Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Dark Side of the Anglo-Saxons

Eruonen
Valinor


Dec 2 2017, 8:06pm

Post #1 of 13 (2196 views)
Shortcut
The Dark Side of the Anglo-Saxons Can't Post

http://www.historyextra.com/...rk-side-anglo-saxons

The dark side of the Anglo-Saxons
The fantasy world created by JRR Tolkien in The Hobbit has contributed to a widely held image of Anglo-Saxon England as a lost rural idyll. Yet, says Ryan Lavelle, the reality was far less cuddly, blighted by slavery, sexism and great social inequalities.

This article was first published in the Christmas 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine


squire
Half-elven


Dec 2 2017, 8:23pm

Post #2 of 13 (2175 views)
Shortcut
A very nicely written piece - but a bit strained when it tries to drag Tolkien in. [In reply to] Can't Post

I imagine the author was not going to pass up the free publicity a lead that hooked to the new 'Hobbit' film could give to his pop-history article. A man's gotta eat.

But as a proper historian, he himself then apologetically admits up front, in fairness to the facts, that the Shire for instance is more 20th century than 10th century, and that the romanticized medievalism of Tolkien's stories draws more from Victorian precedents than the brutal and nasty source material that the author is so familiar with -- as, of course, Tolkien was as well.

It is fun to read an account of English history wherein the Norman era (1100s to 1300s) is treated as modernity itself!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Eruonen
Valinor


Dec 2 2017, 8:35pm

Post #3 of 13 (2160 views)
Shortcut
The culture or Rohan is most often compared to Tolkien's Anglo-Saxons [In reply to] Can't Post

- certainly in some outward appearances, feudal society, warrior ethos etc. There are differences of course - horse culture being one. We don't have enough info on Rohan to assess the role of women, their rights etc. Rohan was not divided into competing realms like Anglo-Saxon England which led to the piecemeal take down by the Danes.


squire
Half-elven


Dec 2 2017, 11:40pm

Post #4 of 13 (2144 views)
Shortcut
Rohan is a fairly clear analogue, but the article has larger fish in mind [In reply to] Can't Post

As the author points out, the entire spectrum of Middle-earth, especially as presented in the New Line films, tends towards a setting that evokes the early Middle Ages, i.e. England in the Anglo-Saxon era. That's especially true about The Hobbit, whose film version the author is warning us against and which depicts a fairly consistent set of early medieval cultures of various races.

The Lord of the Rings has a much broader scope. It includes not just Rohan, which is more Anglo-Saxon than the Shire or Laketown, but also Gondor which is Byzantine, Dunland and the Druedain which are Gaelic and Neanderthal, the South and the East which are African and Asian, and the Elvish and Entish enclaves which are more purely fantastical.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Darkstone
Immortal


Dec 4 2017, 6:48pm

Post #5 of 13 (2068 views)
Shortcut
Dunno [In reply to] Can't Post

The author focuses on the Anglo-Saxon culture set up by King Alfred the Great who ruled from 871 to 899. The Anglo-Saxon era is generally put at between 410 to 1066. Basically King Alfred came in near the end of the era and with an iron hand "tamed" the wilder and woollier democratic, egalitarian, self-governing, and free aspects of earlier Anglo-Saxon culture.

In any case Tolkien's notions of Anglo-Saxon culture seemed to have been inspired by Icelandic, Norse, and Germanic sagas which would be quite a bit different.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”




Eruonen
Valinor


Dec 4 2017, 6:50pm

Post #6 of 13 (2065 views)
Shortcut
Right, because very little was left of Anglo-Saxon culture hence his attempt [In reply to] Can't Post

to create a mythos for it.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 4 2017, 11:42pm

Post #7 of 13 (2050 views)
Shortcut
Anglo-Saxon slavery is particularly unappealing [In reply to] Can't Post

Not something we see in the Shire, or Rohan, or Gondor.


Quote
Slavery flourished throughout the early Middle Ages – thanks to the raiding activities practised by Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. And the slave trade wasn’t confined to times of war – the famines that blighted the country all-too regularly in peacetime were just as likely to drive free people to selling themselves or family members into slavery.
...

In Domesday Book, by far the most detailed record of the Anglo-Saxon economy, slaves were recorded as making up between one tenth and a quarter of the rural population in some areas, especially in the west of England.



geordie
Tol Eressea

Dec 5 2017, 10:50am

Post #8 of 13 (2030 views)
Shortcut
For what it's worth - [In reply to] Can't Post

- assuming Tolkien's opinions count - Wink - Tolkien once wrote,

'No-one would learn anything valid about the 'Anglo-Saxons' from any of my lore, not even that concerning the Rohirrim. I never intended that they should.'
(Tolkien, A30/1, f.21)
.


squire
Half-elven


Dec 5 2017, 12:52pm

Post #9 of 13 (2022 views)
Shortcut
Good old Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

I always thought I learned from 'The Lord of the Rings' that the Anglo-Saxons had an elegiac, fated sense of their place in the world, and that the guards at a king's hall required that all guests lay aside their weapons on entering, to name just a couple of tidbits.

