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The Old and Middle English Period
Transcript of The Old and Middle English Period
The Old and Middle English Period
410 Germanic Invasions
After a period of relative peace, the Viking invasions begin.
One of the few works that have survived, manuscript from between 975 and 1025 (story is much older).
Old English: Beowulf manuscript
Every age creates its own heroes: conversely, one way of studying a particular period is to look at the qualities it values most and the people who are supposed to represent them.
Choose five people, from film, TV, show-business, the arts, etc. who can be described as "heroes of our time".
Discuss in each case the special qualities by which they distinguish themselves. Can any general conclusions be drawn? Are there any qualities that are also present in Beowulf? Or others that are conspicuous by their absence?
1066 Battle of Hastings
1066 Edward the Confessor dies childless
Harold Godwinson (powerful English nobleman) and William of Normandy (who had been named by Edward as his successor) both lay claim to the throne.
The Battle of Hastings is won by William the Conqueror: French influences in Britain.
1066-1500 Middle English Period
French became the language for the higher circles of society, English still used by the common people.
14th century: English national language again, but changed.
Romans withdraw from Britain.
Celts not able to protect their borders.
Germanic invasions: basis for English language.
These tribes bring their owns stories: mostly poems about kings and heroes,
HWÆT, WE GARDEna in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas, syððanærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þah,
oð þæt him æghwylc ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan; þæt wæs god cyning!
Note: alliteration is used frequently,
no end rhyme!
Poem about a hero, Beowulf, who defeats the monster Grendel. Beowulf is the prototype Germanic hero: brave, strong, proud, confident and loyal.
Anglo-Saxon vs Old French
Cow Beef (Old French Boef)
Calf Veal (Old French Veel, Veal)
Pig Pork (Old French Porc)
Sheep Mutton (Old French Moton)
Chicken Poultry (Old French Pouletrie)
Changes in Literature
end rhyme (more important than alliteration)
more refined themes: courtly love instead of death, war and glory
more prominent position for women
ideal is knight, not warrior
ballads become popular,
stories about King Arthur
and the Knights of the
c. 1340-1400 Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales
Frame story; 29 pilgrims meet in a London inn and travel to Canterbury together, telling stories along the way.
'Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe
I knowe ynogh, on even and a-morwe,'
Quod the Marchant, 'and so doon oother mo
That wedded been.'
Weeping and wailing, care and other sorrow
I know enough, in the evening and in the morning,'
said the Merchant, 'and so does many another
who has been married.'
Read the stencils on The Canterbury Tales and answer the questions on pp 24 and 25.