The History of English Podcast

The History of English Podcast

Sweden

The Spoken History of a Global Language

Episodes

Episode 93: The Two Arthurs  

  In this episode, we look at the rivalry between John “Lackland” and Arthur of Brittany for control of the Angevin Empire.  John eventually emerged victorious, but in the process, he set in motion the events that led to the loss of Normandy and … Continue reading

Episode 92: The Lion Kings  

During the Middle Ages, lions were adopted as symbols of European royalty. Many monarchs also acquired nicknames related to lions. That included Richard the Lionheart. In this episode, we explore the origin of that nickname, and we examine the popular … Continue reading

Episode 91: Traders and Traitors  

During the Crusades, Christian forces and Muslim forces traded blows in the Holy Land.  At the same time, Europeans and Arabs traded goods through an extensive trading network that passed through the Near East and the Mediterranean. In this episode, … Continue reading

Episode 90: Healers, Hospitals and Holy Wars  

In this episode, we turn our attention to the Near East to explore the spread of the Islam and rise of Muslim science in the Middle Ages.  This scientific and literary revolution in the Near East contributed to the English language in some … Continue reading

Episode 89: ‘I Before E’ and All That  

During the Middle English period, scribes developed a variety of spelling innovations to distinguish the sound of the various vowels. Some of those innovations were borrowed from French, and some were native to English.  In this episode, we explore those spelling … Continue reading

Episode 88: The Long and Short of It  

The Middle English document called the Ormulum is a goldmine for historical linguists because the text explicitly indicated how the vowel sounds in the text were to be pronounced.  The text was written at a time when the vowels in many words were changing. … Continue reading

Episode 87: The First Spelling Reformers  

Following the Norman Conquest of England, the French-educated scribes encountered the English language used by the Anglo-Saxons. The new scribes discovered unfamiliar letters and strange spellings. Early Middle English documents like the Ormulum show several spelling innovations introduced during this … Continue reading

Episode 86: Family of Rebels  

The final years of Henry II’s reign were consumed with putting down rebellions. Those rebels included Henry’s sons and wife.  In this episode, we explore Henry’s family of rebels. We also examine the book of homilies known as the Ormulum. … Continue reading

Episode 85: How to Run an Empire  

The massive realm of Henry II extended from southern France through the British Isles. The administration of the so-called “Angevin Empire” required an extensive bureaucracy. In this episode, we examine some of the key government officials who administered the government … Continue reading

Episode 84: Law, Order and Murder  

In the wake of civil war and anarchy in England, a crime wave gripped the nation. Murders and other violent crimes were rampant. Henry II sought to reimpose law and order throughout the country by reforming the English legal system. … Continue reading

Episode 83: A Trilingual Nation  

During the reign of Henry II, the speech of England was dominated by three languages – English, French and Latin. In this episode, we examine the relative roles of those three languages, and we also explore how the social barriers … Continue reading

Episode 82: A Marriage for the Ages  

The marriage of Matilda’s son, Henry, to Eleanor of Aquitaine was a crucial event in the history of England and France. It produced a powerful realm which contributed to the return of peace and the end of Anarchy.  In this … Continue reading

Episode 81: Love Songs and Troubadours  

While civil war raged in England, a completely different culture was flourishing in southern France. In this episode, we explore the opulent court of Aquitaine and the rise of the troubadours. Love was in the air as a new type of poetry … Continue reading

Announcement: 10 American Presidents Podcast  

Check out the 10 American Presidents podcast for an episode about the development of American English and the influence of presidential speech on American English.

Episode 80: Knight Life  

Much of the devastation of the Anarchy was carried out by knights who acted as thugs and bullies. For several generations, knights had served as the strongmen of western Europe. By the 12th century, the nature of knighthood was starting to change. … Continue reading

Episode 79: Anarchy  

In the years after Matilda’s return to England, the country descended into chaos and civil war. This period is known by modern historians as the Anarchy. The events were recorded by a scribe in Peterborough who wrote in an early … Continue reading

Episode 78: Under Siege  

In this episode, we explore the outbreak of civil war in England as forces loyal to Matilda took up arms against King Stephen. The civil war led to a breakdown of central authority. The power vacuum was filled by local … Continue reading

Episode 77: Rival Relatives and the Land of Scots  

Following the death of Henry I, the king’s nephew Stephen seized the throne and claimed the English throne before Matilda could get to England. We examine the reasons why Stephen was considered an acceptable alternative to Matilda. As soon as … Continue reading

Episode 76: The Gender Problem  

The final continuation of the Peterborough Chronicle captured a major change in the history of the English language. That change was the loss of grammatical gender. The traditional distinctions between masculine and feminine nouns disappeared in the final few entries … Continue reading

Episode 75: Mixed Languages and Scrambled Eggs  

In this episode, we continue our look at the gradual emergence of Middle English from the linguistic rubble left in the wake of the Norman Conquest. English remained fractured and broken, and foreign influences continued to come in. We explore … Continue reading

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