Essay

In a short essay, discuss how the presentation of Anglo-Saxon culture and the heroic code in “The Battle of Maldon” both resembles and differs from the presentations in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and Germania. A successful essay will be illustrated with passages from the poems and the historical texts. Remember to consider the scop’s use of poetic language, use of dialogue, and development of character as evidences of cultural values as well as the content of the poem.
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History into Poetry
The Battle of Maldon
“The Battle of Maldon” illustrates better than almost any other poem from the AngloSaxon period the Germanic comitatus in action. The primary virtues are loyalty, bravery,
and obedience to a lord, along with the willingness to die for him even after the battle is
lost. Although the English lose the battle, the poem shows them winning a moral victory.
Except for a few who lose their courage and run away, most of the warriors remain loyal
to their lord even after he has fallen. Many die trying to avenge him. There are few
better illustrations of the Germanic ideal of warrior behavior. Indeed, the most famous
lines of the poem focus on the courage of the warrior in the face of inevitable defeat and
death: “Thought must be the harder, heart the keener/ Spirit shall be more–as our might
lessens.”
After the battle of Brunanburh (937) the English and the Vikings fought over the
kingdom of York, which changed hands several times. But after 954, twenty-six years of
peace between the English and the Vikings passed. When the Vikings returned to
invade England again in the 980s, they were more numerous and better organized. Olaf
Tryggvason, a famous Norwegian Viking, attacked Kent and then sailed north to East
Anglia, where he encountered a resolute ealdorman, Byrhtnoth, at Maldon. The battle
between them took place in 991, when King Ethelred was on the English throne. The
Viking invaders could have easily by-passed Maldon and carried on their raid elsewhere
with the same effect. We would have lost, though, one of the finest pieces of Old
English poetry, which seems to have been written by an eyewitness.
Visit the web site The Battle of Maldon. This is an excellent web resource with a helpful
map of the battle site, an outline of the poem, the translated text divided into sections,
notes, and background commentary. Study the poem in translation carefully, noting the
scop’s use of poetic language, the historical background, and the site of the battle. At
the web site Readings from Maldon you can hear some of the poem read in Old
English.
The Anglo-Saxon Heroic Code: Essay Assignment
In a short essay, discuss how the presentation of Anglo-Saxon culture and the heroic
code in “The Battle of Maldon” both resembles and differs from the presentations in
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and Germania. A successful essay will be illustrated with
passages from the poems and the historical texts. Remember to consider the scop’s
use of poetic language, use of dialogue, and development of character as evidences of
cultural values as well as the content of the poem.
Indicator/Point
Value
Indicator: Essay
fully addresses
the prompt and
demonstrates an
understanding of
the poems’
similarities and
differences.
Description
•
•
•
Point Value: 35
•
Indicator: Essay
is properly
structured and
demonstrates a
mastery of the
research process
•
Point Value: 35
•
•
•
•
•
Essay provides details explaining
how Anglo-Saxon culture and the
heroic code are similar in “The
Battle of Maldon”, the AngloSaxon Chronicles, and Germania.
Essay provides details explaining
how Anglo-Saxon culture and the
heroic code are different in “The
Battle of Maldon”, the AngloSaxon Chronicles, and Germania.
Textual evidence is used from
“The Battle of Maldon”, the AngloSaxon Chronicles, Germania, and
historical texts to support claims
about similarities and differences.
Similarities and differences
address poetic language, use of
dialogue, and development of
character in addition to cultural
values.
Essay contains a clear
introduction that introduces the
names of the texts, the authors of
the texts, a one-sentence
summary of the type of writing
included, and a clear thesis.
Introduction is written as though
the audience has not read the
book before.
Thesis statement makes an
argumentative assertion about the
topic.
Thesis statement states the
conclusions you have reached
about your topic.
Thesis statement makes a
promise to the reader about the
scope, purpose, and direction of
your paper.
Thesis statement is focused and
specific enough to be “proven”
within the boundaries of your
Instructor
Comments
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Indicator: Essay
maintains correct
formatting.
Point Value: 15
Indicator: Essay
demonstrates
correct grammar,
punctuation, and
spelling.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Point Value: 15
•
paper.
Thesis statement identifies the
relationship between the pieces of
evidence that you are using to
support your argument.
Body paragraphs support the
thesis.
Body paragraphs begin with a
strong transitional phrase and use
textual evidence to support the
thesis.
Body paragraphs avoid simple
summary and use the textual
evidence for analysis.
The conclusion paragraph
summarizes the major points
outlined in the essay and reaffirms the thesis statement from
the introduction.
Essay uses in-text citations
appropriately
In-text citations are formatted
according to MLA format
12-point Arial or Times New
Roman font
Double spaced
One inch margins
Essay is in MLA format
Works Cited page is included in
MLA format
Writing is free of spelling or word
use errors.
Writing is free of run-on sentences
or sentence fragments.
All punctuation is used
appropriately.
All proper nouns and the
beginnings of sentences are
capitalized appropriately.
All other standard English
grammar, punctuation, and
spelling rules are followed.
•
•
•
Sentences vary in structure
between simple, complex,
compound, and complexcompound structures.
Fully developed paragraphs have
a minimum of four – five
sentences each.
Formal academic voice used (no
first person or contractions used)

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