Historical context. * Julius Caesar was the first person ever to write about England. * The angles and Saxons along with other Germanic tribes began arriving from northern Europe a.d. 449. * Alfred the great was a powerful Anglo-Saxons king and the Anglo-Saxons chronicle, a record of English history, was initiated at his bidding. * In 1042 a descent of Alfred’s took the throne, the deeply religious Edward the confessor. * Harold was killed at the battle of hastings in 1066, and on Christmas day of that year, William the conqueror was crowned king of England.
Cultural influences * The early invaders were seafaring wanderers whose lives were bleak, violent, and short. * In 597 a roman missionary named Augustine arrived in the kingdom of Kent, where he established a monastery at Canterbury. * Monasteries became centers of intellectual literary, artistic, and social activity. * Venerable bede was the author of a history of the English church and people. * Christianity continued as a dominant cultural force for more than a thousand years to come.
Literature of the times * In the great mead halls of kings and nobles, Anglo-Saxons would gather on special occasions to celebrate in style. * England moved into a middle ages, its literature continued to capture the rhythms of everyday life. * Most old poems are anonymous. * Epic poems were an oral art form, memorized and performed, not written down. * A manuscript known as the Exeter book contains many of the surviving Anglo-Saxon lyrics, including more than 90 riddles.
The medieval period
Historical context * William the conqueror took control of England, powerful, well-organized, determinated to exert his authority down to the smallest detail. * Henry’s son Richard 1, known as Richard the lion-hearted, spends most of his ten-year reign fighting wars abroad. * The magna carta was signed in 1215 by king john * The hundred year’s war between England and France began in 1337. * When the war finally ended in…