Introduction to the Anglo Saxons (449-1066 A.D.) There were 7 groups of peoples who invaded and settled in Great Britain throughout its history: • Iberians (Spain) • Celts (indigenous people from British Isles) • Romans (Italy)) • Angles (Germany) • Saxons ( northern Germany & the Netherlands) • Vikings (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) • Normans (northern France) The Spirit of the Celts • When Greek travelers visited modern Great Britain in the 4 B.C., the group of warriors they found there were called… – Celts – Brythons - Britons The Spirit of the Celts • The Celts followed a religion known as Animism or “spirit” - They saw spirits in all natural things --ponds, trees, fire, & thunder • These spirits controlled all aspects of existence & had to be constantly satisfied. The Spirit of the Celts • Celtic priests were called Druids – Intermediaries between the gods & people – Druids memorized the history of their people & the secrets of their faith • Ritualistic dances and human sacrifices were also used. The Spirit of the Celts • Some think a strange, stone-like structure on the Salisbury Plain known as Stonehenge was used by the Druids for religious rites. • Some say it is an ancient clock. The Celtic Heroes and Heroines • Sir Thomas Malory was greatly influenced by the legends of Celtic heroes – Example: Le Morte D’arthur – based on a Celtic warrior named Arthur • Celtic legends are full of strong women – Example: Queen Maeve of Connacht Boadicea --Legends include fantastic animals, incredible adventures, and magic. • Boadicea Fierce female tribal warrior who rose up against the invading Romans but was ultimately defeated. – Boudica was a striking looking woman. - "She was very tall, the glance of her eye most fierce; her voice harsh. A great mass of the reddest hair fell down to her hips. Her appearance was terrifying." - Definitely a lady to be noticed! – The Roman governor killed her husband and publicly flogged and her in addition to her daughters being raped by Roman slaves! – Other Iceni chiefs suffered in a like manner and their families were treated like slaves. – Not surprisingly these outrages provoked the Iceni, Trinobantes and other tribes to rebel against the Romans- Boadicea led that rebellion Celtic Warriors • Used a blue dye known as woad to give them such a terrifying appearance in battle. • They were very tall and athletically built • Fought naked • Carried long spears • Used a fierce battle cry to intimidate their opponents • Fought to show how brave they were, not to gain land or riches The Romans: The Great Administrators • Julius Caesar led the invasion of Briton in 55 B.C. • Introduced two architectural additions to Briton – Roads – Defensive wall – Hadrian’s Wall • Approximately 70 mile long wall was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to keep the 'barbarian' Picts from Scotland out of Roman Britain. The Romans: The Great Administrators • Christianity became a unifying force in Britain which caused the “old ways” of the Celts to vanish • Romans evacuated Britain in 409 A.D., without leaving a central government there – Britain became a country of separate clans or tribes – This made Britain so weak after the Roman invasion that it was susceptible to pagan invasions. The Anglo-Saxons Sweep Ashore • In the middle of the 5th century Britain was attacked by • Angles (Germany) • Saxons (northern Germany & Netherlands) • Jutes (Denmark) -Anglo-Saxon became the dominant language after these invasions • The new name of Britain after these invasions – Engla land or England The Anglo-Saxons Sweep Ashore • The Celts retreated to Wales as a result of the invasions from the north • Arthur – a Welsh chieftain – developed in legend as Britain’s “once and future king” – Name of novel about Arthur’s life by T.H. White Unifying Forces: Alfred the Great and Christianity • King Alfred of Wessex was the Anglo-Saxon king who led his people to victory against the invading Danes & established England as one nation. Unifying Forces: Alfred the Great and Christianity • The Irish and continental missionaries were responsible for converting the Anglo-Saxon people to Christianity. They used established pagan holidays to partner with Christian holidays to make the conversion easier. Unifying Forces: Alfred the Great and Christianity • Three things Christianity provided for the Anglo-Saxon people: – A common faith – A common system of morality/ right conduct – A connection to England and Europe Unifying Forces: Alfred the Great and Christianity • William, Duke of Normandy, defeated the Danes in Britain in 1066 – Battle of Hastings – Also known as William the Conqueror What Does Anglo-Saxon Mean? • Anglo Saxon society developed from kinship groups led by a strong chief • People farmed, maintained local government, and created fine crafts especially metalwork. • Christianity eventually replaced old warrior religion, linking England & continental Europe. • Monasteries were centers fro learning & preserved works from the older, oral tradition. • English – not just the Church’s Latingained respect a as a written language. Anglo-Saxon Life as Described by the findings at Sutton Hoo • Warfare was a dominant influence on daily life • Law and order was the responsibility of the leader of a group- family, clan, tribe, or kingdom. • Fame and survival only came from loyalty to the leader (comitatus) • Loyalty grew out of a need to protect the group from the enemy Role of Women in Anglo-Saxon Culture • They had rights – Could inherit & own property. – Christian women could join religious communities (convents) & even became powerful abbesses. Anglo-Saxon Religion: Gods for Warriors • • • • Warrior god Dark Fatalistic Believed the greatest honor was to die in battle and go to Valhalla – warrior heaven • Important virtues- bravery, loyalty, generosity, & friendship Anglo-Saxon Religion: Gods for Warriors • Odin (pronounced Woden) was the most important Norse god • He represented death, poetry, and magic • Thor or Thunor was the god of thunder – His symbols- hammer and swastika Anglo-Saxon Religion: Gods for Warriors • Dragon (firedrake)– Significant figure in Anglo-Saxon mythology personifies “death the devourer” – Guards the greave mound of warriors’ ashes and treasure The Bards: Singing of Gods and Heroes • Scops or bards told stories of AngloSaxon history and heroes through oral tradition – memorizing stories & passing them along by word of mouth • Scops were very important in AngloSaxon culture • The only thing that could help an Anglo-Saxon’s memory live on after death was to have his story retold in poetry. A Light from Ireland • Patricus (Patrick) was the man responsible for converting all of Celtic Ireland to Christianity in 432 A.D. – Taught pagans the concept of the Trinity using a shamrock (3-leaf clover) • Three petals or leaves but one plant – God, the Father – God, the Son – God, the Holy Spirit • Known to us as Saint Patrick A Light from Ireland • Golden Age in Ireland– Irish monks founded monasteries that became sanctuaries for learning for refugees – Monasteries served as centers for learning during the time period The Christian Monasteries: The Ink Froze • Scriptorium: A writing room used to copy manuscripts by hand • Monks wrote in Latin, the language of the Catholic Church – as a result, it became the language of serious study in England The Rise of the English Language • King Alfred had a c chronical written of England’s history from its earliest days until 1154 A.D. – Anglo Saxon Chronicle – As a result, English began to gain respect as a language of culture – Only then did the Old English stories & poetry preserved by the monks come to be recognized as great works of literature.