Course 1

 

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 Some factfiles about the very beginning of English History and Literature

 

 EARLY BRITAIN'S HISTORY AND LITERATURE- MEDIEVAL HISTORY AND LITERATURE-
ENGLISH RENAISSANCE -

 

MODULO 1

HISTORY

EARLY BRITAIN

Romano-Celtic Britain→different groups in contrast for military and economic strength→political instability

The Celts→700 B.C.→different tribes with Germanic refined culture→The Druids: priests, doctors, judges, philisophers→pagan worshipping of natural elements→STONEHENGE

The 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/ runes

King Arthur: a leader of Romanised Celtic Britons against the Saxons

597 St. Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury→ strong Roman church→new faith→monasteries= centres of culture→ Venerable Bede VII-VIII c.  (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)


MODULO 2 

HISTORY

BRITAIN AFTER THE NORMAN CONQUEST

 WILLIAM DUKE OF NORMANDY ( The Conqueror; Viking descent )→ 1066 king Harold at Hastings →                                                              England + N. France. Anglo-saxon revolts against the Normans   

       superior military technology + new culture and language +

FEUDAL SYSTEM: king, barons, knights,  vassals, peasants           

                                                                                                                 (villains or freemen with lands + serfs with no lands)                                                                                     concession of lands for services + agrarian economy            

1)      1086 : economic survey to collect taxes (gelds)= Domesday Book (historical document)

2)      The nobles  were asked to help the king in wars so they started to pay professional soldiers from the underclass.

The 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)

The Crusades : 1095 Pope Urban II.  King Richard ( Lionheart, R. Hood, Ivanohe)

 Magna Carta : 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)

 1337    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.

1455/1485   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

1348   The 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


MODULO 1

LITERATURE

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    

   


MODULO 2 

LITERATURE 

MEDIEVAL LITERATURE  

POETRY

BALLADS (early oral verse narratives)  POPULAR TRADITION: expression of people, common experience, available to all.  Simple language, short stanzas, rhymes, repetitions, refrains, tragic + humorous elements.

BORDER BALLADS     : rivalry between England and Scotland.

OUTLAW BALLADS    : Robin Hood (John Lackland’s reign as a setting, but date later).

TOWN BALLADS          : urban difficulties.

BALLADS OF MAGIC  : fairies, ghosts, witches, wizards and so on.

SOCIAL OR POLITICAL BALLADS : later.

Broadsides: sheets of paper reporting ballads

Lord Randal

The Canterbury Tales ( Chaucer 1343-1400).

DRAMA 

Miracle and  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.

PROSE 

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)   

 CHIVARLY AS A BEHAVIOURAL AND MORAL CODE

                           quick diffusion after Caxton’s invention of the printing press (1476)


MODULO 3  

CULTURE

THE ENGLISH RENAISSANCE

Widespread 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 → individual geniuses

                                                       political instability + individual expression

       Northern Europe 16th c., influence of  the Reformation; medieval ideas + new scientific discoveries =                                                                                                             confusion  →decline of the Church’s influence

Elisabeth I counter-reformation James I (catholic ) → end of one period

Beginning of the Modern Era concerned with the past: Ancient Rome and Greece Paganism

                                                                                                       suffocated in the Middle Ages by Catholic Church

                                                                                                                                                  ↓divine sphere

PTOLOMYreligious theory of the cosmos (the Earth at the centre of Universe)     

        ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM Latin = educated people

COPERNICUS ( revaluated in the 17th c.) /  KEPLER  / GALILEO : earth no longer preminent in the Universe                                                                                                                       as a dynamic system                          


MODULO 4

HISTORY

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

THE REFORMATION

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

1605Gunpowder 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

 


 

 

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