Medieval Latin

Medieval Latin

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Medieval Latin was the form of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 used in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors, medieval Latin should not be confused with Ecclesiastical Latin
Ecclesiastical Latin
Ecclesiastical Latin is the Latin used by the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in all periods for ecclesiastical purposes...

. There is no real consensus on the exact boundary where Late Latin
Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...

 ends and medieval Latin begins. Some scholarly surveys begin with the rise of early Ecclesiastical Latin
Ecclesiastical Latin
Ecclesiastical Latin is the Latin used by the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in all periods for ecclesiastical purposes...

 in the middle of the 4th century, others around the year 500 AD, and still others with the replacement of written Late Latin by written Romance languages starting around the year 900 (see under Late Latin
Late Latin
Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of Late Antiquity. The English dictionary definition of Late Latin dates this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD extending in Spain to the 7th. This somewhat ambiguously defined period fits between Classical Latin and Medieval Latin...

).

Influence of Christian Latin


Medieval Latin was characterized by an enlarged vocabulary, which freely borrowed from other sources. It was heavily influenced by the language of the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, which contained many peculiarities alien to Classical Latin that were the consequence of more or less direct translation from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Hebrew; these peculiarities were mirrored not only in its vocabulary, but also in its grammar and syntax. Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 provided much of the technical vocabulary of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. The various Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 spoken by the Germanic tribes, who invaded western Europe, were also major sources of new words. Germanic leaders became the rulers of western Europe, and words from their languages were freely imported into the vocabulary of law. Other more ordinary words were replaced by coinages from Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

 or Germanic sources because the classical words had fallen into disuse.

Latin was also spread to areas such as Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 were not spoken and which had never known Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 rule. Works written in these lands where Latin was a learned language with no relation to the local vernacular also influenced the vocabulary and syntax of medieval Latin.

Since abstract subjects like science and philosophy were communicated in Latin, the Latin vocabulary developed for them is 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.

Influence of Vulgar Latin


The influence of Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

 was also apparent in the syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 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 development of medieval Latin as a literary language came with the Carolingian renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

, a rebirth of learning kindled under the patronage of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, king of the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

. Alcuin
Alcuin
Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

 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 Roman authority in Western Europe.

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, to varying degrees of fluency, and syntax, grammar, and vocabulary 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) or even quidam (meaning "a certain one/thing" in Classical Latin) as something like a definite article. Unlike in classical Latin, where esse ("to be") was used as the only auxiliary verb, medieval Latin writers might use habere ("to have"), as Germanic and Romance languages do. The accusative infinitive
Accusative and infinitive
In grammar, accusative and infinitive is the name for a syntactic construction of Latin and Greek, also found in various forms in other languages such as English and Spanish. In this construction, the subject of a subordinate clause is put in the accusative case and the verb appears in the...

 construction in classical Latin was often ignored, in favour of introducing a subordinate clause with the word 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
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 to be aware that these forms and usages were 'wrong' and able to resist their use. Thus the Latin of a theologian like St. Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 or an erudite clerical historian such as William of Tyre
William of Tyre
William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

 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
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

), physicians, technical writers and secular chroniclers. However, the last-mentioned point — the indirect-statement construction with quod — was especially pervasive and is found at all levels.

Changes in vocabulary, syntax, grammar and orthography


Medieval Latin had ceased to be a living language, but a scholarly language of the handful of educated men in medieval Europe, used for making official documents more than for sundry everyday communication. This results in two major features of Medieval Latin when compared with Classical Latin. First, many authors will attempt to "show off" how much Classical Latin they know by intentionally using rare or archaic constructions, sometimes anachronistically (i.e. haphazardly mixing constructions from Republican and Imperial Latin, which in real-life usage existed centuries apart). Second, education was so poorly developed in the middle ages that many lesser scholars had a limited grasp of "proper" Latin, or were increasingly influenced by Vulgar Latin which was mutating into the Romance languages.

