Historical and literature background of Anglo-Saxon or old English period

Anglo-Saxon or Old English Period

In this article, I have discussed the political and, literature history of the old English period or the Anglo-Saxon period. I covered all the important events of the Anglo-Saxon period which can be asked in the PPSC examination. This one article is enough to study for the preparation of the PPSC examination. 

Origin of English language and literature

In ancient times, before the death of Christ, there was no national boundary. There were just tribes and groups. Fighting, Slave keeping warriors were common in those days. The islands were governed by tribes Whoever was most powerful, occupied the other tribes or origins. Mostly the stay of these tribes was not permanent. next tribe will come, they will attack and war will take place and whoever win, will occupy that area.

Earlier Tribes Celts and Gales

Before the Roman invasions, Celts and Gales are settled in Britain. They are called Britons or Brythons that is why that Island called Britain. Celts have their own language and Gales have their own language. Celts spoke Celtic dialect and Gales spoke Galic dialect. 

Earlier Languages

Earlier languages were Celtic and Galic which spoken by Celtics and Gales tribes but these languages were spoken not written. 

The Roman Invasion 54 BC To 410 AD

The Romans attack Britain in 54 BC and again in 52 BC and make the part of his own kingdom. Their main purpose in attacking this island was to expand their kingdom. They continue ruling England tell 450 AD. Their language was Latin. Latin has a great influence on English. They work on infrastructure in Britain.

Visigoths attack Rome

In 410 AD Romans return back because they have their own issues in Rome.  Visigoths attacked Rome and Romans withdraw their army from England and let the open Island for other invaders. So they let the open this Island for other invaders. Romans invaded Britain in 54 BC and governed it till 450 Ad. 

Picts and Scots attack Britain

When the Roman army withdraws from Britain Picts and Scots started attacking the Celts and Gales. They can not defend themselves because they were not so powerful and strong and united. They invite Three Germanic tribes for help. 

Germanic Speaking Tribes

When The Roman leave this Island Viking start attacking Island. The Gales and Celts were not very powerful and strong to defend their country. They invite three tribes for help. These tribes came from Germany, Denmark, and Netherland. They were Angles who came from Germany. Saxons who came from Denmark and, Jutes who came from Netherland.

Angels, Saxon, and  Jutes

Angels, Soxon and, Jutes came to Britain in 410 Ad. They came to Britain for the help of Celts and Gales but they settled there permanently and made this Island their native homeland. They are forefathers of the English race. When these three tribes invaded Britain the Gales and Celts migrated to Scotland, Irland and, Wales. Original inhabitants of Britain migrated to mountain areas in Wales.

Division of Kingdoms

Angles, Soxon and, Jutes divided Britain into five Kingdom. Northumbria,  Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Wessex, Kent, and. Sussex

King Arther

King Arther led the Defense of Britain against Anglo-Saxon. King Arther is presented in Medvial literature as a great literary figure. King Arther's history we can find in Anglo-Saxon chronicles. We do not find him in the Bed’s ecclesiastical history of English people.

Vikings Invasion

King Alfred the great fight with Vikings Norsemen came from Scandinavian in 793. Vikings defeated in 878 AD by King Alfred the Great in the Battle of Edington. Now Anglo Saxon culture was flourished in Britain. Anglo-Saxon became the native of England. 

Britan Change into Engleland

When Angles fully control this Island the name of Britan change to Engleland which means the land of Engls , and later on it is known as England.

Anglo Saxon Religion

Anlo-Soxon were Pagan or polytheistic. They worshiped many gods. They have their own tradition and customs. They were brave and adventurous people. They gave respect to their women and heroes who fight on the battlefields.

Converting into Christianity

St. Agguston arrived in England in 597 AD and converting King Ethelbert into Christianity.
Christianity started to spread across England with co exits with pagans religions of Anglo-Saxons.
Christianity replaces the Anglos Saxon pagan religion with Christianity. Anglo-Saxon ruled over Britain for about 6 hundred years from 450 to 1066.

Beginning of Anglo-Norman Period

Normans defeated Anglo Saxon in the battle of hastings and ended the Anglo- Saxon Period.

History of English Literature in the Anglo-Saxon Period

The history of English literature began with a settlement with anglo-Soxon in England. Anglo-Saxons have their own traditions and customs of oral literature but have not written literature. They sing songs in the fair about their heroes, battle, and gods. With the coming of the Christian church written literature began to evolve.

Anglo-Saxon Works

Major Genre of Writings

Major works of the Anglo-Saxon period are
1.  poetry
2.  Epic poetry
3. Gagiograpy
4. Sermons
5. Bible translations 
6. Legal works
7. Chronicles and
8.  Riddles

Old Egnlish poetry survived in 4 manuscripts

1. Exeter book
2. Junius Manuscripts
3. Vercelli book
4. Beowulf manuscripts

Old English poetry falls into two main categories

1. Heroic ( recounting the achievements of warriors )
2. Elgiac ( Laments the dead one and the loss of the past) 


Caedmon was the first poet who used old English in his writings 
Caedmon’s Hmm was the oldest surviving text in old English which is a short poem of 9 lines Caedmon wrote on the old testament.

The Poem Beowulf

The most important old English poem is Beowulf which written by an unknown author. This one of the oldest English poem consisting of 3182 lines 


Cynewulf was the second English poet who was known for his four poems. Synewuld wrote on the new testament.
1. Elene 
2. Juliana 
3. The fate of the Apostles 
4. The christ 11 which also known as (Ascension )

Works written by anonymous writers are

1. The Exeter book riddle
2. The wife laments
3. The seafarer
4. The Dream of the rood
5. The Battle of Maldon

Literary techniques used in Anglo Saxon poetry 

1. Blank verse no end rhyme
2. Alliteration ( Repetition of consonant sound in the line of poetry)
3. Caesura ( A pause in the middle of the line of the poetry)
4. Kennings ( use of metaphor made of compound words)
5. Riddles ( Linguistics guessing games)


Bede was the most famous scholar of the old English period 
Ecclesiastical history of English people) written in Latin
This work gained him the title of Father of English history in this work he provides the history of English up to his own lifetime. 

Old English Prose

Old English prose began during King Alfred reign

Famous prose writers

King Alfred the Great

King Alfred great was known as the father of English prose. He also promoted written works. His important translated works are 

1. Gregory's Pastoral care

2. Bed’s ecclesiastical history of English people 


Alfric was the second important old English prose writer, his famous works are
1. Colloquium
2. Catholic homilies 


3rd important prose writer of the old English period is
 He wrote Sermo Lupi la Anglos

Anglo Saxon chronicles

Compiled during the reign of King Alfred
Maintain regular as the regularly collected history of Britain

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