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Anglo-Saxon London

The Angles and the Saxons began to raid the east coast of Britain from their homes in North Germany. The date of their arrival is uncertain but they were well established by 685. After the Romans left, the city of London fell into a decline. The population diminished drastically and large areas of the city were left in ruins. London's location on the Thames was too good for this decline to continue, and the 7th century saw trade once more expand and the city grow once more. By the 9th century, London was a very prosperous trading center, and its wealth attracted the attention of Danish Vikings. The Danes periodically sailed up the Thames and attacked London. In 851 some 350 longboats full of Danes attacked and burned London to the ground. In the 11th century London was then the most prosperous, and largest city in the island of Britain - but it was not the capital of the realm. The official seat of government was at Winchester, although the royal residence was generally at London. Now it was still under Anglo-Saxon rule. Edward the Confessor was an extremely religious man, and he made it his dream to build a vast monastery and church at an island on the Thames just upriver from the city. He refounded the abbey at Westminster, and moved his court there. When Edward died in 1065, his successor, Harold, was crowned in the new abbey, cementing London's role as the most important city in England.

Anglo-Saxon Architecture
England is not blessed with an abundance of surviving Anglo-Saxon buildings. There is good reason for this scarcity; the Anglo-Saxon period was one beset by frequent warfare and violent invasions, particularly by the Vikings in the period 800-950. These invaders, quite naturally, burned and destroyed most of the settlements they came across, in their search for plunder and martial glory.

Unfortunately for posterity, most Saxon buildings were constructed of wood with wattle and daub walls. The depredations of the Danes left very few of these flammable buildings standing. The only buildings the Anglo-Saxons tended to build in more permanent stone were their monasteries and churches.

Surprisingly few large churches remain from the later period of Saxon building (900-1050). The larger buildings, particularly the monasteries, were generally rebuilt in the Norman period, and little Saxon work remains above ground. The smaller churches are extremely simple in layout; basically a simple nave divided from a rectangular chancel by a narrow arch. Examples include St. Lawrence, Bradford-on-Avon, and Boarhunt, Hampshire. Saxon churches are generally small in scale, showing none of the inclination towards grandeur exhibited by the later Norman builders. Doors and window openings are extremely simple, with very few decorative elements. Though some windows are low triangles (see drawing), more often they are narrow slit openings. The Anglo-Saxons put a lot of energy into tower building in their church architecture, and often Saxon towers are the earliest surviving part of English parish churches. The towers began as a defensive structure; they enabled inhabitants of a village to gain a high lookout point and an easily defensible position to ward off attacks. Saxon towers often had rooms high up which were reached by a ladder. The ladder could then be drawn up when danger threatened.
A common Saxon window scheme

Another common Anglo-Saxon element, particularly in the north, is the stone cross. These crosses were often used to mark points where paths intersected, though they were later used as a gathering place for religious observance. Crosses may have been put up at sites which were already regarded as sacred in pagan worship. Later on, churches were built at the same spots, preserving a continuity of worship.

A Saxon Cross

Most domestic structures in the Saxon period were built in wood. Even the halls of nobles were simple affairs, with a central fire and a hole in the roof to let the smoke escape. Even the largest buildings rarely had more than one floor, and one room. Even the best
A typical small Saxon house

archaeological remains of domestic buildings from the Anglo-Saxon period offer little more than post holes to

view, which indicate the size of the hall, but little more. Buildings vary widely in size, from 10 x 12 ft to as much as 75 x 260 feet. Most are square or rectangular, though some round houses have been found. Roofing materials varied, with thatch being the most common, though turf and even wooden shingles were also used. Windows were rare, but when they were used they would have been covered with thin animal skins to allow light to penetrate. Some evidence suggests that glazing was not unknown in the late Saxon period.

We have been talking a lot about the Anglo Saxons, but who were they, where did they come from, why came to the isles, when?

Early Anglo-Saxon Britain (400-835) AD (DARK AGES)

Settlement. We know very little of the first several hundred years of the AngloSaxon, or "English", era, primarily because the invaders were an illiterate

people and were Germanic tribes invading the isles from the continent. We know that they established separate kingdoms, the Saxons settling in the south and west, the Angles in the east and north, and the Jutes on the Isle of Wight and the mainland opposite. They probably thought of themselves as separate peoples, but they shared a common language and similar customs. They lived in scattered farmsteads rather than villages. Their homes were made of wood with thatched roofs.

