Amazing Historical and Contemporary Facts From Your Favorite Authors.
Offered by Linda Needham
Author of THE BRIDE BED
"At Trompyngtoun, nat fer from Cantebrygge, There gooth a brook and over that a byrgge, Upon the which brook ther stant a melle; And this is the verray sooth that I yow telle.... "
Hmmm... so your Medieval English isn't what it used to be? Try this:
"At Trompington, not far from Cantebridge, There runs a brook and over that, a bridge, Upon the which brook stands a mill; And this is the truth that I tell."
The above poem is from The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer more than six-hundred years ago. But in academic circles old Geoffrey's text is actually considered modern. At least modern enough to see the roots in most of the words if you look closely enough.
Compare for yourself from the following medieval glossary.
Frittour - Does this sound like the word fritter? That's because it is! Fruits or root vegetables dipped in beer batter, fried and then dribbled with honey or sprinkled with sugar. Yummmmm!
Cushion - Imagine the well-padded haunch of a large animal and you've imagined a cushion. From the French, cuisse.
Pease-loof - A loaf (loof) of bread made from peas (pease) flour.
Hodge-podge - A stew made of leftovers tossed into a broth and cooked together. Just like today, hodge-podge indicates mis-matched things thrown together haphazardly. Hodge/hotch, meaning to shake together and podge/ potch/ pot/ pottage, meaning stew.
Garde-manger - Food was worth its weight in gold in the Middle Ages, so it was locked up tightly in a storage cabinet. From the French again: garde, meaning to guard and manger, meaning to eat.
Cord du roi - Cloth of the king. Made of silk or cotton velvet, ribbed with narrow wales. Of course, today the king would find an excellent selection of this fine fabric in the Land's End Fall & Winter catalogs.
Cotehardie - Literally, a hardy coat-the more durable outergarment, worn by both men and women.
Kirtle - In early times, this was a long tunic worn by both sexes. If it sounds a bit like girdle, that's because in the late Middle Ages the tunic became tighter fitting and was worn strictly by women.
Coif - If you think this sounds like something that should go on the head, you're right! The coif was first a soft, quilted cap fastened under the neck, worn by soldiers-alone or under a helmet. The term then was used to describe any close fitting cap, worn by men, women or children.
Faldstool - A folding stool. Great for unexpected guests who'd rather not sit on the cold floor.
Inglenook - Ingle is reputed to be Gaelic for "fire" and nook is a nook, a cozy place. Romantic possibilities here.
Be-hongyd - The state of a chamber whose walls are hung with tapestries.
Bour - Bower, a chamber, usually a bedroom.
Keep - Where they kept the bour. The keeping tower was the most well defended structure in the castle. The finall place of defence, where the lord and his family and his garrison hold themselves up while the seige went on just outside their door.
Buttery - The place in every good kitchen where they kept the butts of wine and th e barrels of ale.
Remedia Amoris - Good old "remedies of love," be they herbal or otherwise. Remedia, meaning remedial and amoris, meaning love.
So, now if you should come upon a paragraph using the medieval words above, you'd know just what the author meant.
"Lady Helena rose from her faldstool where she'd been sitting in the inglenook of her be-hongyd bour, eating an apple frittour and pondering The Blue Knight and last eve's remedia amoris, and donned her cor du roi cote hardie over her kirtle, and then her coif before going down the stairs of the keep to the kitchen, past the buttery where she unlocked the garde-mange and made a meal of pease-loof cushion sandwich and hodge-podge. "
Okay, Lady Helena needs help. Lots of it. This is really, inescuseably bad writing, but you get the picture. Now you're ready for the Medieval English category next time you're invited to be a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!
Linda Needham is the author of seven historical romances starting with her Golden Heart winning For My Lady's Kiss. This USA Today bestselling author of The Maiden Bride lives in Oregon and spends her spare time singing, tap dancing and writing plays.
Her new release, The Bride Bed, her fourth medieval romance
is now available.
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