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Anglo-Saxon Literature and the Literature of the Norman Period

In the 7th11th centuries the culture of the early Britons changed greatly under the
influence of Christianity. The monasteries where the art of reading and writing was practiced,
became the centers of almost all the learning and education in the country. No wonder many
poets and writers imitated those atin boo!s about the early Christians, and they also made up
many stories of their own about saints.
Though the poets were "nglish, they wrote in atin.
# writer of this time was Bede. $is famous boo! %The $istory of the "nglish Church% was
well !nown in &rance and in Italy because the people of the 'iddle #ges considered it a
scientific boo!. The boo! is important and interesting for us because it shows what the country
was li!e thirteen hundred years ago and how men acted and thought at that time.
(ne of the greatest !ings of "ngland was #lfred who is famous not only for ha)ing built
the first na)y but for trying to enlighten his people. $e drew up a code of laws. To him the
"nglish owe the famous #nglo*+a,on Chronicle which may be called the first history of the
early Britons and includes miniature sagas.
-arious writers of different times wrote for the #nglo*+a,on Chronicles.
In the year 1.//, the Norman 0u!e 1illiam crossed the Channel and con2uered the
"nglish in the great battle fought at $astings. 1ithin fi)e years 1illiam the Con2ueror was
complete master of the whole of "ngland.
'ost of the British writers and poets about whom we are going to spea! were educated at
3ni)ersities. In 11/4 some professors founded schools at the town of (,ford which formed the
first uni)ersity. # second uni)ersity formed in 15.6 at Cambridge.
In the first half of the 17th century !ing of "ngland was "dward III. This powerful feudal
lord wished to ma!e himself !ing of &rance as well. 1ishing to ma!e his people belie)e that he
defended "nglish trade, the !ing made war with &rance in 1887 This war is now called the
$undred 9ears: 1ar because it lasted o)er a hundred years.
The greatest writer of the 17th century was Geoffrey Chaucer. $e was born in 187. ir
ondon. #t 17 he was page to a lady at the court of "dward III. #t 5. he was in &rance anc was
then ta!en prisoner by the &rench. 1hen he returned to "ngland, his education wa; none the
worse for that, though he had not been to a uni)ersity.
Chaucer:s earliest poems were written in imitation of the &rench romances. 0uring 1878
and the ne,t few years, Chaucer tra)elled much and li)ed a busy life. $e went to &rance, and
made three trips to Italy.
Chaucer was well read in the old <oman authors. Italian literature taught him th meaning of
national literature.
In 1847 Chaucer wrote his masterpiece, the %Canterbury Tales%.
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