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ba comon on brim ceolum hider to Brytene on bam stede Heopwines fleot.
449 A. D. In this year Marcian and Valentinian succeeded to the empire and reigned seven winters, and in their day Vortigern invited the Anglo race hither, and they then came in their ships hither to Britain at the place named Heopwines fleot. King Vortigern gave them land in the south-east of this land on condition that they should fight against the Picts. They then fought against the Picts, and had victory whithersoever they came. They then sent to the Angles; bade them send greater aid; bade them be told of the worthlessness of the Brito-Welsh, and the excellence of the land. They then forthwith sent hither a larger army in aid of the others. Then came men from three tribes of Germany: from the Old-Saxons, from the Angles, and from the Jutes. From the Jutes came the Kentish people and the people of Wight, that is, the tribe which now dwells in Wight, and the race among the West-Saxons, which is yet called the Jute race. From the Old-Saxons came the EastSaxons and South-Saxons and West-Saxons. From Angeln—which has ever since stood waste betwixt the Jutes and Saxons-came the EastAnglians, the Middle-Anglians, the Mercians, and all the Northumbrians. Their leaders were two brothers, Hengist and Horsa. They were sons of Wihtgils. Wihtgils was son of Witta, Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden. From Woden sprang all our royal kin, and the Southumbrians also.
A history of literature is a chronological review of the literary productions of a nation. The history of English literature begins in the seventh century.
The history of the English language begins with the remotest history of the Aryan race.
The seven great branches of the ARYAN family are the Indic, Persic, Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Celtic, and Sclavonic.
The ENGLISH is a Teutonic or Germanic language.
Britain was held as a Roman province and a military outpost of Rome for about four hundred years.
In 411 the Romans were recalled to defend Italy from the Goths, who were then ravaging Southern Europe.
The Scots and Picts, the unconquered Celts of the North, took advantage of the absence of disciplined military force, and overran Southern Britain.
The helpless Britons implored the aid of the "Englisc folc” from Angleland, Saxe-land, and Jute-land.
In 449 Hengist and Horsa came and drove back the Celts, but took possession of the island of Britain themselves.
King Arthur opposed the Saxon invaders.
The Gothic race firmly established themselves, their customs, and their language in Britain, and called the island England.
They worshipped Odin, or Woden, the Al-father, Thor, the Thunderer, and all the Pagan deities of the ancestral Goth.
In 597 Pope Gregory sent Augustine from Rome to convert these people to Christianity.
Alfred established wise measures of government.
The “Englisc folc” brought with them to Britain their songs and national legends.
The Lay of Beowulf was the first English poem.
The Venerable Bede, the first great writer of prose in England, wrote mainly in Latin.
King Alfred was the father of English prose. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a memorial of his labors.
With the closing of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the first period of English literature ends. This period, 450–1150, is usually styled the Anglo-Saxon Period.
1150-1350. \HE Norman Conquest did not produce immediate change
querors and conquered remained mutually repellent for more than a century and a half. Norman French had been adopted as the language of the court and higher circles, but AngloSaxon remained the language of the common people.
The twelfth century marks the first perceptible change in the language, the merging of the Anglo-Saxcon into the Senri-Saxon, called, a century later, Old English. The period embraced within the last half of the twelfth, the whole of the thirteenth, and the beginning of the fourteenth century, may be styled the Transition Period.
The twelfth century is a notable landmark in the history of the English nation and literature. At this time we see the English character as well as the English language asserting itself. The stronger national feeling was about to express itself in the MAGNA CHARTA, and in the assembling of a House of Commons.
In the period before us we see the effects of Feudalism, which had divided the social community of Europe into distinct castes, one class subjugating the next in rank below, each exercising over the other the greatest despotism and cruelty. But as every oppressive measure, sooner or later, must react upon itself, so out of the injustice of Feudalism the generous spirit of chivalry arose. From chivalry came knighthood, and the knight, impelled by his love of justice, or adventure, or by
his vow which bound him " to succor the helpless and oppressed, to speak the truth, and never to turn back from an enemy,” in the name of God and the lady of his choice, undertook deeds of the greatest peril. For every complaint made to the king of an injury received, a knight or a company of knights must be ready at the king's command, to start out to redress the wrong.
