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England . The evolution of a country & its language. Influences on Early Britain . Celts: the indigenous peoples (ancestors of the Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons The Romans Anglo Saxons The Norse (know this order). Migration of the Celts. The original “naked white people”

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The evolution of a country & its language

influences on early britain
Influences on Early Britain
  • Celts: the indigenous peoples (ancestors of the Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons
  • The Romans
  • Anglo Saxons
  • The Norse
  • (know this order)
celts vs picts
The original “naked white people”

Often painted themselves with chalk before going into battle

Sometimes fought naked

The original “naked blue people”

Often painted themselves with woad

Sometimes fought naked

Savage people of lower Scotland

Celts vs. Picts
a description from the romans
A description from the Romans:

Their aspect is terrifying...They are very tall in stature, with rippling muscles under clear white skin. Their hair is blond, but not naturally so: they bleach it, to this day, artificially, washing it in lime and combing it back from their foreheads. They look like wood-demons, their hair thick and shaggy like a horse's mane. . . . [M]ost content themselves with the weapons nature gave them: they go naked into battle...Weird, discordant horns were sounded, [they shouted in chorus with their] deep and harsh voices, they beat their swords rythmically against their shields.

celtic religion pantheism
Celtic Religion--Pantheism
  • Pagans who worshiped gods of nature—over 400 different gods! They believed the spirits were everywhere and in everything.
celtic religion pantheism1
Celtic Religion--Pantheism
  • Worshiped in nature—woods, bogs, mouths of rivers, stone circles, chalk mounds.
  • Main gods: earth mother (fertility), horned gods, tribal father
  • Annual sacrifice of a human in the stead of the horned god to shed his blood on the land to ensure fertility.
ancient celtic religion
Ancient Celtic Religion
  • Druids:wise men, healers, teachers, musicians
  • Keepers of knowledge who memorized all teachings—ORAL CULTURE
  • Believed that their souls did not die, but passed to another body.
cultural note
Cultural Note
  • Some believe that a druidic figure may be the inspiration for MERLIN in the Arthur legends.
  • Merlin dictating his poems, as illustrated in a French book from the 13th century
human sacrifice
Human Sacrifice
  • Tacitus, the Roman author, writes about burning people alive in man-shaped wicker figuresCautionary note: Writing horrible things about one’s enemies helps one’s cause.
stone circles chalk hills
Stone Circles & Chalk Hills
  • Found all over Britain
  • Used in religious ceremonies
queen boudicca boadicea c 61 a d
Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) c. 61 A. D.
  • Celtic warrior queen
  • Led fight against Romans after they flogged & raped her and her daughters
  • Tacitus & other Romans write about her
the romans
The Romans
  • The Greek author Pytheas called them the "Pretanic Isles" which derived from the inhabitants name for them, Pritani.
  • RomansCalled the Celts BritonsCalled the island “Brittania”@45 B.C. through 449 A.D.THIS IS LONGER THAN THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN SETTLED BY EUROPEANS!
the romans1
The Romans
  • The Romans never made it to the Northern part of the island – the Picts and Scots were too fierce.
  • They built Hadrian’s wall to keep these warrior tribes out. It still stands today.
the romans2
The Romans
  • The Romans integrated their own culture with Celtic culture. ***
  • They often intermarried with the Celts and Celts could become citizens.
romano celtic religion
Romano-Celtic Religion
  • Mithras was the sun god.
  • On December 25th, the Romanized Celts celebrated Mithras’s victory in the battle against the night.
  • Originally a shrine to Aquae Sulis, a water goddess
  • Considered a Holy Place by the Celts
  • Became a popular resort in the 17th & 18th century
the romans3
The Romans
  • The Romans left to defend the homeland from invading Germanic tribes.
  • This left the Celts defenseless against the Picts and Scots attacking from the North and West.
vortigern s invitation @449 a d
Vortigern’s Invitation @449 A.D.
  • King Vortigern sent for help from the Anglo-Saxon tribes across the sea.
  • They came to help, liked the climate, and stayed.
  • The Anglo-Saxons subjugated the native Celts.
  • Legendary Celtic war chieftain who led his people to a victory over the Saxons at the Battle of Badon Hill (early 500’s A.D.)
  • May be start of King Arthur legends
the saxontribes
The SaxonTribes
  • Angles
  • Saxons
  • Jutes
  • Frisians
anglo saxons
  • Angla-land
  • became England
anglo saxons1
  • Saxons are responsible for the British traits of :MelancholyNostalgiaLove of RitualStoicism
structure of anglo saxon society
Structure of Anglo-Saxon society**
  • Eorls (earls)--noble classes(warriors, kings)
  • Cheorls (churls)--farmers, craftsmen
wergild the man price
Wergild – The “Man price”
  • “Heirs are under the obligation to take up both the feuds and the friendship of a father or kinsman. But feuds do not continue forever unreconciled. Even homicide can be atoned for by a fixed number of cattle or sheep.”
  • The price was determined by rank in society.
anglo saxon culture
Anglo-Saxon Culture
  • Warrior society
  • Thane and his followersBond between them was paramountCOMITATUS PRINCIPLE***
  • Consequences of deserting your lord on battlefield—exile.
the germania
The Germania
  • Retainers expect things in return“They are always making demands on the generosity of their chief, asking for a coveted war-horse or a spear stained with the blood of a defeated enemy.”
the germania tacitus
The Germania, Tacitus
  • Kings chosen for noble birth—power not absolute or arbitrary.
  • Leaders chosen for valour—lead by example rather than authority of rank.
  • Followers usually men of one clan—united by blood as well as battle.
  • A polemic aimed at improving the moral standards of imperial Rome. Second or third-hand account. Sadly, where Germans got ideas about their superiority.
the boar ferocious fighter

