The Anglo-Saxons: 449–1066
Introduction to the Literary Period
Feature Menu
Interactive Time Line
Milestone: The Celts in Britain
Milestone: The Roman Occupation
Milestone: The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
Milestone: King Alfred against the Danes
Milestone: The Spread of Christianity
Milestone: The Norman Invasion
What Have You Learned?
The Anglo-Saxons: 449–1066
Choose a link on the time line to go to a milestone.
A.D. 1066
A.D. 449
Norman
Anglo-Saxon
Invasion
Invasion
55 B.C–A.D.409
A.D.878
Roman Occupation
King Alfred
against
the Danes
300s B.C.
Celts in Britain
300
B.C.
A.D.
1
A.D.
300
A.D.
600
A.D. 400–699
Spread of Christianity
A.D.
900
A.D.
1200
The Celts in Britain
Before and during the 4th century B.C.
• Britain home to several
Celtic tribes
• Britain named for one
Celtic tribe—the
Brythons
• Celtic religion a form of
animism
• Druids were Celtic
priests
Stonehenge
Stonehenge
• Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from
3000 BC to 2000 BC
The Roman Occupation
55 B.C.
Julius Caesar invades Britain
Hadrian’s Wall – North
England
A.D. 43
Celts defeated by Claudius
• Romans build walls, villas,
baths, roads
A.D. 409
Romans evacuate their troops
• Britain left vulnerable to attack
• Central government breaks down
Roman ruins
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
Jutes
Angles
Celts
Saxons
A.D. 449 The Anglo-Saxons push the Celts
into the far west of the country.
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
Why did the Anglo-Saxons
settle in England?
Jutes
England was inviting
to
Angles
outsiders:
Saxons
Celts
• Mild climate
• Rich easily-tilled soil
• Safe anchorage for
invading ships
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
Anglo-Saxon Society
• kinship groups led by
strong warrior chief
• people farmed,
established local
governments,
produced fine
craftwork
• English emerged as a
written language
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
• Tribal society –warrior kings-led their
men into battle
• Always rival warriors within the tribe
• King gathered around
him a retinue of
Jutes
Angles
fighting men called
thanes
Saxons
• Endless
Celts feuds between individuals and
between tribes
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
• Royal living quarters were a small
cluster of wooden buildings surrounded
by a stockade
• Main structure was the Mead hall
• Mead is a fermented
drink made of
Jutes
water, honey, malt, Angles
and yeast
Celts
Saxons
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
• Here the king, thanes, wives, and
servants gathered.
• Singer called a scop entertained with
stories of heroism.
Jutes
• Warriors slept hereAngles
after king retired to
a different building.
Saxons
Celts
Anglo Saxon values
• Gold/treasure
• Comitatus – king and
thanes/warriors tied to one another
King shares spoils of war, warriors
obligated to fight for him
• Loyalty
• Bravery
• Fate = Wyrd
Mead hall
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
Page from Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Old English
Exeter book
• A tenth-century book or codex which is an
anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry.
• Survived in Exeter Cathedral library
• Among the other texts in the Exeter Book,
there are over ninety riddles.
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
The Anglo-Saxon religion
• offered no hope of an afterlife
• valued earthly virtues of bravery, loyalty,
generosity, and friendship
• similar to what we call Norse mythology
Norse god
Anglo-Saxon god Day of week
Odin
Woden
Wednesday
Thor
Thunor
Thursday
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion
The Anglo-Saxon bards
• called scops
• strummed harp as they sang
• sang of heroic deeds
• were often warriors
Why were the scops important?
• Anglo-Saxons did not believe in
afterlife
• warriors gained immortality
through songs
Anglo-Saxon harp
King Alfred against the Danes
8th–9th centuries
Vikings called Danes
invade Britain
871 Alfred of Wessex
is king of England.
878 King Alfred unifies
Anglo-Saxons against
the Danes.
England becomes a nation.
King Sweyn and his Danish troops
arrive in England, from a
manuscript (c. 14th century)
Vikings
8th century
Invaded from across the North sea from Denmark
and Norway
867-877 Vikings invaded and took over most of
Jutes
northeast and
central England
Angles
Celts
Saxons
The Spread of Christianity
Around A.D. 400
• Christian monks
settle in Britain
• Christianity and
Anglo-Saxon
culture co-exist
597 St. Augustine sent
from Rome by A.D. 699
• British pagan
religions replaced by
Christianity
The Norman Invasion
1066
• William of Normandy crosses the English
Channel
• William defeats Harold and Anglo-Saxon army
• French replaces
English as the
language of the
ruling class
The Norman Invasion,
Bayeux Tapestry
What Have You Learned?
Indicate whether the following statements refer to
the time before, during, or after the Anglo-Saxon
era.
______ Viking invaders terrorized England.
during
after
______ French became the language of the
ruling class.
during
______ England became unified under Alfred the
Great.
before
______ Animism was the primary religious belief.
END
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Elements of Literature Sixth Course