Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 3 of 3 items for

  • Author or Editor: Francesca Tinti x
  • Search level: All x
Clear All


This chapter introduces the volume and the research project from which it originated. They both seek to respond to two major developments in early medieval studies, namely, the production in recent decades of numerous publications on early medieval documentary cultures and the burgeoning of research into historical multilingualism. The chapter shows how the contributions to this volume aim to overcome the separation which has so far characterized these two areas of investigation so as to bring the roles of languages and multilingualism into the study of early medieval documentary cultures, and, conversely, to encourage scholars of past multilingualism to engage further with the illuminating evidence provided by early medieval charters. Through a brief excursus on the linguistic history of the two main regions considered in the volume (i.e. Anglo-Saxon England and eastern Francia), this introductory chapter presents the rationale for a comparative, multidisciplinary investigation of the meaningful but hitherto little-discussed linguistic features of charters from Germanic-speaking territories of the early medieval West.

In: The Languages of Early Medieval Charters


Though Germanic vernaculars enjoyed different statuses in relation to Latin in England and on the continent, authors of documents in both regions made specific choices concerning their use of language. This chapter explores how these linguistic decisions were sometimes signalled and what they imply through a comparative study of self-conscious language-use in Anglo-Saxon and Frankish legal documents, including both royal diplomas and ‘private’ (i.e. non-royal) charters, between c.700 and c.900. The enquiry focuses on significant cases of code-switching between Latin and Germanic vernacular. We identify and compare how charter scribes signalled a switch in language, as for instance in documents where Latin prose is interrupted with a qualifying phrase to describe something in a Germanic language. In addition, we examine instances of specific linguistic awareness in charters, including explicit references to the theodisca (usually continental Germanic language) and saxonica (usually Old English) languages.

These code switches and identifications of language reveal an acute linguistic consciousness on the part of the draftsmen and offer an opportunity for direct comparison between two cultures whose diplomatic practices have often seemed to be markedly different. In both regions the most frequent use of Germanic vernacular in charters came in descriptions of land and boundaries (though in England, Old English could also be employed for other purposes and in different sections of a charter). While acknowledging the pragmatism of transmitting certain pieces of information in the vernacular, we argue that the use of the vernacular in descriptions of landscape and property was often also an assertion of territoriality and a meaningful representation of identity. The status of Latin as the standard language of written communication in both regions has hitherto tended to lead scholars to suppose that Germanic insertions and qualifying phrases were included in charters purely to facilitate communication in societies with relatively low Latin literacy. Our study, by contrast, shows that the vernacular could be invoked quite deliberately, that it could be exploited as a means of engendering social inclusion or exclusion, and that it ultimately conveyed intentions and meanings which went far beyond simple clarification.

In: The Languages of Early Medieval Charters
This is the first major study of the interplay between Latin and Germanic vernaculars in early medieval records. Building on previous work on the uses of the written word in the early Middle Ages, which has dispelled the myth that this was an age of ‘orality’, the contributions in this volume bring to the fore the crucial question of language choice in the documentary cultures of early medieval societies. Specifically, they examine the interactions between Latin and Germanic vernaculars in the Anglo-Saxon and eastern Frankish worlds and in neighbouring areas. The chapters are underpinned by an important comparative dimension on account of the two regions’ shared linguistic heritage and numerous cross-Channel links.

Contributors are: Stefan Esders, Albert Fenton, Robert Gallagher, Wolfgang Haubrichs, Charles Insley, Kathryn A. Lowe, Rosamond McKitterick, Rory Naismith, Janet L. Nelson, Edward Roberts, Annina Seiler, Marco Stoffella, Francesca Tinti, Kate Wiles, Bernhard Zeller.

See inside the book.