Grammar

  • In general, word order tended towards that of the vernacular language of the author, and not the artificial and polished word order of Classical Latin. Conversely, an erudite scholar would attempt to "show off" by intentionally making 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 due to the complexity of achieving this it was seen as a sign of great skill.
  • Typically, prepositions are used much more frequently (in imitation of Romance languages) for greater clarity, instead of using the Ablative case alone. For example, while "amico" and "cum amico" both mean "with a friend" in Classical and Medieval Latin, for the sake of clarity Medieval Latin would simply use the version that includes the preposition "cum". 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 will more frequently write out in full "is videt" = "he sees", without necessarily stressing the subject.
  • Indirect Discourse, which in Classical Latin was achieved by using a Subject Accusative and Infinitive, was now often simply replaced by the new words for "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 and that I am ignorant".
  • Substitutions were often used for Subjunctive clause constructions, such as using the Present Participle in place of Qui or Cum clauses. "Habeo" and "Debeo" would be used to express obligation more often than the gerundive.
  • Certain words have been mixed into different declensions or conjugations. Many new compound verbs have been formed.
  • 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 are also frequently used to simply express the definite article "the", which Classical Latin did not possess.
  • 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 sum in a past-tense construction, so they began using the past-perfect of sum, fui, interchangeably with sum.
  • Classical Latin used Ablative Absolute, but in Medieval Latin examples of Nominative Absolute or Accusative Absolute may be found. This instance is actually a point on which the "Ecclesiastical Latin" of the clergy and the "Vulgar Latin" of the laity, which existed alongside it, differed. The educated clergy knew that it was impossible for proper Latin to use Nominative or Accusative in Absolute constructions, and that only the Ablative case could do this. While these constructions are observed in the medieval era, they are mutations that developed among the uneducated commoners.
  • Due to heavy use of biblical terms, there was a large influx of new words borrowed from Greek and Hebrew, and even some grammatical influences. This obviously largely occurred only among priests and scholars, not the laity. In general, it is difficult to express abstract concepts in Latin, and many scholars admitted as much. For example, Plato's abstract concept of "The Truth" could only be expressed in Latin as literally "that which is always true". Medieval scholars and theologians, translating both the Bible and Greek philosophers out of the Koine and Classical Greek, cobbled-together many new abstract-concept words for Latin when attempting to make these translations.
  • Classical Latin verbs only have two Voices, active and passive, however Greek has a third voice between the two. The so-called "Greek Middle Voice", also known as reflexive voice, is used to express when the subject is acting upon itself, for example "Achilles put the armor onto himself" or "Jesus clothed himself in the robe" would use Middle Voice. Because Latin had no way of expressing an entirely separate grammatical Voice, Medieval Latin translates such concepts by putting the verb in passive voice, but translating it using active voice (similar to Latin deponent verbs). For example, the Medieval Latin translation of Genesis literally states in Latin that "God was moved over the waters". While this may lead to startling theological implications over who could have moved God, it is actually just the Medieval Latin usage of Greek Middle Voice, translating as "God moved over the waters".

Orthography


Many striking differences between classical and medieval Latin are found in orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

. Some of the most frequently occurring differences are:
  • Following the Carolingian reforms of the 9th century, Carolingian minuscule
    Carolingian minuscule
    Carolingian or Caroline minuscule is a script developed as a writing standard in Europe so that the Roman alphabet could be easily recognized by the literate class from one region to another. It was used in Charlemagne's empire between approximately 800 and 1200...

     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" )
  • Because of a severe decline of 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.
  • 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 the h came to be pronounced as k. 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.
  • 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 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.

The gradual change of Latin did not escape the notice of contemporaries. Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

, 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
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 texts, travel literature
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

, histories, epics
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

, and lyric poetry
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

.

The first half of the 5th century saw the literary activities of the great Christian authors Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 (c. 347–420) and Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 (354–430), whose texts had an enormous influence on theological thought of the Middle Ages, and of the latter's disciple Prosper of Aquitaine
Prosper of Aquitaine
Saint Prosper of Aquitaine , a Christian writer and disciple of Saint Augustine of Hippo, was the first continuator of Jerome's Universal Chronicle.- Life :...

