Sunday, January 28, 2007

This Week's Medieval News

Last Week was a rather quiet one medievally speaking:

Antonine Wall officially Britain's nomination for World Heritage:

Jan. 19:

St. Sebastian Martyred c.288

1/19 Muhammad
1200 Dogen

1160 Kidnapping of the retired Japanese Emperor

Jan. 20:

St. Fabian, Pope, Farmer Papal Ascension, 236 Mmartyred c.250

473 St. Euthymius the Great
842 Theophilus, Emperor of Byzantium
1256 Renaud de Vichiers, 19th Master of the Templars
1479 John II, King of Aragon

1/20 St. Agnes Eve
1/20 Reindeer Day
250 Martyrdom of St. Fabian, Pope
1192 Phillip II of France lays siege to Gisors, a castle of Richard I
of England
1265 The first English Parliament called, by Simon de Montfort
1265 1st English Parliament, called by the Earl of Leicester
1320 Coronation of Wladislaus, King of Poland

Jan 21:

St. Agnes of Rome, virgin martyr

1338 Charles V (the Wise), King of France

259 St. Fructuosus
861 St. Meinrad

911 King Louis the Child, last Carolingian ruler of Germany, dies
1189 Phillip Augustus, King of France, Henry II, King of England, and
Fredrick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor, begin assembling the troops for
the Third Crusade
1217 Matthew Paris enters St. Albans as a monk
1472 Great daylight comet of 1472 passes within 10.5 million km of earth

Jan. 22:

St. Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon (earliest known martyr of Spain

1440 Ivan III (the Great), Grand Prince of Russia

628 St. Anastasius the Persian

1498 Columbus discovers St Vincent Island

Jan 23:

St. Ildephonse, bishop of Toledo, Doctor of the Church
St. John the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria

667 St. Ildefonsus
1002 Otto III, Emperor of the West
1275 St. Raymond of Penafort

1264 Annullment of the Provisions of Oxford
1295 Coronation of Pope Boniface VIII

Jan. 24:

St. Babylas

76 Hadrian, 14th Roman Emperor
1287 Richard de Bury

41 Caligula, Roman Emperor, assassinated
97 St. Timothy
772 Pope Stephen IV
817 Pope Stephen V
1376 Richard, Earl of Arundel

661 Murder of Ali by a Kharajite
1458 Matthias Corvinus elected King of Hungary

Jan 25:

St. Dwynwen

749 Leo IV (the Khazar), Byzantine Emperor

98 Nerva, Roman Emperor
363 Sts. Juventinus and Maximinus
477 Gaiseric, King of the Vandals
817: Pope Stephen V
1138 Anacletus, anti-Pope
1494 Ferrante I, King of Aragon

817 Consecration of Paschal I as Pope
1077 Emperor Henry IV submits to Pope Gregory VII at Canossa
1153 Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem, attacks Ascalon
1325 Lithuania opened to settlement
1356 Edward III, King of England, having no further use for him,
pensions off Edward Balliol, "King" of Scots
1498 Vasco da Gama reaches Quelimane, on the Sofala coast

Words of the Week:

censure--from French, from Latin. The earliest use recorded in English is Wycliffe in the sense of a spiritual judgement rendered by an ecclesiastical judge, but it clearly by 1400 meant a specific judgement handed down by a judge or official. We don't often use the word anymore except in technical contexts or in the compound censorship. The verb to censure isn't used until the late 16th century.

overweening-- a lovely word, a compound of over + ween. Ween is an Old English word, spelled wen, with a long --e--, pre-vowel shift. The essential OE meaning was "opinion, thought, expectation, hope. The noun is formed from the past participle, oferwenan of the verb oferwenian, It is congnate with OFris. wên opinion, OSaxon wân hope, OHigh Germ., MHGerm. wân, ván hope, Goth. w{emac}n-s hope:{em}OTeut. *w{aemac}ni-z, f. Teut. and Indogermanic root *wen- to love.] In Middle English it gave rise to 2 dialectical spellings, wone, and ween, but retained the essential meaning. Phrases without ween and wen is or is wen (without doubt, and is thought, or is probable, were used throughout the medieval period.

rue--another loverly word, or set of words actually. Let's start with the Old English ones. The verb, as in ModE "rue the day" comes from Old English hreowan, and it means to "affect one with regret or penitence" to distress, to grieve, to repent. From this we hreowe, an adjective meaning sad or sorrowful. Related to this is the noun, hreow, grief, repentance, sorrow, though the noun comes from a related verb to hreowan: hreowian, to feel sorrow or grief. The difference in the verbs is that hreowan is causative: to cause or make someone feel sorrow or the need to repent or grief, whereas hreowian means to actually feel the sorrow. Naturally this set of words crosses over and influences each other etc. They are cognate with: OFris. riowa (Fris. rouwe, rouje), MDutch and Dutch rouwen, OSaxon. hrewan, OHigh Germ. (h)riuwan, OS. hriwi sad, sorrowful. ONorse hryggr (stem hryggv-, for earlier *hriww-) adj., hryggva, hryggja weak vb., hrygg{edh}. The two Proto-Germanic roots are *khrewanan and *khruwjanan. My guess would be that we still have the word in modern English because of Shakespeare's usage "rue the day" and "rue the hour" etc. You speakers of other Germanic languages care to chime in on the word's survival in your languages?

There is also in English a "rue" referring to a perennial evergreen bush. This form of the word enters English through Old French, rue, but earlier was ruda, as it also is in Spanish, Portugese, Provencal. In Italian it is ruta, direct from Latin ruta, borrowed from Greek ruta (rho, upsilon, tau, eta), which according to Liddell and Scott was originally a Peloponnesian word (which I take to mean pre-Greek invasion) for the plant that in Greek is also called phganon (h=eta). This form of the plant's name enters English in the fourteenth century. But there had been an earlier borrowing into English that died out in th e Old English period: rude, borrowed directly from the Latin ruta. One of the things that makes this name interesting is that the leaves of this plant are bitter, and so in the early modern period especially there were a lot of punning references about rue making one rueful, such as Robert Greene's Mamillia, "Least time and triall make thee account Rue a most bitter hearbe"

Just a curio, but outside of the medieval period a hair, is the other verb "rue" from Latin ruere, to fall, to decline, that was very popular in the late 16th century. Other "rue", as in "construe" and "accrue" have no relation to any of the above "rue"s.

nonce--an archaic word now, and an odd construction. It comes from the Middle English phrase for tham anes, which became for than anes, then forthan nanes, and so to nonce. The phrase means "for the once", i. e. for the specific occasion or purpose. anes, btw, is the root of modern English once. From Chaucer's time onward it was often used simply as metrical filler in poetry, or with a variety of prepositions.

Random Medieval Website of the Week: A site listing medieval works available for download, with directions on how to do it.

Medieval Quote of the Week:
Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel! Beowulf, Fate goes as she must.