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From the earliest times to 1558
ANGLO-SAXON PERIOD.-A.D. 449—1066.
CÆDMON: died A.D, 680.
Cædmon, a monk of Whitby, was the first Anglo-Saxon of note who composed in his
own language. He wrote several poems on religious subjects.
From The Creation.
Nu we sceolan herian heofon-ríces weard, metodes mihte, and his mod-ge-thonc, wera wuldor fæder ! swa he wundra ge-hwæs, ece dryhten, oord onstealde. He ærest ge-scéop ylda bearnum heofon to hrófe, halig scyppend ! tha middan-geard mon-cynnes weard, ece dryhten, æfter teode, firum foldan, frea ælmihtig !
Now we shall praise the guardian of heaven, the might of the creator, and his counsel, the glory-father of men ! how he of all wonders, the eternal lord, formed the beginning. He first created for the children of men heaven as a roof, the holy creator ! then the world the guardian of mankind, the eternal lord, produced afterwards, the earth for men, the almighty master!
KING ALFRED: 849—901, Alfred translated from the Latin the historical works of Orosius and Bede, and some
religious and moral treatises. From his translation of Boethius's work On The Consolation of Philosophy.
Fela spella him sædon tha Beormas, Many things him told the Beormas, ægther ge of hyra agenum lande ge both of their own land and of the of thæm lande the ymb hy utan land that around them about were; wäron; ac he nyste hwät thæs sothes, but he wist-not what (of-) the sooth wær, for-thæm he hit sylf ne geseah. was, for-that he it self not saw. Tha Finnas him thuhte, and tha The Finns him thought, and the Beormas spræcon neah an getheode. Beormas spoke nigh one language. Swithost he for thyder, to-eacan Chiefliest he fared thither, besides thæs landes sceawunge, for them the land's seeing, for the horsehors-hwælum, for-thæm hi habbath whales, for-that they have very swythe athele ban on hyra tothum, noble bones in their teeth, these tha teth hy brohton sume thæm teeth they brought some (to-) the cynincge: and hyra hyd bith swy- king: and their hide is very good the god to scip-rapum. Se hwæl for ship-ropes. This whale is much bith micle læssa thonne othre hwalas, less than other whales, not is he ne bith he lengra thonne syfan elná longer than seven ells long; but in lang; ac on his agnum lande is se his own land is the best whalebetsta hwæl-huntath, tha beoth hunting, they are eight and forty eahta and feowertiges elna lange, ells long, and the largest fifty ells and tha mæstan fiftiges elna lange; long; (of-) these he said that he thara he sæde thæt he syxa sum (of-) six some slew sixty in two ofsloge syxtig on twam dagum. He days. He was (a) very wealthy man was swythe spedig man on thæm in the ownings that their wealth in æhtum the heora speda on beoth, is, that is in wild-deer. that is on wild-deorum.
ALFRIC, Archbishop of Canterbury: died 1006. Alfric wrote a collection of homilies, a translation of the first seven books of the Bible,
and some religious treatises.
From his Paschal Homily. Hæthen cild bith ge-fullod, ac hit (A) heathen child is christened, ne bræt na his hiw with-utan, dheah yet he altereth not his shape withdhe hit beo with-innan awend. Hit out, though he be within changed. bith ge-broht synfull dhurh Adames He is brought sinful through Adam's forgægednysse to tham fant fate. disobedience to the font-vessel. Ac hit bith athwogen fram eallum | But he is washed from all sins insynnum with-innan, dheah dhe hit wardly, though he outwardly his with-utan his hiw ne awende. Eac shape not change. Even so the holy swylce tha halige fant water, dhe is font water, which is called life's ge-haten lifes wyl-spring, is ge-lic on fountain, is like in shape (to) other hiwe odhrum wæterum, & is under waters, and is subject to corruption; dheod brosnunge; ac dhæs halgan but the Holy Ghost's might comes gastes miht ge-nealăcth tham bros- (to) the corruptible water through nigendlicum watere, dhurh sacerda (the) priests' blessing, and it may bletsunge, & hit meg sythan licha- afterwards body and soul wash from man & sawle athwean fram eallum all sin, through ghostly might. synnum, dhurh gastlice mihte.
SEMI-SAXON PERIOD.-1066-1250. From The Saxon Chronicle, 1154; a compilation of monastic registers from
the time of Alfred to 1154. On this yær ward the King In this year was the King Stephen Stephen ded, and bebyried there his dead, and buried where his wife and wif and his sune waron bebyried æt his son were buried, at Touresfield. Tauresfeld. That ministre hi That minster they made. When makiden. Tha the king was ded, the king was dead, then was the earl tha was the eorl beionde sæ. And beyond sea.
