Period 449 - 1066 • Little is known about the Britons, the early Celtic people that inhabited Britain. • The were part of the Roman Empire from the first century A.D. • When Romans returned home in 410 the people of Britain were left unprotected and fell prey to looting and raiding from neighbors on the Continent.
Germanic Invasions • The Jutes were the first group from the great North Germanic Plain to invade in south-eastern Britain. • The Angles and Saxons followed the Jutes, pushing the Britons into Wales. • The legendary King Arthur may have been the leader of the Celtic people driven into Wales.
Language • The invading Germanic tribes brought with them a language which is the ancestor of present-day English, which we call Old English or Anglo-Saxon. • Anglo-Saxon England lasted until 1066 when the Duke of Normandy invaded the country.
Separate Kingdoms • During the Anglo-Saxon period, England was divided into several smaller kingdoms. • Towards the end of this period, the kingdoms, under King Alfred of Wessex, united to fight the Normans in 1066.
Anglo-Saxon Civilization • Although there was much in-fighting among the kingdoms, they shared a common language and a heroic ideal and set of traditional heroes. • Outstanding courage • Loyalty to one’s leader and tribe • Fierce personal valor
The Heroic Ideal An impersonal, irresistible fate determined most of life, but heroic and human will and courage allowed individuals to control their own response to fate and thus to win fame and become models for others to follow.
Anglo-Saxon Heirarchy • Kingdom • Clan or Tribe • Family unit • Held meetings in which people could openly express what they thought or felt. • Early democracy
Characteristics • Hardy and brave • Highly developed feeling for beauty • Created beautiful jewelry of exquisite design and workmanship • Vigorous minds • Europeans sent to England to learn
Anglo-Saxons Today • Certain names of days of the week are derived from the Anglo-Saxon gods; Tuesday, from Tiw, the god of war. • Law • Conduct • Language • Literature
The Establishment of Christianity • Christianity came early to Britain in A.D. 314. • Spread by missionaries from the Continent (Europe) • In 597, Saint Augustine came and established a monastery at Canterbury, becoming the first Archbishop of Canturbuy.
Anglo-Saxon Literature • Anglo-Saxon poetry was an oral art • Poems were sung, frequently accompanied by a harp • Poets, or scops, recited well-known poems from memory and were known as the historians of their tribes
Literature cont. • Anglo-Saxon poetry’s two most important traditions were that it was • Heroic • Elegiac, which mourns the passing of earlier, better times • Christian beliefs were added gradually replacing pagan ones
Literature cont. • Monks were the ones who eventually committed the oral poetry to writing. • The rhyme in English verse may be attributed to the rhyme in Latin church hymns which were what the monks first wrote. • In the late 900s, King Alfred the Great became the patron of scholars and educators and began the trend of writing in English rather than Latin. • Alfred the great founded the first English “public schools”