• New inhabitants came from western and possibly north-western Europe (New Stone Age);
• in the 2nd millennium BC new inhabitants came from the Low Countries and the middle Rhine (Stonehenge);
• Between 800 and 200 BC Celtic peoples moved into Britain from mainland Europe (Iron Age)
• first experience of a literate civilisation in 55 B.C.
• remoter areas in Scotland retained independence
• Ireland, never conquered by Rome, Celtic tradition
• The language of the pre-Roman settlers - British (Welsh, Breton); Cornish; Irish and Scottish Gaelic (Celtic dialect)
• The Romans up to the fifth century
• Britain - a province of the Roman Empire 400 years
• the first half of the 5th century the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (N Germany, Jutland)
• The initial wave of migration - 449 A. D.
• the Venerable Bede (c. 673-735)
• the Britain of his time comprised four nations English, British (Welsh), Picts, and Scots.
• invaders resembling those of the Germans as described by Tacitus in his Germania.
• a warrior race
• the chieftain, the companions or comitatus.
• the Celtic languages were supplanted (e.g. ass, bannock, crag).
Christianity spread from two different directions:
In the 5th century St Patrick converted Ireland, in the 7th century the north of England was converted by Irish monks;
in the south at the end of the 6th century Aethelberht of Kent allowed the monk Augustine and his helpers, who came directly from Rome, to convert his kingdom to Christianity.
The monks adapted the Roman alphabet from Latin to write English and replaced the old writing system based on the use of signs called runes, which were developed to be carved in wood or stone.
Brittene igland is ehta hund mila lang.
7 twa hund brad. 7 her sind on his iglande fif geheode. Englisc. 7 brittisc. 7 wilsc. 7 scvttisc. 7 pyhtisc. 7 bon leden. Erest weron bugend rises landes brittes.
Of-Britain island is eight hundred miles long. & two hundred broad. & here are in this island five languages. english. & brit
ish. & Welsh. & scottish. & pictish. & book latin. First were inhabitants of-this land britons.
• a Romano-British king called Arthur in the 470s (against the Saxons)
• The strongest social bond - kinship
• wergild - the sum that the kindred could accept in place of vengeance if a man were killed
• nobles (3 ceorl's wergild in Kent or 6 x ceorl's wergild elsewhere), a ceorl (a normal freeman), slaves (no wergild)
• the language is different dialects of West Germanic
• from 5th cent. to 12th century - Old English.
• Art - a combination of native elements and influences from Ireland and the Mediterranean.
• The Hiberno-Saxon style of manuscript illumination - the Lindisfarne Gospels
• During the 8th century - the Norwegian sea-raiders, the Danes
• the Danelaw - the territory in the North and East Midlands
• King Alfred the Great (871-899), a great revival of learning, a translator
• Literature - the common Germanic metre
• The earliest oral poetry - little or none survives
• The manuscripts in which Old English poetry is preserved are almost all unique, almost none of them were written until the end of the tenth century.
• St. Bede the Venerable, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("Ecclesiastical History of the English People"), the late 7th century Caedmon, an illiterate Northumbrian cowherd, a short hymn in praise of the creation
• figurative diction - the chief characteristics of Old English poetry
• form - alliterative verse: a single-line unit, consisting of two hemistichs (half lines) separated by a caesura (pause). The words alliterate, i.e. consonant sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables are repeated.
A song I sing of sorrow unceasing
• Religious Old English poetry: The Dream of the Rood
• Heroic OE poetry: Beowulf, anonymous.
• it refers to the common heroic past of the Germanic race
• the perpetual struggle of light against dark, good against evil
• Beowulf as an example to follow
• The poem falls into two parts.
• In Denmark, King Hrothgar in Heorot
• 12 years visited by an evil monster, Grendel
• young Beowulf, a prince of the Geats of southern Sweden, offers to cleanse Heorot of its monster.
• Grendel devours one of the sleeping Geats, fights with Beowulf, tears off his arm, and leaves, mortally wounded.
• The next night Grendel's mother comes to avenge her son and kills one of Hrothgar's men.
• Beowulf kills her in her cave at the bottom of a mere
and kills her
• Beowulf returns home to King Hygelac of the Geats.
• King Hygelac dies in a battle, Beowulf becomes the king and rules for 50 years
• He fights a fire-breathing dragon
• Beowulf kills the dragon but is mortally wounded.
• The poem ends with his funeral rites and a lament.
The Middle English Period and Geoffrey Chaucer • The OE age ends in 1066 when the Normans invaded the Island.
• Harold vs. William
• The Normans - the descendants of Scandinavians, the north coast of France
• subjects of the French king, speaking the French language
• states in South Italy and Sicily
• the French language became the norm of educated and aristocratic communication.
The Norman Conquest
Christmas Day, 1066, William of Normandy
English aristocracy driven to a lower position in society
They created one kingdom from many.
Every inch of the land was declared to be the king's
William and his followers as his tenants with defined services
The building of strongholds, castles
Domesday Book - a written record of a statistical survey of England (1086)
relatively stable 11th century and the beginning of the 12th, sons of William the Conqueror
northern dialect of the French language, Latin, Old English
Middle English: a mixture of English, felt in syntax and morphology, and of French, which contributed much vocabulary.
literature influenced by France
the beginning of the Middle English Period literature in English was scarce (Ancrene Riwle, The Owl and the Nightingale, Layamon's history of King Arthur)
education - the beginnings of the University of Oxford; Cambridge was founded during the early thirteenth century.
the only English universities for more than five hundred years.
