Anglo Saxon and German languages.pdf - Chapter 1 The...

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Chapter 1The Anglo-Saxons andTheir Language1.1Who were they?‘Anglo-Saxon’ is the term applied to the English-speaking inhabitants of Brit-ain up to the time of the Norman Conquest, when the Anglo-Saxon line ofEnglish kings came to an end. The people who were conquered in 1066 hadthemselves arrived as conquerors more than six centuries earlier.According to the Venerable Bede, whoseHistoria Ecclesiastica GentisAnglorum(Ecclesiastical History of the English People), completed in theyear 735, is the most important source for the early history of England, theAnglo-Saxons arrived in the island of Britain during the reign of Martian,who in 449 became co-emperor of the Roman Empire with Valentinian IIIand ruled for seven years.Before that time, Britain had been inhabited by Celtic peoples: the Scotsand Picts in the north, and in the south various groups which had been unitedunder Roman rule since their conquest by the emperor Claudius inAD43. Bythe beginning of the fifth century the Roman Empire was under increasingpressure from advancing barbarians, and the Roman garrisons in Britain werebeing depleted as troops were withdrawn to face threats closer to home. InAD410, the same year in which the Visigoths entered and sacked Rome, the lastof the Roman troops were withdrawn and the Britons had to defend them-selves. Facing hostile Picts and Scots in the north and Germanic raiders in theeast, the Britons decided to hire one enemy to fight the other: they engagedGermanic mercenaries to fight the Picts and Scots.
2The Anglo-Saxons and Their LanguageIt was during the reign of Martian that the newly hired mercenaries arrived.These were from three Germanic nations situated near the northern coasts ofEurope: the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. According to Bede, the merce-naries succeeded quickly in defeating the Picts and Scots and then sent wordto their homes of the fertility of the island and the cowardice of the Britons.They soon found a pretext to break with their employers, made an alliancewith the Picts, and began to conquer the territory that would eventually beknown as Englanda slow-moving conquest that would take more than acentury.It is now difficult to measure the accuracy of Bedes account of the comingof the Anglo-Saxons. But Bedes story gives us essential information abouthow these people looked at themselves: they considered themselves a warriorpeople, and they were proud to have been conquerors of the territory theyinhabited. Indeed, the warrior ethic that pervades Anglo-Saxon culture isamong thefirst things that students notice on approaching thefield.But Europe had no shortage of warrior cultures in the last half of thefirstmillennium. What makes Anglo-Saxon England especially worthy of study isthe remarkable literature thatflourished there. The Anglo-Saxon kingdomsconverted to Christianity in the late sixth and seventh centuries, and by thelate seventh and early eighth centuries had already produced two major authors:

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Term
Winter
Professor
Mrs. cooper
Tags
Indo European languages, Germanic languages

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