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Background of Britain
• The Roman Empire held part of Britain from
approximately AD 40 to AD 410. That period is
called ‘Romano-Britain Age.”
• In the fifth century, the Saxons, a Germanic
people from mainland Europe, invaded Britain.
• They were a pagan race.
What changed? So what?
• The Roman Empire didn’t leave much of their
influence behind. (It was falling apart.)
• When the Germanic Saxons began to arrive, they
brought with them a language, culture, and
protection from the neighboring tribes (including
• In 597, Christian missionaries, led by St.
Augustine, began to arrive. They brought Latin
vocabulary, and created early forms of literature
More on language
• The missionaries used Latin, combined with Old
English sounds, to write down stories. Note that
there is no standard way of spelling, so they wrote
how things sounded. (Dialect influenced spelling.)
• Worth noting that spelling was “flexible” even through
Shakespeare’s time! We have examples of
Shakespeare’s signature, and he wasn’t always
consistent on the spelling of his own name!
I’ve been watching “Vikings”
on Amazon. Where are they?
• The Vikings started invading around 787, hanging
around until the 11th century.
• The Danes remain in power in England until about
• One of the great early Kings was a Dane, called
Where Beowulf fits in all this
• The action of Beowulf takes place in the 6th
centery (we believe), but was only written down
between the 8th and 11th century.
• We don’t know who wrote down Beowulf.
• The setting is in Scandanavia (see map on the
previous page) but it is considered to be one of
the earliest English writings because it was written
down in England.
• There is a single remaining manuscript of the text
of Beowulf, located in the British Library in
• Link to image
• It is an Epic poem, likely told in spoken word for
centuries before it was written down.
• 1066 is known as one of the greatest dates in
• William the Conqueror, a Norman king, invades
Britain, which is just over the English channel, in
the Battle of Hastings.
• The Normans were in modern-day France. (Hint:
The allies invaded France in World War II on the
beaches of Normandy)
Citations, because I can only
fit so much in my brain…
“Ages of English Timeline.” BBC News. BBC. Web
13 Jan 2016.
Nelson, Libby. “25 Maps That Explain the English
Language.” Vox. Vox Media, 03 Mar. 2015.
Web. 13 Jan 2016.