I suspect that he knew so much about the subject that he was focused on the changes he made in the course of his fantasy creation, rather than the kinds of things (above) that he supposed that everyone already knew...

What is the citation you give: (Tolkien, A30/1, f.21)? I have never seen that format before, and so have no idea where you found this fun quote.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Dec 5 2017, 3:05pm

Post #10 of 13 (2012 views)
Shortcut
It cuts both ways. [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't forget the story about the Anglo-Saxon slaves seen by Pope Gregory the Great at a slave-market in Rome. "Non Angli sed Angeli" (not Angles but Angels) he's reported to have said, because of their blond colouring.

Slavery was a fact of life in those early times. It wasn't the kind of industrialised, ethnically toxic system that it became later, after the industrial revolution and global trade turned it into something fundamentally different. There were slaves in Greece and Rome as well, after all, so the existence of slavery in Anglo-Saxon England shouldn't reflect any worse on their level of civilization than it does on the Greeks and Romans.

As for the Domesday Book, I'd want to know exactly what is meant by slaves here. Indentured serfs? Or what? Domesday Book was compiled by the Normans, who had no interest in giving the Anglo-Saxons the benefit of the doubt. All they were interested in, as far as I can see, was how much tax they could levy on their new underlings.

I'm sensing a bit of a subtext in the article actually, in that liberal academics and commentators in Britain often worry that depictions of an idealized past will encourage a nationalist resurgence. Despite his insistence that his Ring has nothing in common with Wagner's, Tolkien sometimes seems to suffer from a suspicion of the same kind of guilt by association that Wagner has suffered from. The writer of the article is very keen to point out the faults of the Anglo-Saxons, not so much because they were any worse than anyone else, it seems, but just because he's afraid some people will take Tolkien's fantasy seriously.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



geordie
Tol Eressea

Dec 5 2017, 5:03pm

Post #11 of 13 (2006 views)
Shortcut
I was hoping someone would ask - [In reply to] Can't Post

 - Smile - it's a Bodleian Library shelf-mark; the quote is from Tolkien's unpublished lecture notes on the Old English poem 'The Wanderer'.

It's included in this book, which I find very interesting:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=foEYDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA279&lpg=PA279&dq=tolkien+no-one+would+learn+anything+about+anglo-saxon&source=bl&ots=oJgKrwzE1T&sig=KOKRDnKM_enZH1mb5422saTjoo4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjv1-H61_LXAhWDL8AKHb5eDRUQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=tolkien%20no-one%20would%20learn%20anything%20about%20anglo-saxon&f=false


geordie
Tol Eressea

Dec 5 2017, 5:05pm

Post #12 of 13 (2001 views)
Shortcut
oops , sorry - [In reply to] Can't Post

- I don't know how to make that link into something more manageable.
.


squire
Half-elven


Dec 5 2017, 7:17pm

Post #13 of 13 (1992 views)
Shortcut
Thank you, for clarity's sake. [In reply to] Can't Post

I am impressed by your range of reference, as usual. But next time, out of courtesy to the rest of us, I would ask that when citing an unpublished source like that on a site like this board, where we can modify any text that is cut-and-pasted from elsewhere, you might make your own posted citation a bit clearer:
'No-one would learn anything valid about the 'Anglo-Saxons' from any of my lore, not even that concerning the Rohirrim. I never intended that they should.' - (Tolkien, unpublished lecture notes, Bodleian Library ref. A30/1, f.21, as cited in Lee and Solopova, Keys to Middle-earth, p. 279, available on Google Books).

Tediously and pedantically longer, I agree, but much much clearer to those of us who otherwise go "huh?" when seeing a brand-new Tolkien quote not found in the usual source, the Letters, followed by a brand-new untitled citation in a format not found, frankly, anywhere outside a certain university town in England!

The rest of the discussion in Lee and Solopova, as per your kindly-provided link, is very interesting. They confirm my impression from your quote that Tolkien would deny that Aragorn's poem "Where is...?" is just a translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Wanderer", because of differences in tone and outlook. More to the point I was reaching for in my first response, they agree that Tolkien expected people to learn about Anglo-Saxon culture from academic resources, not from his art -- without his reflecting on just how powerful and accessible his art might be for millions, compared to academia.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.