UNIT ONE PART ONE From Legend to History: The Old English and Medieval Periods I. Historical Background 449-1066 A. Stonehenge – the earliest remains of English history. An ancient monument on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, may be 3500 years old. The stones are not native to England: some are from Wales. B. Earliest inhabitants A. Iberians – from present day Spain and Portugal. Brought Stone Age weapons. B. Celts – from southern Europe (800-600 BC.) Britons-Britain (Druid priests in this group) and Gales-Ireland C. Romans – 55 BC. Julius Caesar claimed for Roman Empire and left. 100 years later Claudius brought legions and occupied the entire area. Towns were established, roads were built, etc. These legions stayed for 300 years. The last of them left in 407 AD. Despite the war-like quality of the Romans, they did not prepare the Britons to defend themselves. D. Angelo-Saxons – (449-1066) A. Origins – Angles, Saxons, and jutes from Denmark area, defeated the Britons B. Tribal units A. King – supreme ruler, chosen by witan, a council of elders B. Four classes – 1. Earls – heredity class of ruling warriors; owed all allegiance to king 2. Freeman – owned land and engaged in commerce. Thanes in this class. 3. Churls (serfs) – worked the land; bound servants. 4. Thralls (slaves) – military prisoners C. Angles, Saxons, and Jutes – three separate tribesfought eventually intermarried and became the Angelo-Saxons. Settled into kingdoms of Scotland, Northumbria, Danclaw, Ireland, Wales, Mercia, and Wessex D. Language – Anglo-Saxon or Old English E. Anglo-Saxon Profile A. Delighted in glorious bloodshed B. Delighted in revenge C. Were given to deep drinking in the mead hall D. Were sensitive to blame and praise E. Were reared in an elaborate code of manners F. Were endowed with chivalry and dignity G. Were passionately loyal to the liege of the lord H. Showed delight in clever speech and quick retort I. Honored faithfulness and generosity of the king to his retainers J. Showed primitive vigor F. Beliefs: Every human lift is in the hand of fate (wynd). Worshipped Ancient Germanic gods G. The Britons (during the Anglo-Saxon invasion) spread to Cornwall, Walls, Ireland, and Scotland. H. Literature – the alliterative verse of AngloSaxon poetry was recited by the “scop”, the itinerant minstrel who frequented the halls of kings and chiefs. The scop composed oral poems. A. Vikings A. Origins: 8-12 century from Scandinavia (Northern Europe) Norse-Norway; DanesDenmark – known as Vikings (sea travelers) B. Invasion: Norse-Northrumbria, Scotland, and Ireland, Danes-eastern and Southern England Monasteries contained manuscripts and sacred objects; most burned or lost C. Compromise – 871 Alfred the Great was able to establish a compromise between the Danes and the Saxons D. Result – peace and growth of towns as trade centers E. Leaders – Alfred the Great (871-899) and Edward the Confessor (942-976 II. Religious Background A. B. C. D. E. F. Romans introduced Christianity in the 4th century Celts took it to the areas when they fled. (Ireland-St. Patrick) Anglo-Saxons – in 597 Pope sent Augustine to convert Ethelbert of Kent (Jutes) to Christianity. A monastery at Canterbury was established. By 650 success was realized. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury (the Pope’s representative in England). The council of Whilby was the first meeting of the church leaders. Two additional contributions of the church: education and a written literature. Latin was the official language of the church. The monks wrote the manuscripts. The church is Roman Catholic with the influence of the Pope in Rome. Canterbury is the home of the church. Religious writers A. Bede – Father of English; wrote A History of the English Church and People which is considered the first English prose work B. Caedmon – “Caedmon’s Hymn” – poem C. Cynwulf – first great English poet III. Literary Background A. B. First writing- Celtic Druids (monks) storytelling. Purpose: to pass along tribal history and values to an illiterate audience Anglo-Saxons wrote with alphabet letters called runes. Still few could read or write. Scops recited stories on ceremonial occasions – accompanied by harp. 30,000 lines of Anglo-Saxon verse still exist. A. Four manuscripts A. Exeter book – riddles and epics; works by Cynewulf B. Juneus – works by Bede C. Verelli – two poems: “Andreas” and “A Dream of the Road” D. Beowulf – manuscript on display in the British Museum in London B. Two types of verse A. Heroic- achievements of warriors B. Elegiac – sorrowful laments mourning death C. Types of writing A. Poetry (before prose) B. Prose C. Religious writings (prose or poetry) C. Writers and Works A. Poets A. Caedmon – “Caedmon’s Hymn” B. Cynewulf – 1st great poet B. Prose A. Bede – A History of the English Church and the People – known as father of English history B. Alfredic – 1st great prose writer; wrote homilies (sermons) IV. “The Seafarer” A. Author of the poem was Anglo-Saxon, from one of the Germanic tribes who settled England in the 400’s B. Poem