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Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxons

This is an introduction to the Anglo-Saxon period of British history as well as a sketch of the epic poem of "Beowulf"
by

Thomas Strickland

on 11 January 2016

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Transcript of Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxons

The Anglo Saxons and Beowulf
So Who was Beowulf?
The Anglo- Saxons
The inhabitants/conquerors that lived in what is now England between the Romans and the Normans
Basically the 5th to the 11th centuries
Rome left in the 5th Century
The Normans invaded in 1066
Term Anglo-Saxon comes from King Alfred the Great (The Angles---> The Anglycyn---> The English)
Alfred sought to unify the countries of Britannia into one country that would stand against the Viking invaders.(The Danes, The Norse, the northmen of all kinds) These men left a cold and desolate place and wanted the rich and fertile lands of England.
The Anglo-Saxons
Spoke Old English or Anglo-Saxon
During his time the countries that now make up England were Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, and Wessex. Alfred was king of Wessex or the West Saxons.
The Anglo-Saxons were two Germanic tribes that had settled and conquered the native Britons. They then had to face the Danish invasion of "their" lands
The Danes ruled the northern kingdom of Britannia- Northumbria, northern Mercia, and East Anglia (Guthrum/Aethelstan is an interesting story of this meshing of cultures)
Definition: The Northman vs. The Viking
Beowulf
Follower of Higlac - King of the Geats (his uncle) This makes him a prince.
Ring giving
Omens were for a good outcome for Beowulf to answer the call of help from the Danes
Epic Hero
A character with extreme abilities that faces extraordinary circumstances
Kenning- from the Norse word "Kenna" which means to know or recognize
Replacement for a noun
Examples: Whale road, shield bearer, Satan's spawn
Caesura- Break in the middle of a line of the poem, denotes a pause. Replaced in Modern English by the comma.



So, what are our expectations for this epic poem?
Fears? Hopes?
Film Trailer
King Alfred the Great
Beowulf
Studied as the earliest epic poem written in English (Anglo-Saxon/Old English)
Was most likely an oral history passed down for years before being written down.
The hero is not "English" but this is the greatest English Epic Poem
Two Words to Know
Religious War
Pagan Britons
Pagan Northmen (Norse Gods)
Christianity

The Shield Wall
Cultural Understanding
The Shield Wall
"Vikings" from The History Channel
"The Last Kingdom" BBC.co.uk
Full transcript