Latin and English

‘Do you know that more than half of the words in the English dictionary are Latin, and that you are speaking more or less Latin every day? How has this come about? In the year 1066 William the Conqueror invaded England with an army of Normans. The Normans spoke French—which, you remember, is descended from Latin—and spread their language to a considerable extent over England, and so Norman-French played an important part in the formation of English and forms a large proportion of our vocabulary. Furthermore, great numbers of almost pure Latin words have been brought into English through the writings of scholars, and every new scientific discovery is marked by the addition of new terms of Latin derivation. Hence, while the simpler and commoner words of our mother tongue are Anglo-Saxon, and Anglo-Saxon forms the staple of our colloquial language, yet in the realms of literature, and especially in poetry, words of Latin derivation are very abundant. Also in the learned professions, as in law, medicine, and engineering, a knowledge of Latin is necessary for the successful interpretation of technical and scientific terms.’

– D’Ooge. B.L. 1909. Latin For Beginners Boston, Massachusetts, United States: The Athenaeum Press, Ginn and Company (1911) p. 3


In English history, the term Heptarchy referred to the seven kingdoms that existed in England from the seventh century to the ninth century. Some authors have muddied the issue by using the term to refer to England as far back as the fifth century, when Roman military forces officially withdrew from the British Isles (in 410), to the 11th century, when William the Conqueror and the Normans invaded (in 1066).

The British isles in AD 802

The British isles in AD 802

However, none of the kingdoms were really established until the sixth century at the earliest, and they were eventually united under one government in the early ninth century – only to break apart when the Vikings invaded not long after.

To complicate matters further, there were sometimes more than seven kingdoms, and often fewer than seven. And, of course, the term wasn’t used during the years the seven kingdoms flourished; its first usage was in the 16th century. (Having said that, neither the term medieval nor the word feudalism were used during the Middle Ages, either.)

Still, the term Heptarchy persists as a convenient reference to England and its fluid political situation in the seventh, eighth  and ninth centuries.The seven kingdoms were: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex, and Wessex.