Anglo-Saxon Literature is an important historical topic that belonged to the English Literature and Comparative Literature departments. It serves as one of the most important courses in literary studies since literary works of Anglo-Saxons constructed later literary works of English literature with enormous impact on not only culture but also beliefs. The previous article presents Anglo-Saxon heritage as a summary and each listed topic will be examined in detail.
Anglo-Saxons, the mighty warriors, ruled the Island until their ancestors, barbaric Vikings, conquered the land. Anglo-Saxons had a prominent impact on the land. They turned the island into a ruling kingdom after Romans leave the island. There is an undeniably extensive value of the heritage that remained the great warriors. Certain customs, religious influence, literary works, and even a sense of unity were remained to be transmitted to the other generations entirely. Before looking through how Anglo-Saxons became the mighty rulers of the land where they divide into seven nations, it is necessary to discover the history of their ancestors as well as earlier inhabitants.
The Island was covered with ice a thousand years ago and Great Britain was joined to Europe. The changing climates enable the land to house various earliest inhabitants that changed in the variety by the changeable seasons and harsh weather conditions. According to common history records, the first inhabitants were Homo Heidelbergensis, Neanderthals, and finally Homo-Sapiens in order. The earliest humans evolved from scavengers to well-developed and questioning human beings by the influence of the environment and seasonal changes. Around 500BC The Celts who were the first prominent inhabitants of the island arrived from central Europe who was farmers as well as fighters who fought among other Celtic tribes and Romans. The Romans came to land in search of good soil, richness, and slaves to be traded. Before Jesus Christ was born, Roman Emperor Julius Ceaser invaded the island fighting with Celtic tribes. Romans had a principal influence on the land by their advances in architecture as they built roads, bridges, and houses to provide transportation. They transmitted their laws, language and introduced the calendar. However, Romans had to withdraw from the land around the year 410 BC. The reason why they had to depart from Great Britain was that their homeland in origin, Italy, was being attacked by various tribes in search of new lands. There was a great need for soldiers to defend and strengthen their army. By the absence of Romans, the Island was left defenseless. A new tribe named Anglo-Saxons consisting of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who reach the Island from Germany, Denmark, Holland, and Jutland invaded and settled the Island. England gave its name by Anglo-Saxons as Angeland that later turned to England.
Anglo-Saxons settled on the island completely around the year 450 and imposed their own culture rejecting not only Celtic but also Roman heritage. By Anglo-Saxons, Great Britain had been divided into seven kingdoms. Each had its ruling king, similar traditions, and cultural values. The Island is divided up into Northumbria, Mercia, Anglia, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, and Kent. Each kingdom was ruled by a ruling king named Bretwalda. The word is used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the first time in its account of the events of around the year 829 and also in a charter of Aethelstan who was the king of the English people of Anglo-Saxons and probably means “ruler of the Britons” or “ruler of Britain. The heroic code was kinship and generosity Kings were generous who rewarded each kind of service since generosity has great importance in Anglo-Saxon society. Anglo-Saxon warriors would devote themselves to their kings, in return for their devoted as well as faithful service they would be rewarded by valuable instruments and items such as rings and stones.
Another important cultural value for their society was entertainment and unity. They had built Mead Halls which is a structure where all Anglo-Saxon people were united in harmony without any class divisions from common men to King. Mead Halls were places where people gather, drink, eat, sleep and entertain. They were entertained by a Scop who was taking the role of a historian and creating songs to sing in the spot that gloriously tells their history and victories. The Scop was the first recorded example of the oral literature and history of Anglo-Saxons. They were not only united but also entertained by the song of their glory in battles. This was a time when blood ties and survival was the main human instinct and bloodshed was common. There had been various battles to protect their honor and courage as a demonstration of their loyalty to the ruling king. Anglo-Saxons were pagan like Celst yet with the coming and spread of Christianity they converted from paganism to Christianity by accepting Christian values. The Island first converted when St.Patrick reached Ireland. Then around the year 597 St. Augustine, the Christian Philosopher brought Christianity from Rome to England. As a result, it is clear to see not only the pagan but also the Christian influence of the written manuscripts of Anglo-Saxons.
To conclude, Great Britain hosted various inhabitants in the land who were able to turn the soil into a place where they can adopt as their home. The inhabitans were Homo Heidelbergensis, Neanderthals, Homo Sapiens, Celts, Romans and Anglo-Saxons in order. Each imposed their own culture by the influence of one another. The earliest inhabitants were adapted themselves by the climate changes which also affect the process of change in the Island since it was separated from the continent of Europe due to climate changes and earthquakes that later turn to an independent island known as Great Britain. Each inhabitant not only influenced by each other but also transmitted their own heritage to the later generations. Yet Anglo-Saxons established their own cultures rejecting all the other cultures and created their not only oral but also written literary tradition combining both pagan and Christian values.
- Greenblatt Stephen. ‘’The Norton Anthology of English Literature’’. W. W. Norton & Company. June, 2018.
- Smith Rana Zeynep. ‘’ELIT 101 Class notes’’. YU. 2021.
The name origin of ‘’Bretwalda’’. (From an article in Britannica)
-Lotha Gloria. ‘’ Bretwalda: Anglo-Saxon royal title ‘’ from Britannica.