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Keynes demonstrates that it is only during the first decade of the eleventh century, particularly after the devastating raids of 1006, that English affairs became increasingly turbulent and desperate.
(5) The most powerful record of English desperation during these years is the law code known as VII AEthelred, promulgated at Bath in 1009.
I will suggest some of the purposes for which the poem might have been intended and looking to VII/AEthelred, show how the Viking invasions could have provided an impetus for a scriptorium to produce a poem of this nature.
I will then test my hypotheses through an examination of the manuscript, to see what it can tell us about the concerns of the scribes, their interest in the material, and the importance of this text to an eleventh-century audience.
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Free 5-day trial The 3,182-line epic poem 'Beowulf' is considered by many to be the first piece of English literature.
In fact, though the poem was initially a pagan epic, it was probably written down by a Christian monk, who added his own little spin on things. Fortunately for us, the Beowulf poem referenced real places, events, and people, so that really narrows down when the events in the poem could've taken place.
DURING THE PAST THIRTY YEARS, scholars have spilled considerable ink over the date of Beowulf's composition, and cogent arguments for both early and late dates have emerged. (2) Kevin Kiernan argued that both the poem and the manuscript belong after 1016, but his claims have been rendered highly improbable by Michael Lapidge and David Dumville, among others.
(1) Considerably less ink has been spilled, however, concerning the date of the Beowulf manuscript's production. (3) Dumville, in fact, makes the most important advance on Ker's dating: by reinterpreting the birth and death dates of Anglo-Saxon vernacular and square minuscule respectively, he concludes that the manuscript was most likely copied out between the years 9.
This book suggests that the Old English poem Beowulf was composed between the reigns of Kings Beornwulf (823-6) and Wiglaf (827-9 and 830-39) of Mercia, in the winter of 826-7, in the monastery of Breedon on the Hill in NW Leicestershire, by Abbot Eanmund (ruled 814x816-c.848).
The premise seems clear enough in the Beowulf–Wiglaf sequence in the last fifth of Beowulf.