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An Account of English History

The history of the English language begins with the Celts, the first populace of England. The Celts were people who originated in central Europe from Indo-European stock and became a distinct people in the Iron Age. They are distinct from their predecessor peoples, archaeologically named the Urnfield cultures, principally in their use of iron, their art style, the role of the horse in their lives, and the social stratification of their society. In 43CE, Rome, who was known as Briton invaded England and took over their land.

During the 400 years of Roman vocation, numerous cities and roads were constructed. The Romans brought Latin to Britain, which was part of the Roman Empire for over 400 years. But early English did not develop mainly from Latin. So it is unlike French, Spanish and Italian, which did come directly from Latin. ‘Early English’ was the language of tribes who invaded from the East, from what is now Germany. They spoke different dialects of a ‘Germanic’ language, from which modern German developed. This explains why German and English are often similar, as many of their words developed from the same original language.

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Despite the good luck with the Britons, they found themselves returning home to help out their native land. Barbarians invaded Rome constantly, burning everything to the ground. Their last resort was to hire mercenary armies to fight off the barbarians. This group of mercenaries was known as the Anglo-Saxons. After defeating this group, the Anglo-Saxons realized that this was going to be their new land. In any disagreement from the Britons, they would be killed or pushed to the harsh livings of the coast.

The Anglo- Saxon invasion, which became known as England, was divided up into seven kingdoms. The seven kingdoms had united in 865CE when King Guthry of the Danes attacked Alfred. An agreement was then settled between the two men, which gave the Danes two-thirds of the land. Alfred obtained Wessex and had the Danes convert to Christianity, which made them good Christians. Little by little Alfred gained back his land because the Danes were unable to rule the land. Edward the Confessor, the last king of Saxon, died in 1066, leaving no heir to the throne of England.

With the king dead and leaving no heirs, Edward’s pass ignited a three-way rivalry for the crown that culminated in the Battle of Hastings and the destruction of the Anglo-Saxon rule of England. The leading pretender was Harold Godwinson, the second most powerful man in England and an advisor to Edward. Across the English Channel, William, Duke of Normandy, also laid claim to the English throne. William justified his claim through his blood relationship with Edward (they were distant cousins) and by stating that some years earlier, Edward had designated him as his successor.

When Harold would not surrender to William, France invaded England, which Harold was killed. William took the throne and from there three languages became prominent in England. The combined languages of French, English, and Latin became known as Middle English. The most notable author of this period is Geoffrey Chaucer (1340 to 1400). His famous work called the Canterbury Tales was done during this time. Chaucer’s writing had contributed to the push of the Great Vowel Shift. The Great Vowel Shift led the pronunciation of vowels to dramatically change.

The greatest monarch to rule the throne as Queen Elizabeth. She was raised as a Protestant, but she was shrewd enough to play the game of politics; she was a master of procrastination and of playing one side against the other. In 1588, Spain had set up a fleet of ships to destroy England. In the midst of the war, England’s combination of tactics, luck, and weather set the Spanish ships back home. During the reign of Elizabeth came about the Elizabethan era or Renaissance Period.

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An Account of English History. (2021, Feb 18). Retrieved June 19, 2021, from