Episode 119: The Road to War

The Hundred Years War is one of the most well-known conflicts of the Middle Ages.  The long, extended war introduced new weapons and new types of warfare, and it marked a transition from the traditional feudal state to the modern nation-state. The war also contributed to a rise in nationalism which led many Englishmen to regard the French language as the language of the enemy.  The war was one of many factors in the 14th century that led to the decline of French and the revival of English throughout England.


27 thoughts on “Episode 119: The Road to War

  1. The actual physical weight of the longbow was quite light – probably lighter than the crossbows, with their metal fittings and cranks. That lightness was one of the benefits of the longbow – they were easier to carry. The “100 pound” refers to the draw weight – the pounds of pressure required to pull the string all the way back to the release point. With that much tension, the release is that much more powerful.
    A 25 pound bow and a 110 pound bow both weigh about the same unstrung. The latter is much more difficult to string, pull and shoot. And is then much more powerful.

    • Thanks for the note. I actually thought I had deleted the reference to “100 pounds,” but your comment made me realize that it was still there. I picked up that notion from one of my resources, but when making my final edit, it struck me as a bit odd. Now I realize why it seemed so strange. I have deleted the reference to “100 pounds” since it is confusing. However, I’ll let your comments stand as clarification about the physical weight of the bow.

  2. You’ve come across the perfect structure for an episode:

    • History
    • Etimilogy
    • Queen

    I love it!

    Really liked your Harvard speech on Patreon, too, by the way.

    • Yes Mike, for me too it would be very sad, I hope it never ends!

      I have never posted so I must firstly thank Kevin for his marvellous work. No other podcast has the appeal, the mix of learning history, etymology in such an entertained way! Thank you Kevin from my heart.

      I am not a native English speaker – I was born raised and live in Uruguay. I listen to English spoken podcast every night to have some fun, learn history and, above all, keep up with my struggling English 🙂

      And here is some data from Stitcher: during the last 200 days I´ve been listening to this podcast for 67% of the time!

      I (and I am sure most of your listeners do the same) listen to old episodes over and over!

      Kevin, I heard you in an interview saying that you would have liked to have invested more time to the Greek period. Please, delight us adding episodes about it please!!!. I sincerely think that it would be fantastic that you go back in time and narrate key periods from a different standpoint, adding new light.

      Rest assured that all of us are craving for it 🙂 And it could be the way of a never-dying podcast!!

      Well, sorry for the length … (latin blood)…

      Thanks again and my best wishes from Montevideo.

      • Jose Zeballos I too am a first time poster!

        I’m really happy you’re getting value out of this podcast as a non native English speaker. This is actually how I came to be interested in Etymology. Several years ago, I began to look into the possibility of teaching English overseas. I live in San Diego (Hablo un poco de español, no tanto como debería, pero lo suficiente como para tener alguna funcionalidad básica) and I volunteered to teach English once a week at a non-profit, free literacy organization.

        I taught mostly Mexican students, older adults who wanted to improve their skills, and as I did it I started seeing the links between Latin-based words. Thinking about something basic like the word “Sol”… well we use that in English, ie. solar flares, solar panels; and “Luna”, we use that in English too….lunar eclipse, lunatic, etc.

        I had that “Aha!” moment and from then on I’ve become fascinated with etymology…slowly and surely I’ve come to Kevin’s podcast, which is just perfection. It’s wonderful to think that we are all part of a great, extended fascinating family…from Celtic to Tocharian and everything in between!

        I do still want to teach English overseas, and am pursuing my TESOL certification. Concurrent with that is my increased understanding of English etymology via Kevin’s podcast. Even though it’s a bit hyperbolic, I feel that by simply listening to the entire series thus far, I could add “Comprehensive understanding of the etymology of English” or something along those lines to my CV when I start applying to these overseas schools. My TESOL instructor even told me that he sees me teaching English at a much higher level with educated young adults (as opposed to small children).

        As a non-native English speaker, interested in the etymology of the language for it’s own sake; do you think there is an enough of an interest in English’s “why” as opposed to the “what” to help me teach English if I do teach overseas? I could be wrong, but I’d assume that the more far away you get from a PIE-derived (and Latin alphabet-spelled) language, the interest in the etymology of English would go down. I mean really, English and Spanish are effectively one of several first cousins! 🙂 Anyways, I guess I’m just curious to the general interest level of English Etymology and wondered if you are just an isolate or if there are others who would find English Etymology worthy of study.