The great sports of chivalry were the joust and tournament; yet these mock combats sometimes required as much personal valor as the heroic deeds of adventure ; for often, a knight, if not mortally wounded, was seriously injured, and sometimes maimed for life. In these sports it was the ladies' approbation that was the great stimulus to heroic achievements. Every knight must be in love with some "fair lady,” or imagine himself to be so. To her alone he looked for approval, and from her received some “favor," to be worn upon his helmet.* At the close of the tournament the victor was crowned by the lady chosen as the most beautiful. All that a rude age could contrive of pomp and magnificence were displayed in these grand sports of chivalry.
Relieved of the necessity of labor, time unoccupied in battle hung heavily upon the hands of the feudal master, unless mirth and revelry filled up his vacant hours, and to this end games and minstrelsy, beside the grander sports of chivalry, were employed. In the hall or banqueting-room-the chief room of the manor-guests were freely entertained, each according to his social degree. On the dais, or raised platform, the table of the nobility was spread, while smaller tables were ranged round the rooms for those of less respect, until the long table came into use, and the salt was made the dividing line between high and low. No feast or festal occasion was ever complete without the presence of the minstrels, who frequently accompanied their songs with acting and mimicry. While the guests were feasting in the hall beggars were fed at the door, or bread † was
* The "favor" might be a glove, a rose, a jewel, a sleeve, or any article of adornment. Sometimes a page or squire would be sent to deliver the favor if the lady did not choose to give it with her own hand.
† Bread was the chief article of food. The terms “lord" and "lady" meant loafkeeper, from hlaf (loaf), and weorden (to ward) (hlafweard), (laverd) (lord). Hlafweardige (lady) is the feminine of the same word.
thrown to them from the tables in the hall as they shared with the dogs the bones that were thrown on the floor.
The Crusades were an outgrowth of the spirit of chivalry. It had been customary from the earliest ages of the Church for Christians to take pilgrimages to Jerusalem or other hallowed places in Palestine. In the early part of the seventh century Jerusalem had been captured by the Turks, who treated with great insolence the humble pilgrims, as well as the Christians residing in the city. Peter the Hermit, of France, returning from a pilgrimage, recounted the sufferings of the Christians at Jerusalem, and, through his eloquence, the first Crusade was undertaken (1095). The Christians throughout Europe mustered to his cry of “ Deus Vult,'* and hastened to Jerusalem to rescue from the hands of the “Infidels,” through fire and bloodshed, the sacred tomb of the Prince of Peace! The Crusaders opened up a communication between the east and the west. Minstrels, accompanying their masters to the Holy Wars, borrowed of each other songs and tales of romantic adventure.
In England, as in every other country, wandering bards or minstrels were common from the earliest times. By the Celts they were called Bards; by the Goths, Scalds; by the AngloSaxons, Harpers, Gleemen, and Rhymers. They did not receive the name of Minstrel until after the Norman Conquest. To the accompaniment of a harp, these rude poets sang their songs of chivalry, or recited to enchanted listeners their Gests, as these romantic stories were sometimes called.
The Norman Conquest was not without its good results, and France, in the twelfth century, became the source of English culture. The schools of Paris were resorted to by the sons of the nobility from all parts of Europe. No building in Paris, it is said, could contain the crowds of Abelard's pupils. England borrowed of France, not only intellectual improvements, but social and domestic refinement Houses were still thatched with straw, but windows and chimneys were introduced, and parlors were added to the former hall or room for general assembling. Seats were built into the masonry of the houses ; the “table dormant” replaced the movable board; and the
* God wills it.