Anglo-Saxon Period
449-1066
Names and Terms to Know
1. Angle land: name given to England by
some Europeans after the Anglo-Saxon
tribes settled there.
2. Alfred the Great: The greatest AngloSaxon king; fought the Danes.
3. The Magna Carta: Contract signed by King
John giving some power to English nobles.
Names and Terms to Know
4. Bede: Monk and scholar who wrote a history
of England.
5. William the Conqueror: The Duke of
Normandy in France who invaded and
conquered England in 1066.
6. Henry VII: First Tudor king, his accession
ended the Wars of the Roses.
1. Christianity Comes to England
43 AD Emperor Claudius
invaded Britain; marking the
coming of Christianity
Subsequently introducing Latin
learning, Christian theology, and
a new moral system that
replaced the pagan, tribal AngloSaxon religion.
Roman Helmet
2. The Norman Conquest
The Norman Conquest changed the English language,
introducing many French words; French nobles
replaced the Saxon lords. The Normans brought the
feudal property system to England.
3. England during the1300s & 1400s
The Wars of the Roses
between the Houses of York
and Lancaster created an on
going civil war in England,
until Henry Tudor became
King Henry VII and
restored order.
The Plague struck England
killing many people.
What is the relationship
between place and literature?
1. Responding to an Island
Environment
a. The early English regarded the sea as both a
protective barrier and a dangerous, threatening
place.
b. Christian monks changed “The Seafarer” and
“The Wanderer” by translating them and editing
them to add Christian themes.
c. In Beowulf the “sea-road” led to fame and honor.
d. The mead-hall setting represented the center of
human society-warmth, food, community.
2. Making a Nation of an Island
a. Bede portrayed England as
a beginning nation.
b. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
helped draw together a
national identity by
portraying all the layers of
his contemporary English
society.
How does literature shape or
reflect society?
1. Capturing a Vanishing Tribal
World
a. Beowulf showed that to become a leader, he had to
suffer various trials and prove himself.
b. What world was passing away in Beowulf? The
tribal, seafaring world Anglo-Saxon world.
2. Chaucer and Society
a. What social types did The Canterbury Tales
represent? All social types: clergy, nobility, the
middle classes, and businesspeople.
b. What were some of the problems in the Catholic
Church during Chaucer’s time? The discontent
and corruption that led to the Protestant
Reformation.
c. Chaucer portrayed his society without preaching
about it.
d. What was a source of political turbulence in the
medieval period? Class conflict in the Peasants’
Revolt.
e. Chaucer reflects the rising middle class by
creating memorable characters like the Wife of
Bath.
f. In dealing with social change, writers do not act
like sociologist; rather they show how conflict
and change affect people’s feelings and behavior.
What is the relationship of
the writer to tradition?
1. Writers and Tradition
a. “Tradition” means well-established ways of doing things, or
patterns from the past.
b. What did Sir Gawain and the Green Knight express through
the use of old legends? The attraction to the past.
c. In Morte D’Arthur Sir Thomas Malory reworked the story of
Arthur in order to write a farewell to the age of knighthood.
d. What are three possible ways in which different tellers
changed the story of Beowulf? Having Beowulf fight
Grendel’s mother, showing Beowulf as an old king fighting
his last enemy the dragon; adding Christian elements in the
monks’ translation.
2. Chaucer’s Handling of Tradition
a. Chaucer modeled the structure of The Canterbury Tales on
the earlier Decameron by Boccaccio.
b. How did Chaucer depart from this model? He changed the
story to reflect all levels of society and have them go on a
pilgrimage, rather than take refuge in a castle.
c. Describe the new poetic rhythm that Chaucer developed. The
new poetic rhythm was iambic pentameter: a poetic line of 10
syllables, with an alternating rhythm.
d. Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and the medieval retellings
of the King Arthur stories show how traditions reach both
back to the past and to the future.
Characteristics of Epic Hero
1. Is significant and glorified
2. Is on a quest
3. Has superior or superhuman strength, intelligence,
and/or courage
4. Is ethical
5. Risks death for glory or for the greater good of
society
6. Performs brave deeds
7. Is a strong and responsible leader
8. Reflects the ideals of a particular society
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Anglo-Saxon Period