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Anglo-Saxon, term used historically to describe any member of the Germanic peoples who, from the 5th century ce to the time of the Norman Conquest (1066), inhabited and ruled territories that are today part of England and Wales. According to St. Bede the Venerable, the Anglo-Saxons were the descendants of three different Germanic peoples—the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. By Bede’s account, those peoples originally migrated from northern Germany to the island of Britain in the 5th century at the invitation of Vortigern, a ruler of Britons, to help defend his kingdom against marauding invasions by the Picts and Scotti, who occupied what is now Scotland. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first migrants from the Germanic areas of mainland Europe included settlers from Frisia and antedated the Roman withdrawal from Britain about 410 ce. The peoples of each of the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms spoke distinctive dialects, which evolved over time and together became known as Old English.

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Anglo-Saxons: a brief history Publication date: 13th January 2011 King Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, detail from the 'Christian Heroes Tapestry' This period is traditionally known as the Dark Ages, mainly because written sources for the early years of Saxon invasion are scarce. It is a time of war, of the breaking up of Roman Britannia into several separate kingdoms, of religious conversion and, after the 790s, of continual battles against a new set of invaders: the Vikings. Climate change had an influence on the movement of these new invaders to Britain: in the centuries after 400 AD Europe's average temperature was 1°C warmer than we have today, and in Britain grapes could be grown as far north as Tyneside. Warmer summers meant better crops and a rise in population in the countries of northern Europe.

The Anglo-Saxon kings In the Dark Ages during the fifth and sixth centuries, communities of peoples in Britain inhabited homelands with ill-defined borders. Such communities were organised and led by chieftains or kings. Following the final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the provinces of Britannia in around 408 AD these small kingdoms were left to preserve their own order and to deal with invaders and waves of migrant peoples such as the Picts from beyond Hadrian's Wall, the Scots from Ireland and Germanic tribes from the continent. King Arthur, a larger-than-life figure, has often been cited as a leader of one or more of these kingdoms during this period, although his name now tends to be used as a symbol of British resistance against invasion. The invading communities overwhelmed or adapted existing kingdoms and created new ones - for example, the Angles in Mercia and Northumbria. Ethelberht's law code was the first to be written in any Germanic language and included 90 laws.

10 Notable Anglo-Saxon Works Besides Beowulf The heroic tale of Beowulf is the most noteworthy work of the Anglo-Saxon era and is often regarded as a major Germanic work but it is good to know about other notable works of the respective era that are important in their own ways. Anglo-Saxon era is marking of the official beginning of English literature; the literature of the respective era is also termed as the Germanic narrative and is reflective of the ancient Anglo-Saxon community. The literature of Germanic period is largely based on religious stories, lives and works of religious figures and tales composed by drawing inspiration from Biblical accounts. The main reason of it is that Bible was the only source of knowledge available, which acts as a muse for the literary figures of the time. Alongside Biblical references, oral tradition was also a significant influence on the Anglo-Saxon writers. Below are 10 of the remarkable Anglo-Saxon works besides Beowulf, which are quite interesting to know, if not equally important.

Myths of British ancestry Read Stephen Oppenheimer’s follow-up to this article here, in the June 2007 edition of Prospect, as he answers some of the many comments and queries readers have sent in response to his analysis. You can also find out more about his work here, at the Bradshaw Foundation website. The fact that the British and the Irish both live on islands gives them a misleading sense of security about their unique historical identities. Anglo-Saxon England - culture and society The strongest ties in Anglo-Saxon society were to kin and lord. The ties of loyalty were to the person of a lord, not to his station. There was no real concept of patriotism or loyalty to a cause. Anglo-Saxon Culture The Anglo-Saxons were Germanic barbarians who invaded Britain and took over large parts of the island in the centuries following the withdrawal of the Roman Empire. They were initially less gentrified than other post-Roman barbarian groups such as the Franks or Ostrogoths because they had less contact with Mediterranean civilization. The Anglo-Saxons were originally pagan in religion. The main group, from northwestern Germany and Denmark, was divided into Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. German tribal affiliations were loose and the original invaders included people from other Germanic groups as well. Although some of the early Anglo-Saxon invaders had Celtic-influenced names, such as Cedric, the founder of the house of Wessex, the Anglo-Saxons had a pronounced awareness of them-selves as different from the peoples already inhabiting Britain.

Anglo-Saxon Culture Michael Delahoyde Washington State University History: When Rome was weakening early in the fifth century c.e., troops in the outlying regions, including the British Isles, were withdrawn. Walls, roads, and baths remain even now. They also left the native Celts and Celtic-speaking Britons somewhat christianized, and Picts and Scots in the north, but "political" power fell to unstable tribal units.

Exploring the Depth and Beauty of Anglo-Saxon Literature This map shows kingdoms in the island of Great Britain at about the year 800 CE. When we hear the words “Anglo-Saxon literature,” Beowulf is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Then we might think of the beauty of illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Durrow or the Lindisfarne Gospels. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener talks with Professor Larry Swain of Bemidji State University about these works, as well as Norse and Irish influences on Anglo-Saxon literature and the significance of the Byzantines, Theodore and Hadrian, who came to Northumbria in the seventh century CE. Professor Swain recommends learning Old English in order to be able to read works in Old English, of course, but equally intriguing, to allow us to better express ourselves in modern English.

Life in Anglo-Saxon England 1. Introduction The Anglo-Saxon period lasted for some six centuries, from the arrival of Germanic invaders from the continent during the early fifth century AD to the Norman Conquest of 1066. This was a time of immense political and social upheaval which saw major changes in almost all aspects of everyday life. Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Characteristics & Examples In this lesson, we will review the general history of Anglo-Saxon society and its era. Then, we will look closer at the characteristics of the literature, specifically the poetry, of that era. Explore our library of over 10,000 lessons Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz.

The History of English - Old English (c. 500 - c.1100) About 400 Anglo-Saxon texts survive from this era, including many beautiful poems, telling tales of wild battles and heroic journeys. The oldest surviving text of Old English literature is “Cædmon's Hymn”, which was composed between 658 and 680, and the longest was the ongoing “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle”. But by far the best known is the long epic poem “Beowulf”. “Beowulf” may have been written any time between the 8th and the early 11th Century by an unknown author or authors, or, most likely, it was written in the 8th Century and then revised in the 10th or 11th Century. It was probably originally written in Northumbria, although the single manuscript that has come down to us (which dates from around 1000) contains a bewildering mix of Northumbrian, West Saxon and Anglian dialects. The 3,182 lines of the work shows that Old English was already a fully developed poetic language by this time, with a particular emphasis on alliteration and percussive effects.

The Anglo-Saxon kings > Alfred 'The Great' Alfred 'The Great' (r. 871-899) Born at Wantage, Berkshire, in 849, Alfred was the fifth son of Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. At their father's behest and by mutual agreement, Alfred's elder brothers succeeded to the kingship in turn, rather than endanger the kingdom by passing it to under-age children at a time when the country was threatened by worsening Viking raids from Denmark.

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