Medieval Latin

Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying degrees. Latin functioned as the main medium of scholarly exchange, as the liturgical language of the Church, and as the working language of science, literature, law, and administration.

Medieval Latin represented, in essence, a continuation of Classical Latin and Late Latin, with enhancements for new concepts as well as for the increasing integration of Christianity. Despite some meaningful differences from Classical Latin, Medieval writers did not regard it as a fundamentally different language. There is no real consensus on the exact boundary where Late Latin ends and Medieval Latin begins. Some scholarly surveys begin with the rise of early Ecclesiastical Latin in the middle of the 4th century, others around 500,[1] and still others with the replacement of written Late Latin by written Romance languages starting around the year 900.

The terms Medieval Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin are often used synonymously, though some scholars draw distinctions. Ecclesiastical Latin refers specifically to the form that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, whereas Medieval Latin refers more broadly to all of the (written) forms of Latin used in the Middle Ages. The Romance languages spoken in the Middle Ages were often referred to as Latin, since the Romance languages were all descended from Classical, or Roman, Latin itself.[2]

Medieval Latin
Latina Mediævalis
Carmina Cantabrigiensia Manuscr-C-fol436v
Carmina Cantabrigiensia, Medieval Latin manuscript
Native toNumerous small states
RegionMost of Europe
EraDeveloped from Late Latin between 4th and 10th centuries; replaced by Renaissance Latin from the 14th century
Early forms
Latin alphabet 
Official status
Official language in
De facto in most Catholic and/or Romance-speaking states during the Middle Ages
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Europe 1000
Europe, 1000 AD


Christian Latin

Medieval Latin had an enlarged vocabulary, which freely borrowed from other sources. It was heavily influenced by the language of the Vulgate, which contained many peculiarities alien to Classical Latin that resulted from a more or less direct translation from Greek and Hebrew; the peculiarities mirrored the original not only in its vocabulary but also in its grammar and syntax. Greek provided much of the technical vocabulary of Christianity. The various Germanic languages spoken by the Germanic tribes, who invaded southern Europe, were also major sources of new words. Germanic leaders became the rulers of parts of the Roman Empire that they conquered, and words from their languages were freely imported into the vocabulary of law. Other more ordinary words were replaced by coinages from Vulgar Latin or Germanic sources because the classical words had fallen into disuse.

An illuminated manuscript of a Book of Hours contains prayers in medieval Latin.

Latin was also spread to areas such as Ireland and Germany, where Romance languages were not spoken, and which had never known Roman rule. Works written in those lands where Latin was a learned language, having no relation to the local vernacular, also influenced the vocabulary and syntax of medieval Latin.

Since subjects like science and philosophy, including Argumentation theory and Ethics (pre-law), were communicated in Latin, the Latin vocabulary that developed for them became the source of a great many technical words in modern languages. English words like abstract, subject, communicate, matter, probable and their cognates in other European languages generally have the meanings given to them in medieval Latin.[3]

Vulgar Latin

The influence of Vulgar Latin was also apparent in the syntax of some medieval Latin writers, although Classical Latin continued to be held in high esteem and studied as models for literary compositions. The high point of the development of medieval Latin as a literary language came with the Carolingian renaissance, a rebirth of learning kindled under the patronage of Charlemagne, king of the Franks. Alcuin was Charlemagne's Latin secretary and an important writer in his own right; his influence led to a rebirth of Latin literature and learning after the depressed period following the final disintegration of the authority of the Western Roman Empire.

Although it was simultaneously developing into the Romance languages, Latin itself remained very conservative, as it was no longer a native language and there were many ancient and medieval grammar books to give one standard form. On the other hand, strictly speaking there was no single form of "medieval Latin". Every Latin author in the medieval period spoke Latin as a second language, with varying degrees of fluency and syntax. Grammar and vocabulary, however, were often influenced by an author's native language. This was especially true beginning around the 12th century, after which the language became increasingly adulterated: late medieval Latin documents written by French speakers tend to show similarities to medieval French grammar and vocabulary; those written by Germans tend to show similarities to German, etc. For instance, rather than following the classical Latin practice of generally placing the verb at the end, medieval writers would often follow the conventions of their own native language instead. Whereas Latin had no definite or indefinite articles, medieval writers sometimes used forms of unus as an indefinite article, and forms of ille (reflecting usage in the Romance languages) as a definite article or even quidam (meaning "a certain one/thing" in Classical Latin) as something like an article. Unlike classical Latin, where esse ("to be") was the only auxiliary verb, medieval Latin writers might use habere ("to have") as an auxiliary, similar to constructions in Germanic and Romance languages. The accusative and infinitive construction in classical Latin was often replaced by a subordinate clause introduced by quod or quia. This is almost identical, for example, to the use of que in similar constructions in French.

