The Beginnings of English Society

The Beginnings of English Society

The Beginnings of English Society

The Beginnings of English Society

Excerpt

This book does not set out to give an account of Anglo- Saxon political history, but to assemble from various sources what can be learnt about the ways of life of the English between their settlement in Britain in the middle of the fifth century and their conquest by the Normans in 1066. It examines the principles of society brought from their continental homes, and how these developed in the new land. It deals with the modifications which Christianity introduced and the art and literature which it inspired. A detailed knowledge of political events, of dates, or of kingdoms and kings, etc., is not necessary for the understanding of these chapters. It is enough that the reader should know that Christianity first reached the English in 597 and within a century had spread over the whole country; and that the period can be divided into two, a pre-Viking period, when England consisted of several small kingdoms, and a post-Viking period, when the kings of Wessex were the only English rulers. The Viking raids began with a few isolated attacks at the very end of the eighth century, and became a serious menace between 835 and 878, the year in which Alfred's victory at Edington prevented the extinction of Christian culture in England. By this date the Danes had already begun the settlement of East Anglia, Northumbria, and the North-East Midlands. By 954 these areas had all been recovered for the English crown by Alfred's son and grandsons, but they retained many signs of Scandinavian influence in their language, their place-names and personal names, their administrative divisions and assessment . . .

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