        P.S: I certainly have entertained the idea of teaching English in Montevideo! Everything I know about Uruguay is that it’s awesome. It sounds like a magical place. Cheers!

        • Thanks! I’m not really qualified to answer your specific question, I just wanted to thank you for the feedback. I’m glad so many of you enjoy the podcast as much as I enjoy putting it together.

        • Yes Christopher, English and Spanish are cousins!

          I have been in love with Etymology for such a long time and I enjoy so much this podcast … but I am afraid I don´t have the answer for your question. I don´t know how much isolated I am. My hearty answer would be very biased!

          I agree with you that the highest interest would be in the PIE-derived, and above all, the romance languages.

          As Kevin says, English is the most Latin of the Germanic languages.

          How nice you like Montevideo! But take into account that Montevideo is a small city and your market would be tiny. I would suggest considering Buenos Aires (it is ten times larger …).

          By the way, why not trying the online world via a YouTube chanel? 🙂

          Count on me as the first subscriber!

      • Thanks for the comments! Just FYI, I have been re-recording some of the early episodes over the past year or so. There have not been any substantive changes to the episodes. I just wanted to provide a better and more polished recording. I have worked my way up to the Greek episodes, and when I re-record them, I intend to add in some etymology and fill in some gaps in the original content. When they are recorded, I will probably label them as “remastered” so listeners will know that the episodes have been re-recorded.

  3. Loved this episode. Can you share with me your sources for the rise of Edward III and the Battle of Crecy? That sounds like it would make a great movie.

    • As usual, I used LOTS of sources for this episode. I typically read several different versions of the same historical event to gather the differing historical perspectives. If I had to recommend one source for the events of this period, I would recommend “The Plantagenets” by Dan Jones. It is very well written in a conversational style and covers the entire period of Plantagenet rule.

  4. Hi Kevin,

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your podcast. Long may it continue! I’ve been a supporter for a few dollars a month, but I’m not so keen on Patreon..so I’m going to call a halt to the subscription. Sorry!

  5. Canadians might be interested in the word “alarm”. We have a very popular folk song called “Farewell to Nova Scotia” containing the lyric “The drums they do beat and the wars do alarm, the captain calls, I must obey.” I always wondered about that use of alarm, and now I know. Thanks! PS: correct pronunciation of dreary is “drear-eye”.

  6. About loophole, a cognate of the first part still exists in English in the sense of “something to look through”. The little magnifying glass that jewelers use is called a loupe. It’s proto-Germanic. Sources I’ve seen say it came to English from French, either via Frankish or Dutch. Loupe also still exists in French, but the meaning is restricted to “magnifying glass”.

  7. We hear at 04:00 that the nobility “imposed French on English society”. After 1066 Norman French was used by the aristocracy, the clergy, and the law courts. But the majority of (albeit less powerful) people spoke English. English eventually became a hybrid (excuse the imprecision of my terminology) language, having “borrowed” so much vocabulary. However I do wonder if there ever was a conscious effort by the Norman elite to “impose” French.

    Following an invasion the invader is often more advanced than the conquered nation so it’s not surprising the latter’s language is overshadowed by the former’s. Were the Normans more advanced than the Anglo-Saxons? Arguably, though probably not by much.

    Out of scope for this episode’s discussion, but I wonder to what extant this aspec of history repeats itself. E.g. with the expansion of the Roman Empire, in places where society was relatively advanced, local languages survived, e.g. Greece and Egypt. But in places where cultures were substantially less advanced, they became Latinised, e.g. Celtic and Germanic places like Gaul. Later on when the Germanic “barbarians” conquered Roman provinces, the language conversion went from conquered to conquerer perhaps because of cultural, rather than military, superiority?

    • Good thoughts. You might have noticed that I’ve never directly tackled that issue in the podcast, even though the link between military conquest and language replacement are recurring themes. The reason I’ve never addressed the issue in any detailed way is because the evidence seems somewhat random. It’s hard to formulate a consistent theory to explain why some native languages survive military conquest, some evolve under the invading language’s influence, and some disappear altogether. I’m sure scholars have researched and analyzed the issue, but I’ve never looked at any of that research.

  8. Longtime listener, first time writer….Between 9:30 and 9:45 of this episode you stated that the plague and gunpowder reached Europe by traveling “eastward”… You obviously meant to say that they were traveling “westward”.

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