Anglo-Saxon period refers to an ancient era in between 400AD to 1066AD (Crone and Philips 203). During this time, many things happened in the name of the Empire creation. Tribes invaded, fought in the name of protecting their territories and conquering other pieces of lands, including a treasure hunt. The people living in the Anglo-Saxon era ranked themselves according to their orders in society. According to Contreni, Adalbero of Laon and Carozzi, the order consisted of three classes: the clergy, the nobility, and the people (103). The clergy was the highest class in society due to their respect to Godly matters and participation in governing the empire. In addition, since worship used to be highly respected, they received such honors in their reign. The other class was the nobility. They were ranked second after the clergy since most of them participated in military commanding. Lastly, the people comprised of common citizens who usually had the privilege of paying taxes, doing businesses, and working in the industry. All classes of ranks depended on the people for the growth of the economy since the nobles never paid taxes.
Similarly, the Anglo-Saxon era had many instances of heroic acts. Kings of that time fought in raids and conquered others land for the expansion of their kingdom. By doing this, heroes emerged and participated in the fights in many areas. For example, it is evident how in the reign of King Hrothgar, the Danish king, for instance, (Gwara 314) Beowulf fought with a monster and saved his people from that incident evil. Another hero emerged at the time of King Arthur named Sir Gawain, who challenged a Green Knight (Tracy 210). These two were the stories narrated at those times, but it is not clear if they happened. Therefore, this paper mainly focuses on the events that took place in the Anglo-Saxons era as discussed by various articles.
1. Kings of the Anglo-Saxon Period
During his reign, King Honorius the king of Roman, (Vanderputen 157) used barbaric acts and he was brutal since he killed his allies and generals who tried to overthrow him. It is evident how he ordered the execution of his father-in-law Stilicho. Honorius was one of the worst emperors as stated by the article. After his death, in the year 423 AD, no one was available to inherit his powers and therefore, Valentinian III was the Emperor to succeed Honorius by the invaders. It was during this period where heroes like Beowulf emerged for the benefit of their people’s safety. Beowulf was from a group of people called Geats from the Danish Kingdom in the era of King Hrothgar. After the killing of his people by a monster known as Grendel, Beowulf came in to help people and eventually managed to kill the monster, including its mother who emerged to avenge the death of her son. Beowulf was generously rewarded by the king and he received loads of honors from his people. By the look of the classes or honors of the tribe, Beowulf emerged from a humble family consisted of “the people’s class” and after the heroic act, he is raised to a “nobility class” as a military who later ends up being a king (clergy). The noble rank usually had the responsibility to protect the nation in times of war. Thus, Beowulf managed to be one of them in a positive way as he joined the military forces at his time.
2. Battles of the Anglo-Saxon Period
It was during this Anglo-Saxon period when most of the kingdoms were destroyed after the decline of the Roman Empire, and the time was known as the Dark Ages. Mostly, many ancient estates were abandoned, including the well-furnished walls and bridges. The development inventions they had was lost. Ketton-Cremer stated that some of the Romans remained in the ruins of their buildings after the invasion; they managed to jumpstart their economy with the help of Pope Gregory (701). The Pope made Rome a place of Pilgrimages and later on, he was able to stimulate its economy to a point where the city stood on its own regardless of being under the control of Byzantine. The role of Clergy again is evident at this point where the Pope is responsible for leadership roles to his people. He later established the city into a Christianity Center as their religion. During these times, different people had a different amount of wealth. There were the wealthiest, middlemen, and the poorest people that comprised of slaves. Their economy stood firmly mainly because the wealthiest provided most of the resources to the economy. In return, the poor and slaves provided the rich with cheap labor while the middlemen provided security. This strategy made the economy stand for a long time. They led to the emergence of the Anglo-Saxon period whereby Christianity was fully established by the Pope and was made the main religion. They created the English Nation, regional government, literature and language, and lastly, the establishment of law.
3. Social Events in the Period of Anglo-Saxon Times
The Anglo-Saxon community developed radically after the Roman Empire collapsed largely during the 6th century (Journals.cambridge.org 130). At this time, their settlement area consisted of lands for farming as people’s main activity. Most of the citizens owned lands freely with an exchange of taxes and rents to the authority. Thus, the naming of Kings was done for each territory that had emerged. Some of the kingdoms that grew were Mercia. Mercia was a powerful kingdom that was based on its military. They won almost every battle and conquered many kingdoms with the use of ruthless action, brutal killings, and complete destruction. They managed to defeat all rulers, including the European ruler known as ‘Charlemagne, the Frankish King’ who gave the Mercian King his power. During this Anglo-Saxon time, schools were introduced. It was the effort of an Archbishop from a Greek-speaking monk known as ‘Canterbury’ but he was helped by ‘Hadrian’, a Latin-speaking tutor. After some time, many students were enrolled for studying as they learned Latin and Greek as their first language. The pioneer tutors gathered great wealth as many students flocked the institutions for learning. In addition, monks and nuns grew at large, leading to the practice of celibacy in Christianity as a way of loyalty to serving God.
4. Heroes Present at the Time of Anglo-Saxon
Heroes like Beowulf and Sir Gawain have only been discussed in books as poems it is not clear if the incidents took place in England. In addition, the heroes had a reputation to their tribes for the acts they performed. Beowulf killed two monsters that had killed most of Gaets people. Although Beowulf died, he was remembered through his bravery and he was generously rewarded by the kings. Similarly, another hero of that time was known as Sir Gawain. He was from the people of King Arthur. As they were feasting, a huge green monster came to challenge the king but Sir Gawain emerged and took the challenge. He later managed to cheat death at the time of revenge, but at the end, he was recognized as a warrior by his people.
5. Near End of the Anglo-Saxon Era
Everything was quiet and nice in the middle of the Anglo-Saxon period until the 9th century. There emerged raiders known as Vikings who were nothing but ruthless raiders attracted to the Mercians because of their wealth. According to Oggins, Vikings were raiders and pirates in Western Europe (109). They could raid and conquer kingdoms and later on appoint puppet kings on their behalf, for example, King Ceowulf in Mercia in the year 873AD. It was at this time when the Anglo-Saxon culture had drastic changes. In languages, they had moved from what was known as old English to Middle English, which was now written. Politically, the kingdoms were much better as compared with earlier leadership. They were better organized and they practiced delegation of authority. After some time, Vikings disappeared through the help of some kings who opposed their rule by retaliation. It is evident that Vikings later returned in full force and raided more and more territories, which lead to the Norman Conquest. Norman Conquest was the main reason the Anglo-Saxon ended. They were not killed by their enemies but instead, they were submerged into the powering kingdoms that conquered them. Similarly, the Anglo-Saxon nobility were exiled, although some of them joined opposition while others fled to neighboring nations.
An Anglo-Saxon era had various developments including political powers and so much war. Kingdoms emerged while others collapsed through raids and territorial fights, land grabbing, piracy, etc. Waugh stated that the roles of kings and leaders varied from place to place but they had similar tasks of representing their citizens in many ways (132). They comprised of clergymen either politically or by religion. Military men protected their nations through fights, for instance, the case of Sir Gawain, who had challenged the Green Knight and Beowulf, the warrior. During the ancient times of the Saxons, classes of people were still ranked by the amount of wealth one had acquired. The wealthiest were respected and participated in leadership while the lowest rank comprised of slaves or the poorest used to work for others. Taxes were paid by the common people. The soldiers did not pay taxes since they always participated in the security of the nation. Thus, the clergy and the wealthiest took the roles of governance and providing food to entire society.