And not durst no man ne durste nan man don other bute do other but good for the great awe god for the micel eie of him. Tha of him. When he to England came, he to Engleland come, tha was he then was he received with great underfangen mid micel wortscipe ; worship; and to king consecrated and to king bletcæd in Lundine, on in London, on the Sunday before the Sunnen dæi beforen mid-winter- mid-winter-day (Christmas-day). dæi.
LAYAMON: between 1155 and 1200. Layamon, a monk, wrote a metrical English translation of Le Brut d'Angleterre
(Brutus of England), a French poem by Wace, a native of Jersey. The translation was composed about the time when the Saxons and Normans began to adopt a common language. ACCOUNT OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT KING ARTHUR'S CORONATION.
From his translation of Wace's Brut d'Angleterre. Tha the king igeten hafde
When the king eaten had And al his mon-weorede,
And all his multitude of attendants, Tha bugan out of burhge
Then fled out of the town Theines swithen balde.
The people very quickly. Alle tha kinges,
All the kings, And heore here-thringes.
And their throngs of servants. Alle tha biscopes,
All the bishops, And alle tha Clarckes,
And all the clerks, Alle the eorles,
All the earls, And alle tha beornes.
And all the barons. Alle tha theines,
All the thanes, Alle the sweines,
All the swains, Feire iscrudde,
Fairly dressed, Helde geond felde.
Held (their way) through the fields. Summe heo gunnen æruen,
Some they began to discharge arrows Summe heo gunnen urnen,
Some they began to run, Summe heo gunnen lepen,
Some they began to leap, Summe heo gunnen sceoten,
Some they began to shoot (darts), Summe heo wrestleden
Some they wrestled And wither-gome makeden,
And made wither-games, Summe heo on velde
Some they on field Pleouweden under scelde,
Played under shield, Summe heo driven balles
Some they drive balls Wide geond the feldes.
Wide over the fields. Moni ane kunnes gomen
Many a kind of game Ther heo gunnen drinen.
There they gan urge.
1 Games of emulation.
OLD ENGLISH PERIOD.-1250—1558.
From a Proclamation of Henry III., A.D. 1258. Henry, thurg Godes fultome, King Henry, through God's support,
Engleneloande, lhoaurd King of England, Lord of Ireland, Yrloand, Duke on Normand, on Duke of Normandy, of Acquitain, Acquitain, Eorl on Anjou, send I Earl of Anjou, sends greeting, to all greting, to alle hise holde, ilærde & his subjects, learned and unlearned, ilewerde on Huntingdonschiere. of Huntingdonshire.
That witen ge well alle, thæet we This know ye well all, that we willen & unnen thæt ure rædes- will and grant, what our counsellors men alle other, the moare del of all or the more part of them, that be heom, the beoth ichosen thung us chosen through us and through the and thurg thæt loandes-folk on ure land-folk of our kingdom, have done, Kuneriche, habbith idon, and and shall do, to the honour of God, schullen don, in the worthnes of and our allegiance, for the good of God, and ure threowthe, for the the land, through the determination freme of the loande, thurg the besigte of those beforesaid counsellors, be of than toforen iseide rædesmen, beo steadfast and permanent in all things stedfæst and ilestinde in alle thinge without end, and we enjoin all our abutan ænde, and we heaten alle ure lieges, by the allegiance that they treowe, in the treowthe that heo us us owe, that they steadfastly holă ogen, thet heo stede-feslliche healden and swear to hold and to maintain & weren to healden & to swerien the the ordinances that be made, and be isetnesses thet beon makede and beo to be made through the beforesaid to makien, thurg than toforen iseide counsellors, &c. rædesmen, &c.
ROBERT, a monk of Gloucester Abbey. From his Rhyming Chronicle, written about the close of the 13th century. Thus come lo ! Engelonde into Nor- | Thus came lo ! England into Nor. mannes honde,
mans' hand, And the Normans ne couthe speke | And the Normans not could speak tho bote her owe speche,
then but their own speech, And speke French as dude atom, and And spake French as did at home, and
here chyldren dude al so teche; their children did all so teach; So that heymen of thys lond, that of So that high men of this land, that her blod come,
of their blood come, Holdeth alle thulke speche that hii Hold all the same speech that they of hem nome.
of them took. Vor bote a man couthe French me For but a man know French men tolth of hym wel lute;
tell of him well little ; Ac lowe men holdeth to Englyss and But low men hold to English and to to her kunde speche yute.
their natural speech yet. Ich wene ther ne be man in world I ween there not be man in world contreyes none
countries none That ne hoideth to her kunde speche, That not holdeth to their natural bot Engelond one.
speech but England one (only). Ac wel me wot vor to conne both | But well I wot for to know both
well it is; Vor the more that a man con, the For the more that a man knows, the more worth he ys.
more worth he is.
wel yt ys;
1 Clergy and laity.