In every age from the late 8th century onwards, there were learned writers (especially within the Church) who were familiar enough with classical syntax to be aware that these forms and usages were "wrong" and resisted their use. Thus the Latin of a theologian like St Thomas Aquinas or of an erudite clerical historian such as William of Tyre tends to avoid most of the characteristics described above, showing its period in vocabulary and spelling alone; the features listed are much more prominent in the language of lawyers (e.g. the 11th century English Domesday Book), physicians, technical writers and secular chroniclers. However the use of quod to introduce subordinate clauses was especially pervasive and is found at all levels.[4]

Changes in vocabulary, syntax, and grammar

Medieval Latin had ceased to be a living language and was instead a scholarly language of the minority of educated men in medieval Europe, used in official documents more than for everyday communication. This resulted in two major features of Medieval Latin compared with Classical Latin, though when it is compared to the other vernacular languages, Medieval Latin developed very few changes.[4] First, many authors attempted to "show off" their knowledge of Classical Latin by using rare or archaic constructions, sometimes anachronistically (haphazardly mixing constructions from Republican and Imperial Latin, which in reality existed centuries apart). Second, many lesser scholars had a limited grasp of "proper" Latin or were increasingly influenced by Vulgar Latin, which was mutating into the Romance languages.

  • Word order usually tended towards that of the vernacular language of the author, not the artificial and polished word order of Classical Latin. Conversely, an erudite scholar might attempt to "show off" by intentionally constructing a very complicated sentence. Because Latin is an inflected language, it is technically possible to place related words at opposite ends of a paragraph-long sentence, and owing to the complexity of doing so, it was seen by some as a sign of great skill.
  • Typically, prepositions are used much more frequently (as in modern Romance languages) for greater clarity, instead of using the ablative case alone. Further, in Classical Latin the subject of a verb was often left implied, unless it was being stressed: videt = "he sees". For clarity, Medieval Latin more frequently includes an explicit subject: is videt = "he sees" without necessarily stressing the subject.
  • Various changes occurred in vocabulary, and certain words were mixed into different declensions or conjugations. Many new compound verbs were formed. Some words retained their original structure but drastically changed in meaning: animositas specifically means "wrath" in Medieval Latin while in Classical Latin, it generally referred to "high spirits, excited spirits" of any kind.
  • Owing to heavy use of biblical terms, there was a large influx of new words borrowed from Greek and Hebrew and even some grammatical influences. That obviously largely occurred among priests and scholars, not the laity. In general, it is difficult to express abstract concepts in Latin, as many scholars admitted. For example, Plato's abstract concept of "the Truth" had to be expressed in Latin as "what is always true". Medieval scholars and theologians, translating both the Bible and Greek philosophers into Latin out of the Koine and Classical Greek, cobbled together many new abstract concept words in Latin.


