Formation of the English People

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Formation of the English People
Pre-Celtic
• Paleolithic.
– Attached to continent.
– Inhabited by stunted Paleolithic
man.
• Neolithic.
– Centuries passed.
– England is an island.
– Swarthy-complexioned Neolithic
man.
Celts
Two Main Branches
• Goidels (Gaels).
– Found in the west and in the north.
– Influenced by aboriginal tribes.
– Survive in Ireland and Scotland.
• Brythons ( Britons or Cymri).
– Southeast.
– Survive in Wales and Cornwall.
Celts
Religion
•
•
•
•
•
Druidism.
Hierarchy of pagan gods like the Greeks and
the Romans.
Many local gods.
Human sacrifice.
Transmigration of souls.
Sanctified the oak.
Celts
English Literature
• Contributed fewer than a dozen words to the
language.
– Bin(basket), dun (color), Avon, and Kent.
• The lais – lyrics or short verse romances.
• Mabinogion – compilation of Welch tales.
Roman
Conquest
• B.C. 55-54 two invasions by Julius Caesar.
• A.D. 43-48  invasion by Aulus Plautius under
Claudius.
– South of Avon.
– Several successful governors.
• A.D. 401-410 Romans gradually left to protect
Rome. Honorius renounced Rome’s control over
Britain.
Roman
English Literature
• Small number of Latin words.
– E.G. Mile, street and the suffix –caster, -chester,
and –wich, or –wick.
• Contributed very little to the literature.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Invasions
• A.D. 449  withdraw of the Romans left
the Celts prey to barbarians.
– Jutes, Saxons, and Angles (three Teutonic
tribes) invaded. The latter two recognized the
helplessness of the Britons and took possession
of surrounding land.
– Celts were absorbed exterminated or driven to
the north and the west.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Language
• At first called Englisc.
– Derived from the Angles, mixed with the
Norman or Saxon, and finally Anglo-Saxon.
– Low-German, west-Germanic, indo-European
language. (Old Frisian or low German nearest
relatives.).
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Language
• Four dialects.
– Kentish  counties of Kent
(Jute).
– West Saxon  remaining areas
around the Thames.
– Mercian or midland
between the Thames and
Humber.
– Northumbrian  north of
Humber into Scotland.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Language
• N.B. While most of the
literature is derived from
west Saxon, the most
important dialect is
Mercian the dialect from
which modern English is
derived.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Religion {Polytheism}
• Chief gods include Woden,
Thor, Loki, Tiw (or Tiu).
– Some names remain in days of
the week: e.g. Tuesday (Tiu’s
day), Wednesday (Woden’s
day), Thursday (Thor’s day).
• Dread goddesses Wyrd and
Fate  Shakespeare’s
“Weird Sisters.”
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Advent of Christianity
• Christianity introduced by the Romans was
almost completely wiped out. Carried to
Ireland (St. Patrick c. 432 – 461) A number
of later missionaries including Aiden (North
Anglican, and (sent by Pope Gregory)
Augustine (Kent and Canterbury).
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
Advent of Christianity
• Celtic and Roman versions of Christianity
differed. Synod of Whitby(664) sided with the
Romans and England was under papal control
until Henry VIII.
• Re-introduction of Christianity played a large role
in the language and literature not only buy
introducing ecclesiastical terms but by joining
England with a richer culture providing haven for
literary compositions as well as the copying of
manuscripts.
Anglo-Saxon Conquest
English Literature
• Vital contribution to the
language.
• Vocabulary pertains to the
everyday function of man.
• Essential to sentence
construction.
• Vital contribution to
literature.
Anglo-Saxon Characteristics
• Stern, barbarous life. Subjected by nature to
rude turmoil.
• Mixture of savagery, sentiment, and
nobility.
• Religious feeling; fatalism and instinct.
• Responsiveness to nature. Love of the sea.
Anglo-Saxon Characteristics
• Common sense, power of endurance, and
seriousness of thought as opposed to elfish
mockery, ironic introspection, emotional
temperament, bold imagination, sensitive nature,
rainbow fancy, and violent but mercurial feelings
of the Celts.
N.B. The Anglo-Saxons, the Celts, and the Normans
combine to create the three branches of British
Literature.
Anglo-Saxon Ideals
• Love of glory is the ruling motivation of
every noble life.
• Allegiance to lord or king is the social
virtue most extolled.
• Reverence for womanhood.
• Love of personal freedom.(did not conflict
with the fidelity to thane or lord – even unto
death).
Anglo-Saxon Ideals
• Open-handed
hospitality to thane
or lord.
• Honoring of truth.
• Repression of
sentiment.
• The sea.
– Water-street,
swan-road, and
whale-path.
• The Ship.
– Foamy-neck
floater, waveskimmer, and
sea-stallion.
Graveney Boat

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