Monday, August 22, 2011

Pre-English ~ Suzanne Kemmer

c. 3000 B.C.
Proto-Indo-European spoken in Baltic area.
(or Anatolia?)
ca. 1000 B.C.After many migrations, the various branches of Indo-European have become distinct. Celtic becomes most widespread branch of Indo-European in Europe; Celtic peoples inhabit what is now Spain, France, Germany and England.
55 B.C.Beginning of Roman raids on British Isles.
43 A.D.Roman occupation of Britain. Roman colony of "Britannia" established. Eventually, many Celtic Britons become Romanized. (Others continually rebel).
200 B.C.-200 A.D.Germanic peoples move down from Scandinavia and spread over Central Europe in successive waves. Supplant Celts. Come into contact (at times antagonistic, at times commercial) with northward-expanding empire of Romans.
Early 5th century.Roman Empire collapses. Romans pull out of Britain and other colonies, attempting to shore up defense on the home front; but it's useless. Rome sacked by Goths.Germanic tribes on the continent continue migrations west and south; consolidate into ever larger units. Those taking over in Rome call themselves "Roman emperors", even though the imperial administration had relocated to Byzantium in the 300s. The new Germanic rulers soon adopt the Christianity of the late Roman state, and begin what later evolves into the not-very-Roman "Holy Roman Empire".
ca. 410 A.D.First Germanic tribes arrive in England.
410-600Settlement of most of Britain by Germanic peoples (Angles, Saxons, Jutes, some Frisians) speaking West Germanic dialects descended from Proto-Germanic. These dialects are distantly related to Latin, but also have a sprinkling of Latin borrowings due to earlier cultural contact with the Romans on the continent.Celtic peoples, most of whom are Christianized due to the late Roman adoption of Christianity, are pushed increasingly (despite occasional violent uprisings) into the marginal areas of Britain: Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Anglo-Saxons, originally sea-farers, settle down as farmers, exploiting rich English farmland.
By 600 A.D., the Germanic speech of England comprises dialects of a language distinct from the continental Germanic languages.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Æðelflæd (Aethelflaed)

Æðelflæd (Aethelflaed) - "The Lady of the Mercians" - The eldest child of the famous King Alfred of Wessex and Ealhswyth, his noble Mercian wife, Aethelflaed was born about 869 CE, two years before her father ascended to the throne of Wessex - then the most powerful of the English kingdoms. Like her younger siblings, Aethelflaed learned to read and write in English and Latin, memorized the Psalms, and learned the seven liberal arts. She was considered intellectually gifted in her schooling, and beyond.

She married King Aethelred II of Mercia (not Unraed, he was later) in 884, as part of a political deal. Aethelred accepted the overlordship of Alfred and demoted himself from cyning (king) to ealdorman ( earl), but in return had the security of connection to the Wessex royal family. In this marriage, at least, it seems as if Aethelflaed was acting in the stereotypically feminine capacity of peace-weaver. Aethelflaed was not a subservient wife, however, nor was she demonstrably peaceful. She immediately began working with Aethelred in developing military strategies, and joined with him in the fights against Viking invaders.

From 888 CE -- the year Aethelred was struck with a debilitating illness-- until his death in 911 CE , Aethelflaed wielded the royal power in her marriage. Unlike her mother, Ealhswyth, Aethelflaed did not retire to a monastery at the death of her husband, but continued the control she had wielded over her kingdom until her own death in 918 CE. It was she who invaded and conquered part of Wales, built defensive burhs in Mercia, refortified several fortresses, and fended off the Vikings. In her refortification efforts, Aethelflaed rebuilt the Roman walls at Gloucester, and developed a city plan. Gloucester still bears the mark of Aethelflaed's plan today; the roads that are in the city are where they are because Aethelflaed put them there. When Aethelred died in 911 CE, Aethelflaed continued to rule, joining with her younger brother Edward to put down rebellions to the north, create political alliances with other kings, and (surprise!) fight off Viking invaders. She defeated the Danes of York, who then submitted to her overlordship in 918 CE in return for defense from the Norse in Ireland.

When Aethelflaed died in the same year (918 CE), her kingdom of Mercia was nominally left in control of her 20 year-old daughter Aelfwynn. However, Aelfwynn was almost immediately brought to the court of Edward, her maternal uncle, by reason of her "minority" and Wessex annexed Mercia.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Prayer of Edward the Confessor

"O God, who didst call thy servant Edward to an an earthly Throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."

Modern Version

"O God, who called your servant Edward to an an earthly throne That he might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave him zeal for your Church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."

Edward the Confessor 1003 - 1066

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