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The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066. The Very Beginning 1 st -5 th c. England= “Britannia” Province of Roman Empire Inhabited by Celts; “Britons” & “Gaels”

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Presentation on theme: "The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066. The Very Beginning 1 st -5 th c. England= “Britannia” Province of Roman Empire Inhabited by Celts; “Britons” & “Gaels”"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Anglo-Saxon Period

2 The Very Beginning 1 st -5 th c. England= “Britannia” Province of Roman Empire Inhabited by Celts; “Britons” & “Gaels”

3 How the “Anglo-Saxon” Period began… 5 th c. (400s) Celts under attack Romans withdraw Celts asked for help from the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (tribes that occupied now-Germany; “Germanic” tribes) Germanic tribes take over!

4 Beginnings of the Anglo-Saxon Period Start of English history = invasion of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. “Angle-land.” The Anglo-Saxons: Lacked written language, supported themselves through farming and hunting, and believed in many different gods.

5 Paganism v. Christianity Celts initially pagans; converted to Christianity in 4 th c.– but after A/S invasion, not really maintained Anglo-Saxons were also pagans Late 6 th c. ( ?), missionaries converted the majority of inhabitants to Christianity (but many still held on to pagan beliefs and traditions.) Christianity=increased literacy

6 The Danish Invasions 8 th and 9 th c.-- Other Germanic tribes were invading Britain By the ninth century, most of England had fallen to the invaders.

7 Alfred the Great Then, Alfred (king of West Saxons ) saves the day and returns peace to Britain Enthusiastic patron of literature Key figure in development of English language

8 The End of the Anglo-Saxon Period King Edward King Edward promised the throne to William, Duke of Normandy. However, when he died in 1066, Harold of Wessex claimed the throne. Harold of Wessex & Duke William of Normandy… The Showdown at the Battle of Hastings Within a year, William defeats Harold (The Norman Conquest) –William became the first Norman King of England. –Thus the Anglo-Saxon era came to an end.

9 Sutton Hoo Near Woodbridge, Suffolk The site of two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries of the sixth and seventh centuries, one of which contains an undisturbed burial including a wealth of artifacts It sheds light on a period of English history which is on the margin between myth, legend, and historical documentation.

10 The Heroic Code of Excellence Physical strength Determination, bravery, courage (reputation important) Commitment to warfare and acceptance of violence/possible death Loyalty to fellow warriors, lord, and king– KINSHIP! Comitatus– the Germanic code of loyalty Wergild– “man-payment;” paying a slain man’s family to atone for the deed and prevent revenge (failure to get compensation or get revenge was shameful)

11 The Heroic Code of Excellence (continued) IN RETURN… the king was expected to be generous with gifts of treasure and land, as well as protect his people

12 Themes in Anglo-Saxon Literature Seafaring warriors, military and tribal loyalties, bravery of warriors, generosity of rulers Monster-slaying stories from pagan Germanic folklore AND struggles between good and evil from Christian beliefs.

13 Anglo-Saxon Literature All English spoken, not written, before the conversion to Christianity– oral tradition Early on, literacy was mainly restricted to the clergy (Latin) Earliest examples of written English– manuscripts from monasteries Few examples of texts written in Old English– Beowulf is one of them

14 The Epic and the Epic Hero Epic- a long, narrative poem that recounts, in formal language, the exploits of a larger-than-life hero. Epic Hero- the hero of an epic; a character of great importance to his people

15 6 Characteristics of Epics 1- Supernatural events and details. 2- Long time periods. Distant journeys. 3- Life and death struggles between good and evil. Hero represents good. The forces that threaten the people represent evil. 4- The defeat of these forces often determines the fate of the nation or group. 5- To overcome the people’s enemies, the hero requires great physical strength. 6- He may boast of his strength to his enemies, thus committing himself to courageous action.

16 Language of the Time Old English  Two primary sources: The language of the Celtic people The language of the invading Germanic tribes Roughly half of Modern English words are of Germanic origin.

17 Poetic Style of the Anglo-Saxon Period “Oft Scyld Seefing sceapena preatum” Meter Four principal stresses in each line Alliteration Organizing device of each line; at least one of the two stressed words in the first half-line begin with the first stressed word of the second half-line Caesura A natural pause that divides lines of Anglo-Saxon verse into two parts, each with a major stressed syllable; two parts linked to one another through alliteration Rhyme? Never!!

18 Other Literary Devices Used by the Anglo-Saxons Kenning: Two-word metaphor to replace a noun (whale-road for ocean; shadow of evil for a monster); it can be hyphenated or use “of” Synecdoche: part of something used to represent the whole (keel=ship, pages=book) Metonymy: one thing (usually the material) is used to designate something with which it is commonly associated (iron=sword, copper=penny) Litotes: ironic understatements (“it wasn’t the first time Grendel came”; “English class at the end of the day had her a little annoyed.”)

19 The Text of Beowulf Oldest of the great long poems written in English Title has been assigned by modern editors Author unknown– probably a single Christian author Date unknown– probably between the 8 th and 11 th c. Written or oral first? Unknown. 1731– before a modern translation, manuscript damaged in fire– some lost!

20 Welcome to the Anglo-Saxon Unit in British Literature!


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