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The Anglo-Saxon Culture

The Anglo-Saxons were mostly ignorant; many of them were illiterate and could not even sign their names. As Anglo-Saxons were pagans, they believed in many gods. They named the days of the week after their gods. Sunday meant the Sun's day, Monday the Moon's day; Tuesday the day of Tu, or Tueso — the god of darkness, Wednesday Woden's (the great god of war) day, Thursday was the day of Thor, the god of Thunder, Friday was Freya's day (Freay was the goddess of Peace and Plenty), Saturday was named after Saturn, a Roman God. Conversion to Christianity brought back the Latin language to England and monasteries became the centres of learning.

The monks copied out the books and translated them from Latin and Greek into Anglo-Saxon. The most famous writer was the monk Bede the Venerable who wrote "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" — the only books on Anglo-Saxon history of the 7th—8th centuries. Another Anglo-Saxon scholar — monk Alcuin, who lived from 735 to 804 in Northumbria, became the author of the school textbooks that were very popular in the 8th—9th centuries in England and on the Continent.


The Runes and the Anglo-Saxon alphabet


During the reign of Alfred the Great (871—899) the laws were improved in the interests of great landowners and the standards of culture rose among them. King Alfred brought artisans, builders and scholars from the Continent to rebuilt school and monasteries burnt by the Danes and to spread learning. Books on religion, history and philosophy were translated from Latin into Anglo-Saxon. The translation of "Ecclesiastical History of the English People", which the Venerable Bede had written in Latin was made by Alfred himself.

Alfred ordered to start writing the history of England. The learned monks from several monasteries began to keep a record of the outstanding events of each year. This written history called. "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" continued for 250 years after the death of Alfred. King Alfred also collected old customs and laws of the Anglo-Saxons in Wessex and Mercia, added new laws and "A Code of English Law" was drawn up. Everybody had to follow the laws of the kingdom.

Task 8. Answer the following questions.

1.Why did the Roman occupation in Britain end?

2.Why did the Roman civilisaton in Britain disappear quickly and completely?

3.What was the structure of the Anglo-Saxon society?

4.Why were the pre-Christian beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons?

5.How was Christianity brought to Britain?

6.What was the effect of Christianity on the Anglo-Saxon society?

7.Whea and by whom was "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" started?

8.What was the effect of Alfred the Great's reign on the Anglo-Saxon society?

Task 9. Historical consequences. Match two statements from columns A and B into a compound sentence with the conjunction "so".


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