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Beowulf and Anglo Saxon Weapons and Strategies

A summary of the weapons and battle strategies from the Anglo-Saxon time period as well as their usage in Beowulf.

Amanda Drummond

on 29 October 2012

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Transcript of Beowulf and Anglo Saxon Weapons and Strategies

BEOWULF AND WEAPONS AND BATTLE STRATEGIES Weapons and Battle Strategies By: Amanda Drummond and Will Sleiman ANGLO SAXON WEAPONS Anglo Saxon Battle Strategies -surprise attacks were goal
-armies typically relatively small-typically with less than a few 100 soldiers
-typically fought in close proximity-heavily relied on weapons for protection
-fought on foot

-Shield Wall
-The Boar Snout/Svynfylking "Swine Army" More Weapons
-Bearded Ax

The most feared weapon was the battle ax;most precious was the sword ENGLISH H 4TH
Ms. Turner THESIS By comparing the weapons and battle strategies of the known Anglo Saxons to those mentioned in Beowulf, some of the parallels have interesting implications which give the reader insight to not only social norms, but societal structure as well. -Anglo saxon helmet
-Thrusting spear
-Bearded axe
- Sword
-Shields Thrusting spear
-An immensely effective weapon
-one of the most common weapons.
- made out of ash wood with an iron point shaped like a diamond.
-The advantage: it was cheap to make and even poorly trained soldiers could be very dangerous with it in battle.
-Average length: 2 meters.
-Used in battle for close range combat. Not used for throwing. A strong thrust could pierce a warrior's chain mail Anglo Saxon Helmet

Anglo saxon helmet was
fashioned in the shape
of a cone.
This protected
the head from direct hits
by deflecting them

*most expensive helmets were
worn by nobles or kings*
-These were made of iron and steel
-Helmet protected more than just head:
Also protected cheeks and neck Javelin
-Throwing spear.
-Soldiers carried up
to 3 or 4 javelins in battle.
-Were effective to a range of 120 ft
-Could penetrate a wooden shield.
-One strategy of the javelin is that Warriors would line up and throw them all together at the enemy before charging.
-weight: one kilogram Swords: Helmets/Chain
Mail Helmets/Chain Mail (cont.) Weapons in Beowulf Potentially a status symbol-swords in Beowulf were typically only in the possession of those of importance. This signifies not only the exclusivity of the weapon-and possible ties to it being almost exclusively used by the upper class, but also the importance of those swords. (When mentioned, they generally helped with noble deeds) -In the poem, these were generally portrayed as commonplace and easily accessible to regular warriors

-there was, however, lack of mention of these weapons

-It is hard to determine whether the absence of mention is meant to signify the
unimportance of the weapon (unlikely) or the unimportance of the lower class
who had access to the weapons -Previous analysis of the poem suggests many thought the absence of mention of chain mail and helmets meant they were, indeed, exclusively for the upper class. This theory, however, does not explain why there was mention of regular warriors using this.

-That being said, this would seem to affirm the validity of Beowulf's historical accuracy. New discoveries have been made which indicate that these weapons WERE more commonplace than initially thought. Work Cited"Anglo-Saxon Warfare Group." Anglo. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://research.uvu.edu/mcdonald/Anglo-Saxon/warfare.htm>.BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/anglo_saxons/>.Beowulf. A newly translated version. Trans. Seamus Heaney. New York. W.W. Norton & Company. Print. 2001."Edurete.org." Edurete.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://www.edurete.org/pd/sele_art.asp?ida=3366>.Sisam, Kenneth. "Beowulf’s Fight with the Dragon.” The Review of English Studies 9.34 (1958): 129-140. JSTOR. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Beowulf weapons Weapons/Strategy in BEOWULF Some examples of special weapons in Beowulf:
-Fingerless glove which Grendel used to take innocent victims back to his evil lair.

-Beowulf refuses to have sword because it would be unfair since he thought Grendel didn’t have access to them or know about them. Grendel also had a weapon of knowledge, though, that he kept secret: swords don’t harm him.

-Grendel then had a giant sword in his den which Beowulf ironically ended up killing him with. -Beowulf can be described also with a mailcoat,
helmet, and sword-Dragon has poisonous venom, however, along with fire. Neither of Beowulf’s weapons can protect him against those, and yet somehow it was a pretty even fight. That may by symbolic: While weapons were important, it's the warrior's courage, strength, and endurance that wins the battle.-This also seems to imply that the role of Wyrd, or the idea that fate is predetermined and imminent, dictates that Beowulf’s life must come to an end. "I would rather not
use a weapon if I knew another way
to grapple with the dragon and make good my boast
as I did against Grendel in days gone by.
But I shall be meeting molten venom
in the fire he breathes, so I go forth
in mail-shirt and a shield." (2518-2524)

"Be acclaimed for strength, for kindly guidance
to these two boys, and your bounty will be sure." (1219-1220) Themes of Strategies Themes of Weapons -Beowulf’s strategy in battles (such as when he refuses to use a sword against Grendel in the interest of fairness) exemplifies the value honor so prevelant at the time. -Beowulf, even knowing that he was old and probably couldn’t defeat the dragon, wanted to go alone. Not only for the glory, but to protect his men and because he couldn’t accept failure without death. (Another value of warriors of the time) -Many of the weapons in Beowulf had other implications, such as a certain weapon’s strategic presence in the novel signifying its relevance to a specific class. From this, we can potentially determine the societal structure in Anglo Saxon times. -Since many were buried with their weapons and armor, we can conclude that warriors were respected and a lot of weight was put on the values which the warriors embodied. Inspired again
by the thought of glory, the war-king threw
his whole strength behind a sword-stroke
and connected with the skull. And Naegling snapped.
Beowulf's ancient iron-grey sword
let him down in the fight. It was never his fortune
to be helped in combat by the cutting edge
of weapons made in iron. When he wielded a sword,
no matter how blooded and hard-edged the blade
his hand was too strong, the stroke he dealt
(I have heard) would ruin it. (2677-2687) "You are the last of us, the only one left
of the Waegmundings. Fate swept us away,
sent my whole brave high-born clan
to their final doom. Now I must follow them."
That was the warrior's last word.
He had no more to confide. The furious heat
of the pyre would assail him. His soul fled from his breast
to its destined place among the steadfast ones. (2813-2820) WORKS CITED
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