Education: British Literature in Historical Perspective from the Victorian Period-Modern Times (1833-Present Day)

 

Previously on Historical Perspective…

The island of England has been invaded and conquered by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and French Normans. They have survived and adapted through a devastating plague, religious reform, and political unrest. They have risen to the challenge of bettering themselves through education and religion. The peasant class is no more as a rising middle class challenges the social order.

Now on Michael Wood’s Story of England: “Victoria to the Present Day”

Throughout this course, we will be journeying through time and space to visit the history of England as it was discovered in the town of Kibworth. Kibworth is a place that just so happens to hold archeological proof of life all the way back to the Romans as well as through every other major shift in civilization. To help us grasp the effects of history on common people, we will be watching this series throughout this course. Episodes will appear in this historical perspective lesson as they pertain to the section of history we are in. I hope you find the information enlightening and inspiring as I have.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1kxboa

 

 

 

Education: British Literature in Historical Perspective during the English Renaissance (1485-1833)

Previously on Historical Perspective…

The island of England has been invaded and conquered by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and French Normans. They have survived and adapted through a devastating plague and risen to the challenge of bettering themselves through education and religion. The peasant class is no more as a rising middle-class challenge the social order.

Now on Historical Perspective…

There was a lot going on in the world between 1485-1625, so it is no wonder that it is one of the most storied time in British history. Countless written works were produced during this time as well as about it–as well as many Oscar-winning movies. Two major movements influenced the thought and literature of this period: the Renaissance and the Reformation. The Renaissance, meaning “rebirth,” was characterized by innovations in art, science, and exploration, and a rediscovery of long-neglected classical works. Beginning in Italy, it gradually spread northward. Renaissance scholars of northern Europe, like Erasmus, attempted to reform the Catholic Church. The German theologian Martin Luther, however, initiated the movement known as the Reformation. The Reformation led to the founding of Protestantism. Luther stressed the Bible, rather than the Pope, as the source of authority and the importance of faith, rather than good works, for salvation. Of the two major English works of this period, Shakespeare’s plays and the King James Bible, the first is a product of the Renaissance and the second a product of the Reformation.

The Renaissance…sought to revive the learning of ancient Greece and Rome. It was a secular movement that encouraged voyages of discovery and emphasized human aspiration. During this period, the very dimensions of the world shifted and enlarged, as Europeans discovered new parts of the globe, and Polish scientist Nicolaus Copernicus first proposed that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the solar system. Everything exciting and enlightened seemed to be coming from Italy during this time. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, a painting still heavily guarded today, and Michelangelo painted the ceiling of Sistine Chapel, a wonder that thousands still travel to Rome to see. Shakespeare gave a nod to all this greatness by setting many of his plays in Italian locations. Renaissance ideas blossomed first in the Italian city-states from 1350-1550 and then slowly spread northward giving rise to the English Renaissance from 1485-1625.

The Reformation, inspired by the ideas of the German theologian Martin Luther from 1483-1546, began in part as a reaction against what many perceived as corruption in the Catholic Church. (Priests had become corrupted by money and power. They had been exhorting taxes from the people at increasing rates and were taking bribes from the rich to secure their place in Heaven.) Reformation thinkers wanted to return to what they took to be a more pure idea of Christianity. Once again, an attempt to return to early ideas led to something new, as reformers created a denomination of Christianity known as Protestantism.

England became swept up in both of these two wider European movements, sometimes in a dramatic, even bloody, fashion. In the late 1400s, England was beginning to heal after thirty years of civil war. By the early 1500s, the country had plunged into the religious controversies of the Reformation. At the same time, the spirit of the Renaissance breathed new life into the arts.

Henry Tutor

Henry Tutor Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

The story begins in 1485, when Henry Tudor became King Henry VII, ending a civil war and reconciling the two factions in the war, the House of York and the House of Lancaster. With him began the reign of the Tudors. His son, Henry VIII, inherited a strong, stable country, but Henry VIII himself was not a strong man.

Henry VIII was a man easily swayed by his wants, and a man who feared what others said about him. He chose commoners to take positions of importance in the court because he thought he could trust them more than the nobles, but he turned on them as well. Anyone that did not please him was subject to torture, imprisonment, banishment, or beheading. He used his power to rule by force and take whomever he wanted. His court lived in constant fear of stepping out of his favor; it was a fear that would start unraveling the strong stability his father worked to create.

henryviii

Henry VIII

Henry VIII’s particular weakness was women, and he married and left six of them during his lifetime–in addition to countless mistresses. Henry VIII married his older brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, and she bore him a daughter, Mary. However, Henry then fell in love with Anne Boleyn, a beautiful lady of the court. He also wanted a male heir, which Catherine had not provided him. He, therefore, petitioned the Pope for a divorce on the grounds that his marriage to his brother’s widow was invalid.

Henry had written a treatise attacking Luther, and the Pope had designated Henry the “Defender of the Faith,” a title English monarchs retain to this day. However, when the Pope denied his petition to remarry, Henry refused to comply, marrying Anne Boleyn in 1533 and eventually severing all ties with Rome. In 1534, he established the Protestant Church of England with himself at its head. Religious affiliation and allegiance to the king were suddenly united.

To read more about Henry’s wives or the Tudor period, check out Lara Eakins’ website.

elizabeth i

Elizabeth I

The woman who was to become perhaps the greatest of England’s monarchs, Elizabeth I, was born to Henry and Anne Boleyn in 1533.

