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Introduction to British Literature

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1 Introduction to British Literature
Anglo Saxon and Medieval Period

2 Conquest of Britain Beginning as far back as 800 B.c.
Britons and Gaels invaded British Isles first Romans, led by Julius Caesar, came next and their rule lasted more than 300 years Anglo-Saxon invaders came from what is presently Germany All of these invasions led to making Great Britain was it was (and its literature reflective of these diverse groups)

3 Coming of Christianity
Romans introduced Christianity to Britain Continued with the establishment of monasteries from the 4th through the 6th centuries The Church promoted peace and helped unify the English people during these times of war and invasions

4 Danish Invasion Viking invaders plundered monasteries and destroyed religious objects as a result of their own rising populations in Norway and Denmark King Alfred the Great tried to fight off the encroachment The outcome left England divided but named Alfred a great hero in his attempts to preserve England as it was before the Danish invasion

5 Norman Conquest Descendents of the Vikings who invaded France and southern England William of Normandy suppressed Anglo-Saxon nobility and controlled government and business by conducting it in French Led to remaking England into a feudal system

6 Feudalism By definition, the exchange of property for personal service
Land all belonged to the king Barons—land-owners with special privileges Knights—professional soldiers Manors—small parcels of land Serfs—peasant s who worked at the manors

7 Henry II and Thomas Becket
Henry became one of England’s ables kings after Norman rule fell Appointed his friend, Thomas Becket, as archbishop of Canterbury Becket went against Henry and sided with the pope in a legal matter Henry’s supporters misunderstood his wrath and murdered Becket Becket’s tomb became a shrine at Canterbury

8 Anglo-Saxon Period T he Old English Period or the Anglo-Saxon Period refers to the literature produced from the invasion of Celtic England by Germanic tribes in the first half of the fifth century to the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror.

9 Medieval The Middle English Period consists of the literature produced in the four and a half centuries between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and about 1500, when the standard literary language, derived from the dialect of the London area, became recognizable as "modern English."

10 Anglo Saxon Period ( ) Most of the storytelling in this time period was of the oral tradition.  There are few written manuscripts that still survive.  The major themes of this time were praise of heroes who triumph in battle religious/moral instruction.  The predominant genre in this time period was epic poetry.

11 Anglo-Saxon Poetry Heroic Poetry—recounts achievements of warriors
Elegiac Poetry—laments the loss of loved ones or the past Representative Works Beowulf (epic, or long heroic poem) The Wanderer (famous elegiac poem)

12 Anglo-Saxon Prose All important prose writing was composed in Latin prior to the reign of Alfred the Great Prose: The Venerable Bede’s History of the English Church and Its People

13 Medieval Period ( ) This was the time of knights and their ladies The chivalric code of honor was very important to literature of this time, and romances became popular.  Religion was still a major reason for literature, as well, and plays that instructed the illiterate masses in moral codes, called morality plays, were produced.  One of the major genres of this period was the folk ballad. Poem: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

14 Romances, Lyrics, and Ballads
Medieval Romances described adventures of knights such as Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory Poets strummed harp-like instruments called lyres as they recited their work; lyric poetry evolved from this Secular Lyrics—about nature and love Religious lyrics—about God Ballads—folk songs that tell a story such as Robin Hood

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