Comparing And Contrasting Anglo-saxon, Medieval, A Essay

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Comparing And Contrasting Anglo-saxon, Medieval, And Renaissance Perio

Analysis of Early Civilizations Through LiteratureA culture that evolves and changes
through time is a healthy culture indeed. From the early pagan warriors to the artisans of
the Renaissance, the European world dramatically reformed. The literature of each era
indicates the profound cultural innovations. The Anglo-Saxon's arguably most important
literary piece, Beowulf, is a story of a brave warrior who fights Grendel. Grendel is
described as, "A powerful monster, living down/ In the darkness…"(lines 1-2). This
affray demonstrates the timeless battle of good versus evil. The universal struggle is
maintained in the Medieval plight for an ideal of perfect chivalry. Knights were guarded
with utmost respect and sincerity as Chaucer's "The General Prologue" from The Canterbury
Tales mentions, "There was a Knight, a most distinguished man, / Who from the day on which
he first began / To ride abroad had followed chivalry," (lines 43-45). Although the fight
of good versus evil is consistent, the moral code is held above pure strength in battle.
The Renaissance period was more focused on ideals of intelligence and the arts rather than
bravery or actions in battle. Sonnets and rhyming verse were very popular and the most
famous were often love stories as was "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." For example,
the lines, "And I will make thee beds of roses, / And a thousand fragrant posies" (lines
9-10) express an ideal of romance and nature. The literature of these three time periods
proves they are each very unique. However each culture stems from the previous development
and are therefore similar. The Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Renaissance eras each possess
characteristics of warfare, leadership, and religion that intertwine and reticulate among
themselves.The Anglo-Saxon period paved the way for years to come by forming a basic
civilization to be shaped and molded into the world, as we know it today. This era
(beginning in 449 A.D. and ending in 1066 A.D.) was an age of fierce battles coupled with
equally fierce loyalty to rulers and tribes. The epic poem Beowulf portrays the
quintessential literary piece of the time by demonstrating both of these cultural
elements. When the anonymous author tells, "…He/ And all his glorious band of Geats/
Thanked God that their leader had come back unharmed" (lines 597-599), he or she is
referring to the universal devotion expressed by the public to their gold-lord, king of
tribe, earl or other ruling presence. Similar to the importance of Anglo-Saxon leadership,
the chivalric loyalty to one's king is most apparent in the Medieval period. Sir Gawain
and the Green Knight express the kinship from a knight to his king when Sir Gawain offers,
"My body, but for your blood, is barren of worth; / And for that this folly befits not a
king" (lines 131-132). However, the Renaissance time period saw rulers unifying areas of
land into nations. Instead of several different feudal lords, each one controlling only
his estates (as some did have more than one), there was now a tendency to unite peoples
under one ruler or monarch, and thus, a country was born.The Anglo-Saxon period not only
set the stage for widespread jurisdiction, but also the escalating fierce battles and
fighting styles that occur throughout the Medieval and Renaissance periods. A look at
their most famous epic hero, Beowulf, shows a culture that valued strength, will power and
ferocity when the warrior is described as, "…the strongest of the Geats- greater/ And
stronger than anyone anywhere in this world-" (110-111). These values carried on into the
Middle Ages when we begin to see a new code of conduct coming into play. This high ideal
for the heroes of the time, now knights, is perhaps equally brutal on the battle field as
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