Anglo-Latin literature

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Anglo-Latin literature is literature from Britain originally written in Latin. It includes literature written in Latin from parts of Britain which were not in England or English-speaking: "Anglo-" is used here as a prefix meaning British rather than English.

Authors and style[edit]

Chroniclers such as Bede (672/3–735), with his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, and Gildas (c. 500–570), with his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, were figures in the development of indigenous Latin literature, mostly ecclesiastical, in the centuries following the withdrawal of the Roman Empire around the year 410.

Adomnán's (627/8–704) most important work is the Vita Columbae, a hagiography of Columba, and the most important surviving work written in early medieval Scotland. It is a vital source for knowledge of the Picts, as well as an insight into the life of Iona Abbey and the early medieval Gaelic monks. The life of Columba contains a story that has been interpreted as the first reference to the Loch Ness Monster.

Written just after or possibly contemporarily with Adomnán's Vita Columbae, the Vita Sancti Cuthberti (c. 699–705) is the first piece of Northumbrian Latin writing and the earliest piece of English Latin hagiography.[1] The Historia Brittonum composed in the 9th century is traditionally ascribed to Nennius. It is the earliest source which presents King Arthur as a historical figure, and is the source of several stories which were repeated and amplified by later authors.

In the 10th century the hermeneutic style became dominant, but post-conquest writers such as William of Malmesbury condemned it as barbarous.

See also[edit]

Early medieval[edit]

High medieval[edit]

Late medieval and renaissance[edit]

Modern literature[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Love, R. C. (1999), "Hagiography", in Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; et al. (eds.), The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, p. 226, doi:10.1002/9781118316061.ch8, ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1

Further reading[edit]

  • Carlson, David (2011). "Anglo-Latin literature in the later Middle Ages". In Andrew Galloway (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 195–216. doi:10.1017/CCOL9780521856898.010. ISBN 9780511975646.
  • Echard, Siân; Gernot R. Wieland, eds. (2001). Anglo-Latin and its heritage: essays in honour of A.G. Rigg on his 64th birthday. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 4. Vol. 4. Turnhout: Brepols. doi:10.1484/M.PJML-EB.6.09070802050003050008030802. ISBN 2503508383.
  • Lapidge, Michael (1993). Anglo-Latin literature, 900–1066. London: Hambledon Press. ISBN 1852850124.
  • Lapidge, Michael (1996). Anglo-Latin literature, 600–899. London: Hambledon Press. ISBN 1852850116.
  • Rigg, A.G. (1992). A History of Anglo-Latin Literature, 1066–1422. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521415942.
  • Rigg, A.G. (1996). "Anglo-Latin". In Timothy J. McGee (ed.). Singing Early Music: The Pronunciation of European Languages in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 46–61. ISBN 0253210267.
  • Sharpe, Richard (1997). A handlist of the Latin writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin. Turnhout: Brepols. ISBN 2503505759. Reprinted with a supplement in 2001.
  • Stephenson, Rebecca; Thornbury, Victoria, eds. (2016). Latinity and Identity in Anglo-Saxon Literature. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442637580.
  • White, Carolinne (2002). "Medieval senses of classical words". Peritia. 16: 131–143. doi:10.1484/J.Peri.3.482.