Saxon Britain 600-900 AD The king's power. One of these customs was fighting everyone in sight. A king's power was not hereditary; it depended solely on his ability to win battles and so gain land, treasure, and slaves to give his supporters. He was obliged to fight and keep fighting. If not, he would find himself out of a job or deprived of his life, or both. Succession from father to son was never a forgone conclusion. Any relative of the old king who could muster enough support could make a bid for the throne. This helps to explain why the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms came and went so quickly. The power of any kingdom over its neighbors was only as solid as the strength of its king in battle. King Offa. Roughly speaking, the 7th century was the age of Northumbrian ascendance, with Mercia playing second fiddle. In the 8th century these roles reversed. The most powerful and well known of the Mercian kings was Offa, who ruled from 758-796. A successful warrior (which is a given for anyone in those

days who managed to hold onto power for so long), he defeated kings in Sussex, Anglia, and Wessex, proclaiming himself King of the English.

Offa's Dyke. Offa caused to be built the earthwork that still bears his name, Offa's Dyke, which stretches the 150 mile length of the Welsh border. Begun in the 780's, the purpose of the dyke seems to have been as a fortified frontier barrier, much as Hadrian's Wall some six centuries previous. In most places the ditch was 25 feet from the bottom of the cut to the top of the bank, with wood or stone walling on top of that. The work involved has been compared to the building of the Great Pyramid. This gives us some idea of the power wielded by Offa. It seems that the dyke was not permanently manned, relying instead on the warning given by a series of beacons.

(Remember the Heptarchy) Foreign attack. The upper hand enjoyed by the Mercians did not long survive Offa's death. In the 820's a series of victories by Egbert, king of Wessex, broke Mercian control in the south east. The 9th century may well have turned into a struggle for the upper hand between Mercia and Wessex if not for one thing; England was once again the subject of recurring raids from across the seas. This time it was the Danes and Norwegians. The Danes attacked the east coast of England, the Norwegians attacked the north by way of Ireland and Scotland.

DANES and VIKINGS (brief introduction) (835-1035)END OF ANGLO-SAXON PERIOD The Danes found rich pickings in the undefended monastic settlements on Lindisfarne Island and Jarrow, in Northumbria, but they were not out solely for loot. The Danish raids were partly a response to population pressures in their homeland, so they wanted new lands to settle, not merely easy plunder. They made good use of fortified settlements as bases to expand, and their use of helmets, shields, chain mail, and particularly the long handled battle axe, meant

they were better armed than most of their foes.

Their origins are in Scandinavia. The Danes found rich pickings in the undefended monastic settlements on Lindisfarne Island and Jarrow, in Northumbria, but they were not out solely for loot. The Danish raids were partly a response to population pressures in their homeland, so they wanted new lands to settle, not merely easy plunder. They made good use of fortified settlements as bases to expand, and their use of helmets, shields, chain mail, and particularly the long handled battle axe, meant they were better armed than most of their foes. (835-1035) (Ends Brief comment on Danes)

Anglo-Saxon Life
Life and Religion. It is difficult to generalize about an era as lengthy as the Dark Ages, but we'll do it anyway. The Anglo-Saxons were pagans when they came to Britain. They worshipped gods of nature and held springs, wells, rocks, and trees in reverence. Religion was not a source of spiritual revelation, it was a means of ensuring success in material things. For example, you might pray to a particular goddess for a successful harvest, or for victory in battle. A few of the main Anglo-Saxon gods were Tiw, Wodin (Odin), Thor, and Friya, whose names are remembered in our days of the week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Religious observance consisted of invocations and charms to ensure the gods' help in securing a desired outcome in the material world, though the presence of grave goods indicates a belief in an afterlife. There is a possibility that female slaves may have been sacrificed on the death of a male owner and included in the grave to accompany him in the next world. A Lord's Life. We know little about how most people lived, for so little remains. The richer lords lived on estates, with a main rectangular hall surrounded by outlying buildings for various living, Saxons dining working, and storage purposes. Inside the hall a lord might mark his prestige by expensive wall hangings or even paintings. The hall was the scene of feasts for the lord's followers, and a lord was expected to be a lavish host.

