Episode 166: The Arte of Warre

In 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail for England in an attempt to depose Elizabeth I and replace her with a Spanish princess. In this episode, we examine how the English victory secured the status of English within the Church of England and ensured the spread of English as part of the nascent British Empire. We also explore how Spanish and Italian loanwords shaped the lexicon of modern warfare.


22 thoughts on “Episode 166: The Arte of Warre

  1. Another fascinating episode – you do keep them coming, don’t you? I was wondering if there is a connexion between the words piazza and plaza and the English word “place” which is often used, in British English at least, for an open paved area in a town eg Portland Place in London (at least it used to be paved but I think it’s now part of a road).
    I was especially interested in the way in which loan words from the Romance languages entered English. Some of the Spanish words seem to have come directly to British English and some via the American settlers, although some of the words you mentioned never seem to have transferred to British English and remain purely American English words.
    Many thanks for all your hard work.

    • Excerpt from Etymonline:
      “Meaning “a broad way, square, or open space in a city or town,” often having some particular use or character (Park Place, Waverly Place,Rillington Place) is by 1690s, from a sense in French. Its wide application in English covers meanings that in French require three words: place, lieu, and endroit. Cognate Italian piazza and Spanish plaza retain more of the etymological sense.”

    • As Monique has noted, “piazza,” “plaza” and “place” are all cognate thanks to the common Latin root word “platea” meaning a ‘courtyard, wide street, or open space.’

  2. We tend to oversimplify the linguistic situation in those countries at the time. There were many languages/dialects in a France, Italy, and Spanish. And a lot of the borrowings were actually mediated by those languages. The -ade suffix is often a sign that Provençal/Occitan is either the vector or the source of the word in English.

  3. Sigh. All caught up and now I have to wait. I shouldn’t complain because having come late to the podcast, I was able to binge, but I am eager to learn what happens next!

    I wanted to add my praise to everyone else’s and let you know how very much I have enjoyed the podcast series. Aside from enjoying both history and words, it has been very interesting to get this perspective on historical events. History is so much more fascinating than the rote names, dates, and battles version of history we get in school.

    You also have a very good style that is easy to listen to, a good conversational tone, and the series itself is uncluttered. That you find the material interesting comes across clearly and adds a great deal to the listening experience.

    Thank you for the time and effort you have put into the series, and I will look forward to the next episode.

    • Chris, yours is a plight shared with many of us. My remedy is to return to the first episode and repeat. I’ve done that three times, and I’m about to do it yet again! I always seems to catch something I missed in the previous go-’round, or the one before that…

  4. Truly a red-letter day for me today. I discovered this podcast about 18 (?) months ago, and decided to listen to all the Episodes starting from Episode 1. Since then, I’ve travelled through Indo-Europea, a succession of invasions of Britain, Great Vowel Shifts and Chaucer’s vulgar tongue, to name but a few places.
    I’ve really enjoyed it – I would have given up months ago had I not – and I look forward to many more episodes to come. I also agree with everything that Chris has written in the previous comment.
    One theme that I always find particularly interesting is that there is actually a reason (or several reasons) for the crazy spelling of English.
    Keep up the great work Kevin, and thanks for everything so far.

    • Thank you! It’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun to put together. (Well, most of the time.) I hope you stick with it to the end.

  5. For those who would like a musical accompaniment to this time period from an Irish perspective, the composer Shaun Davey has a record available entitled ‘Granuaile’ which covers the life of the Irish chieftain Gráinne O’Malley and is set in & around these episodes.

    • Worth noting Gráinne/Granuaile was almost an exact contemporary of Elizabeth I. She even travelled to visit Elizabeth at Greenwich Palace in 1593 (slightly ahead of your current timeline, Kevin) to petition – successfully – for release of her sons, who had been taken captive by Elizabeth’s brutal Governor of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham. Apparently, Elizabeth and Gráinne conversed freely in Latin, their lingua Franca.

  6. Kevin,

    On LinkedIn, one person I follow goes by the handle of Grammar Girl. Several times in the last couple of years, I have posted a comment to the effect that I knew about something that she discussed in a post only because I listen to the wonderful podcast The History of English.

    I have no idea if this hyperlink will work, but here is my last “glowing” statement about this fabulously good podcast:


    • Thanks for the recommendation. I had the pleasure of meeting Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl) at a podcasting conference in Boston a few years back.

  7. Speaking of tomatoes and potatoes, I recently learned the etymology of avocado. The native Nahuatl word is ahuakatl, meaning, well, avocado, but also testicle. In Spanish it became aguacate. Then English avocado.

  8. Has anyone carried out genetic studies to see if the current inhabitants of the outer banks have genes that can be traced back to English settlers? It has been just over 400 years and the presence of Neanderthal genes in Europeans has been detected even though the last contact was at least 30,000 years ago. Of course, it may be hard to distinguish from more modern intermarriage, but geneticists are very clever about such things.

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