  • Indirect discourse, which in Classical Latin was achieved by using a subject accusative and infinitive, was now often simply replaced by new conjunctions serving the function of English "that" such as quod, quia, or quoniam. There was a high level of overlap between the old and new constructions, even within the same author's work, and it was often a matter of preference. A particularly famous and often cited example is from the Venerable Bede, using both constructions within the same sentence: "Dico me scire et quod sum ignobilis" = "I say that I know [accusative and infinitive] and that I am unknown [new construction]". The resulting subordinate clause often used the subjunctive mood instead of the indicative. This new syntax for indirect discourse is among the most prominent features of Medieval Latin, the largest syntactical change.
  • Several substitutions were often used instead of subjunctive clause constructions. They did not break the rules of Classical Latin but were an alternative way to express the same meaning, avoiding the use of a subjunctive clause.
    • The present participle was frequently used adverbially in place of qui or cum clauses, such as clauses of time, cause, concession, and purpose. That was loosely similar to the use of the present participle in an ablative absolute phrase, but the participle did not need to be in the ablative case.
    • Habeo (I have [to]) and "Debeo" (I must) would be used to express obligation more often than the gerundive.
      • Given that obligation inherently carries a sense of futurity ("Carthage must be destroyed" at some point in the future), it anticipates how the Romance languages such as French would use "habeo" as the basis for their future tenses (abandoning the Latin forms of the future tense). While in Latin "amare habeo" is the indirect discourse "I have to love", in the French equivalent,"aimerai" (habeo > ayyo > ai, aimer+ai), it has become the future tense, "I shall love", losing the sense of obligation. In Medieval Latin, however, it was still indirect discourse and not yet used as simply a future tense.
    • Instead of a clause introduced by ut or ne, an infinitive was often used with a verb of hoping, fearing, promising, etc.
  • Conversely, some authors might haphazardly switch between the subjunctive and indicative forms of verbs, with no intended difference in meaning.
  • The usage of sum changed significantly: it was frequently omitted or implied. Further, many medieval authors did not feel that it made sense for the perfect passive construction "laudatus sum" to use the present tense of esse in a past tense construction so they began using fui, the past perfect of sum, interchangeably with sum.
  • Chaos in the usage of demonstrative pronouns. Hic, ille, iste, and even the intensive ipse are often used virtually interchangeably. In anticipation of Romance languages, hic and ille were also frequently used simply to express the definite article "the", which Classical Latin did not possess. Unus was also used for the indirect article "a, an".
  • Use of reflexives became much looser. A reflexive pronoun in a subordinate clause might refer to the subject of the main clause. The reflexive possessive suus might be used in place of a possessive genitive such as eius.
  • Comparison of adjectives changed somewhat. The comparative form was sometimes used with positive or superlative meaning. Also, the adverb "magis" was often used with a positive adjective to indicate a comparative meaning,and multum and nimis could be used with a positive form of adjective to give a superlative meaning.
  • Classical Latin used the ablative absolute, but as stated above, in Medieval Latin examples of nominative absolute or accusative absolute may be found. This was a point of difference between the ecclesiastical Latin of the clergy and the "Vulgar Latin" of the laity, which existed alongside it. The educated clergy mostly knew that traditional Latin did not use the nominative or accusative case in such constructions, but only the ablative case. These constructions are observed in the medieval era, but they are changes that developed among the uneducated commoners.
  • Classical Latin does not distinguish progressive action in the present tense, thus laudo can mean either "I praise" or "I am praising". In imitation of Greek, Medieval Latin could use a present participle with sum to form a periphrastic tense equivalent to the English progressive. This "Greek Periphrastic Tense" formation could also be done in the past and future tenses: laudans sum ("I am praising"), laudans eram ("I was praising"), laudans ero ("I shall be praising").
  • Classical Latin verbs had at most two voices, active and passive, but Greek (the original language of the New Testament) had an additional "middle voice" (or reflexive voice). One use was to express when the subject is acting upon itself: "Achilles put the armor onto himself" or "Jesus clothed himself in the robe" would use the middle voice. Because Latin had no middle voice, Medieval Latin expresses such sentences by putting the verb in the passive voice form, but the conceptual meaning is active (similar to Latin deponent verbs). For example, the Medieval Latin translation of Genesis states literally, "God was moved over the waters" ("spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas", Genesis 1:2), but it is just expressing a Greek middle-voice verb: "God moved [himself] over the waters".
  • Overlapping with orthography differences (see below), certain diphthongs were sometimes shortened: "oe" to "e", and "ae" to "e". Thus, "oecumenicus" becomes the more familiar "ecumenicus" (more familiar in this later form because religious terms such as "ecumenical" were more common in medieval Latin). The "oe" diphthong is not particularly frequent in Latin, but the shift from "ae" to "e" affects many common words, such as "caelum" (heaven) being shortened to "celum"; even "puellae" (girls) was shortened to "puelle".
  • Often, a town would lose its name to that of the tribe which was either accusative or ablative plural; two forms that were then used for all cases, or in other words, considered "indeclinable".[5]


Prüfeninger Weiheinschrift. Pic 01
The Prüfening dedicatory inscription of 1119, composed in medieval Latin.

Many striking differences between classical and medieval Latin are found in orthography. Perhaps the most striking difference is that medieval manuscripts used a wide range of abbreviations by means of superscripts, special characters etc.: for instance the letters "n" and "s" were often omitted and replaced by a diacritical mark above the preceding or following letter. Apart from this, some of the most frequently occurring differences are as follows. Clearly many of these would have been influenced by the spelling, and indeed pronunciation[5], of the vernacular language, and thus varied between different European countries.

