Beowulf Historical Context

Gareth Hinds
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Introduction

The historical Hygelac died circa 521. The Beowulf manuscript was written about 1000 A.D. In the intervening centuries there was both change and continuity in every area of Anglo-Saxon life. Because we cannot date Beowulf with certainty, we cannot draw specific parallels. We do not know if the society the poet described is the one he or she knew firsthand and projected into the past from his or her present, or if it was a poetic reconstruction, pieced together from memories, older Anglo-Saxon and Latin poetry.

The Origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

The Germanic peoples arrived in Britain over a period of perhaps a century and a half. They did not always arrive in tribal or family groups. They do not seem to have brought their kings with them. Only the Mercian royal family claimed to be descended from a continental king. Certainly groups based on kinship or...

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This section contains 1,046 words
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Buy the Beowulf Study Guide
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Epics for Students
Beowulf from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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