The Boar-Ferocious fighter

Symbol of hospitality, protective symbol on shields, charging boar=royalty or extreme military prowess, put on graves of nobles for strength in the afterlife.

anglo saxon belief system
Anglo-Saxon belief system:****
  • Importance of physical and moral courage
  • Loyalty above all
  • Power of fate—”wyrd”Believed that you could not control what happened to you. The measure of a man was HOW he responded to his destiny.
the germania cultural connections
The Germania – Cultural Connections


  • Battle chant to kindle courage by terrifying their foes.
  • “a unison of valour”
the germania women
The Germania – Women
  • “[A]rmies already wavering on the point of collapse have been rallied by the women, pleading heroically with their men, thrusting forward their bared bosoms, and making them realize the imminent prospect of enslavement.”
the germania1
The Germania
  • “They bring back the bodies of the fallen even when a battle hangs in the balance.”
  • “To throw away one’s shield is the supreme disgrace, and the man [who does this] is debarred from attendance at sacrifice or assembly.”
the germania2
The Germania
  • “Traitors and deserters are hanged on trees; cowards, shirkers. . . are pressed down under a wicker hurdle into the slimy mud of a bog.”
uncle nephew relationship
Uncle/Nephew Relationship
  • “The sons of sisters are as highly honoured by their uncles as by their own fathers. Some tribes even consider the former tie the closer and more sacred of the two.”
other germanic values
Other Germanic values:
  • Hospitality is paramount—always hospitable to strangers and visitors.
  • The more family connections and allegiances a man can command, the higher his status.(Epithets: Hygelac’s thane, or Hrothgar’s son)
  • Better to die in battle than to grow old and weak.
anglo saxons2
  • Known for—FeastsTelling long-heroic talesFascination with the sea
important people in anglo saxon culture
Important people in Anglo-Saxon Culture
  • Witan—king’s advisor**
  • Scop (shop)—professional bard, held in high esteem**
  • (Monks later recorded poetry that had been passed down orally)
  • Courts on local, district, & regional levels
  • Rulings based on tradition, past decisions
  • FYI: a moot point is one that could be argued as before a court, but everybody already knows the answer, so there’s no point in debating.
witanagemot or witan
Witanagemot or Witan
  • The king’s council of wise men, including earls, major landholders, and high religious authorities
  • Spoofed in Harry Potter books as the Wizengamot tribunal
the germania religious practices similar to norse beliefs
The Germania–Religious Practices—Similar to Norse beliefs
  • Seek information from the cries and flights of birds.
  • Try to obtain omens and warnings from horses.
gods similar to norse gods
Gods similar to Norse Gods
  • Thunor=God of Thunder
  • Freya=fertility
  • Tew=war
anglo saxon funereal customs
Anglo-Saxon Funereal Customs
  • Buried with weapons, wealth for the afterlife
  • The wealthy got a full set of armor
  • Sometimes, great thanes were buried with fully equipped boats.
  • Other times, the boats were burned at sea.
other important germanic influences
Other important Germanic influences
  • Eostre (estrogen, estrus cycles)(--goddess of the dawn, spring, and new life, feast day in Spring--Symbols are the hare and the egg!
  • Winter feasts (used to served boar’s head), New Year’s resolution
by the end of the 6 th century

By the end of the 6th Century

Augustine and his followers begin to convert England to Christianity.

