Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Authentic Voices

Conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features is one meaning of the word authentic.  The authentic voices of England from the time of Julius Caesar to the coronation of Henry II are contained in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.  Perhaps it should be the authentic voices of the English language, but the following text translated and collated by Anne Savage is shown below.

Alfred The Great (871 - 899 AD) is the fellow most often credited with getting things started.  The royal capital of Saxon Wessex (Winchester) seems the place where the chronicles first started. [Oldest manuscript which has survived = Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS 173, the Parker Chronicle ]  The church folks here for the first time wrote things down in their own language (Anglo-Saxon) instead of the standard church language Latin.  What in the world were they thinking...starting to write in their own language instead of the usual, widely accepted, language of the known world!  An original idea it seemed to be. 

After the Norman invasion, these records ( dates covered from 60 BC - 1070 AD) were taken to Christchruch, Canterbury where copies were made and the story continued until the coronation of Henry II.   The text above describes:

"From the everyday local dramas that made up the lives of the Anglo-Saxons to the intricacies of government and the reigns of kings, every aspect of life in the England of the Middle Ages is examined in glorious detail." [front cover...inside flap ]

What a deal...the authentic voices of the folks writing in a language that was to become English.  Take a look.

The cover shown above is taken from my copy published Crescent Books, 1995.  It contains illustrated material which gives a broad view of this period in time.  It is an excellent reference to those interested in the authentic voices of the English language.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Book By Bede

Writing a book about the history of the English nation would certainly be a daunting task.  Being the first to do so during a time when learning and civilization were going down the tube, would establish your spot in the annals of history writers.  Such was a fellow named Bede.

Born about the year 673 AD, he was taken as a child of seven to a newly founded monastery called Wearmouth.  He appears to have spent his entire life here and at a sister monastery called Jarrow.  He grew up reading, writing. learning, teaching, and praying. [Must have been an introvert.]  He became an expert in collecting documents of the ancient writers and acts of the church.  He wrote in Latin, and became widely known as the "expert" in Northumbrian and Church history.  He was then ask to write all this stuff into some kind of record, and it has become known as the first history of the English nation.

It was titled "The Ecclesiastical History of The English Nation".  The cover of my translated copy is shown above.  It was first published in 1910, but my copy was reprinted in 1954.  In the introduction of this edition David Knowles writes:

"In the annals of letters and learning there is no more impressive instance of the ultimate fame of work accomplished in silence, for the sake of truth, by a good man."

He died 25th of May 735 AD.  Since his death he has become known as the "Father of English History".  What good genealogist would not like to get to read one of the founding fathers.  Here it is.