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The Influence Of External Forces On Middle English Period In Britain

1005 words - 4 pages

The Middle English period in Britain was one characterized by a variety of external forces, which help define and shape the English language into its modern day form. According to Spielvogel, “the urban centres and the urban population of Europe were experiencing a dramatic expansion” and “new forms of cultural and intellectual expression also arose in this new urban world” (185). With this new jest for life, the people Britain and Europe during the Medieval period were fueled with desire to trade, and expand their territory. The two major, most influential contributing factors that shaped the development of the Middle English language were the lasting implications of the French language that were brought to England with the conquest William the first, and the devastation to the population that the Black death of the fourteenth century brought to England. Thanks to these two lingering influences the English language was allowed to regain its status as the official language of the country.
During the eleventh century the Old English period brought to an end with the invasion of William the first in the year of 1066. Due to this invasion from France, and the established rule of the new French King, the period Old English was brought to an end, and the French language began its dominant rule over the English language. Although the French language appeared to have dismissed the English language altogether, it had in fact infused the English language with new components, helping to enrich the language into its Middle English form. English was now a language connected to the continent, thanks to the invasion of the new French monarch, the language would continue to be influenced by many dialects. Spielvogel notes that because of the French the Norman invasion, “intermarriage of the Norman-French and the Anglo-Saxon nobility gradually blended the two cultures” (206). Infusion of these two cultures was significant to the development of the language because it meant that the English language was slowly regaining an influence over society.
As the succession of French kings continued throughout he period of the High Middle Ages, Barbara A. Fennell suggests that the power that kings held began to diminish, such as that of King John who lost the land he held in France. Johns’ loss helped to break ties with the continent (117), and “rivalry began to develop between England and France, culminated in the Hundred Years War…and ultimately resulted in the re-establishment of English” (118).
With European trade still an important aspect of the European economy, English would get its break to return to the recognised position of the dominant language of England in the middle of the fourteenth century. Its break came in the form of a rampant plague that would diminish the population of Europe and Britain to a fragment of its size prior to the fourteenth century. According to Spielvogel, “the Black Death of the mid fourteenth century was the most devastating...

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