Episode 103: Solitary Confinement

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.