Before Elizabeth took the throne in 1558, Catholics and Protestants struggled for control of the country, and Elizabeth’s ascent to the throne was marked by turmoil and death. When Elizabeth took power, however, she firmly established England as a Protestant nation and ushered in a golden age of prosperity and peace.

The greatest threat to her rule came in 1588, when Catholic Spain assembled an armada, or fleet of warships, to conquer England. Elizabeth rallied her people, and the English fleet, aided by bad weather, shattered the armada. This glorious moment produced a surge of spirit and sense of power that swept the entire nation.

Elizabeth I never married and had no heir. The final days of her reign were clouded with questions of who would succeed her. In 1603, James I became her successor and the first of the ill-starred Stuart line. By the end of his reign, his struggles with Parliament foreshadowed the civil war that would come during the reign of his son, Charles I.

Now on Michael Wood’s Story of England: “Henry VIII to the Industrial Revolution”

Additional Sources: Google (images), & Pearson Education, Inc. Prentice Hall Literature:The British Tradition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012. Pages 236-239

Education: British Literature in Historical Perspective from Old English-Medieval Period (449-1485)

They came to conquer and stayed to build. First, it was the Romans in A.D. 43 who drove the original Celtic inhabitants of Britain into the north (Scotland) and west (Wales) of the island. Then, in A.D.449, after the last Roman troops had been summoned home to defend Rome against the barbarian invaders, a group of Germanic tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea and occupied the island the Romans had called Albion. In a short time, “Angle-land” became England.

The next incursion, in A.D.597, was more peaceful, led by the Roman cleric St. Augustine. He and his followers converted to Christianity the pagans who were there. The Bible of these Christians was written in Latin and they brought Latin learning with them.

In the eighth century, the Danes (Vikings) arrived. At first they raided and looted the towns and monasteries of the northeast, but eventually, they settled that area. In 871, when they tried to overrun the rest of the island, they were stopped by Alfred the Great, who is now considered the first King of England. The Danes, too, converted, assimilated, and gave us words like sky, skill, and skate.

The last successful invasion of England occurred in 1066 when the Duke of Normandy in France claimed and won the throne. Known as William the Conqueror, he brought his court and its language to the country he seized. For some time, England was a bilingual country of conquerors and conquered. In his novel Ivanhoe, which is set in the Middle Ages, the nineteenth-century writer Sir Walter Scott captures this duality: animals are swine, oxen, and calves on the hoof, but pork, beef, and veal in the kitchen of the noble Lord. Even today, we make a last will and testament, repeating the same meaning in Anglo-Saxon and Norman French, respectively.

The last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold II, fought William of Normandy and died along with many Anglo-Saxon commoners-made-soldiers at The Battle of Hastings, a battle that is remembered and reenacted still today.

Michael Wood’s Story of England: “Romans to Normans”

Throughout this series about the historical perspective of British literature, we will be journeying through time and space to visit the history of England as it was discovered in the town of Kibworth. Kibworth is a place that just so happens to hold archeological proof of life all the way back to the Romans as well as through every other major shift in civilization. To help us grasp the effects of history on common people, we will be watching this series throughout this course. Episodes will appear in this historical perspective lesson as they pertain to the section of history we are in. I hope you find the information enlightening and inspiring as I have.

https://dailymotion.com/video/x1kx8t9

The island of England has been invaded and conquered by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and French Normans. They have survived and adapted through each change, but this last invasion threatens everything they know about their way of life.

Now the Normans brought more than their language to the island. They also brought a form of government, social order, and land tenure we call feudalism. This is a vision of the natural and human world as a triangle or pyramid. At the peak is the king and below, in carefully graded steps, are nobles and freemen, down to the serfs who till the land.

Yet all social systems are more fluid than they appear from the outside, and the feudal era in England was a tempestuous time. In 1215, a group of nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. This Great Charter, which limited the powers of the king, marks the beginning of parliamentary government in England. Other kings faced more violent opposition from the nobles and two of them, Edward II in 1327 and Richard II in 1399, were deposed and assassinated. The Black Death, a grim name for the plague, ravaged England in the 14th century and may have killed one-third of the population. Drained by an intermittent series of wars with France, which dragged out for more than one hundred years, England was then torn by a brutal civil war from 1455 to 1485.

At the end of England’s bloody civil war, Henry VII came to the throne and all of the forces that had shaped the island kingdom for a thousand years came together in a newly unified state. England was poised to participate in an incredible period of discovery and expansion.

They had come, the conquerors, warriors, and priests, the knights and serfs, the outlaws and the righteous, the men, the women, the children, and had settled an island that a glacier had sliced off the European continent. On that relatively small stretch of land, they created a country, a language, and literature that was to become one of the wonders of the world.

Source: Pearson Education, Inc. Prentice Hall Literature: The British Tradition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012. Pages 4-5

Michael Wood’s Story of England: “The Great Famine and the Black Death”

https://dailymotion.com/video/x1kx8q6

The island of England has been invaded and conquered by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and French Normans. They have survived and adapted through each change, and they have developed into a country with a shared rule with its kings.

A devastating plague known as the Black Death has ravaged the country and taken approximately one-third of the population. Subsequent survivors faced further hardships as England went to war with France and with itself.

Now on Michael Wood’s Story of England: “Peasants’ Revolt to Tudors”

Those that survived the Black Death are anxious for change. They won’t sit still in the 14th century until they have it.

Additional Source: Pearson Education, Inc. Prentice Hall Literature: The British Tradition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012. Pages 4-5