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Transcript of Old English
"The 'dark ages' which followed were dark not only because written sources were few and far between, but because life became nasty, brutish and short."
The Fall of Rome
In 476 AD, Italy was invaded by Germanic tribes from the north. Romulus Augustulus, the emperor of Rome, fled to Constantinople and the western half of the empire fell, marking the beginning of the Dark Ages.
Old English varies widely from the Standard English we use today. It was the West Germanic language spoken in the area that is now known as England between the 5th and 11th centuries. The language started after the arrival of three tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. At that time British inhabitants spoke Celtic but most Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the tribes.
It began to appear in writing during the 8th century. Most of the texts were written in West Saxton, one of the four main dialects. The other dialects were Mercian, Northumbrian, and Kentish.
When the Anglo-Saxons came they were non-Christian Pagans. Christian missionaries were sent to West Saxon. Kings became Christian and would slowly convert their kingdoms to Christianity. This had a big impact on the English language as mostly all of the literature that has survived from the Old English period was written or translated for the church. People in the English Churches improved upon the language by translating the bible, poems, sacred literature and eventually began writing their own literature in a poetry style quite different from the ones we know now.
Paganism and Christianity
The Anglo-Saxons inhabited Great Britain in the 5th century after the Roman soldiers left. The name, Anglo-Saxon, refers to settlers from the German regions Angeln and Saxony who made their way to Britain. When the Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain they stayed clear of Roman towns. They preferred to live in small villages but warrior chiefs wanted to build a walled city to create a fortress. Some Saxons built wooden homes inside the walls of Roman towns while others cleared land in the forests to create villages and fields for crops.
The oldest surviving text is Caedom's Hymm (composed between 658 - 680)
Old English was greatly affected after the Norman invasion and borrowed over two thousand words from Old Norse.
In an Anglo-Saxon family everyone from babies to elders shared a home. Their houses were built from wood and had thatched roofs.
Each family house had one room, with a fireplace for cooking, heating and light. A metal cooking pot hung from a chain above the fire.
The Domesday Book
The Domesday Book is a land survey from 1086 that was commissioned by William to assess the extent of the land and resources being owned in England at that time, and the extent of the taxes he could raise. The information collected was recorded by hand in two huge books. William died before it was fully completed.
The Domesday Book provides extensive records of landholders, their tenants, the amount of land they owned, how many people occupied the land, the amounts of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and ploughs on the land (if there were any) and if any buildings were present (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.). The whole purpose of the survey was to capture the value of the land and its assets, before the Norman Conquest, after it, and at the time of Domesday.
This historic piece of literature was commissioned by William the Conqueror. William was born around 1028 in Falaise, France. After his father's death in 1035, William was recognized as an heir. In 1046, he began to gain experience with dealing with rebellions and political control. William's military successes helped him marry the daughter of Count Baldwin of Flanders, Matilda, in 1053. Early in 1066, the king of England, Edward, passed away and the Earl of Wessex, Harold, became king. William was furious and he claimed that Edward had promised him the
throne years ago. William traveled to England and defeated Harold's
army. He was crowned the first Norman king of England in
Westminster Abbey, a collegiate church in London. During his first
years of reign he invaded different countries and secured his own
borders. In 1086, William ordered a survey to be made of the
kingdom. This became known as the Domesday Book and remains one of the oldest valid legal documents in Britain.
The Domesday Book
Timeline of the English language
Julius Caesars first invasion of Britain, 55 BC
Settlements of Germanic tribes, 449-865 AD
The Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the battle of Hastings and the crowning of William the Conqueror, 1066 AD
Prior to the falls of Rome, wealthy, educated people could expect get a job working for the Roman government. After the Romans withdrew from Britain and other parts of Europe, there was no point for wealthy people to educate their children and literacy rates declined. The only people who persisted on speaking Latin where members of the church, priests, bishops, monks etc.
Paganism is a very old religion dating back to the early years of the world. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded, they were pagan. Paganism is defined as a religion that believes in the spirituality and organic vitality of the natural world.
When the Anglo-Saxons were converted, they converted to Christianity, following the traditions of the Catholic Church and the Pope. However, they still used some Pagan practices while having Christian beliefs.
The Dream of the Rood
Romans would write letters and documents in wax with a metal stylus. To erase mistakes, they used the flat end of the stylus to smooth out the mistake. Important documents were written with a stylus dipped in ink, on animal skins.
comparison of grammar
The Dream of the Rood is a poem about a vision or dream that the poet had. It is made up of three parts. The first part being the Dreamer`s story of his vision. The second, the Rood`s story of the crucifixion of Christ. The third being the Dreamer`s choice to seek out salvation.
He sees the Rood wearing jewels and gold. Then notices blood on the side of the cross, and the Rood explains its use in the crucifixion of Christ. The Rood is put through the same torture as Christ and is resurrected as well. The Cross is proud to be honoured above all other trees and tells the Dreamer to spread the news of the resurrection. The Dreamer is then filled with hope and is excited to seek salvation.
Early Modern English
Our father which art in heauen, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heauen.
Giue us this day our daily bread.
And forgiue us our debts as we forgiue our debters.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliuer us from euill. Amen.
-King James Bible, 1611 version
Oure fadir þat art in heuenes halwid be þi name;
þi reume or kyngdom come to be. Be þi wille don in herþe as it is dounin heuene.
yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.
And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys as we foryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us.
And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl.
Fæder ure þuþe eart on heofonum
si þin nama gehalgod tobecume þin rice gewurþe þin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice.
-The Bible, aprox. 1000 AD
Source: King James Bible(1611), Wyclif (1384), The Bible (1000), and http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/a_very_brief_history_of_the_english_language3/
The Dream of the Rood
A section from The Dream of the Rood was carved in to Ruthwell Cross.
The Dream of the Rood is a poem consisting of two dialogues, one of the Dreamer and one of the Rood. The poet used new phrases and words to describe Christ, the Cross and God in order to give them important meaning.
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Beowulf is a poem, 3182 lines long and set in Scandinavia. The poem takes place in the 5th century, during the Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain. It is the oldest surviving poem that was written in Old English. The poem was written by an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet and was likely written between 8th and 11th century, but no knows for sure.
Plot of Beowulf
King Hrothgar of the Danes has a great
mead-hall where his warriors gather to drink,
sing, and tell stories. However the noise they
make disturbs a demon named Grendel, who
begins to terrorize the Danes. A Geatish warrior
named Beowulf sails to Denmark to help King
Hrothgar. Beowulf kills Grendel, and when
Grendels mother comes seeking revenge,
Beowulf kills her too. Beowulf returns home
a hero and eventualy becomes King, ruling for 50 years. His reign comes to an end when he is killed fighting a dragon. Beowulf is then buried by the sea with lots of golden treasures.
: Roman invasion and occupation under Emperor Claudius. Beginning of Roman rule of Britain
: Roman withdrawal from Britain
: Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain begins
: Earliest Old English inscriptions date from this period
: St. Augustine arrives in Britain. Beginning of Christian conversion of Anglo-Saxons
: Viking raids and settlements begin
: The Danes occupy Northumbria
: Alfred becomes king of Wessex. He has Latin works translated into English and begins practice of using English in court .
: Charles II of France grants Normandy to the Viking chief Hrolf the Ganger. The beginning of Norman French
: The oldest surviving manuscript of Beowulf dates from this period
: The Norman conquest
: The oldest surviving manuscripts in Middle English date from this period