The Anglo-Saxon Period

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The Anglo Saxon period is the oldest known period of time that had a complex culture with stable government, art, and a fairly large amount of literature. Many people believe that the culture then was extremely unsophisticated, but it was actually extremely advanced for the time. Despite the many advancements, the period was almost always in a state of war. Despite this fact, the Anglo-Saxon period is a time filled with great advancements and discoveries in culture, society, government, religion, literature, and art. The Angles were a Germanic tribe that occupied the region which is now Scleswig-Holstein, Germany. With their fellow ethnic groups, they formed the people who came to be known as the English. The Saxons were a Germanic people who first appeared in the beginning of the Christian era. The Saxons were said to have lived in the south Jutland Peninsula in the north of what is now Germany, but the fact has not been proven. They attacked and raided areas in the North Sea throughout the third and fourth centuries. By the end of the sixth century, the Saxons had taken all of the Roman territory within north-west Germany, as far as the Elbe River. The Angles joined the Saxons in the invasion of Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries. British resistance to the 'Anglo Saxon' invaders in the second half of the fifth century ended with the Anglo Saxon's victory at the battle of Mount Badon. After the British were defeated, though, the Angles and the Saxons continued to fight over their religion for many years (Irvin, Vacca, Probst, Beers, p.46). Before the year 596, almost everybody had strong pagan beliefs. In 596 missionaries had begun to attempt to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. By the year 650, almost all of England had converted to Christianity- at least in name. Although almost everyone claimed to be strong believers in Christ and the church, most still held on to their pagan beliefs and traditions. No matter what they believed, everyone applied their religious beliefs to their everyday life. (Chin et al. Glencoe Literature, p.35). Everyone in the age would always wear extremely modest clothing. The common garment for a man was the robe gathered at the waist, completed by hose and soft sandals. The same was for the woman, except their dress extended to the feet. The most common materials used to make clothing were linen and woolens, though the more expensive outfits were marked by colorful dyes and exotic borders. Usually then men would hide short spears under their clothing for added protection. (Ross, David, http://www.britainexpress.com/) The common weapon in war was the spear. Conventional spears were seven feet long with a iron head and was used to be thrown and also to jab. Shields were plain and round, made of wood with an iron center. Only the rich and noble used swords, which were made of iron with steel edges. The Vikings were more heavily armed than the Anglo-Saxons, and they relied on chain mail and helmets as protection, and most people used a short stabbing swords as protection, although some used either a lance or a double-edged sword. (Ross, http://www.britainexpress.com). When the men weren't fighting, the favorite pastimes of the Anglo-Saxon period were dice and board game such as chess. Complex riddles were very popular, as well as hunting. At gatherings, the most common entertainment was the harp, as well as juggling balls and knives. (Ross, http://www.britainexpress.com). Little writing remains to be studied because England was still developing their written language during many of these years, and storytelling was generally in the oral tradition. The two types of poetry that was written during the time period was heroic poetry and Christian poetry. Only about 30,000 lines of poetry from the age have survived to this time, and the epic poem "Beowulf" makes up a large portion of that (Irvin, Vacca, Probst, Beers, p.47). It originated as a pagan saga transmitted orally from one...
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