Society was divided into several social groups, which might vary from place to place. At the top was the king. He was essentially a war leader. He was expected to provide opportunities for plunder and glory for his followers. The king who did not provide land, slaves, or plunder might wake up dead one fine morning. Below the king there were two levels of freemen, the upper class thanes and the lower class ceorls (churls). The division between the two was strictly in terms of land owned. A man could only be a thane if he owned at least five hides of land (a hide was defined as the amount of land necessary to provide a living for one family). Aside from the ownership of land, a ceorl could actually be a richer man than the thane. Below the thanes and ceorls were the slaves. Slavery was one of the biggest commercial enterprises of Dark Age life, and much depended on this involuntary labor force. Slavery - the way in... How did one become a slave? You could have the bad luck to be born a slave, of course. Beyond that, war was the most frequent source of slaves. Many conquered Celtic Britons would have become slaves. People could also become slaves if they were unable to pay a fine. In some cases a family would sell a child into slavery in time of famine to ensure the child's survival. ...and the way out. Slavery was not necessarily a lifetime sentence, however. A slave could be ransomed by his or her relatives or granted freedom in an owner's will. If a person became a slave because they were unable to pay a debt, they might be freed when the value of their labor reached the value of the original debt. Clothing. The robe or tunic gathered at the waist was the common garment for a man, completed by hose and soft shoes. For a woman the robe or dress extended to the feet. The usual materials were linen and woolens, the more expensive outfits being marked by colorful dyes and exotic borders. Brooches were used to fix clothing by rich and poor, and amulets of stones were worn for luck. Weapons. In war the common weapon was the spear made with a seven foot long ash shaft and an iron head. It was both thrown and used to jab. Shields

were round, made of wood covered with leather, and had an iron boss in the center. Only the nobility used swords, which were about thirty inches long, made of iron with steel edges. The hilt was often elaborately carved and jeweled, and could be inscribed with good luck symbols and the names of gods. The Danish Vikings were more heavily armed than the Anglo-Saxons, relying on chain mail and helmets, and short stabbing swords which were useful in close quarters, as well as the fearsome double headed battle axe. Leisure. When they weren't fighting (one wonders when that was) the favorite pastimes of the Dark Ages were dice and board games such as chess. Elaborate riddles were popular, as was horse racing and hunting. At feasts the most common entertainment was the harp, which was also used in church music. In addition to the harp, scenes of juggling balls and knives have been found illustrating books of the period. Travelling. Travel was not uncommon, and the main trade routes, often along the old Roman roads, were used frequently. However, off the main routes travel could be a risky business. Travellers were advised to shout, blow horns, and make lots of noise. Otherwise any strangers were assumed to be outlaws, and could be killed out of hand. Administration. The land was divided into shires, mainly according to the territory of the first tribes. The shire was divided into hundreds, or in the Danelaw, wapentakes. These were the basic units of administration and the court system. To look after the king's interests (see that all the taxes were collected) and administer justice, were the ealdormen and shire-reeves (sheriffs). Within the shires were the towns, or burhs, which ranged in size from 5000 people at York to 500 at St. Albans. Initially only some of the towns were walled, and those often with earthworks reminiscent of the Bronze Age. Farming. In the countryside the vast majority of the people lived by farming. At first most of the farms were owned outright. The ceorls worked co-operatively, sharing the expense of a team of oxen to plough the large common fields in narrow strips that were shared out alternately so that each farmer had an equal share of good and bad land.

Later much of this land was consolidated into the large estates of wealthy nobles. Ceorls might work the land in return for service or produce, or they might work the lord's land a given number of days per year. As time went on more and more of these large estates were established as integrated commercial enterprises, complete with water mill to grind the grain. DIVISION AND OWNERSHIP OF THE LAND OPEN FIELD SYSTEM: farming system. The Anglo-Saxons farmed in open fields. Each villager would cultivate a few strips within the enclosure. All the land was divided in three great fields: each was divided into a number of narrow strips separated by grass. Every member of the community was entitled to a certain number of strips according to its standing. Each year one of the big fields was sown with wheat, the next with barley and the next remained fallow to recover its fertility. Many strips belonged to the local lord and the other villagers would had to cultivate his land as well as their own. Besides the three great fields there was a certain amount of meadow land from which the villagers shared the hay crop and same waste land on which they could pasture their oxen and sheep and pigs. Every village had to supply all its needs. The only specialist was the blacksmith, who did and mended tools and weapons. Each strip would be almost exactly one furlong (an eighth of a mile) in length. The word furlong comes from furrow-long. It was the maximum length which a team of oxen could plough before having to be rested. If the Lord of the village was one of the Kings thengs or companions, he had to fight when the king went to war. Village meetings were held periodically in a hall presided by the local lord. At these hall-moots disputes were settled, justice was done and arrangements were made for the cultivation of the village land. Two or three times a year shire-moots were held presided over by a shire-reeve, or sheriff, on behalf of the king. .

