Time of wars and invasions
Literature was oral covering two cultures: Christina and heroic.
Language was mixture of Roman, Scandinavian, with Latin as language of church
Themes centered around security for the individual, society, and religious faith.
410 Romans abandon Britain
449 Anglo-Saxons invade Britain
479 Fall of Roman Empire
c. 700 Beowulf – An Anglo-Saxon epic poem about a Scandinavian prince named Beowulf who rids the Danes of the monster Grendel and his mother. Later as king he dies while killing a dragon who has devastated his people.
1066 Norman Conquest – Battle of Hastings is last successful invasion of Britain - William the Conqueror rules England
Main spoken form of English is local southern dialect.
Love poetry comes in from France, women appear more, first as objects of desire, then as humans with their own feelings
Literature of France and Italy influencing English writers
Literature questions its society, and gives picture of the fast-changing times.
Mystery or Miracle Plays: Original Medieval drama set in and around church at festival times, showing scenes from Bible to audience who don’t understand Latin – performed on moving carts.
1095 – 1271 The Crusades - A series of wars by Western European Christians to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims.
1215 Magna Carta reduced power of king, gave power ad property rights to aristocrats.
1265 First Parliament
1340 – 1400 The Canterbury Tales for Geoffrey Chaucer - A collection of stories set within a framing story of a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral. The poet joins a band of pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury.
1337 – 1453 Hundred Years War between France and England
1347 – 1451 Black Death – The Plague - An outbreak of bubonic plague causing a decline of about one-third of the population of Europe.
1445 – 1487 War of the Roses - War between the royal houses of Lancaster and York over the throne of England.
1440 Gutenberg invents printing in Germany - printing first used to print Bible, brought to England in 1470s and began printing literature.
1469 – 1470 Le Morte d’Arthur first book published by Malory – Death of Arthur is the first English prose epic telling the story of King Arthur and his legendary knights of the round table. King Arthur probably ruled south-west England around year 500, died in Battle against Saxons in 537. 200 years later stories appear of magician Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, Excalibur (the sword pulled out of the stone by hero only)