Why is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle important, and how?
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is significant because it is the earliest record of the people who lived in England prior to, and during, the Norman Conquest. As one fairly nationalistic English historian wrote, it was a record of English "architecture, our agriculture, our coinage, our commerce, our naval and military glory, our laws, our liberty, and our religion." First written around the ninth century CE, it records, usually years after the fact, significant events that affected the Anglo-Saxon peoples. These include a very brief account of the Roman invasion and several chapters about Roman rule, the bloody and terrifying Viking raids, and the Norman invasion.
Along with Beowulf, the Chronicle is also an excellent source for the Anglo-Saxon written language, called "Old English," which forms the foundation for modern English. English readers in the past, especially during the Romantic era, looked to the Chronicle for what they considered an authentic English past. For modern historians, then, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle offers not only a unique primary source for a largely obscure period in English history. It is a text that English people have looked to as an early source of English national identity, which many eighteenth and nineteenth-century writers traced to the Anglo-Saxon period. English law and representative government have often been portrayed as inheritances from the Anglo-Saxon past, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a source for this belief.
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