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Distribution of IE Languages, 5 th BCE
Germanic Homeland • Ancient Germanic homeland was located in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany; • There are no other traces of any other IE language in these areas; • The Germanic tribes usually associated with the “Battle-ax Culture” invaded this area approximately 3000 BCE
The Classical Authors on the Germanic Tribes • Classical writers such as Caesar (c. 50 BCE) and Tacitus (c. CE 98) describe the Germanic peoples • Tacitus describes social organization, family structure, religion, customs, diet, etc.
Physical Characteristics For my own part, I agree with those who think that the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of intermarriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work.
In Battle Their line of battle is drawn up in a wedge-like formation. To give ground, provided you return to the attack, is considered prudence rather than cowardice. The bodies of their slain they carry off even in indecisive engagements. To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes; nor may a man thus disgraced be present at the sacred rites, or enter their council; many, indeed, after escaping from battle, have ended their infamy with the halter.
A shield from Sutton Hoo Burial
Honor and Glory When they go into battle, it is a disgrace for the chief to be surpassed in valor, a disgrace for his followers not to equal the valor of the chief. And it is an infamy and a reproach for life to have survived the chief, and returned from the field. To defend, to protect him, to ascribe one's own brave deeds to his renown, is the height of loyalty. The chief fights for victory; his vassals fight for their chief. If their native state sinks into the sloth of prolonged peace and repose, many of its noble youths voluntarily seek those tribes which are waging some war, both because inaction is odious to their race, and because they win renown more readily in the midst of peril. . . Indeed, men look to the liberality of their chief for their war-horse and their bloodstained and victorious lance. Feasts and entertainments. . . are their only pay.
A Gold Buckle from Sutton Hoo Burial
Women Tradition says that armies already wavering and giving way have been rallied by women who, with earnest entreaties and bosoms laid bare, have vividly represented the horrors of captivity, which the Germans fear with such extreme dread on behalf of their women, that the strongest tie by which a state can be bound is the being required to give, among the number of hostages, maidens of noble birth. They even believe that the sex has a certain sanctity and prescience, and they do not despise their counsels, or make light of their answers.
Celtic / Roman Britain 55 -54 BCE Julius Caesar launches two invasions of Britain from Gaul; no permanent colonies 43 CEEmperor Claudius leads expedition to Britain of 40, 000 men; he conquers southern and central Britain and leaves a garrison and a governor 410 CE Roman legions officially withdrawn from island to defend Rome from barbarian Germanic hordes
The Germanic Invaders 449 CE Britain invaded by Germanic tribes from Denmark and Low Countries; they settle in the south and east of island until they displaced the Celtic peoples to the west (Wales) and north (Scotland)
Bede writes of this “invitation” At this time the Angles or Saxons came to Britain at the invitation of King Vortigern in three longships, and were granted lands in the eastern part of the island on the condition that they protected the country: nevertheless their real intention was to subdue it. They engaged the enemy advancing from the north, and having defeated them, send back news of their success to their homeland, adding that the country was fertile and the Britons cowardly. .
Bede continues These new-comers were from the 3 most formidable races of Germany, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. . . Their first chieftains are said to have been the brothers Hengist and Horsa. The latter was subsequently killed in east Kent, where a monument bearing his name still stands. They were the sons of Wictgils, whose father was Witta, whose father was Wecta, son of Woden, from whose stock sprang the royal house of many provinces.
Germanic Invasions of England The Germanic invasions begin in 449 CE. Thus we date the beginning of the Old English linguistic period to 449.
The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms From the Jutes are descended the people of Kent and the Isle of Wright. . . From the Saxons came the East, South and West Saxons [Wessex]. And from the Angles. . . are descended the East and Middle Angles, the Mercians, all the Northumbrian stock and the other English peoples.
The Mission of St. Augustine In 597 Gregory I send St. Augustine and his missionaries to the Angles (Angli) to convert the pagan Anglo-Saxons. St. Augustine was given permission by King Æthelberht of Kent to preach and within a year the King was converted and within 10 years 3 bishoprics were established.
The Desborough Necklace (650 -700 CE) This is the finest of its kind surviving from Anglo. Saxon England, richly made from gold beads and deep red garnets. It was found buried near the head of a female skeleton in a grave. The gold tells us that she must have been extremely wealthy, and the cross tells us that she was a Christian.
The Next Wave of Invasions The Raiding Stage (787 -850 CE) Between 787 -850 Scandinavian attacks on England began with plundering of monasteries and towns near the eastern coast. In 793 Lindisfarne was sacked and then in 794 Jarrow was sacked. By 850 the Danes controlled most of eastern England had established extensive settlements.
Further Anglo-Saxon Defeats The Settlement Stage (850 -78 CE) In 866 a large Danish army plundered East Anglia. In 867, they captured York. In 869, the East Anglian King Edmund was martyred and the Danes then controlled the eastern half of England. They established organized, large settlements. The English people and the English language are threatened with annihilation.
Enter a King Alfred was born in ca. 848. He was the fourth son of Æthelwulf, king of the West Saxons. The ring of Æthelwulf.
Alfred the Great He became king of the West Saxons in 871 and had to fight against the encroaching Danes. His silver penny front: Alfred REX back: LVNDONIA (London)
Victory at Ethandum in 878 CE Political Assimilation (878 -1042 CE) After several years of Danish victories and a fugitive existence, Alfred gathered enough allies to defeat a Danish army under Guthrum. The Treat of Wedmore signed by Alfred and Guthrum specified that the Danes had to withdraw from Alfred’s territory and stay east of a newly drawn Danelaw. A third condition was that Guthrum and his lords be baptized with Alfred as their sponsor.
The Danelaw The map of England after the Treaty of Wedmore signed by Alfred and Guthrum.
Alfred’s Peace Alfred reigned until 899 and during this time of relative peace he began an ambitious program of translation and education. Alfred commissioned translations into Anglo-Saxon of Bede, Pope Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, parts of the Old and New Testaments, the Psalms. He also instigated the production of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a continuous record of annual events starting the first landing of Julius Caesar (55 BCE) and ending with the coronation of Henry II in 1154.
Alfred’s Schools In his prefatory letter to his translation of Gregory’s Pastoral Care, Alfred outlines a program of education for all free-born, male children (who had enough wealth or ability or both and could not do anything else) be educated by the bishops in their cathedral schools.
Futhorc: And Old English Runic Alphabet An alphabet used in northern Europe in Scandinavia, Germany and England. The earliest inscriptions date from the third century CE. It derives in part from the Roman and Greek alphabets. Futhorc was used principally for inscriptions on weapons, jewelry, monuments such as the Ruthwell Cross.
Seax of Beagnoth Anglo-Saxon, 9 th-10 th century From the River Thames, London