In this episode, we explore the connections between possessions and power – especially political power. No Medieval king exemplified that connection better than Henry I of England. Henry valued his possessions, and he made sure to collect every penny that was owed to him. And speaking of possessions, this was also a period during which the English language was starting to change the way it indicated possession. We explore these linguistic developments by examining the language of the Peterborough Chronicle.
The early part of the 12th century represented the darkest days of the English language. English writing had almost disappeared, and spoken English was divided among a variety of regional dialects that were often incomprehensible to speakers in other parts of the country. For most prominent people in England, both Latin and French were considered to be far superior languages. English was mocked and ridiculed. This view even extended to Anglo-Saxon names which started to disappear during this period. The English language that everyone knew was dying out. In parts of the country, it was already dead. In its wake, a new English was emerging, but that new language had not yet been revealed in writing.