found in The Exeter Book, the largest collection of Old English Poetry in existence and one of the only four collections to survive to the present day V. Beowulf A. Importance: first writing in English history, first writing in English language, national epic of England B. Type: Epic A. Definition: a long narrative work dealing with the exploits of a single national or tribal hero B. Characteristics: A. Hero is great national hero B. Setting is vast in scope C. Intervention of supernatural forces C. Epic conventions in Beowulf A. Patronymics – family background of noble birth B. Beginning in medias res- starts in the middle of things C. Majestic themes – the potential for the death of a nation D. Dignified language – lofty style, subtle hints, no romanticism, presents events plainly or crude E. Divine or semi-divine intervention – important in the action of the epic F. Catalogue of names-listing participants G. Long speeches – characters speak ceremoniously on issues H. Action is based on the heroic concept – action is mostly external/ physical encounters I. A national hero- hero embodies the important concepts in the society; through strength and courage, he survives J. Episodic – series of similar adventures C. Folk Epic A. Developed in the traditions of the people B. Meant to be recited C. For the common man D. Repetitious D. General Information A. Author unknown B. Dates of work: 6-8 century told, 11th century written E. Literary device A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J. Oxymoron – contradiction Kenning – compound word Alliteration – repetition Litotes – understatement Digression – straying from the subject Caesura – break in line (pause) Metaphor – implied comparison Foreshadowing – predicting what will happen Assonance – repetition of vowel sounds Elegy – laments the loss of something or someone F. Story information A. B. Setting: Denmark and Sweden Characters: Beowulf – story’s hero (geat) Hrothgar – king of Danes Wealtheow – Hrothgar’s queen D. Hygelac – Beowulf’s kinsman/ Great king E. Unfearth – warrior who tried to discredit Beowulf F. Wiglaf – warrior helped Beowulf against dragon G. Grendel – monster H. Grendel’s mother *The Anglo-Saxon era ended at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Normans defeated them and William the Conquer became king of England. A. B. C. PART TWO Medieval Period (1066-1405) I. Historical Background A. William the Conqueror A. From Normandy B. Related to Edward the Confessor through his mother’s family C. Defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings on Christmas day, 1066 D. Brought French culture, customs, and language to England E. Set up Feudal System – class system of no escape (king, vassal, baron, knight, serf) F. Doomsday Book – William’s records (census) of holdings G. Built Tower of London for protection B. Kings A. Plantagenet Family A. Henry II – Beckett, archbishop of Canterbury – killed by Henry’s knights B. Richard I – debt because of Crusades C. John I – repaid debt with taxes; forced to sign Magna Carta beginning of constitutional government D. Henry III and Edward I – continued constitutional government all early framework for representative Parliament. B. York and Lancaster Families A. York family crest – white rose; Lancaster family crest – red rose B. 30 years of fighting and changing back and forth bwetween the two families C. Ended with Henry VII of Lancaster family as king marrying into York family D. White rose and red rose = Tudor rose (pink) Chivalry – the code of honor of the knight. Knights out fighting for honor; mothers left at home to train the sons (squires). Thus respect for women. D. Universities – Oxford and Cambridge established during this period. Only wealthy families’ sons were sent to these schools E. Caxton Press – first English printing press. Important because more works could be printed in less time. F. Towns – Guilds – like unions banned together, Black Death killed 40% of the population, changed the class system G. Church – Roman Catholic. The church was one place where all classes were equal. Excommunication was removal from the church and society. Archbishop of Canterbury is the Pope’s representative. C. II. Literary Background A. Writers and Writing A. Thomas Mallory – Morte d’ Arthur (The Death of Authur) B. William Langland – Piers Plowman (satire written in verse) C. Medieval Poetry – lyrical and ballads, two types: religious and secular D. Drama – miracle and morality plays A. Miracle – retold stories from the Bible or dealt with some aspect of the lives of saints B. Morality – depicted the life of an ordinary person sometimes from birth to death. Meets characters who symbolize abstract qualities such as virtue, vice, etc. Allegorical – to teach a moral lesson (example: Everyman) E. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” – story of one of King Arthur’s knights F. Geoffrey Chaucer – the most important and famous writer of the period. His most famous work is the Canterbury Tales because it gives such an accurate picture of life during the 14th century.