 (c. 390-455). Of the later 5th century and early 6th century, Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg...

 (c. 430 – after 489) and Ennodius
Magnus Felix Ennodius
Magnus Felix Ennodius was Bishop of Pavia in 514, and a Latin rhetorician and poet.He was one of four fifth to sixth-century Gallo-Roman aristocrats whose letters survive in quantity: the others are Sidonius Apollinaris, prefect of Rome in 468 and bishop of Clermont , Ruricius bishop of Limoges ...

 (474–521), both from Gaul, are well-known for their poems, as is Venantius Fortunatus
Venantius Fortunatus
Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus was a Latin poet and hymnodist in the Merovingian Court, and a Bishop of the early Catholic Church. He was never canonised but was venerated as Saint Venantius Fortunatus during the Middle Ages.-Life:Venantius Fortunatus was born between 530 and 540 A.D....

 (c. 530–600). This was also a period of transmission: the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 patrician Boethius (c. 480–524) translated part of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's logical corpus, thus preserving it for the Latin West, and wrote the influential literary and philosophical treatise De consolatione Philosophiae
Consolation of Philosophy
Consolation of Philosophy is a philosophical work by Boethius, written around the year 524. It has been described as the single most important and influential work in the West on Medieval and early Renaissance Christianity, and is also the last great Western work that can be called Classical.-...

; Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator , commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.- Life :Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in...

 (c. 485–585) founded an important library at the monastery of Vivarium near Squillace
Squillace
Squillace is an ancient seaside town and comune, in the Province of Catanzaro, part of Calabria, southern Italy, facing the Gulf of Squillace....

 where many texts from Antiquity were to be preserved. Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

 (c. 560-636) collected all scientifical knowledge still available in his time into what might be called the first encyclopedia
Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

, the Etymologiae
Etymologiae
Etymologiae is an encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville towards the end of his life. It forms a bridge between a condensed epitome of classical learning at the close of Late Antiquity and the inheritance received, in large part through Isidore's work, by the early Middle Ages...

.

Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

 (c. 538–594) wrote a lengthy history of the Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 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
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 was being preserved in monastic culture in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and was brought to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and the European mainland by missionaries in the course of the 6th and 7th centuries, such as Columbanus
Columbanus
Columbanus was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil and Bobbio , and stands as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.He spread among the...

 (543–615), who founded the monastery of Bobbio
Bobbio
Bobbio is a small town and commune in the province of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. It is located in the Trebbia River valley southwest of the town Piacenza. There is also an abbey and a diocese of the same name...

 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
Gildas
Gildas was a 6th-century British cleric. He is one of the best-documented figures of the Christian church in the British Isles during this period. His renowned learning and literary style earned him the designation Gildas Sapiens...

 (c. 500–570) and the poet Aldhelm (c. 640–709). Benedict Biscop
Benedict Biscop
Benedict Biscop , also known as Biscop Baducing, was an Anglo-Saxon abbot and founder of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory and was considered a saint after his death.-Early career:...

 (c. 628–690) founded the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow and furnished it with books which he had taken home from a journey to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and which were later used by Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 (c. 672–735) to write his Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

.

Many medieval Latin works have been published in the series Patrologia Latina
Patrologia Latina
The Patrologia Latina is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1844 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865....

, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
The Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum is a series of critical editions of the Latin Church Fathers published by a committee of the Austrian Academy of Sciences....

 and Corpus Christianorum
Corpus Christianorum
The Corpus Christianorum is a major publishing undertaking of the Belgian publisher Brepols devoted to patristic and medieval Latin texts. The principal series are the Series Graeca , Series Latina , and the Continuatio Mediaevalis...

.