In these arable fields, the villagers grew oats, beans and barley, from which they brewed beer. Their livestock would be grazed on common land outside the fields. As they cleared and drained more land, the farmers on the plain started to group their homes into hamlets. The landscape began to take on the appearance we see today and things settled down in the regular, quiet, seasonal pattern of farming life which continues to this day.

Food. The crops most frequently grown were wheat, oats, rye, and barley (both as a cereal and as the base for beer). Peas, beans, and lentils were also common. Honey was the only sweetener in use, and it was used to make the alcoholic beverage mead. Pigs were a major food animal, as were cattle, goats, and sheep. Horses and oxen were raised for heavy farm labor and transportation, though the stirrup had yet to make an appearance from the far east.

Anglo-Saxon Burhs (planned cities)


Alfred the Great effectively saved Anglo-Saxon England from being overwhelmed

by the Danes. Yet Alfred was wise enough to realize that his military successes were only temporary. A more permanent measure of protection was needed against the growing threat of the Danes. Alfred began a policy encouraging the formation of fortified towns, or burhs, throughout his lands, such that no place in Wessex was more than 20 miles from a town. In exchange for free plots of land within the towns, settlers provided a defense force. The burhs were also encouraged to become centres of commerce and local government. These burhs were located primarily along the coast and the borders of Alfred's lands. Alfred's son Edward the Elder continued his father's policy of establishing fortified towns, and he and his sister Aethelflaed of Mercia built a new double row of burhs along the old Roman road of Watling Street, which marked the border of the Danelaw as it ran from the Mersey to Essex. The burhs were remarkable for their time in that they used a regular grid pattern of streets - not unlike the old Roman towns. Indeed, in many cases pre-existing Roman town sites were re-used to create Saxon towns. Why re-use Roman sites? Three main reasons can be found. First, the Roman towns were sited at key points along the old Roman network of roads. In other words, communication was a key factor in siting Saxon towns. Chester and Gloucester are two examples of towns sited at major road intersections, though they were established by Alfred's successors. Second, the Roman towns had basic fortifications in place. Walled towns such as Portchester were already defensible. Other Roman towns had earthwork defenses that could easily be repaired and strengthened. Third, the growth of Christianity influenced the choice of town sites. In areas where the Roman church was strongest (i.e. the south and east), a conscious choice was made to establish sees in metropolitan centers. Contrast this with the Celtic church, which concentrated its efforts on evangelizing in the countryside. Other Saxon burhs were established on entirely new sites. In this class of burh we find Wallingford, Wareham, and Wilton, among others. Some, such as Lewes, Lyng, and Lydford, were built on promontories of land, with a simple ditch and bank combination adding to the natural defenses.

In cases where Roman towns were reused to create burhs the Saxons did not necessarily follow the Roman street pattern. Although frequently the main street was reused, as at Chichester and Winchester, the Saxons often built their houses upon the firm foundations of the Roman street, with the new streets running alongside. Of the burhs that have survived as modern towns, little remains to be seen of the Saxon settlements. In some cases the modern streets follow the Saxon street plan, as at Winchester, Cricklade, Chichester, and Wallingford. Remnants of the defensive ditch and bank can be seen at Wallingford, Wareham, Maaldon, Witham, and Cricklade.

Anglo-Saxon Life - kinship and lordship


The strongest ties in Anglo-Saxon society were to kin and lord. The ties of loyalty were to the person of a lord, not to his station. There was no real concept of patriotism or loyalty to a cause. This explains why dynasties waxed and waned so quickly. A kingdom was only as strong as its war-leader king. There was no underlying administration or bureaucracy to maintain any gains beyond the lifetime of a leader. The king's powers. Kings could not, except in exceptional circumstances, make new laws. Their role instead was to uphold and clarify previous custom. The first act of a conquering king was often to assure his subjects that he would uphold their ancient privileges, laws, and customs. The king and religion. Although the person of the king as a leader could be exalted, the office of kingship was not in any sense as powerful or as invested with authority as it was to become. One of the tools kings used was to tie themselves closely to the new Christian church. The practice of having a church leader anoint and crown the king was part of this move to join God and king in peoples' minds. King Edgar making an offering