King Ethelbert baptized by Augustine c. 597 A.D.

conversion of the saxons
Conversion of the Saxons
  • Pagan and Judeo-Christianbeliefs are intertwined in the literature as it is written down (often by monks).
  • Tension “between faith in an omnipotent Christian God and a trust in blind, inexorable fate [wyrd].”
the norse

The Norse

Viking Invasions – Beginning @ 900 A.D.10th Century defeated English in the Battle of MaldonWanted British technology, raw goods

norse mythology
Norse Mythology
  • Adumla(cosmic cow)|licked the first beings out of ice, eventually begat the Aesir (Guardians of man)|(w)odin—----Vili—----Ve

(spirit of life) (wits & heart) (hearing & sight)

norse mythology1
Norse Mythology
  • Adumla (cow)|Buri|Bor—Bestla (frost giant’s daughter)|(w)odin—----Vili—----Ve

(spirit of life) (wits & heart) (hearing & sight)

  • Kill all the frost giants but one—all the blood flooded the world
norse mythology2
Norse Mythology
  • Ymir – Frost Giant that survived

1) skull=sky2) flesh=Earth3) bones=Mountains4) blood=Oceans, lakes, rivers

  • Dwarves: North, South, East, West
norse mythology3
Norse Mythology
  • Ygdrasil**–The living tree, the suffering tree, the life-giver--Regenerates itself, eternal (was, and is, and will be)
  • Odin hung on a tree for nine days to gain boons for mankind – Runes (magical alphabet) and Skaldic Mead (poetic inspiration)
  • Nibbles roots of Yggdrasil
  • Carries insults and gossip between the dragon Nidhogg and an eagle in the top branches
where the gods lived
Where the gods lived
  • Asgard (Settled by Odin, Vili, Ve – Aesir, guardians of men)
  • linked to Midgard by the flaming rainbow bridge, Bifrost
other things to know
Other things to know
  • Unlike Greek gods, gods were not invincible
  • Living in the Gotterdamerung, or “Twilight of the gods”
  • Would eventually be defeated at Ragnarok, the “day of doom”
the wild hunt
The Wild Hunt
  • Souls of dead warriors who joined Odin in Valhalla waiting to join against the forces of destruction at Ragnarok
  • Brought to Valhalla by the Valkyrie
the fenris wolf
The Fenris Wolf

Son of Loki

Kills Odin

gotterdammerung ragnarok
Gotterdammerung & Ragnarok
  • Midgard serpent—will flood the world by overflowing the ocean & spew deadly venom.
  • Killed by Thor before he succumbs to death from the poison.
gotterdammerung ragnarok1
Gotterdammerung & Ragnarok
  • Horns of Heimdall will ring to warn other gods of the danger.
  • By the end, Yggdrasill and all the worlds become a blazing inferno and the gods of the Aesir & Vanir die as well as all the inhabitants of Middle Earth.
  • The sky falls into a pit of flame and the earth sinks into the sea.
other influences the days of the week
Other Influences--The Days of the Week
  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Teusday (Tiu—warrior god, symbol=boar)
  • Wednesday (Wodin)
  • Thursday (Thor—thunder god, very popular)
  • Friday (Freya—fertility god)
old english anglo saxon

Old English/Anglo-Saxon

The emergence of a written language.