  • Following the Carolingian reforms of the 9th century, Carolingian minuscule was widely adopted, leading to a clear differentiation between capital and lowercase letters.
  • A partial or full differentiation between v and u, and between j and i.
  • The diphthong ae is usually collapsed and simply written as e (or e caudata, ę); for example, puellae might be written puelle (or puellę). The same happens with the diphthong oe, for example in pena, Edipus, from poena, Oedipus. This feature is already found on coin inscriptions of the 4th century (e.g. reipublice for reipublicae). Conversely, an original e in Classical Latin was often represented by ae or oe (e.g. aecclesia and coena), also reflected in English spellings such as foetus.
  • Because of a severe decline in the knowledge of Greek, in loanwords and foreign names from or transmitted through Greek, y and i might be used more or less interchangeably: Ysidorus, Egiptus, from Isidorus, Aegyptus. This is also found in pure Latin words: ocius ("more swiftly") appears as ocyus and silva as sylva, this last being a form which survived into the 18th century and so became embedded in modern botanical Latin (also cf. Pennsylvania).
  • h might be lost, so that habere becomes abere, or mihi becomes mi (the latter also occurred in Classical Latin); or mihi may be written michi, indicating that the h had come to be pronounced as k or perhaps kh. This pronunciation is not found in Classical Latin.
  • The loss of h in pronunciation also led to the addition of h in writing where it did not previously belong, especially in the vicinity of r, such as chorona for corona, a tendency also sometimes seen in Classical Latin.
  • -ti- before a vowel is often written as -ci- [tsi], so that divitiae becomes diviciae (or divicie), tertius becomes tercius, vitium vicium.
  • The combination mn might have another plosive inserted, so that alumnus becomes alumpnus, somnus sompnus.
  • Single consonants were often doubled, or vice versa, so that tranquillitas becomes tranquilitas and Africa becomes Affrica.
  • Syncopation became more frequent: vi, especially in verbs in the perfect tense, might be lost, so that novisse becomes nosse (this occurred in Classical Latin as well but was much more frequent in medieval Latin).

These orthographical differences were often due to changes in pronunciation or, as in the previous example, morphology, which authors reflected in their writing. By the 16th century, Erasmus complained that speakers from different countries were unable to understand each other's form of Latin.[6]

The gradual changes in Latin did not escape the notice of contemporaries. Petrarch, writing in the 14th century, complained about this linguistic "decline", which helped fuel his general dissatisfaction with his own era.

Medieval Latin literature

The corpus of medieval Latin literature encompasses a wide range of texts, including such diverse works as sermons, hymns, hagiographical texts, travel literature, histories, epics, and lyric poetry.

The first half of the 5th century saw the literary activities of the great Christian authors Jerome (c. 347–420) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430), whose texts had an enormous influence on theological thought of the Middle Ages, and of the latter's disciple Prosper of Aquitaine (c. 390-455). Of the later 5th century and early 6th century, Sidonius Apollinaris (c. 430 – after 489) and Ennodius (474–521), both from Gaul, are well known for their poems, as is Venantius Fortunatus (c. 530–600). This was also a period of transmission: the Roman patrician Boethius (c. 480–524) translated part of Aristotle's logical corpus, thus preserving it for the Latin West, and wrote the influential literary and philosophical treatise De consolatione Philosophiae; Cassiodorus (c. 485–585) founded an important library at the monastery of Vivarium near Squillace where many texts from Antiquity were to be preserved. Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636) collected all scientific knowledge still available in his time into what might be called the first encyclopedia, the Etymologiae.

Gregory of Tours (c. 538–594) wrote a lengthy history of the Frankish kings. Gregory came from a Gallo-Roman aristocratic family, and his Latin, which shows many aberrations from the classical forms, testifies to the declining significance of classical education in Gaul. At the same time, good knowledge of Latin and even of Greek was being preserved in monastic culture in Ireland and was brought to England and the European mainland by missionaries in the course of the 6th and 7th centuries, such as Columbanus (543–615), who founded the monastery of Bobbio in Northern Italy. Ireland was also the birthplace of a strange poetic style known as Hisperic Latin. Other important Insular authors include the historian Gildas (c. 500–570) and the poet Aldhelm (c. 640–709). Benedict Biscop (c. 628–690) founded the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow and furnished it with books which he had taken home from a journey to Rome and which were later used by Bede (c. 672–735) to write his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

Many medieval Latin works have been published in the series Patrologia Latina, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum and Corpus Christianorum.

Medieval Latin and Everyday Life

Medieval Latin was separated from Classical Latin around 800 AD and at this time was no longer considered part of the everyday language. Spoken Latin became a practice used mostly by the educated high class population. Even then it was not frequently used in casual conversation. An example of these men includes the churchmen who could read Latin, but could not effectively speak it. Latin's use in universities was structured in lectures and debates, however, it was highly recommended that students use it in conversation. This practice was only kept up due to rules.[4]One of Latin's purposes, writing, was still in practice; the main uses being charters for property transactions and to keep track of the pleadings given in court. Even then, those of the church still used Latin more than the rest of the population. At this time, Latin served little purpose to the regular population but was still used regularly in ecclesiastical culture.[4]

Important medieval Latin authors

4th–5th centuries

6th–8th centuries

9th century

10th century

11th century

12th century

13th century

14th century

Literary movements




  1. ^ Ziolkowski, Jan M. (1996), "Towards a History of Medieval Latin Literature", in Mantello, F. A. C.; Rigg, A. G. (eds.), Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, Washington, D.C., pp. 505-536 (pp. 510-511)
  2. ^ "Romance languages". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  3. ^ J. Franklin, Mental furniture from the philosophers, Et Cetera 40 (1983), 177-91.
  4. ^ a b c d Mantello, F. A. C., Rigg, A. G. (1996). Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide. United States of America: The Catholic University of America Press. p. 85. ISBN 0813208416.
  5. ^ a b Beeson, Charles Henry (1986). A Primer of Medieval Latin: an anthology of prose and poetry. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 0813206359.
  6. ^ See Desiderius Erasmus, De recta Latini Graecique sermonis pronunciatione dialogus, Basel (Frobenius), 1528.


