Middle English Period

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Middle English Period

Middle English developed out of Late Old English in Norman England (1066–1154) and was spoken throughout the Plantagenet era (1154–1485). The Middle English period ended at about 1470, when the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English, began to become widespread, a process aided by the introduction of the printing press to England by William Caxton in the late 1470s. By that time the variant of the Northumbrian dialect (prevalent in Northern England) spoken in southeast Scotland was developing into the Scots language. The language of England as used after 1470 and up to 1650 is known as Early Modern English.England in the late 1000s, the 1100s, and 1200s became a bilingual country. Norman French was the prestige language, English the language of everyday folk. Few Normans learned English in this early Middle English period. French was the language of court, of law, of the literature of the period. Since few Anglo-Normans learned English, initially, there was little borrowing of French words into English in the period 1066-1300. The changes in English during this period were nevertheless quite substantial.

Middle English Period

In 1066, a dynastic quarrel over the throne of England ended in victory for William, Duke of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings. William became King William I of England and his Norman companions became the feudal overlords of the Anglo-Saxon population. There was never a great amount of Norman immigration into England. Instead there was a grafting of a great superstructure of economic, political, religious and military power onto a population that remained largely English in ethnicity and language.A historical event -- the Norman Invasion of Britain -- signaled a radical change in English and marks the transition from Old English to Middle English (1100-1450). Middle English is the long period of accommodation between the Germanic language of the Anglo-Saxons (Old English) and the Latin-based language of the Norman French.The Norman InvasionThe end of the Anglo-Saxon period was ushered in abruptly with the Norman French invasion under William the Conqueror in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. William, The Duke of Normandy, sailed across the British Channel. He challenged King Harold of England in the struggle for the English throne. After winning the Battle of Hastings where he defeated Harold, William was crowned King of England. A Norman Kingdom was now established. The Anglo-Saxon period was over.

Much of what we know about the Norman invasion comes from The Bayeux Tapestry, which has preserved the glory of the Norman Conquest of England, and the drama of Harold of Wessex and Duke William of Normandy for over 900 years. The 231-foot-long tapestry is was first mentioned in a 1476 inventory of the Bayeux Cathedral. In 1792, French revolutionaries used this historical tapestry as a wagon cover until it was rescued by a local lawyer. Scholars believe two missing panels at the end may have portrayed William on the throne of England. During World War II it was hidden in an air raid shelter to keep it from the Nazis. The Bayeux is on display in Bayeux, in Normandy, France.Key People.Martin Behaim (1459-1537) was a German mapmaker, navigator, and merchant. Behaim made the earliest globe, called the "Nürnberg Terrestrial Globe". It was made during the years 1490-1492; the painter Georg Glockendon helped in the project. Behaim had previously sailed to Portugal as a merchant (in 1480). He had advised King John II on matters concerning navigation. He accompanied the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cam (Cão) on a 1485-1486 voyage to the coast of West Africa; during this trip, the mouth of the Congo River was discovered.After returning to Nürnberg in 1490, Behaim began construction of his globe (which was very inaccurate as compared to other maps from that time, even in the areas in which Behaim had sailed).It was once thought that Behaim's might may have influenced Columbus and Magellan; this is now discounted. Behaim may have also developed an astrolabe. Behaim's globe is now in the German National Museum in Nürnberg.\Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504, sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. On his first trip, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

In the mid-1200s, an English friar named Thomas of Hales wrote a piece called "Love Rune," an erotic lyric poem. He is ricchest mon of londe,So wide so mon spekeð with muð;Alle heo beoð to His honde,Est and west, north and suð!Henri, King of Engelonde,Of Hym he halt and to Hym buhð. Mayde, to þe He send His sonde,And wilneð for to beo þe cuð.Ne byt He wið þe lond ne leode,Vouh ne gray ne rencyan; Naveð He þerto none neode,He is riche and weli mon!If þu Him woldest luve beode,And bycumen His leovemon,He brou3te þe to suche wedeThat naveð king ne kayser non!The language here seems transitional between Old and Middle English. Of course, Thomas had no idea he was in transition; he was just writing poetry. One thing we do not see in Layamon, or Thomas, very much, is French vocabulary. Bacon, Roger (1214-1294) English philosopher and scientist. Bacon is one of the most prominent figures in 13th century scholastic philosophy. He was born in Somerset and educated at Oxford and Paris. On his return from Paris he became a Franciscan and carried out much experimental research in natural science and in his Opus majus ‘Major work’ he expounded on all branches of knowledge accessible at the time including grammar and logic along with mathematics and moral philosophy.William Caxton,(c.1422-1491) A merchant and later a writer who set up the first printing press in England in 1476. A few years earlier Caxton had visited Cologne where he acquired his knowledge in the technique of printing and returned to England via Belgium to apply this new art. He established his base at Westminster and during his career as publisher produced more than 90 editions of well-known and lesser known authors. Caxton himself prepared some translations of works in Latin and French. He is also famous for the prefaces which he wrote to his editions and which are revealing documents of literary attitudes in late 15th century EnglandGeoffrey Chaucer,(1343-1400) was one of the most famouse in his time period. The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde and Book of the Duchess are some of his most known books.This is an excerpt from his poem "The House of Fame":1" God turne us every dreem to gode!2For hit is wonder, be the rode,3To my wit, what causeth swevens4Either on morwes, or on evens;5And why the effect folweth of somme,6And of somme hit shal never come;7Why that is an avisioun,8And this a revelacioun,9Why this a dreem, why that a sweven,10And nat to every man liche even;"

Works Cited"ENCHANTED LEARNING HOME PAGE." ENCHANTED LEARNING HOME PAGE. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013."The House of Fame." - Wikisource, the Free Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013."Leeward CC EMedia Server Home Page." Leeward CC EMedia Server Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013."Middle Ages." Middle Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013."Universität Duisburg-Essen." Willkommen an Der. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013."University of Texas Arlington." The University of Texas at Arlington. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.


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