Episode 148: A Marital Union

In the early 1500s, a series of marriages between European royal families re-shaped the face of Europe and brought together separate regions under the leadership of a single ruler.  This led to creation of modern Spain and the formation of a massive European empire ruled by the Habsburg family.  It also secured the position of the Tudors in England, and laid the foundation for the union of England and Scotland as Great Britain.  In this episode, we explore those developments and examine the poetry of Middle Scots, the creation of the first modern postal system, and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. 


8 thoughts on “Episode 148: A Marital Union

  1. An English Bobby uses a billy club. The term billy club seems to have come from a club that belongs to a man or a billy. Where does the term Bobby come from?

    • “Billy club” was coined in American English. It is apparently based on the nickname “Billy,” and that nickname was sometimes applied to certain implements and animals, but I am not sure that it is directly traceable back to the Scots use of the word “billy” for a common man.

      The word “bobby” in the sense of a policeman is indeed derived from the nickname “Bobby” for Robert, and it is generally thought to be based on the name of Robert Peel, who was Home Secretary when the new Metropolitan Police Act was passed in 1828.

      • I haven’t heard billy club used in British English, it’s usually called a truncheon. Another name for a police officer is “copper” or “cop” supposedly derived from the copper badges the original bobbies wore on their helmet. The first nickname for a police officer was “peeler” also after Robert Peel but no longer used.

  2. Pingback: MAM: Americans in Spain – Brezo.blog

  3. Referring to the expression “Billy” and “hillbilly”. I was always led to believe that it is to do with “King Billy”, ie William of Orange. The name Billy is used very much in conjunction with protestants in Northern Ireland – Billy boys, etc. That would make more sense than hillbilly – I am Scottish and reasonably familiar with Scots words and haven’t come across the term Billy in the sense that you use it .

    • I am familiar with the connection to William of Orange, and of course, a common term can be influenced by several different factors and sources. But according to the OED, the word “billy” is first recorded as ‘fellow or companion’ in Scotland in the 1500s, which pre-dates the arrival of William of Orange. Again, William’s nickname as ‘billy’ may have contributed to a more widespread use of the term over time.

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