  • K.P. Harrington, J. Pucci, and A.G. Elliott, Medieval Latin (2nd ed.), (Univ. Chicago Press, 1997) ISBN 0-226-31712-9
  • F.A.C. Mantello and A.G. Rigg, eds., Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide (CUA Press, 1996) ISBN 0-8132-0842-4

Further reading

  • Chavannes-Mazel, Claudine A., and Margaret M. Smith, eds. 1996. Medieval Manuscripts of the Latin Classics: Production and Use; Proceedings of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Leiden, 1993. Los Altos Hills, CA: Anderson-Lovelace.
  • Lapidge, Michael. 1993. Anglo-Latin Literature 900–1066. London and Rio Grande, OH: Hambledon.
  • --. 1996. Anglo-Latin Literature 600–899. London and Rio Grande, OH: Hambledon.
  • Mann, Nicholas, and Birger Munk Olsen, eds. 1997. Medieval and Renaissance Scholarship: Proceedings of the Second European Science Foundation Workshop on the Classical Tradition in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, London: Warburg Institute, 27–28 November, 1992. New York: Brill.
  • Mantello, F. A. C., and George Rigg. 1996. Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide. Washington, DC: Catholic University of American Press.
  • Pecere, Oronzo, and Michael D. Reeve. 1995. Formative Stages of Classical Traditions: Latin Texts from Antiquity to the Renaissance; Proceedings of a Conference Held at Erice, 16–22 October 1993, as the 6th Course of International School for the Study of Written Records. Spoleto, Italy: Centro Italiano di Studi sull’alto Medioevo.
  • Raby, F. J. E. 1957. A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages. 2 vols. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon.
  • Rigg, A. G. 1992. A History of Anglo-Latin Literature A.D. 1066–1422. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Walde, Christine, ed. 2012. Brill’s New Pauly Supplement 5: The Reception of Classical Literature. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill.
  • Ziolkowski, Jan M., 1993. Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750-1150. Philadelphia, PA, University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Raby, F.J.E., 1959. The Oxford Book of Medieval Latin Verse. Amen House, London, Oxford University Press.
  • Harrington, Karl Pomeroy, 1942. Mediaeval Latin. Norwood, MA, USA, Norwood Press.
  • Dronke, Peter, vol. 1, 1965. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric. Oxford, UK, Clarendon Press.
  • Bacci, Antonii. Varia Latinitatis Scripta II, Inscriptiones Orationes Epistvlae. Rome, Italy, Societas Librania Stvdivm.
  • Beeson, Charles H., 1925. A Primer of Medieval Latin: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry. Chicago, United States, Scott, Foresman and Company.
  • Curtius, Ernst Roberts, 1953. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. New York, New York, United States, Bollingen Foundation Inc.
  • Auerbach, Erich, 1965. Literary Language & Its Public: in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. New York, NY, USA, Bollingen Foundation.

External links


An affidavit ( AF-i-DAY-vit; Medieval Latin for he has declared under oath) is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public or commissioner of oaths. An affidavit is a type of verified statement or showing, or in other words, it contains a verification, meaning it is under oath or penalty of perjury, and this serves as evidence to its veracity and is required for court proceedings.

Affidavits may be written in the first or third person, depending on who drafted the document. The document's component parts are typically as follows:

a commencement which identifies the "affiant of truth", generally stating that everything in it is true, under penalty of perjury, fine, or imprisonment;

an attestation clause, usually a jurat, at the end certifying that the affiant made oath and the date;

signatures of the author and witness.If an affidavit is notarized or authenticated, it will also include a caption with a venue and title in reference to judicial proceedings. In some cases, an introductory clause, called a preamble, is added attesting that the affiant personally appeared before the authenticating authority.

Annales Cambriae

Annales Cambriae (Latin for The Annals of Wales) is the name given to a complex of Cambro-Latin chronicles compiled or derived from diverse sources at St David's in Dyfed, Wales. The earliest is a 12th-century presumed copy of a mid-10th century original; later editions were compiled in the 13th century. Despite the name, the Annales Cambriae record not only events in Wales, but also events in Ireland, Cornwall, England, Scotland and sometimes further afield, though the focus of the events recorded especially in the later two-thirds of the text is Wales.