Henry Plantagenet (1154)
Thomas à Beckett
Richard I, a.k.a. the Lion-Heart, the Crusades
his brother John, the beginning of the 13t'' century, lost his estates in France, was excommunicated, forced to sign Magna Carta which ensured that the king was beneath the law.
literature - tales of Charlemagne, Roland and the rest (Matter of France), of Arthur (Matter of Britain (i.e. Brittany)), of Alexander the Great and of Troy (Matter of Rome / Gesta romanorum) displaced the Germanic heroic legends.
The romances were written in the French verse: rhyme, stanza form, metrical feet - i.e. with alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.
The subject matter: the virtues of chivalry, warlike
courage, true courtesy, honour and ideal knighthood in the service of the Christian faith and of the lady.
women, love, and praise of women occupy a dominant position
The 13th century - the beginning of Parliament.
The ideal of a parliament - a council of regency ruled on behalf of a child king not yet able to govern in his own right.
Edward I - representatives in Parliament were needed to give consent to taxation
the wars against the Welsh, French, and Scots
The 14th century - the age of war and plague.
England and France, conflicts from 1337 onward were called the Hundred Years' War.
In 13 81 the Peasants' Revolt
the Bible was translated into English
The Black Death struck in 1348-49
the increasing use of English
• Influence of Petrarch, Boccaccio and Dante
• independence of the tradition he respected
• Canterbury Tales (1390s)
• A group of 30 pilgrims at the Tabard Inn
• storytelling contest
• shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury
• the full plan for his book was not completed
• 120 tales - 22 tales + 2 uncompleted
• a unified book, not a collection of unfinished fragments
• Knight, prioress, monk
• merchant, man of law, Franklin, scholarly clerk
• miller, reeve, pardoner
• wife of Bath
• Courtly romance
• saint's life
• allegorical tale
• beast tale
• medieval sermon
• mixture of all genres
• General Prologue
• chivalric tale of the knight
• Miller's fabliau: the tale of the Reeve
• Summoner : Friar
• the Wife of Bath: the Clerk's tale
• short stories in verse
• two expositions in prose
• Ten- or eleven-syllable iambic pentameters rhyming in
• he could not be educated at the University of Oxford or Cambridge, but nevertheless received good education.
• He became a merchant, dealing in many commodities, travelled widely at home and abroad; but misfortune, in one form or another, dogged him continually.
• Defoe went bankrupt often, and it is even thought that he died in hiding from his creditors.
• He served in turn both Tory and Whig; he acted as a secret agent for the Tories and later served the Whigs by "infiltrating" extremist Tory journals and toning them down.
• published in 1719, based on the true story of one Alexander Selkirk
• it is about a sailor marooned on a desert island for many years. It depicts a man adapting very successfully first to life on his own, and then to life with another, subservient man.
Robinson Crusoe - the style and the plot
• Defoe narrates in a matter-of-fact, almost documentary style. The narrator does comment, but characters are allowed to speak for themselves, and are judged by their actions.
• The plot of the book is relatively disorganised - which is a common feature of the early novel.
Robinson Crusoe - optimism and ethics
• Defoe is an optimist: e.g., while the real Alexander Selkirk was in a semi-savage state when he was rescued, Robinson Crusoe manages to build a small civilisation around him and survives his experience very well.
• the influence of the »Protestant Work Ethic, i.e. the belief that hard work is the answer to all social and moral problems.
1689-1761, a son of a London tradesman,
when 50 and a prosperous printer - he publishes his first work Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded (1740)
the epistolary form; a young gentleman, Mr. B, a beautiful fifteen year old maidservant, Pamela – manages to preserve her virtue.
Pamela – a pure and innocent heroire or a self-satisfied, hypocritical and calculating minx?
7 years later by his masterpiece Clarissa: or, the History of a Young Lady (1747-48), epistolary form, multiple narrators;
Clarissa Harlowe, avoiding loveless marriage, escapes with a handsome libertine, Lovelace, who offers her protection but eventually rapes her.
immensely popular at the time of the publication.
1721-71, a medical doctor born in Scotland.
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771) the adventures of a family travelling through Britain told in a sentimental manner.
Henry Fielding (1707-1756)
• born of a family that by tradition traced its descent to a branch of the Habsburgs.
• He started his career as a playwright, wrote some 25 plays.
• Walpole's censorship stopped his career
• he became a barrister and a novelist in order to support his family
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749)
• the most popular of his works
• It is constructed around a romance plot: The hero, whose true identity remains unknown until the denouement, loves the beautiful Sophia Western, and at the end of the book he wins her hand.
• Numerous obstacles have to be overcome before he achieves this.
• In the course of the action the various sets of characters pursue each other from one part of the country to another, giving Fielding an opportunity to paint an incomparably vivid picture of England in the mid-18th century.
• The novel is marked by deft alternations between humour and romance, and above all the speed and ease of the dialogue.
Tom Jones - The Narrator
• Each major section or Book in the novel is introduced by Fielding
• Fielding partly imposes his own personality on the reader. On the other hand, the authorial presence in the novel is often witty and amusing.
ROMANTICISM Napoleonic Wars
• At the beginning of the century Great Britain was in war with France.
• Napoleon Bonaparte attempted to invade the Island
• the British naval victory under Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar (1805).
The formation of the United Kingdom
• In 1801 the Act of Union with Ireland was signed
• the separate Irish Parliament is closed and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is formed.
• from 1811, George III was intermittently mad and his son, the future George IV, acted as regent.
• In 1820 George III was succeeded by George IV.
Rioting in 1816, 1817, 1819
• Rapid demobilization after the wars;
• economic depression;
• bad harvests;
• 1819, the Peterloo Massacre (a radical meeting aiming to reform the parliamentary system), brutally dispersed by cavalry.
The age of reforms
• the working hours of women and children were limited
• Slavery was abolished
• In 1829 Robert Peel (Bobby) organizes the first modern police force (bobbies).
• Catholics and non-Anglican Protestants are given the right to hold government posts and become MPs.