Wergilds. The ties of kinship meant that the relatives of a murdered person

were obliged to exact vengeance for his or her death. This led to bloody and extensive feuds. As a way out of this deadly and futile custom the system of wergilds was instituted. The wergild set a monetary value on each person's life according to their wealth and social status. This value could also be used to set the fine payable if a person was injured or offended against. Robbing a thane called for a higher penalty than robbing a ceorl. On the other hand, a thane who thieved could pay a higher fine than a ceorl who did likewise. This emphasis on social standing led to an interesting court system. The courts did not attempt to discover the facts in a case; instead, in any dispute it was up to each party to get as many people as possible to swear to the rightness of their case. The word of a thane counted for that of six ceorls. It was assumed that any person of good character would be able to find enough people to swear to his innocence that his case would prosper. The role of women. Anglo-Saxon society was decidedly patriarchal, but women were in some ways better off than they would be in later times. A woman could own property in her own right. She could and did rule a kingdom if her husband died. She could not be married without her consent and any personal goods, including lands, that she brought into a marriage remained her own property. If she were injured or abused in her marriage her relatives were expected to look after her interests. RELIGION Remember 1-Conversion to Christianity and the Synod of Whitby.

Saint Dunstan
The life of the revered Anglo-Saxon saint, advisor to kings and leader of monastic and scholarly reform in Britain.

Bishop of Worcester Archbishop of Canterbury Patron saint of: Armourers and gunsmiths Born 909; Died May 19, 988

Feast Day: May 19 Symbol: smith's tongs, and a dove

Saint Dunstan is fairly unusual among Anglo-Saxon saints in that we know where, if not precisely when, he was born. Dunstan was born in the village of Baltonsborough, Somerset, just a few miles south of Glastonbury, probably about the year 909 or 910. [Note: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives the birth date as 925]. His father Heorstan was a Wessex nobleman of royal blood, and his family connections were to be of great benefit to him in his later career in the church. Glastonbury was at that time a popular place for Christian pilgrimage; folk traditions told that it was the first place of Christian settlement in Britain, and associated it with Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus himself. The Abbey at Glastonbury was a center of learning, and housed scholars from as far away as Ireland. The young Dunstan was educated at Glastonbury and then joined his uncle Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the royal court of King Athelstan. Dunstan took to the monastic life much later than most; taking holy orders in 943, when he may already have reached 34 years. Apparently he was at first disinclined to a life in the church, but a skin disease which he feared might be leprosy made him change his mind. After taking orders Dunstan returned to Glastonbury and built himself a small cell (i.e. a hut) beside the Abbey church. There he lived a simple life of manual labor and devotion. He soon showed great skill in the arts of metalworking, and he used his skills to craft bells and vessels for the church. But his life was not to stay simple for long; Athelstan died, and his successor Edmund called Dunstan to his court to act as a priest. After a short period at court, Edmund named Dunstan Abbot of Glastonbury. So once more Dunstan returned to the place of his birth, this time on a mission to reinvigorate the abbey. He instituted the strict Benedictine Rule, rebuilt and enlarged the church buildings, and established Glastonbury as a leading center of learning and scholasticism. The effect of Dunstan's reforms, and in particular his

efforts to produce a class of educated clerics, did much to encourage the growth of monastic settlements throughout Britain. Dunstan acted as a royal advisor and negotiator for Edmund and his successor Eadred, and helped establish a period of peace from Danish attack. Unfortunately in 955 Dunstan's zeal got him into trouble when he reproved young King Eadwig for moral laxity. Eadwig promptly confiscated Dunstan's property and exiled the monk. Dunstan found shelter at the monastery of Ghent, in modern Belgium, but he was quickly called back to Britain by Edgar, king of Northumbria and Mercia. Edgar shared Dunstan's monastic zeal, and together they put considerable energy into monastic reform and expansion. Under Edgar's influence Dunstan became Bishop of Worcester, and when Eadwig considerately died in 960, Dunstan was named Archbishop of Canterbury. In this post Dunstan carried on his work of encouraging scholarship and monastic settlements. He also oversaw every detail of Edgar's coronation as king. It is said that he designed the coronation crown himself, and more importantly, that he altered the ceremony to put emphasis on the bond between church and monarch; making the coronation a sacred act, emulating the ceremony of consecration for priests. Dunstan's coronation ceremony still forms the basis of royal coronations today. When Edgar died, Dunstan carried on as advisor to his son Edward, but when Edward was murdered in 978 to make way for his brother Ethelred, Dunstan retired from court life. He lived on at Canterbury, delighting in teaching the young and only rarely troubling to involve himself in the politics of the realm. When he died in 988 Dunstan was buried in his cathedral, where his tomb was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. Until Thomas a Becket later eclipsed Dunstan's fame he was the most popular English saint.

