Beowulf Manuscript: Cotton
- The only copy made in two
different scribal hands in the late 10th century.
- Transcribed by Icelandic
historian Thorkelin in 1787; first published in print form in
- Written in Alliterative
- Contains "kennings," compressed
- "Scop," an OE word for
poet (maker, shaper).
Timeline in British
- Original inhabitants of British
Isles: the Celts.
- Rome colonizes Britannia;
withdraws c. 410.
- Withdrawal of Rome followed by
invasions of Northern Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes,
- Anglo-Saxon Period: c.
- Led by St. Augustine, beginning
of Christian missions to Anglo-Saxons; conversion begins with
Ethelbert of Kent: 597.
- Viking Raids: 8th century
- Norman conquest of England:
The Role of Monasteries
The Venerable Bede, a scholar at
the monastery of Jarrow, writes Ecclesiastical History of the
English People (731). The work records story of Caedmon and
gives us earliest transcription of an English poem in the
vernacular, Caedmon's Hymn.
Bede also records the story of the
sparrow in the meadhall (told by advisor of Edwin of
- Tacitus, Germania (98
CE): early record by Roman author of the way of life of the
- Comitatus (Latin) =
duguth (Old English) = band of loyal companions of
- Gift giving: leader as "ring
- Comitatus ethic exemplified in
The Battle of Maldon. (What happens to it in Beowulf?)
- Blood feuds and wer-gild
- Nithing ("nothing") =
- Freothuwebbe: peace
weaver (treaty bride, woman married into enemy family to seal