For the aerodynamic device, see Bargeboard (aerodynamics).

Bargeboard (probably from Medieval Latin bargus, or barcus, a scaffold, and not from the now obsolete synonym "vergeboard") is a board fastened to the projecting gables of a roof to give them strength, protection, and to conceal the otherwise exposed end of the horizontal timbers or purlins of the roof to which they were attached. Bargeboards are sometimes moulded only or carved, but as a rule the lower edges were cusped and had tracery in the spandrels besides being otherwise elaborated. An example in Britain was one at Ockwells in Berkshire (built 1446–1465), which was moulded and carved as if it were intended for internal work.

In New Orleans, bargeboard is the wood from which many of the creole cottages were constructed in the early to mid-1800s. Barges were constructed up-river to carry goods to New Orleans, and upon arrival dismantled and used for construction of houses. The planks are generally 2 inches (5.1 cm) thick and of varying lengths and widths, although 10 inches (25 cm) width is common. It is hard, solid wood that has lasted between 150 and 200 years in a wet, humid climate.

Carmina Burana

Carmina Burana (, Latin for "Songs from Benediktbeuern" [Buria in Latin]) is a manuscript of 254 poems and dramatic texts mostly from the 11th or 12th century, although some are from the 13th century. The pieces are mostly bawdy, irreverent, and satirical. They were written principally in Medieval Latin, a few in Middle High German, and old Arpitan. Some are macaronic, a mixture of Latin and German or French vernacular.

They were written by students and clergy when the Latin idiom was the lingua franca throughout Italy and western Europe for travelling scholars, universities, and theologians. Most of the poems and songs appear to be the work of Goliards, clergy (mostly students) who satirized the Catholic Church. The collection preserves the works of a number of poets, including Peter of Blois, Walter of Châtillon, and an anonymous poet referred to as the Archpoet.

The collection was found in 1803 in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern, Bavaria, and is now housed in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. It is considered to be the most important collection of Goliard and vagabond songs, along with the Carmina Cantabrigiensia.

The manuscripts reflect an international European movement, with songs originating from Occitania, France, England, Scotland, Aragon, Castile, and the Holy Roman Empire.Twenty-four poems in Carmina Burana were set to music by Carl Orff in 1936. His composition quickly became popular and a staple piece of the classical music repertoire. The opening and closing movement "O Fortuna" has been used in numerous films.


The carucate or carrucate (Medieval Latin: carrūcāta or carūcāta) was a medieval unit of land area approximating the land a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season. It was known by different regional names and fell under different forms of tax assessment.

Chamberlain (office)

A chamberlain (Medieval Latin: cambellanus or cambrerius, with charge of treasury camerarius) is a senior royal official in charge of managing a royal household. Historically, the chamberlain superintends the arrangement of domestic affairs and was often also charged with receiving and paying out money kept in the royal chamber. The position was usually honoured upon a high-ranking member of the nobility (nobleman) or the clergy, often a royal favourite. Roman emperors appointed this officer under the title of cubicularius. The papal chamberlain of the Pope enjoys very extensive powers, having the revenues of the papal household under his charge. As a sign of their dignity, they bore a key, which in the seventeenth century was often silvered, and actually fitted the door-locks of chamber rooms, since the eighteenth century it had turned into a merely symbolic, albeit splendid, rank-insignia of gilded bronze. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign.

Ciborium (container)

A ciborium (plural ciboria; Medieval Latin ciborium (drinking cup), from the Ancient Greek κιβώριον kibōrion, a type of drinking-cup) is a vessel, normally in metal. It was originally a particular shape of drinking cup in Ancient Greece and Rome, but the word later came to refer to a large covered cup designed to hold hosts for, and after, the Eucharist, thus the counterpart (for the bread) of the chalice (for the wine).

The word is also used for a large canopy over the altar of a church, which was a common feature of Early Medieval church architecture, now relatively rare.


In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia ([ˈdaːkja]; English ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians. The Greeks referred to them as the Getae (east of Dacia) and the Romans called them Daci.

Dacia was bounded in the south approximately by the Danubius river (Danube), in Greek sources the Istros, or at its greatest extent, by the Haemus Mons. Moesia (Dobruja), a region south-east of the Danube, was a core area where the Getae lived and interacted with the Ancient Greeks. In the east it was bounded by the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the river Danastris (Dniester), in Greek sources the Tyras. But several Dacian settlements are recorded between the rivers Dniester and Hypanis (Southern Bug), and the Tisia (Tisza) to the west.