4th–5th centuries

  • Aetheria (fl.
    Floruit
    Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

     385)
  • Jerome
    Jerome
    Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

     (c. 347–420)
  • Augustine
    Augustine of Hippo
    Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

     (354-430)

6th–8th centuries

  • Boethius (c. 480 – 525)
  • Gildas
    Gildas
    Gildas was a 6th-century British cleric. He is one of the best-documented figures of the Christian church in the British Isles during this period. His renowned learning and literary style earned him the designation Gildas Sapiens...

     (d. c. 570)
  • Venantius Fortunatus
    Venantius Fortunatus
    Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus was a Latin poet and hymnodist in the Merovingian Court, and a Bishop of the early Catholic Church. He was never canonised but was venerated as Saint Venantius Fortunatus during the Middle Ages.-Life:Venantius Fortunatus was born between 530 and 540 A.D....

     (c. 530 – c. 600)
  • Gregory of Tours
    Gregory of Tours
    Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

     (c. 538–594)
  • Pope Gregory I
    Pope Gregory I
    Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

     (c. 540 – 604)
  • Isidore of Seville
    Isidore of Seville
    Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

     (c. 560–636)
  • Bede
    Bede
    Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

     (c. 672–735)
  • St. Boniface (c. 672 - 754)
  • Chrodegang of Metz
    Chrodegang of Metz
    Saint Chrodegang was the Frankish Bishop of Metz from 742 or 748 until his death.-Biography:He was born in the early eighth century at Hesbaye of a noble Frankish family that via his mother Landrada was related to the Robertians, and died at Metz, March 6, 766.He was educated at the court of...

     (d. 766)
  • Paul the Deacon
    Paul the Deacon
    Paul the Deacon , also known as Paulus Diaconus, Warnefred, Barnefridus and Cassinensis, , was a Benedictine monk and historian of the Lombards.-Life:...

     (720s - c.799)
  • Peter of Pisa
    Peter of Pisa
    Peter of Pisa was a grammarian of the Early middle ages. He originally taught at Pavia. In 776, after the conquest of the Lombard Kingdom, Charlemagne summoned him to his court to teach Latin. Peter was a friend of Alcuin. He returned about the year 790 to Italy where he died no later than 799...

     (d. 799)
  • Paulinus of Aquileia (730s - 802)
  • Alcuin
    Alcuin
    Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

     (c. 735–804)

9th century

  • Einhard
    Einhard
    Einhard was a Frankish scholar and courtier. Einhard was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious; his main work is a biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni, "one of the most precious literary bequests of the early Middle Ages."-Public life:Einhard was from the eastern...

     (775-840)
  • Rabanus Maurus
    Rabanus Maurus
    Rabanus Maurus Magnentius , also known as Hrabanus or Rhabanus, was a Frankish Benedictine monk, the archbishop of Mainz in Germany and a theologian. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis . He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible...

     (780-856)
  • Paschasius Radbertus (790-865)
  • Rudolf of Fulda
    Rudolf of Fulda
    Rudolf of Fulda was a monk of the Benedictine monastery of Fulda, writer, theologian and teacher. He was a pupil of Rhabanus Maurus and befriended Louis the Pious, king of the Franks...

     (d. 865)
  • Dhuoda
    Dhuoda
    Dhuoda was the author of the Liber Manualis, a handbook written for her son. Her date of birth and death are unknown but it is circa 803-843.-Life:...

  • Lupus of Ferrieres (805-862)
  • Andreas Agnellus
    Andreas Agnellus
    Andreas Agnellus of Ravenna was a historian of the bishops in his city. The date of his death is not recorded, although his history mentions the death of archbishop George of Ravenna in 846; Oswald Holder-Egger cites a papyrus charter dated to either 854 or 869 that contains the name of a priest...

     (Agnellus of Ravenna) (c. 805-846?)
  • Hincmar (806-882)
  • Walafrid Strabo
    Walafrid Strabo
    Walafrid, alternatively spelt Walahfrid, surnamed Strabo , was a Frankish monk and theological writer.-Theological works:...

