Anglo-Saxon Period Overview notes 450-1066 Inhabitants of Britannia Celts: 900 BCE ● indiginous people of what we now call England ● Spoke Gaelic (still spoken today) ● Lived in clans ● Led by Druids (priests) preserved myths/legends by telling stories Britons ● ● ● Gaels Adapted to Roman civilization (55 BCE) Eventually defeated by Anglo-Saxons (449) Moved to the edges of Britannia (Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, Scotland) ● Moved to modern-day Ireland Romans: 55 BCE- 407CE (ruled nearly 300 years) ● Established roads and city walls ● Brought Christianity; converted Celts, Ireland, Scotland ● Troops called home to defend Italy; left Britannia open to invasion Anglo-Saxons: 449-1066 ● Angles, Saxons, Jutes, (Frisians) ● Immigrated from Scandinavia (modern day Germany) ● Christianity pushed to edges of Britannia ● Pagan religion ● St. Augustine of Canterbury converted King Ethelbert of Kent to Christianity and the religion spread and began to mix with pagan stories Danish (Viking) Invasions (9th-12th centuries) ● “Hit-and-run” raids; focused on treasure and looting ● Failed to take over the island completely - stopped by English king Alfred the Great 1066: Norman Conquest ● 1042 - Danes are out of power ● Edward the Confessor (king of Britannia) dies in 1066 ● Normandy (France) invades and overpowers the Anglo-Saxons ● End of Anglo-Saxon period Anglo-Saxon Period Overview notes 450-1066 Warrior Society, Community, and Social Structure ● ● ● ● Anglo-Saxons were a Germanic warrior society that emphasized bravery, honor, and glory in battle Patriarchal society based on the concepts of kinship, comitatus, and fraternity ○ kinship The relationship between an individual and other members of the tribe; An individual’s ancestry comitatus Germanic power arrangement in which the king ruled in consultation with thanes (knights) -Thanes swear fidelity and loyalty to the king. -King bestows land, money, jewelry, war gear, privileges, and benefits on the thane Fraternity The close social bonds among the men of the tribe. They fought together and died together (They were each other’s ride-or-die) ● Violence and Revenge killings: fraternity demanded the death of a tribe member be avenged; this led to mass bloodshed. ○ Wergild: established to cut down on bloodshed. Money paid to the family of the victim of murder by the offender Warrior motivations: ○ Glory for king ○ Glory for ancestors ○ Glory for tribe ○ Glory for self Mead Hall - social center of Anglo Saxon culture. A large wooden structure where the king lived and held court and celebrations Religion Anglo-Saxons were originally a pagan religion, but largely converted to Christianity. Anglo-Saxon Period Overview notes 450-1066 Pagan Religion ● ● ● Worshipped many gods Believed in fate (wyrd) English language kept some of the words of the pagan religion (days of the week) ○ Tui - god of sky/war (Tuesday) ○ Woden - chief god (Wednesday) ○ Thor - god of thunder (Thursday) ○ Fria - goddess of the home (Friday) Christianity ● ● ● 597 - St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent to Britain to convert the A.S. ○ Converts King Aethelbert of Kent ○ Christianity spreads Oral stories begin to take on elements of Christianity. Many include pagan and Christian elements (Beowulf) Church brings education and literature ○ Monks were scribes ○ Venerable Bede - Father of English History wrote A History of the English Church and People (earliest account of A.S. culture 731AD) Literature ● Oral literature until influence of Christian monks introduced books ● Oral stories/poems were told by scops (respected oral poets) ○ Long epic poems: lengthy narrative poem, usually about heroes ● Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry ○ Caesuras - pause in a line ○ Alliteration - repetition of initial consonant sound ○ Kennings - metaphorical phrases; compound of 2 words to replace 1 word (body=life house, sea=whale road) ○ Stock epithet - phrase characterizing a person or thing (Michael Jordan: Lord of the dunk) ○ synecdoche/metonymy - a part represents the whole (iron=sword, keel=ship, skirts=women) Old English Language ● Anglo-Saxon vocabulary named practical things ○ House, loaf, woman, wolf ○ Days of the week came from pagan gods ● Christianity brought Latin ○ Religious vocabulary like bishop ● Vikings ○ War vocabulary ○ Drag, ransack, thrust, die, give, take Beowulf ● Told in the 8th century / written by 2 monks in the 11th century ● About warrior named Beowulf who fights bravely for glory ○ Anglo-Saxon pagan ancestors ● Text shows juxtaposition between “heroic” and “Christian” - likely a result of shifting religious conversions of the Anglo-Saxons AND changes through the oral history of the epic poem.