This paper explores how vernacular languages were used for confession in England during the pastoral efflorescence following the Fourth Lateran Council’s injunction to confession. In particular, it considers the relationship between a penitent’s position in the Church and the language in which he confessed. Considering that Anglo-Norman was what Ingham (2010) has called a ‘prestige written language’, which groups were expected to use it for confession? Drawing on a variety of sources, including texts for penitents and those for confessors, this paper suggests that confession in Anglo-Norman was more common than is often acknowledged, particularly among the ordained.
This paper analyses the numerous Anglo-Norman loanwords found in Tuscan material written in England, c. 1420-1450, specific to the fields of English trade, finance, shipping and law. Sources include the London accounts of the Villani and Salviati companies and the diary of a Florentine galley captain who was hosted by a local merchant in Southampton. Whilst many of these words had recorded equivalents in Middle English by the early 1400s, we find a crucial sub-group of borrowings in Italian whose etyma seem to belong uniquely to insular French. This suggests that as late as the mid-15th century, Anglo-Norman was still active as a business language in some communities in England, used in writing and (probably) in spoken exchanges.
The Mirour de Seinte Eglyse was one of the most popular books in 13th-century England. It was also one of the most formally innovative. An Anglo-Norman French translation of St Edmund of Abingdon’s Speculum religiosorum, it eschews the verse of most contemporary Anglo-Norman religious texts whilst it reinvents the prosody of its Latin source by exaggerating rhymes, introducing rhythmic patterns, and working an English lyric into its course. This is a process which both unites elements of all of its available media and renders them all extraneous to its own working – they are all othered to its unusual French prose.