     (808-849)
  • Florus of Lyon (d. 860?)
  • Gottschalk (theologian)
    Gottschalk (theologian)
    Gottschalk of Orbais was a Saxon theologian, monk and poet who is best known for being an early advocate of the doctrine of two-fold predestination...

     (808-867)
  • Sedulius Scottus
    Sedulius Scottus
    Sedulius Scottus was an Irish teacher, Latin grammarian and Scriptural commentator, who lived in the ninth century.Sedulius is sometimes called Sedulius the Younger, to distinguish him from Coelius Sedulius . The Irish form of the name is Siadhal.Sedulius the Younger flourished from 840 to 860...

     (fl. 840-860)
  • Anastasius Bibliothecarius
    Anastasius Bibliothecarius
    Anastasius Bibliothecarius was Head of archives and antipope of the Roman Catholic Church.- Family and education :...

     (810-878)
  • Johannes Scotus Eriugena
    Johannes Scotus Eriugena
    Johannes Scotus Eriugena was an Irish theologian, Neoplatonist philosopher, and poet. He is known for having translated and made commentaries upon the work of Pseudo-Dionysius.-Name:...

     (815-877)
  • Notker Balbulus (840-912)

11th century

  • Marianus Scotus
    Marianus Scotus
    Marianus Scotus , was an Irish monk and chronicler , was an Irishman by birth, and called Máel Brigte, or Devotee of St...

     (1028–1082)
  • Adam of Bremen
    Adam of Bremen
    Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum .-Background:Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles...

     (fl. 1060–1080)
  • Marbodius of Rennes
    Marbodius of Rennes
    Marbodus was archdeacon and schoolmaster at Angers, France, then Bishop of Rennes in Brittany. He was a respected poet, hagiographer, and hymnologist.-Biography:...

     (c. 1035-1123)

12th century

  • Pierre Abélard (1079–1142)
  • Suger of St Denis
    Abbot Suger
    Suger was one of the last Frankish abbot-statesmen, an historian, and the influential first patron of Gothic architecture....

     (c. 1081–1151)
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth
    Geoffrey of Monmouth
    Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

     (c. 1100 – c. 1155)
  • Ailred of Rievaulx
    Ailred of Rievaulx
    Aelred , also Aelred, Ælred, Æthelred, etc., was an English writer, abbot of Rievaulx , and saint.-Life:...

     (1110–1167)
  • Otto of Freising
    Otto of Freising
    Otto von Freising was a German bishop and chronicler.-Life:He was the fifth son of Leopold III, margrave of Austria, by his wife Agnes, daughter of the emperor Henry IV...

     (c. 1114–1158)
  • Archpoet
    Archpoet
    The Archpoet , or ' , is the name given to a 12th century anonymous author of ten poems from medieval Latin literature, the most famous being his "Confession" found in the manuscript...

     (c. 1130 - c. 1165)
  • William of Tyre
    William of Tyre
    William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

     (c. 1130-1185)
  • Peter of Blois
    Peter of Blois
    Peter of Blois or Petrus Blesensis was a French poet and diplomat who wrote in Latin. Peter studied law in Bologna and theology in Paris...

     (c. 1135 – c. 1203)
  • Walter of Châtillon
    Walter of Chatillon
    Walter of Châtillon was a 12th-century French writer and theologian who wrote in the Latin language. He studied under Stephen of Beauvais and at the University of Paris. It was probably during his student years that he wrote a number of Latin poems in the Goliardic manner that found their way...

     (fl. c. 1200)
  • Adam of St. Victor
    Adam of St. Victor
    Adam of Saint Victor was a prolific poet and composer of Latin hymns and sequences. He is believed to have sparked the expansion of the poetic and musical repertoire in the Notre Dame school with his strongly rhythmic and imagery-filled poetry....