At times Dacia included areas between the Tisa and the Middle Danube. The Carpathian Mountains are located in the middle of Dacia. It thus corresponds to the present-day countries of Romania and Moldova, as well as smaller parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.

A Dacian Kingdom of variable size existed between 82 BC until the Roman conquest in AD 106. The capital of Dacia, Sarmizegetusa, located in modern Romania, was destroyed by the Romans, but its name was added to that of the new city (Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa) built by the latter to serve as the capital of the Roman province of Dacia.

Giovanni Boccaccio

Giovanni Boccaccio (UK: , US: , Italian: [dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo]; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote a number of notable works, including The Decameron and On Famous Women. He wrote his imaginative literature mostly in the Italian vernacular, as well as other works in Latin, and is particularly noted for his realistic dialogue which differed from that of his contemporaries, medieval writers who usually followed formulaic models for character and plot.

Historia Norwegiæ

Historia Norwegiæ is a short history of Norway written in Latin by an anonymous monk. The only extant manuscript is in the private possession of the Earl of Dalhousie, and is kept at Brechin Castle, Scotland. However, the manuscript itself is fragmented; the Historia itself is in folios 1r-12r. Recent dating efforts place it somewhere c. 1500-1510A.The original text appears to have been written earlier than the manuscript itself; the text refers to both a volcanic eruption and an earthquake in 1211 as contemporary events, and Orkney is stated to be under Norwegian rule.


A jurist (from medieval Latin) is someone who researches and studies jurisprudence (theory of law). Such a person can work as an academic, legal writer or law lecturer. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in many other Commonwealth countries, the word jurist sometimes refers to a barrister, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it often refers to a judge.Thus a jurist, someone who studies, analyses and comments on law, stands in contrast with a lawyer, someone who applies law on behalf of clients and thinks about it in practical terms.There is a fundamental difference between the work of a lawyer and that of a jurist. Many legal scholars and authors have explained that a person may be both a lawyer and a jurist, but a jurist is not necessarily a lawyer, nor a lawyer necessarily a jurist. Both must possess an acquaintance with the term "law". The work of the jurist is the study, analysis and arrangement of the law—work which can be done wholly in the seclusion of the library. The work of the lawyer is the satisfaction of the wishes of particular human beings namely the crowned heads of Europe for legal assistance—work which requires dealing to some extent therefore with people in the office, in the court room, or in the market-place.

The term jurist has another sense, which is wider, synonymous with legal professional, i.e. anyone professionally involved with law and justice. In some other European languages, a word resembling jurist (such as Italian giurista, German Jurist, Norwegian/Danish/Swedish/Dutch language|Dutch]] jurist, French juriste, Spanish and Portuguese jurista, Russian юрист etc.) is used in this major sense.

Late Latin

Late Latin (Latin: Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written Latin of late antiquity. English dictionary definitions of Late Latin date this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD, and continuing into the 7th century in the Iberian Peninsula. This somewhat ambiguously defined version of Latin was used between the eras of Classical Latin and Medieval Latin. There is no scholarly consensus about exactly when Classical Latin should end or Medieval Latin should begin. However, Late Latin is characterized (with variations and disputes) by an identifiable style.

Being a written language, Late Latin is not the same as Vulgar Latin. The latter served as ancestor of the Romance languages. Although Late Latin reflects an upsurge of the use of Vulgar Latin vocabulary and constructs, it remains largely classical in its overall features, depending on the author who uses it. Some Late Latin writings are more literary and classical, but others are more inclined to the vernacular. Also, Late Latin is not identical to Christian patristic Latin, used in the theological writings of the early Christian fathers. While Christian writings used a subset of Late Latin, pagans also wrote extensively in Late Latin, especially in the early part of the period.

Late Latin formed when mercenaries from non-Latin-speaking peoples on the borders of the empire were being subsumed and assimilated in large numbers, and the rise of Christianity was introducing a heightened divisiveness in Roman society, creating a greater need for a standard language for communicating between different socioeconomic registers and widely separated regions of the sprawling empire. A new and more universal speech evolved from the main elements: Classical Latin, Christian Latin, which featured sermo humilis (ordinary speech) in which the people were to be addressed, and all the various dialects of Vulgar Latin. The linguist Antoine Meillet wrote, "Without the exterior appearance of the language being much modified, Latin became in the course of the imperial epoch a new language", and, "Serving as some sort of lingua franca to a large empire, Latin tended to become simpler, to keep above all what it had of the ordinary".


Latin (Latin: lingua latīna, IPA: [ˈlɪŋɡʷa laˈtiːna]) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the western Roman Empire. Vulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages, such as Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. Latin, Greek and French have contributed many words to the English language. In particular, Latin (and Ancient Greek) roots are used in English descriptions of theology, biology, science, medicine and law.