(This shows you the importance and power of the Church as an institution then and now).

Alfred the Great & Anglo-Saxon England

King Alfred's struggle By 870 the Danes had overthrown the kingdoms of East Anglia, Northumbria, and Mercia, and were preparing to do the same to Wessex. Standing in their way was a young king of Wessex, Alfred by name. At first the fight went badly for Alfred; some of his allies found it more expedient to cooperate with the Danes, and in 877 he was pushed back to a small corner of the marshes around Athelney, in Somerset. Alfred's triumph. Alfred came out of the Athelney marshes and surprised the Danes under Guthrum at Edington, in Wiltshire. After a thorough victory for Alfred, Guthrum was chased back to his base at Chippenham, where he was besieged for two weeks. Eventually Guthrum surrendered, and agreed to retreat from Wessex, and also to accept baptism as a Christian. This baptism was solemnized at Wedmore, in Somerset, some weeks later, giving us what is known as the Peace of Wedmore. The Danes retreated to East Anglia, and Alfred got on with consolidating his gains. Alfred's Towns. Alfred was an innovator and a thinker, as well as a successful warrior. He began a policy encouraging the formation of fortified towns, or burhs, throughout his lands, such that no place in Wessex was more than 20 miles from a town. In exchange for free plots of land within the towns, settlers provided a defense force. The burhs were also encouraged to become centres of commerce and local government. THE DANELAW Saxon Soldiers

Alfred built a new and improved navy to better meet the sea-faring Danes on their own terms. He wrested London from Danish control and reached the agreement by which England was divided into two zones; the south and west, where Saxon law would apply, and the north and east, where Danish law ruled. This second territory became known as the Danelaw. Alfred's Legacy Alfred also did his bit on the cultural front. He established schools and encouraged the dissemination of knowledge. He is said to have personally translated several books from Latin into the Anglo-Saxon tongue. An untraceable myth has it that he established the first university at Oxford. From the depths of despair in 877, Alfred brought Anglo-Saxon England into a golden age of social stability and artistic accomplishment. He was one of the first kings who seems to have looked beyond his own personal glory to a vision of the future well-being of the nation he ruled. He has every right to be remembered as Alfred "The Great".

Ethelred, the Danes, and the Confessor


In the Footsteps of Alfred the Great. Following the death of Alfred the Great his son Edward ''the Elder' and grandson Aethelstan won a series of victories that extended the power of Wessex north as far as present day Scotland. Aethelstan could afford to call himself "king of the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes". Unfortunately, this was still a time when personal loyalty to a successful warrior king counted more than anything else. Dynasties were rare, and no realm was strong or stable independent of its leader. England was about to be saddled with a weak leader at just the wrong time. Ethelred the Unready. The leaders' name was Ethelred, and, in an unfortunate misunderstanding of an Anglo-Saxon pun, history has saddled him with the soubriquet, "The Unready". The original term for Ethelred was "un raed", which translates as "no council". It is possibly a play on his name, which is composed of the terms "aethel raed", or "noble council". In any case he was not well thought of even during his own reign, when it was not good politics to directly criticize a king. One chronicler, writing a century later, called the king "eager and admirably fitted for sleeping." The Danegeld. Why the bad press? Ethelred came to the throne at the age of

ten when his mother had his half-brother Edward murdered, and things went downhill from there. In the 980's a fresh wave of Danish raids began, and in the next decade armies under Norwegian and Swedish kings did their ravaging bit. London was attacked and survived, but the surrounding countryside was hit hard. In 991 the fateful decision was made to buy off the raiders with a large payment. This payment, or Danegeld as it came to be known, set a dangerous precedent. Now the Danes knew that there was good money to be had just for showing up. And each time the payment got bigger, from 10,000 pounds in 991 to a high of 82,500 pounds in 1018. The Danes, under Swein Forkbeard, were a constant threat. In 1013 they became more than a threat. They sailed up the Trent and established a base at Gainsborough. From there Swein forced the submissions of first the north, then the southern kingdoms. Ethelred fled to Normandy, only to return the following year when Swein died.

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Canute. The trouble was that Swein had a son, named Canute, who proved as difficult to deal with as his father. Canute defeated Ethelred, who improved matters by dying shortly thereafter. His son, Edmund ("Ironside", for his battle prowess), Canute and Queen Emma carried on the scrap for a short time before he, too, died, perhaps assassinated by Canute.

