In the late 1200s, romantic literature started to be composed in English for the first time. The oldest surviving English romance is a poem called King Horn. In this episode, we explore the poem and examine the linguistic developments revealed by the language of the poem. Then we take a look at the oldest surviving secular love song in the English language. These developments took place during the early reign of Edward I, so we also examine the English king known as “Longshanks” and his beloved wife Eleanor.
In this episode, we look at the movement of people and their money in the 13th century. This was a period when international trading networks carried goods and people to the far-flung corners of the known world. This was also the era of Genghis Khan’s Mongolian conquests and Marco Polo’s travels to China. We explore those events and consider the impact of those developments on the English language.
Even though English writing started to re-emerge in the early 1200s, government and legal documents remained the exclusive domain of Latin and French. English finally found a voice in the English government in the mid-1200s with a series of government reforms known as the Provisions of Oxford. The population of England was informed of the reforms through a proclamation issued in English. In this episode, we explore the events leading to those reforms and the important role of English in the political maneuvering that followed.
The 12th and 13th centuries saw the saw the transfer of book production from monasteries to professional bookmakers. In this episode, we look at the birth of the Medieval book trade. We also examine how early illuminators worked with color, and how early English dealt with the introduction of new colors terms into the language.
In this episode, we explore some of the suffixes that were in common use in the early 1200s at the time the Ancrene Wisse was composed. These include traditional Old English suffixes, as well as several new suffixes that were borrowed from French and Latin. We also examine the longevity of such suffixes in Modern English.
During the early Middle English period, many loanwords from Latin and French were borrowed into English. Very often, those loanwords came in with prefixes and suffixes that were new to the English language. Many of those new affixes appear for the first time in the Ancrene Wisse. In this episode, we explore the decline of Old English prefixes and the rise of continental prefixes in the early Middle English period.
The early 13th century saw the rise of a monastic movement in which men and women locked themselves away in secluded cells to practice their religion. These monks were known as anchorites, and an early Middle English text called the “Ancrene Wisse” was composed as a guide for female anchoresses who adopted this lifestyle. The text is considered one of the most important works composed in early Middle English period. It features a large number of common loanwords that were used in English for the first time. In this episode, we examine the historical context of the Ancrene Wisse and some of the common loanwords that were introduced in the manuscript.
In this episode, we explore the notes and translations left behind by scribes in the margins of Medieval manuscripts. Those marginal notes reveal numerous insights about the state of English in the early 1200s. Those early glosses and translations also led to bilingual word lists which were the precursor of modern-day dictionaries.
ENSEMBLE SEQUENTIA – SONGS OF GODRIC
MIRIE IT IS WHILE SUMER ILAST
SUMER IS ICUMEN IN
SUMER IS ICUMEN IN – 1972 MUNICH OLYMPICS
Advances in musical notation allowed the first English folk songs to be preserved in writing in the early 1200s. These songs include “Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast” and “Sumer Is Icumen In.” In this episode, we explore the Greek contribution to music, and trace those developments to Medieval England and the earliest songs composed in the English language.