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The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Theme: Heroes/Heroism.

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Presentation on theme: "The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Theme: Heroes/Heroism."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 Theme: Heroes/Heroism

2 What do we know about the early days of Great Britain? Between 800 and 600 B.C., two groups of Celts from southern Europe invaded the British Isles. –Brythons (now spelled “Britons”) settled on the largest Island, Britain. –Gaels settled on the second largest island, known to us as Ireland.

3 The Celts –farmers and hunters –organized themselves into clans –clans had fearsome loyalty to chieftains –looked to priests, known as Druids, to settle their disputes

4 Roman conquest of Britain AD 43 –Britain annexed as a province in the Roman Empire –Difficult to control such a large piece of landsuch a large piece of land Brought Christianity to Britain around AD 300 –Pagan vs. Christian ideals: the new religion was not fully adopted at this time The last Romans left around 407 A.D. –Needed to defend against rebelling European countries; England left to its own devices Where did the Anglo-Saxons come from?

5 Anglo-Saxon origins, Part II 449AD 3 Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) invade. Destruction of Roman influence, including Christianity New land: “Angle-land” - small tribal kingdoms - no written language - supported themselves through farming and hunting

6 Some Anglo-Saxon Facts Admired strength, courage, combat ability Expected their leaders to be fighters as well as politicians Oral culture that didn’t preserve things in writing. Anything important was passed down through songs, stories, and art Women had low status, and were rarely discussed or acknowledged… but they were important recordkeepers who wove elaborate tapestries

7 Anglo-Saxon Facts, Part II Called kings “ring-givers”. Kings gave jewelry, weaponry, armor (chain mail) as payment and/or as a reward for bravery Swords were often named to reflect the reputations of their makers, or for their owners’ deeds on the battlefield. To own arms and use them was a privilege, not a duty. Warriors had to be born into this right; they couldn’t earn it through hard work or special skills.

8 An Anglo-Saxon Hall

9 Sutton Hoo Burial site discovered in 1939 Important links to Anglo- Saxon world and Beowulf Remains of a boat were discovered in a large burial chamber containing numerous artifacts Artifacts suggest a distinctly Christian element intermingled with pagan ritual.

10 Anglo-Saxon Social Life Centered around a large communal building known as a mead hall. Boasting acted as a “verbal resume” for one’s deeds (especially for warriors) Poetry (often riddles) and tests of strength (such as handshakes and arm-wrestling) were popular activities Exceptional artists! They loved to make cups, plates, jewelry, and ornate weaponry. Talented goldsmiths.


12 A/S Social Life, Part II Great sailors and shipmakers Believed in weregild, or “man-money”. This acted much like a modern insurance policy. In the event of a warrior’s death, his family members received gifts (from the man who killed him) to sustain them financially. This practice also made revenge a low priority, since it equipped the victim’s family with money and demonstrated respect for the dead.

13 Modern Recreation of the Oseberg Ship


15 1) Traditions of the Anglo-Saxons Germanic language – Mixture of various Germanic dialects + Old English – Old English (often looks like a foreign language) -- Even mixture of Christian and Nordic (i.e., mythological) traditions and beliefs

16 Examples of the Beowulf manuscript in Old English

17 Heroic Ideals Dominate Warrior culture – Poems and stories depict a society like the Anglo- Saxons Military and tribal loyalties Bravery of warriors Generosity of rulers Oral tradition – Songs and stories often sung and told about the valiant struggles of heroic warriors More than just entertainment – provided a model for living and a form of immortality they could aspire to Note: all of these provided the foundation for early written literature in Old English

18 Epic Beowulf: Unknown authorBeowulf: Unknown author The national epic of England (first work to be composed in English)The national epic of England (first work to be composed in English) A long heroic poem, about a great legendary warrior renowned for his courage, strength, and dignity.A long heroic poem, about a great legendary warrior renowned for his courage, strength, and dignity.

19 7 Epic Poetry Characteristics 1.Elevated (formal) language 2.At least one voyage; often more 3.Several battles 4.Boasting (heroes need verbal resumes!) 5.At least one banquet 6.A monumental struggle between good and evil 7.A hero who represents the ideals of his society

20 Epic Elements Epic ElementDefinitionAs seen in … Epic Hero Quest Valorous deeds Divine intervention Great events Epic ElementDefinitionAs seen in … Epic Hero the central character of an epic. This character is a larger-than-life figure, typically of noble or semi-divine birth, who pits his courage, skill, and virtue against opposing, often evil, forces. Quest a long, dangerous journey or mission undertaken by the epic hero. The quest is the hero’s opportunity to prove his heroism and win honor and undying renown. Valorous deeds long, dangerous journey or mission undertaken by the epic hero. The quest is the hero’s opportunity to prove his heroism and win honor and undying renown. Divine intervention In many epics, the hero receives help from a god or another supernatural force who takes an interest in his quest. Great events Important events from the history or mythology of a nation or culture often provide the backdrop for the epic narrative.

21 Heroic Values in Beowulf Great strength Courage Loyalty Valor (a sense of duty to protect the weak, and to fight fairly)

22 The Epic Hero Defeats his enemies using Physical strength Skill as a warrior Nobility of character Quick wits Is not modest – boasting is a ritual Embodies the ideals and values of his people Is eager for fame Because the Germanic tribes believed death was inevitable, warriors sought fame to preserve the memory of their deeds after death A man of high social status whose fate affects the destiny of his people

23 HELP! I need somebody! Think of a time when you helped someone in need or someone helped you OR a time when you did NOT render help and wish you had. Give a brief summary of the incident then answer the following analysis questions: –What was your/their motivation (why was help rendered?)? –What was the result? –What would have happened if help was not rendered? –Did anyone else offer help? Why/why not?

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