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Anglo-Saxon: Historical and social background

Historical background
The Anglo-Saxons ribes arrived in Great Britain at the beginning of the 5th century. There were Germanic invaders who had already settled in England as mercenaries. They crossed the North Sea and they killed many British inhabitants or pushed them towards Wales, Cornowall ans Scotland. Together with them a small group of Danes, called the Jutes, arrived in the south of Great Britain, together with the Anglo-Saxons, in the same period. When these Germanica ribes arrived in England, they destroyed many Roman cities (exept London who became the mosto impostant commercial centre) and cancelled the Roman civilization and language. The Celtic civilization survived only in Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and Ireland. Although (sebbene) the Anglo-Saxons brought thei pagan religion, Christianity continued to spread in England, thanks to Pope Gregory the Great, who sent St Augustine to Britain in 597. He become the first Archibishop of Canterbury and founded many monasteries. In ireland his mission was continued buS t Patrick. The Anglo-Saxon imposed their language (they had a written aplphabet called “runes” or “runic alphabet”, even in they had a very strong oral tradition), thei culture, their political and judical systems and they divided the country into seven kingdoms (Notrhumbria ad East Anglia, Kent, where the Jutes settled, Essex, Wessex, Sussex). During the 9th century we had a second biref invasion of the Danes, but King Alfred who was a Saxon king, defeated them and became the greatest English king of that time. He created a reign which embraced all south of England and he reitroduced the Latin culture and language. After his death, the Danes re-conquered the country until 1042 when another English king, Edward the Confessor, became the new King. He lived for many years in France and in Normandy and for that reason he introduced in England the French language and culture. He had no children and after his death Harold, a noblme Saxon, took the throne and kept it until 1066.

Social background
After a period of destruction, the Anglo-Saxon invader, settled in Britain with their families. They were warriors, farmers or fighermen and they lived in log-huts (capanne di legno). They loved freedom and preferred to live in small communities. The basis of thei economy was agriculture, but they were also know as pirates. They liked gambling (gioco d’azzardo), fighting and drinking beer. Their sense of hospitality was renowned (riconosciuto) and they had respect for women. They also liked musica and singing and they usually sat down around the tables listening to stories told by minstrels or “scoops” (menestrelli). These stories were about wars, hunting (caccia), fighting adventures and heroic legenda of the past. It is this material which formed the bulk (l’insieme) of the earliest English literature, better know as Anglo-Saxon Literature.

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