So the acclaimed new ruler of all England was a Dane who was also king of Denmark and Norway. He did his best to keep the peace in his new kingdom by using English councilors and upholding the traditional laws and customs. He married Edmund's widow, and allied himself closely with the Christian church. He tried to make loyalty to his person and loyalty to the Church one and the same. When Canute died in 1035, however, the same old dynastic squabbles broke out, with the eventual result that Edward, surviving son of Ethelred, was called back from exile in Normandy to rule

Edward the Confessor. Edward, later to be called "Edward the Confessor" for his religious bent, had lived in Normandy for 25 years in exile. He was Norman in his outlook and he appointed Norman councilors and church leaders. He is chiefly remembered as being the founder of Westminster Abbey. The site of the abbey is now a part of Greater London, but it was then an isolated patch of land beside the Thames. The court was moved to Westminster to be close to the works. This separation of court and city became a problem in later years when London tended to be in the forefront of insurrection and anti-royalist sentiment. Edward's Heirs. Edward approached old age without a son to succeed him. In the interests of continuity he was expected to name an heir. The two chief candidates were Harold Godwinson, a prominent earl, and William, Duke of Normandy. There is no sign that Edward had actually promised the throne to William. Harold made a better choice politically within the realm. There is a story that Harold had sworn an oath, which he later claimed was taken under duress, to defer in favor of William. However it may have happened, Edward named Harold as his heir. King Harold's beginnings... Edward died on January 5,1066. On the same day Harold was crowned king in Westminster Abbey, which had itself only been consecrated 8 days previously. He must have known he would be in for a rough spell, and he was. Duke William amassed an invasion fleet, and Harold was ready. As luck or providence would have it, a spell of bad weather kept the invasion fleet from sailing for so long that Harold had no choice but to send home his levied troops, who owed him only a limited amount of service, and put his own fleet into port at London. Then word came of an invasion in the north by Harald Hardrada, King of Norway. It never rains but it pours. ...and his end. Harold marched north with his own personal army and defeated the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge. The wind chose that moment to subside and Duke William's fleet was able to make an unopposed crossing to the English shore near Hastings, in Sussex. Back again marched Harold with his tired troops. They met the Normans on Senlac Hill, near the town now called Battle, and in a near run thing the Norman knights defeated the battle-axe wielding English.

The Norman Triumph. It was thought for some time that the tide turned after Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye. This information is culled from the Bayeux Tapestry, a weaving organized by William's wife telling the tale of the Conquest. A closer look at the Tapestry, however, reveals that the man with the arrow in his eye may not be Harold after all, but a Saxon lord. Another myth of history exploded. With the defeat of Harold the Dark Ages come officially to an end. They were not so dark as they were a time of great tumult and constant change, instability and internecine warfare. Now it was the turn of the Normans. (Battle of Hastings) THE WELDING OF A NATION (1066-1272) (continues on other paper) IMPORTANT TOPICS IN ANGLO SAXON TIMES 1a-Results of the Roman occupation 1-The migration 2-Conversion to Christianity and the Synod of Whitby The rise of the AngloSaxon Church. 3-Danelaw 4-Open field system 5- Justice 6-Heptarchy(Stages in the unification of Anglo-Saxon Britain) 7-Feudalism: the rise of Feudalism before the Norman Conquest.( Also remember, King Edgard made a law that every landless man must have a lord to be responsible of his conduct.) 8-Alfred the Great 9- Anglo-Saxons Kings (just to know their names): Egbert, Alfred, Athelstan, Egbert, Ethereld the Unready, Canute, Edward the Confessor, Oswald, Oswy Offa.

The death of King Harold

Egbert (he is generally considered the first real King of England

___________________________CHRONOLOGY ________________________ PREHISTORY: divided into- Old Stone Age, New Stone Age (some peoples began using metals in this last stage. First Copper, then Bronze and later Iron. For England it is the times of the Celts.

ROMAN INVASION: Began BC with Julius Caesar 55- 54 BC. Then Emperor Claudius sent army and stayed from 43AD to more or less 410 AD.

MIDDLE AGES: began around 476 BC with the Fall of Rome and ended in 1453 with the Fall of Constantinople (or 1492 Discovery of America). It is divided in two.

1- DARK AGES the era called DARK AGES- from 5th century till 12th century (approx.). (In our historical chronology we called this period Alta Edad Media)

2- MEDIEVAL TIMES: Then what is called in English historiography: Medieval Times, from 13th century up to the end of Middle Ages (either 1453 or 1492) (known in Spanish as Baja Edad Media).