the vikings saxons
The Vikings & Saxons
  • Constantly battled for control of England
  • Languages in England merged to become Old English
  • Battle of Maldon—recorded in poem
battle of maldon anglo saxon chronicles c 991 a d
Battle of Maldon, Anglo-Saxon Chronicles c. 991 A.D.
  • Extant in a fragment (beginning & end missing)
  • Byrhtnoth (Saxon) fights the Vikings
  • Byrhtnoth is 6’6” to 6’9” in a world where people are on average 5’ tall.
  • He is also 65 in a time when people lived to @ 40.
  • Awesome desplayof wealth—owned land in Essex & 8 other counties
battle of maldon anglo saxon chronicles c 991 a d1
Battle of Maldon, Anglo-Saxon Chronicles c. 991 A.D.
  • When he falls, poet reproaches the cowardice of the thane Godric who gallops away
  • Aelfwine, in contrast, upholds comitatus
  • He boasts (beot) that no one can “reproach him with fleeing while his lord lies dead”

“Heart must be hardier courage the keener

Mood must be the bolder as our band lessens.”

where people lived
Where people lived
  • Midgard (middle earth)-made from Ymir’s eyebrows)-safely away from the stone giants-protected part of Manheim (the place where people lived)
three classes of people
Three classes of people**
  • Jarl(fair, sharp, skilled, strong)Heimdall teaches him the runes of OdinClass of kings (koniger) and warriors
  • Karl (ruddy, bright-eyed, well formed)farmers, skilled laborers, peasants
  • Thrall (ugly, twisted, dull)race of unskilled laborersi.e. to “hold in thrall”
battle of maldon anglo saxon chronicles c 991 a d2
Battle of Maldon, Anglo-Saxon Chronicles c. 991 A.D.
  • Glorious defeat
  • BUT moral victory, affirmation of comitatus
king alfred the great
King Alfred the Great
  • “Great” because he kept united tribes to repel the Danes
  • King when Vikings sacked the monastery at Lindesfarne
  • Saxons kept London & Wessex; Vikings kept the Danelaw(North and East England)
  • Commissioned the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles** of Britain from the time of Caesar’s invasion—WRITTEN IN ENGLISH!!!
alfred jewel
Alfred Jewel
  • "AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN", "Alfred ordered me to be made"
  • In the Ashmolean in Oxford
the vikings win sort of
The Vikings Win, sort of . . .
  • Ethelred the Unready-weak king-took throne at age 11
  • King Canute crowned King of all England, 1016
king harold godwinsson
King Harold Godwinsson
  • The grandson of a Viking
  • Defeated at the Battle of Hastings, 1066 by William the Conquer of Normandy

(and Norman means Northman—in other words, Viking!)

“Nobody has ever invaded or conquered England since.” (Horrible Histories: The Vicious Vikings)

anglo saxon old english
Anglo-Saxon/Old English
  • Language spoken and written from about the 5th to 11th centuries around the time of the Battle of Hastings (1066).
  • Standardized in 10th century through influence of dominant kingdom of Wessex.
  • Based on runic script.
lindesfarne gospels
Lindesfarne Gospels
  • English translations written in above the Latin
  • Illuminated pages
  • Monastery kept learning alive inthe “Dark Ages”Of Viking invasion
anglo saxon old english1
Anglo-Saxon/Old English
  • Language spoken and written from about the 5th to 11th centuries around the time of the Battle of Hastings (1066).
  • Standardized in 10th century through influence of dominant kingdom of Wessex.
  • Based on runic script.
  • ½ of all English words have AS origins
old english words modern equivalents
Old English


Cyning (c-k)

Scort (sc=sh)


Eorþ (þ & ð= th)



Modern English






Deer (orig. wild beast)

Knight (orig. youth)

Old English Words & Modern Equivalents
celtic language
Celtic Language
  • Survives in Irish, Gaelic, Welsh languages(Where the Saxons did not conquer)
  • Very few words survive except in place names
  • Others mostly topographicEX. avon-river, combe=valley, torr=rock outcropping
  • Ancor=anchorite=hermit
welsh language
Welsh Language
  • Roman alphabet with different sound values & consonant doubling (ll, ff, ww, dd)
  • Gwynnedd = Guyneth
  • Siobhan = Shevan
longest word in welsh
Longest Word in Welsh
  • Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
book of kells
Book of Kells
  • Written in Latin
  • Illuminated bymonks atthe monasteryof Kells
  • Added a rune for “L”
  • “Wynn” rune for “W”
  • The Thorn for “TH”
  • The Ash for “Q” and “ETH”
  • @450 words, mostly nouns