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The Middle Ages
In the first half of the 5th century the Anglo Saxons invaded the island of Britain. These Anglo-Saxon invaders were actually made up of three tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. These tribes were of Germanic descent, and they were closely allied with one another, and many either tribes that would soon overrun much of the Roman Empire. The way that this culture worked was they had many different kings that co-existed in a common culture. These kings who were in a common culture soon became known as the Greeks. This is when the Heroic Ideal formed. The heroic Ideal put simply is excellence. Their beliefs were not Christian, and they promised no afterlife, so a name that would live on forever was the next closest thing to immortality that they could have. Because of this one of the most valued people in the court was the poet who was the only one who could help the king’s legacy live on. From these needs for poems, the epic was formed, which is a heroic narrative. Back in these times the only way to pass on literature was by word of mouth, so not many of these epics survived. Homer, who was an epic writer, had two epics that survived. The “Iliad”, and “The Odessy”. Those were two of the epics that were passed down from the Germanic, and one that was passed down from the Old English culture was “Beowulf”. These examples were just a few of the many poems that were written back then and survived. Poems like these inspired more men to try and be heroes like the great men told about in these stories.
When the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity they were also taught how to transfer words into writing. This was a very good skill, which helped contribute to the literature of these times very greatly. By seizing the Celtic lands they were converted into Christian. The transformation into Christianity was not immediate. It took over 75 years of preaching to get them to convert. Many great leaders came out of this time of Christianity, and one imparticular was Alfred, King of the West Saxons. He united all the southern kingdoms, and fought off the Vikings. He was also able to translate Latin into English. This is when the Anglo-Saxon chronicle was formed. It was a year by year record of important events in England, which continued to be maintained until the mid- 12th century. In order for poets to get the Anglo-Saxons to like the writings of the bible, they had to give the characters heroic qualities, and make Christians seem heroic, so that the Anglo-Saxons would want to believe what they were reading.
In 1066 Duke William, and his Germanic followers invaded them. The first thing that they did to the language was removed it from the aristocracy, and deprived it of the cohesive spirit that it had. For a while after the conquest it seemed that even the English language itself was put into disuse for literature. The new people who wrote literature either wrote it in Latin or Anglo-Norman. Even though eventually the English language came back in literature, the style of writing was changed. After it came back, women were more noticeably recognized in the world of literature. The way that they portray life in the middle ages is usually shallow and something that lacks life and evokes sympathy.
In the time between 1066 and 1485 England went under many social and political changes. The parliament was slowly evolving, cities were growing, along with foreign trade. This time was a very violent time. People suffered greatly, and many of the kings died gruesome violent deaths. Famine and disease ran rampant through the country. Though the people of this time were warned that it would only get worse, and that the worst times were far from over, they still went on living their lives to the same expectations. They still wished to have the same happinesses and joys that we do now. They lived their lives very rich, and did not let the surroundings, and conditions of the times affect their spirit.
One of the main writings that influenced people in the Middle English times was the first treatment of the
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Germanic peoples, Migration Period, Sub-Roman Britain, Scandinavian folklore, Beowulf, Geats, Anglo-Saxons, Saxons, England in the Middle Ages, English literature, Angles, English people
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