(6th cent. – 1066)
1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND THE GERMANIC CONQUEST OF BRITAIN
a. In the 5th, 6th cent. after the decline of the Roman Empire the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Angles invaded and settled in Britain. They came from Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and northern Germany).
b. The Celts, who were Christianized by the Romans, had been driven to remote areas of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Missionaries came from these places to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons in the 6th cent. (Christianized in the 7th, 8th cent. from pagan to Christian).
c. In the 7th and 8th cent. England was divided into kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex. These kingdoms were united, because of Viking raids, the capital was Winchester.
2. THE CULTURE, INCLUDING THE LANGUAGE, AND CIVILISATION OF THE OLD ENGLISH PERIOD
a. The OE dialect became standardized with the Wessex dialect – King’s English. The Wessex dialect was standardized as the Anglo-Saxon dialect.
b. Literature is the mixture of pagan and Christian belief.
c. The Wessex dialect had many inflections, case endings, conjugations, gender forms... The spelling and the pronunciation did not differ.
d. The main approach in the OE literature is the allegorical approach – metaphors were used.
e. The literature abounds in the images of evil/darkness vs. goodness/light – Bipolar view – order vs. chaos (lawless pagan society and Christianity), apocalyptic view.
f. The literature was primarily oral, later shorter text were hammered out in stones (inscriptions) – rune alphabet. At the time the first manuscripts appeared.
g. The characterization by the feudal society is reflected in literature.
h. The social, hierarchical pyramid: 1. the king, 2. vassals, 3. subjects.
i. Several important features were highly valued: loyalty, courage, heroism, preparedness to die for king...