Romano-Celtic Britain→different groups in contrast for military and
economic strength→political instability
B.C.→different tribes with Germanic refined culture→The Druids: priests,
doctors, judges, philisophers→pagan worshipping of natural
Romans→55 B.C. Julius Caesar→Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54)→Latin language +
roads, theatres, towns + economic system→ administrators of the
rural Celtic population→ Romanised
Britons→ polytheistic society: Roman + Celtic Gods
Emperor Hadrian (A. D. 76-138) →Hadrian’s
wall between Scotland and England→IV c. decline of Roman Empire
THE ANGLO-SAXON INVASIONS
A.D.410→Romanised Britons use Saxon mercenaries to
defend from Northern German invasions→Anglo-saxon invaders + settlemet in
Wales, Scotland and Cornwall→ Picts, Irish, Saxons→ Anglo Saxons: pagan values/ illiteracy/
King Arthur: a leader of Romanised Celtic Britons against
597 St. Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury→ strong Roman
church→new faith→monasteries= centres of culture→ Venerable Bede VII-VIII
(the father of English History )
VI c. 7 anglo saxon kingdoms→ Wessex (West
Saxons) unification→King Alfred the Great (849-899)→one crown→law+culture(TheAnglo-SaxonChronicle)=Early-medieval-England
Harold II (1066)
VIII-IX c: the Vikings in Northern and Western Europe, navigators→
King Canute (1016-1035)
AFTER THE NORMAN CONQUEST
WILLIAM DUKE OF NORMANDY (
The Conqueror; Viking descent )→ 1066 king Harold at Hastings → ↓ England + N.
France. Anglo-saxon revolts against
↓ superior military technology +
new culture and language +
FEUDAL SYSTEM: king, barons, knights, vassals, peasants
or freemen with lands + serfs with no lands)
concession of lands for services + agrarian economy
economic survey to collect taxes (gelds)= Domesday Book (historical document)
nobles were asked to help the king in
wars so they started to pay professional soldiers from the underclass.
merchants became influent for their
funds supporting the king’s campaigns and were given titles and lands
Money instead of services so barons and merchants powerful +
peasants labourers as paid soldiers.
3) The common law → no longer an absolute idea of justice (the
king/the church) XII c. more democratic
legal system (trial by jury)
Crusades : 1095
Pope Urban II. King Richard (
Lionheart, R. Hood, Ivanohe)
1215→ the start of weakening of the king’s power→towards the rise of the middle
class→ Parliament → Model Parliament (Edward I )
1272-1307: towards modern Britain; the crown vs the church (The
Constitutions of Clarendon vs The Lollardy Reform Movement)
Eduard III The Hundred Years’
War between France and England for territorial reasons (Aquitaine) and
economical (The Flemish cloth manufacturing)→ battle of Agincourt 1415 (Henry
V) vs Joan of Arc Orleans 1429 (Henry VI). The end in 1453 with French victory.
Lancaster vs York: civil war = War of the Roses, dynastic reasons→ the Tudors (Henry VII)
CHIVALRY : 12th century, a
justification for wars, honesty, loyalty → courtly romances→ King Arthur
Black Death: 2,000,000 people died, but later better living conditions, nomadic
peasants. New prosperity and freedom → reaction.
Poll Tax 1380→ revolt
and repression: the peasants population
driven back into servitude, but the birth of a class conscience
The Merchant + Time = Money
+ New towns and Jobs + Guilds →→Urban Bourgeoisie vs Gentry +
widespred Education = PROGRESS
POETRY: oral (variations, omissions, additions)
OLD ENGLISH (scholar monks )→ SCOP (clan/cynn, historian and priest) → LAY
BEOWULF: kennings, compound words, alliterations, caesura.
EARLY PAGAN POETRY → epic: Beowulf (7th century)
→ elegy: The Exeter Book (The Wanderer, The Seafarer - 10th c)
RELIGIOUS POETRY → Caedmon, Cynewulf (7th century)
→ EPIC POEMS : Iliad, Odyssey, Beowulf
POETIC GENRES → DRAMATIC POEMS : monologue and dialogue.
→ LYRIC POEMS: ballads, odes, sonnets, elegies (short, single speaker).