13th century

  • Giraldus Cambrensis
    Giraldus Cambrensis
    Gerald of Wales , also known as Gerallt Gymro in Welsh or Giraldus Cambrensis in Latin, archdeacon of Brecon, was a medieval clergyman and chronicler of his times...

     (c. 1146 – c. 1223)
  • Saxo Grammaticus
    Saxo Grammaticus
    Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

     (c. 1150 – c. 1220)
  • Thomas of Celano
    Thomas of Celano
    Thomas of Celano was an Italian friar of the Franciscans , a poet, and the author of three hagiographies about Saint Francis of Assisi.Thomas was from Celano in Abruzzo...

     (c. 1200 – c. 1265)
  • Albertus Magnus
    Albertus Magnus
    Albertus Magnus, O.P. , also known as Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, is a Catholic saint. He was a German Dominican friar and a bishop, who achieved fame for his comprehensive knowledge of and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. Those such as James A. Weisheipl...

     (c. 1200–1280)
  • Roger Bacon
    Roger Bacon
    Roger Bacon, O.F.M. , also known as Doctor Mirabilis , was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empirical methods...

     (c. 1214–1294)
  • St Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

     (c. 1225–1274)
  • Ramon Llull
    Ramon Llull
    Ramon Llull was a Majorcan writer and philosopher, logician and tertiary Franciscan. He wrote the first major work of Catalan literature. Recently-surfaced manuscripts show him to have anticipated by several centuries prominent work on elections theory...

     (1232–1315)
  • Siger of Brabant
    Siger of Brabant
    Siger of Brabant was a 13th century philosopher from the southern Low Countries who was an important proponent of Averroism...

     (c. 1240–1280s)
  • Duns Scotus
    Duns Scotus
    Blessed John Duns Scotus, O.F.M. was one of the more important theologians and philosophers of the High Middle Ages. He was nicknamed Doctor Subtilis for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought....

     (c. 1266–1308)

14th century


For 14th century authors that are no longer medieval in outlook (practically all of them Italian) see Renaissance Latin
  • Ranulf Higdon
    Ranulf Higdon
    Ranulf Higden was an English chronicler and a Benedictine monk of the monastery of St. Werburgh in Chester....

     (c. 1280 - c. 1363)
  • William of Ockham
    William of Ockham
    William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...

     (c. 1288 - c. 1347)
  • Jean Buridan
    Jean Buridan
    Jean Buridan was a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe. Although he was one of the most famous and influential philosophers of the late Middle Ages, he is today among the least well known...

     (1300–1358)

Important medieval Latin works

  • Carmina Burana
    Carmina Burana
    Carmina Burana , Latin for "Songs from Beuern" , is the name given to a manuscript of 254 poems and dramatic texts mostly from the 11th or 12th century, although some are from the 13th century. The pieces were written principally in Medieval Latin; a few in Middle High German, and some with traces...

  • Pange Lingua
    Pange Lingua
    Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium is a hymn written by St Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi . It is also sung on Maundy Thursday, during the procession from the church to the place where the Blessed Sacrament is kept until Good Friday...

  • Summa Theologiae
    Summa Theologica
    The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas , and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main...

  • Etymologiae
    Etymologiae
    Etymologiae is an encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville towards the end of his life. It forms a bridge between a condensed epitome of classical learning at the close of Late Antiquity and the inheritance received, in large part through Isidore's work, by the early Middle Ages...

  • Dies Irae
    Dies Irae
    Dies Irae is a thirteenth century Latin hymn thought to be written by Thomas of Celano . It is a medieval Latin poem characterized by its accentual stress and its rhymed lines. The metre is trochaic...

  • Decretum Gratiani
    Decretum Gratiani
    The Decretum Gratiani or Concordia discordantium canonum is a collection of Canon law compiled and written in the 12th century as a legal textbook by the jurist known as Gratian. It forms the first part of the collection of six legal texts, which together became known as the Corpus Juris Canonici...

  • De Ortu Waluuanii Nepotis Arturi
  • Magna Carta
    Magna Carta
    Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...


External links