MODERN TIMES According to British chronology they began in 1453 up to today. In the rest of the Western World Modern Times comprises the period between the years 1453 (1492) to 1789 (French Revolution). From 1789 to today, we called this period Contemporary Times. But we are going to follow their chronology.
Renaissance: Then there is a time called the Renaissance, a very short period in between the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Era. This period is considered as The Dawn of A New Age (1480-1520 approx.)

About 1450, European scholars became more interested in studying the world around them. Their art became more true to life. They began to explore new lands. The new age in Europe was eventually called "the Renaissance."

Renaissance is a French word that means "rebirth." Historians consider the Renaissance to be the beginning of modern history.

The Renaissance began in northern Italy and then spread through Europe. Italian cities such as Naples, Genoa, and Venice became centers of trade between Europe and the Middle East. Arab scholars preserved the writings of the ancient Greeks in their libraries. When the Italian cities traded with the Arabs, ideas were exchanged along with goods. These ideas, preserved from the ancient past, served as the basis of the Renaissance. When the Byzantine Empire fell to Muslim Turks in 1453, many Christian scholars left Greece for Italy. The Renaissance was much more than simply studying the work of ancient scholars. It influenced painting, sculpture, and architecture. Paintings became more realistic and focused less often on religious topics. Rich families became patrons and commissioned great art. Artists advanced the Renaissance style of showing nature and depicting the feelings of people. In Britain, there was a flowering in literature and drama that included the plays of William Shakespeare. Learning and the Arts began to flourish during the Renaissance Crusaders returned to Europe with a newfound understanding of the world. The invention of the printing press encouraged literacy and helped to spread new ideas.(and the beginnings of use of VERNACULAR LANGUAGES, spoken by common people. Common or VULGAR languages began to gain their rights. Latin, lost its preeminence, giving power to common people,( not as it has always been, to the Clergy or Nobles who were the ones who had the opportunity to learn how to read and write it. Indeed mostly all the population was illiterate!) Wealthy families and the church had amassed enough wealth to become patrons. The development of financial techniques such as bookkeeping and credit allowed merchants to prosper (what is called pre-capitalism) There is a new way of being and thinking the world. Man is the measure of all things. He wants to discover himself, nature, then God was not left aside but

Man wanted and was seeing things through his NEW EYES. This phenomenon was called ANTHROPOCENTRICISM Man, not God, is the center of the world. It is shown by the interest men took into themselves, questioning many ancient and unquestionable beliefs, as for example, the earth is the center of the Universe, which was demonstrated it was not, painting self-portraits, signing their paintings, works of art, books, etc., wanting to be rich, famous, not the glory of Paradise but earthly gains, recognition, adventure, individualism, etc. Men wanted to conquer everything: new lands, new riches, discover new lands, put things into questioning (Scientific Revolution, Protestant Reform, Discoveries, new artistic expressions, etc.)

Humanism (this is NOT a historical era; it is a CULTURAL movement.


Beginning in the late 1300s, a group of scholars centered in the Italian city-state of Florence began to look to the past for inspiration. These scholars were later called humanists because they stressed human innovation instead of spiritualism. The humanists studied the classics the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans. In the works of the classics, Renaissance scholars found a way of thinking similar to their own time. They believed this outlook had not been explored since the fall of Greece and Rome. The humanists recreated classical styles in art, literature, and architecture. Humanists believed that by studying the classics, they could better understand people and the world. The humanists believed in reason. Reason is the ability to think logically. The scholars promoted the investigation of nature, they sought to be clear and articulate in their speaking and writing, and they promoted the responsibility every citizen has to his or her community. In 1459, Battista Guarino wrote, "To each species of creature has been allotted a peculiar and instinctive gift. To horses galloping, to birds flying, comes naturally. To man only is given the desire to learn." The Renaissance humanists valued human experience and believed in the dignity and worth of the individual. The humanists emphasized the importance of human values instead of religious beliefs. Renaissance humanists were often devout Christians, but their promotion of secular, or non-religious values, often put them at odds with

the church. Today we refer to the study of literature, philosophy and art as the humanities. The civilizations of Greece and Rome ended long ago, but those civilizations continue to influence us through the humanities. Leonardo Da Vinci was the ideal Renaissance prototype man. He had all the virtues a person must have, not only know about History, Philosophy, Latin, Greek, but also to be excellent in many areas: inventor, diplomatic, Anatomy, Physics, painter, architect, etc. He was the one. Another famous artists were Donatello, Miguel Angel, Durero, Van Eicke, Holbein, etc.