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British Literature I: Anglo-Saxon History and Language

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Kisha Tracy

on 13 January 2016

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Transcript of British Literature I: Anglo-Saxon History and Language

Anglo-Saxon: History and Language
Brutus of Troy
Founding Legend
Descendent of Aeneas
Historia Britonum, 9th cent, Nennius
Killed father, banished from Italy
Settled/named Britain, its first king
Christianized versions, genealogy to Noah
The Romans
Native Britons
Hadrian's Wall: completed c. 128CE
Visigoths entered and sacked Rome: 410CE
Romans withdraw
c. early 5th century CE
Unprotected Britons, threatened by Picts and Scots, "invited" Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes to fight
c. late 6th and 7th centuries
First archbishop of Canterbury, Augustine: 597CE
Baptized first Christian Anglo-Saxon king: 601CE
c. 793-11th century CE
Viking Age (Setting of Beowulf)
Sack of Lindisfarne: 793CE
9th century: Viking invaders
Danelaw, treaties between Alfred the Great, and Guthrum the Old: 878 CE
King Alfred the Great
King of Wessex
Biography: Welsh scholar and bishop, Asser
Year of battle: 870CE
Battle of Merton – brother killed: March 22, 871
Wessex alone still fighting against Vikings
Defeated Guthrum: 878CE
Control of London
Standing, mobile army and fortresses
English navy
Law code: 880s or early 890s CE
King Alfred's
Educational Program
Recruitment of clerical scholars from abroad
Establishment of a court school to educate his own children (both English and Latin)
Attempt to require literacy in those who held offices of authority
Series of translations into the vernacular of Latin works he deemed "most necessary for all men to know"
Compilation of a chronicle detailing the rise of Alfred's kingdom and house
Issuance of a law code
Enticed foreign monks to England
Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care
Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy
St. Augustine's Soliloquies
First fifty psalms of the Psalter
King Alfred's
Manuscript Collections
Junius manuscript, also known as the Caedmon manuscript, which is an illustrated poetic anthology.
Exeter Book, also an anthology, located in the Exeter Cathedral since it was donated in the 11th century.
Vercelli Book, a mix of poetry and prose; how it came to be in Vercelli, Italy, no one knows, and is a matter of debate.
Nowell Codex, also a mixture of poetry and prose. This is the manuscript that contains Beowulf.
Four Major Dialects
Northumbrian, spoken north of the river Humber
Mercian, spoken in the midlands
Kentish, spoken in Kent (in the far southeastern part of the island)
West Saxon, spoken in the southwest
Pastoral Care
Pope Gregory the Great
c. 590 CE
Responsibilities of the clergy
Cædmon's Hymn
The Venerable Bede
672/673 – 735 CE
Monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth
"Father of English History"
History of the Christian Churches in England as well as of England
Focus: conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity
c. 731 CE
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People)
Illiterate cowherd: c. 658 and 680 CE
Hymn: 21 manuscript copies; 2 dialects
Composed orally in Old English alliterative verse
Terms to Remember
Pagan vs. Christian
Oral Tradition vs. Written Literature
Vernacular Language
"As for the old reputation of medieval times as a dark time of parochialism, religious prejudice and mass slaughter, the record of the twentieth century must lead any thoughtful observer to conclude that we are in no way superior."
--Michael Crichton, "Timeline"
"There is a tendency - because all the evidence isn't there - for us to look back at the Dark Ages and see them only in a muddy way that assumes that life was rough and unrefined. But consider the artifacts that remain - jewelry, metalwork, weapons - they are so exquisite that it is surely quite unreasonable to believe that these people had such beautiful possessions and yet lived in rough-hewn places devoid of finesse. That is my justification for proposing a building that is as magnificent as King Théoden's Golden Hall."
-- Brian Sibley, The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy (New York: HarperCollins, 2002) 41.
Note: Part of a Project Day project by
Elizabet Domnitser, Fall 2012
Dr. Tracy's Rule #1 of Culture and Literature:
NOTHING happens overnight.
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