Anglo-Saxon Historical Approach Paper BY Aspens1996
British Literature Beowulf: Historical Approach Paper
Time: 410-1066 AD
Event Summary: The Anglo-Saxon era spanned a little over 600 years. It started when the Romans withdrew from Britain, which was considered a far-flung outpost of little value’ in 409 AD. In 410, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes began their migration to the British Isles and settles in England. For a while they were ‘effectively their own masters in a new land and did little to keep the Roman legacy alive.
They replaced the Roman’s stone buildings with their own wooden ones, and started to speak their own language, which is the base for the English spoken today. They brought their own religious beliefs, but most of the country was converted to Christianity when Saint Augustine arrived around 600 AD, about the same time England was divided into the seven major kingdoms; Kent, Northumbria, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, Mercia, and East Anglia. Of these kingdoms, Wessex was the only one to survive the Viking invasions.
The Viking ruler of York, Erik Bloodaxe, was killed by the Wessex army in 954 AD and England was united under king Edred. Most information about the Anglo-Saxons we have today comes from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a year-to-year account of all the major event of the time. In it is described the rise and fall of the bishops and kings and the important battles of the periods, among other things. The Anglo-Saxon era came to an end soon after the death of Edward the Confessor, who had no heir.
Having seemed to favor Harold Godwinson, there was some disagreement when it urned out that he had supposedly willed the kingdom to William of Normandy (a. k. a. William the Conqueror). Harold was crowned king immediately after Edward died, but failed in his attempt to defend his crown when William and his army invaded by crossing the Channel from France to claim it for himself. Harold was defeated by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, ushering in the new era.
Key Players: Saint Augustine – influential, intellectual, anthropological, canonized Eric Haroldsson Eric Bloodaxe or Bloody-axe, Eric of Northumria) – violent, powerful, faithless, cruel, taciturn Harold Godwinson – powerful, courageous, eloquent, valiant William of Normandy (William the Conqueror, William the Bastard) – strong, fighter ; horseman without equal, hunter, appeared to have affectionate relationship with wife and no evidence of unfaithfulness to her, pious Discussion Questions: Saint Augustine was a man of great influence, converting nearly an entire country to Christianity.
He was ‘a man of powerful intellect’ and ‘a stirring orator’. Without these characteristics, how else might he have been able to convince others to convert to Christianity? What was the cause of the dividing of England into its seven major kingdoms? Why is Edward the Confessor considered the last king of the House of Essex? Turning Point: Harold Godwinson was crowned king immediately after the death of Edward the Confessor. Failing in his attempt to defend his crown, defeated in the Battle of Hastings by William of Normandy, the Anglo-Saxon era gave way to Norman rule.
Turning Point Explanation: When Edward the Confessor died, there was much confusion as to who would be the heir. Before he died, he commended his widow and his kingdom to Harold’s ‘protection’. The actual intent of what he said is unclear. Never the less, Harold was crowned king immediately following Edward’s death. William of Normandy, having believed that he had been promised the succession during a visit to Edward, though it is still debated the seriousness of this promise.
With that belief, on September 2th, William’s fleet sailed, several sinking in storms. He landed in England, it is believed, September 28th in Sussex. Harold, upon hearing of William’s landing, marched his army 241 miles to intercept him. Harold established his army in hastily built earthworks near Hastings. The two armies clashed at the Battle of Hastings on October 14th, where after nine hours of hard fghting and most likely 30 minutes from victory, Harold was killed and his forces routed. His brothers Gyrth and Leofwine were also killed in the battle.