Bede, as a late antique/early mediaeval author was steeped (partly self-imposedly) in the literature of Antiquity and of the Church Fathers. But his world was different from theirs: the sharp discontinuity between Roman and Anglo-Saxon Britain was not to be simply bridged. In writing his works, Bede consciously tired to imitate the Fathers: as he says, he traced his writings in vestigia patrum. I will investigate in my paper whether Bede successfully applied, especially in the Historia Eccelesiastica Gentis Anglorum, the Roman terminology of power which he could glean from the Fathers and Antique writers. This, especially the use of certain words (imperium, imperare, regnum), have been the subjects of heated debate, and much has already been said of them. But their use has rarely been examined in their own context: Bede’s perforce limited understanding of Roman culture, his designs with the Historia, and his own cultural-spiritual predispositions. My thesis is that Bede simply did not understand the true meanings of Latin words of power, and did not differentiate between the niceties of their original (or contemporary Continental) uses. Instead, his employment of them is coloured by his religious convictions and his nationalistic outlook, and is based on the fact to whom he attributes power, and of whom he denies it.
In the 15th century, Bero Magni de Ludosia, who left his native Sweden for the University of Vienna, is to have authored a versified grammatical treatise, the Verba communia, now preserved together with an anonymous commentary in a 1489 incunable. This paper will present Bero’s work as an example of an Arts Master’s text-book production. The treatise and, to a certain extent, its commentary will also be related to contemporary commentaries on the Doctrinale and with Bernhard Perger’s Grammatices institutiones novae, which came to supplant Alexander de Villa Dei’s treatise as the principal text book at the close of the century.
Studies on linguistic change in post-Conquest England focus almost exclusively on French influences on English. This paper proposes that many changes (both in language and literature) were facilitated because English exerted enormous influence on Anglo-Norman. E.g., Anglo-Norman octosyllabic couplets – initially developed in England and rare in France – share much with the traditionally English four-beat lines of OE and eME poetry. This verse structure would only find acceptance if French-speakers in England could appreciate it. Approval might have come from familiarity with English verse, but it seems likely that English prosody had also affected Anglo-Norman isochrony, pulling it in the direction of a stress-timed language, making this structure particularly well suited to the insular French dialect.