→ STRUCTURE: visual layout, run on line (enjambement), stanza (couplet, tercet …).
POETIC FEATURES → SOUND : stress, pauses, metre (iambic pentameter, blank verse), rhyme, a assonance, consonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia.
→ LANGUAGE: figures of speech: similes (like/as), metaphors (associations of different o objects), symbols (actual material objects), personifications.
BEOWULF → epic in Old English, 7th c., Scandinavia; hero → religion → pagan (Norse sagas) + C Christian (God);
cultural → myths, legends, historical facts
BALLADS (early oral verse narratives) →POPULAR TRADITION: expression of people, common
experience, available to all.
Simple language, short stanzas, rhymes, repetitions, refrains, tragic +
BALLADS : rivalry between England
BALLADS : Robin Hood (John Lackland’s
reign as a setting, but date later).
BALLADS : urban difficulties.
MAGIC : fairies, ghosts, witches,
wizards and so on.
POLITICAL BALLADS : later.
Broadsides: sheets of paper reporting ballads
Canterbury Tales ( Chaucer 1343-1400).
Mistery plays13th century; religious festivals +
entertainment dialogues from the Bible; the
clergy performs in Latin, then town
guilds in vernacular movable stages called pageants
Morality plays religious allegorical drama about the Bible
representing stereotyped characters symbolising vices and virtues, dualistic
vision of the
world Everyman 15th c.
King Arthur 5th century, Celtic tradition retold in Middle
Ages courtly love 12th century
Provence + search
for the Holy Grail
(Sir Galahad and Sir
Lancelot / Sir Perceval/King Arthur and Launcelot)
Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory (1485)
AS A BEHAVIOURAL AND MORAL CODE
↓ quick diffusion after Caxton’s
invention of the printing press (1476)
THE ENGLISH RENAISSANCE
of knowledge (printing press Caxton
1476 ), classical cultures rebirth
Renaissance → human beings→ Humanism→
western male = Women and
colonized people at margins
European expansionist policies → economic
exploitation of Africa, Asia and America
English Renaissance ≠ Italian Renaissance →
↓ ↓ ↓ political instability + individual
↓ Northern Europe 16th c.,
influence of the Reformation; medieval
ideas + new scientific discoveries = ↓ confusion
→decline of the
counter-reformation James I (catholic ) → end of one period
of the Modern Era concerned with the past: Ancient Rome and Greece Paganism
↓suffocated in the Middle Ages by
PTOLOMY → religious theory
of the cosmos (the Earth at the centre of Universe)
OF ROTTERDAM Latin = educated people
( revaluated in the
17th c.) / KEPLER / GALILEO : earth no longer preminent in
the Universe as a dynamic system
FROM THE RENAISSANCE TO THE PURITAN AGE
THE TUDORS after the house of York (1485)
HENRY VII (25 year reign) → economical stability + national order but little reliance on Parliament
Start of English naval power → mercantile fleet
HENRY VIII → the New Golden Age→ magnificent court
Six wives → his heir: Queen Elisabeth I
First half of the 16th c. The Roman Church’s power declines. Services and prayers
in English, no longer in Latin.
M. LUTHER: German Protestantism→ politically weaker than Catholicism.
ACT OF SUPREMACY (1534) = the king: Supreme Head of the Church of England
↓T. More: opposer. T. Cromwell : secretary
The King’s school = free education
EDWARD VI (protestant) / MARY I (Bloody Mary catholic)
1558 → ELISABETH → English Renaissance : moderately protestant; unity in the country, but suppression of political plots against the Crown (Mary Stuart, Scottish cousin);
The Virgin Queen + British Empire : navy victory against the Spanish Armada in 1588;
new geographical discoveries (Sir F. Drake, Sir W. Raleigh) Head of a true Church and reformed worldwide empire in an idea of a cosmic harmony (medieval conception of the Universe)
JAMES I of England (STUART)→ absolutist tendencies: divine rights of kings→
17thc. Jacobean literature + civil expansion + end of the war with Spain
1605→Gunpowder Plot by Catholic conspirators / Pilgrim fathers in new England (America)
1611→first authorized version of the Bible → development of religion and literature + influence on the language