Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Background to the Middle Ages

Chronology

Prehistory: The Iberians, the Picts; the creation of the Stonehenge

5th century B.C.: The Celts, the Gauls; evidence in the language: e.g. bog, glen and many proper nouns; the origin of the Arthurian legend

43 - c. 420 A.D.: Roman invasion and occupation of Britain

c. 450: Anglo-Saxon Conquest, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians; evidence in the language: Essex, Sussex and Wessex, occupied by the East, South and West Saxons

597: St Augustine arrives to Kent; beginning of Anglo-Saxon conversion to Christianity

871 - 899: Reign of King Alfred the Great

1066: Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror, the Battle of Hastings

1360 - 1400: Geoffrey Chaucer; Piers Plowman; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1485: William Caxton's printing of Sir Thomas Malory's Morte D'Arthur, one of the first books printed in England


Period Characteristics

- the Middle Ages = the time span from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance

- the date 1485 = the year of the accession of Henry VII and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty, used to mark the end of the Middle Ages for convenience

(1) Anglo-Saxon England (c. 450 - 1066)

- language: Old English, in this period clearly displays the kinship to other Germanic languages

- literature: shares a body of heroic as well as Christian legends with other Germanic literatures

- texts: Beowulf, "The Wanderer"

(2) Anglo-Norman England (1066 - c. end of the 13th century)

- language: the French of the ruling class, remains in loan words in the English vocabulary

- literature: fascination with the legendary hero Arthur, originating in Celtic literature

(3) Middle English Literature in the 14th and 15th Centuries

- language: Middle English, gradual displacement of French by English

- literature: emergence of the awareness and pride in a uniquely English literature, a new sense of English as literary medium able to compete with French and Latin

- texts: Geoffrey Chaucer; Piers Plowman; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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