Anglo-Saxon History Text, pages 2-16

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Anglo-Saxon
History
Text, pages 2-16
Great Britain
Is Famous for both old-world
“flavor” and modern advances
Government – “by the people and
for the people”
– Model for other countries
– America rebelled against it, but
formed a government very similar to it
Settled by various cultures/became
a mixture of all
The Celtic Heroes and Heroines:
a Magical World
Religion = animism (spirit)
– Spirits were in everything
– Spirits controlled all aspects of
existence; must be satisfied
– Druids were priests that acted as
intermediaries between gods and
world
Stonehenge
 May have been a place of
worship and ritual
The land and beliefs affected
writers…
– Sir Thomas Malory took Celtic legends
+ chivalric qualities = King Arthur
– William Butler Yeats used Celtic
history in literature to increase
awareness of Irish heritage
Celtic stories full of strong women
Enchanted; magic and imagination
rule
Map of Rome, England, and Ireland
The Romans:
The Great Administrators
 Invaded England in 55 BC – Julius
Caesar and again by Claudius in 45A.D.
 Protected England from other invaders
 Christianity began to spread/Celtic
religion lost power
 Due to trouble at home – left England by
409 A.D.
 England became separate clans; easily
invaded by non-Christian groups.
The Anglo-Saxons Sweep Ashore
Angles and Saxons from
Germany invaded (along with
Jutes from Denmark)
Celts receded into Wales
Country divided into different
tribes again
Anglo-Saxon Religion:
Gods for Warriors
Dark, fatalistic religion
(Norse/Scandinavian mythology)
– Symbols from nature
• Dragon was the protector of treasure
– They did not believe in an after-life
– To be remembered after death, a
person would have to stand out as
extremely brave, loyal, strong, etc.
– Heroes were treated like they were
gods because they were so important
The Bards:
Singing of Gods and Heroes
 Entertainment = storytelling in
communal hall
 Poetry was about fighting, hunting,
farming, and loving
 Poets sang to the strumming of a harp
 Since the Anglo-Saxon religion had no
afterlife, glory had to be found in the
present life (bravery, honor, etc) and by
finding a place in the poems/tales of
days to come after…
The famous parade
helmet found at
Sutton Hoo.
Anglo-Saxon Life:
The Warm Hall, the Cold World
War-faring people, though not as
harsh as usually depicted
There was always the threat of
attack from another tribe
People were very faithful to the
king/leader
It was important to be brave and
willing to defend the tribe
Communal Living
– Lived in single-family dwellings
– livestock near homes to protect them
and to be protected
– Surrounded by wooden fence
– Family huts surrounded common
court (cheiftain’s hall or Mead Hall)
 Ruled by consensus – families had a
voice in decisions affecting the tribe
The Danes took over with harsh
fighting tactics and they settled in
northeast and central England
Missionaries converted AngloSaxon rulers to Christianity, which
was a unifying force
The Christian Monasteries:
The Ink Froze
Hope in Anglo-Saxon Culture came
from
– Being immortalized through poetry
– The idea that Christianity could be
accurate
Monks spent time writing old
stories in a savable form (that’s
why we now know the story of
Beowulf).
King Alfred instituted the AngloSaxon Chronicle
English became recognized as a
language of culture; works
preserved by Monks became
thought of as great literature.
Anglo-Saxons/Danes and all the
separate tribes continued fighting
until country was overtaken by
Norman Troops
Works Cited
Leeming, David Adams. “The AngloSaxons.” Elements of Literature:
Sixth Course: Literature of Britain
with World Classics. Austin: Holt,
Rinehart, and Winston, 2000.

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