By the late Roman Republic (75 BC), Old Latin had been standardised into Classical Latin. Vulgar Latin was the colloquial form spoken during the same time and attested in inscriptions and the works of comic playwrights like Plautus and Terence. Late Latin is the written language from the 3rd century and Medieval Latin was used from the 9th century to the Renaissance which used Renaissance Latin. Later, Early Modern Latin and New Latin evolved. Latin was used as the language of international communication, scholarship and science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be supplanted by vernaculars. Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

Latin is taught in primary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions around the world.Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, up to seven noun cases, five declensions, four verb conjugations, three tenses, three persons, three moods, two voices, two or three aspects and two numbers.

Medieval poetry

Poetry took numerous forms in medieval Europe, for example, lyric and epic poetry. The troubadours and the minnesänger are known for their lyric poetry about courtly love.

Among the most famous of secular poetry is Carmina Burana, a manuscript collection of 254 poems. Twenty-four poems of Carmina Burana were later set to music by German composer Carl Orff in 1936.

O Fortuna

"O Fortuna" is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the 13th century, part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about Fortuna, the inexorable fate that rules both gods and mortals in Roman and Greek mythology.

In 1935–36, "O Fortuna" was set to music by German composer Carl Orff as a part of "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", the opening and closing movement of his cantata Carmina Burana. It was first staged by the Frankfurt Opera on 8 June 1937. It opens at a slow pace with thumping drums and choir that drops quickly into a whisper, building slowly in a steady crescendo of drums and short string and horn notes peaking on one last long powerful note and ending abruptly. The tone is modal, until the last 9 bars. A performance takes a little over two and a half minutes.

Orff's setting of the poem has influenced and been used in many other works and has been performed by countless classical music ensembles and popular artists. It can be heard in numerous films and television commercials, and has become a staple in popular culture, setting the mood for dramatic or cataclysmic situations. "O Fortuna" topped a 2009 list of the most-played classical music of the previous 75 years in the United Kingdom.

Rabanus Maurus

Rabanus Maurus Magnentius (c. 780 – 4 February 856), also known as Hrabanus or Rhabanus, was a Frankish Benedictine monk, theologian, poet, encyclopedist and military writer who became archbishop of Mainz in East Francia. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis ("On the Natures of Things"). He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible. He was one of the most prominent teachers and writers of the Carolingian age, and was called "Praeceptor Germaniae," or "the teacher of Germany." In the most recent edition of the Roman Martyrology (Martyrologium Romanum, 2004, pp. 133), his feast is given as February 4th and he is qualified as a Saint ('sanctus').


Saracen was a term widely used among Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ages to refer to Arabs and Muslims. The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries of the Common Era, Greek and Latin writings used this term to refer to the people who lived in desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, and in Arabia Deserta. In Europe during the Early Middle Ages, the term came to be associated with tribes of Arabia. The oldest source mentioning the term Saracen dates back to the 7th century. It was found in Doctrina Jacobi, a commentary that discussed the event of the Arab conquests on Palestine.By the 12th century, "Saracen" had become synonymous with "Muslim" in Medieval Latin literature. Such expansion in the meaning of the term had begun centuries earlier among the Byzantine Greeks, as evidenced in documents from the 8th century. In the Western languages before the 16th century, "Saracen" was commonly used to refer to Muslim Arabs, and the words "Muslim" and "Islam" were generally not used (with a few isolated exceptions). The term became gradually obsolete following the Age of Discovery.


In medieval Germany, the Schultheiß (German: [ˈʃʊltaɪs]) was the head of a municipality (akin to today's office of mayor), a Vogt or an executive official of the ruler. As official (villicus) it was his duty to order his assigned village or county (villicatio) to pay the taxes and perform the services due to the ruler. The name originates from this function: Schuld ‘debt’ + heißen ‘to order’. Later, the title was also used for the head of a town (Stadtschultheiß) or village (Dorfschultheiß).

The title was originally spelled in Old High German as sculdheizo and in Middle High German as schultheize; it was latinised as scultetus or sculteus. Alternative spellings include Schultheis, Schulte or Schulze, or in Switzerland Schultheiss. It also appears in several European languages: In Hungarian as soltész, in Italian as scoltetto and sculdascio, in Medieval Latin as sculdasius, in Polish as sołtys and Romanian as șoltuz.


Tanbark is the bark of certain species of tree. It is traditionally used for tanning hides into leather.The words "tannin", "tanning", "tan," and "tawny" are derived from the Medieval Latin tannare, "to convert into leather."

Bark mills are horse- or oxen-driven or water-powered edge mills and were used in earlier times to shred the tanbark to derive tannins for the leather industry. A "barker" was a person who stripped bark from trees to supply bark mills.

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