Anglo Saxon Period (449-1066)
1. Name Origin
Derived from the terms Angles and Saxons, used to distinguish Germanic groups on the British island. Also used as another term for Old English.
2. Class System
- Churls (Serfs)
- Thralls (Slaves)
To memorize the class system, just remember this acronym:
Kangaroos eat from tall cocoa trees
3. Anglo Saxon Values
- Personal Valor
- Wyrd - fate is important
- Christianity - brings oral traditions
4. Notable People
- Venerable Bede recorded British history before 700 AD and is referred to "the father of English history" as the earliest English historian.
- King Alfred the Great translated Bede's work to Anglo Saxon.
- The Exter Book is a 10th century book of Anglo Saxon poetry, the largest known collection of its type.
- Sutton Hoo is a large ship found with many Anglo Saxon artifacts
- Kenning is a metaphor.
- Litotes are dramatic understatements.
- Every story is recited by a Scops (singers) or Gleemen (assistants.)
- Comitatus means "die for your brother," demonstrated in Beowulf's third battle.
Types of Poems
- Heroic – Germanic myths featuring a hero with a tragic flaw. (ex. Beowulf)
- Epic – Long narrative poems on a serious subject. (ex. Beowulf)
- Elegy – Christian writings mourning the dead through sorrow and loneliness (ex. Seafarer)
6. The Seafarer
A elegy poem written by an unknown author.
- Man lost at sea experiences a near death experience.
- Asks God for forgiveness.
- Man experienced sorrow, fear, pain, and suffering.
- Whale's Home is an example of a kenning.
Fate has 3 traits:
- Enemies' Sword
Beowulf is an epic poem set in Scandinavia written by an unknown author. It was a spoken tale passed down orally and recorded in third person.
Characters and Objects
- Herot – mead hall at Horthgar's throne.
- Beowulf – Geat warrior from Finland.
- Nagling – Sword used by Beowulf.
- Wiglaf – Great warrior helping Beowulf in battle with dragon.
- Horthgar – King of the Danes who had great success as a ruler before Grendel attacks.
- Grendel – Monster terrorizing Herot.
- Grendel's Mother – Protector of Grendel's claw.
- Dragon – Terrorizes Beowulf's kingdom after he becomes king.
- Beowulf arrives in Herot to help Horthgar get rid of Grendel.
- Lays down at night and waits for Grendel. Beowulf kills Grendel with hands (no weapons.)
- Hangs Grendel's claw on the wall in Herot.
- Grendel's mother, enraged, attacks Herot. Rips Grendel's claw from wall.
- Leads to underwater battle (supernatural characteristics of a epic hero.)
- Beowulf kills Grendel's mother in her underwater lair using weapons.
- Beowulf is now a king and very old.
- Dragon attacks, Beowulf goes to face dragon but becomes critically wounded.
- Wiglaf comes to his rescue and kills dragon. Beowulf dies. Example of comitatus.