In the century before the Norman Conquest of England, Normandy gradually emerged as a powerful player in the politics of northern Europe. Meanwhile, the language of the Normans underwent a major transition. The original Scandinavian language of the Normans gave way to a unique French dialect. In this episode, we explore the rise of Normandy, and we examine the changing language of the Normans. We also examine the legacy of the Norman vocabulary on Modern English.
The Normandy of William the Conqueror was a product of the feudal age of Western Europe. In this episode, we explore the history of feudalism, and we examine words associated with feudalism which entered the English language. We also look at the early history of Normandy to see how it fits into the feudal puzzle. Along the way, we examine certain aspects of Norman French, and we explore some of the differences between the Norman French dialect and the standard Old French spoken in places like Paris.
In this bonus episode we look at the etymology of certain words related to animals. We also examine words related to stuffing.
In this episode, we explore two different types of restorations. We begin with the restoration of the traditional West Saxon monarchy under Edward the Confessor. Edward’s nickname reflects his piety and his purported ability to cure sick people with his healing touch. We then examine a different type of restoration – the restoration of health. We look at two Anglo-Saxon medical texts which contain a variety of charms, medications and other cures. Along the way, we explore English words which derive from ancient medical remedies.
In this episode we explore two aspects of the term ‘flesh and blood.’ We examine the human body from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxons by looking at their words for parts of the body. We also explore Old English words associated with sickness and disease. At the same time, we consider how the term ‘flesh and blood’ is utilized to describe one’s children or other very close relatives. Specifically, we examine the mothers who fought to secure the English throne for their respective flesh and blood following the death of King Cnut in 1035.
During his reign as King of England, Canute established a new class of nobles who became known as earls. The authority of the earls was second only to the king himself. The king and the nobles ruled over the common people or peasants who were known as churls. The peasants tended to the farms, and their culture and lifestyle produced many words which have survived in Modern English. We examine the etymology of words and phrases associated with farming, livestock, bread making and knitting.
In this episode, we explore the Danish Conquest of England in the 11th century. The Danish victory brought a temporary end to Anglo-Saxon rule, but it didn’t bring an end to death and taxes. We examine the etymology of words related to death, and we also explore the connection between high taxes and Modern English.
The decline of the Anglo-Saxon Golden Age occurred in the late 900s as the English kingdom passed from King Edgar to his son, Aethelred the Unready. it was a period surrounded by many deals, contracts, bargains and treaties. We examine the etymology of words related to deals and contracts. We also examine how literate Anglo-Saxons tried to balance the use of English and Latin.
The late 10th century and early 11th century was the Golden Age of Old English literature. But much of the literature produced during that period was lost to history. Thankfully, a handful of book collectors realized the value of those old books and preserved an important part of the history of English. In this episode, we explore some of the important English texts from this period, including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Exeter Book. We also examine the role of the bookworms and book collectors who preserved the literature of this period.
After the defeat of the Vikings in York, England was permanently unified under Wessex leadership. A period of peace and prosperity followed. Under the supervision of a cleric named Dunstan, the churches and monasteries were re-built and a great literary revival soon followed. In this episode, we explore the events which led to that literary renaissance which produced most of the surviving Old English literature. We also look at some of the Latin words which were borrowed after the Benedictine Reform. And we conclude with the development of the standard West Saxon literary dialect which emerged during this period.