The name’s Bond…

Pity the mediaeval serf. Not because of his status or his poverty, but because he has been misunderstood for centuries. His Latin name is Nativus (hers is of course Nativa). How are they translated into English when we find them in Latin manorial court rolls? Some translators use a term common in late mediaeval and…

Per unum annum revolutum usque ad festum Petronille virginis

I am casting my accounts because my business year has just ended. My accounting year ends on 31 May, not our UK fiscal new year’s day of 5th April, which is of course ‘Old Lady Day’. Until 1752, the New Year according to the traditional calendar was 25th March – the Annunciation of the Blessed…

Parchment names, paper names

“Katerina de Caldewelle”: do I translate her Katherine of Caldewelle, Katherine de Caldewelle or just Katherine Caldewelle? How about William Faber? Should I just call him Smith? Or was he William the Smith? Is it Adam Bercarius or Adam the Shepherd? “Does any of this matter?” I hear you ask. Yes, it does, if the…

‘It could be you’

It was like the parish-council scenes in the Vicar of Dibley. We sat round a trestle table by the tea urn at the back of 15th-century Lambley Parish Church.  They were dark autumn evenings, so we didn’t get the benefit of Lord Cromwell’s tall clear Perpendicular nave windows but instead peered at the easel supporting…

How you say it

“Never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word. It means they learned it by reading.” (Tweet by @NatGeoEducation, 4 April 2016) It’s a classic problem: learning new words only through reading. Does it matter? Sometimes, yes. I tell my palaeography students to read their transcriptions aloud. They will get used to the rhythm…