[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on t he PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.


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Latin, Palaeography, and Latin Palaeography
Part four

Last time, we were still looking for a verb ...

( Click on the image for a larger version in a new window.)
We are on to the third line, and look! A verb! The first word is reasonably easy to transcribe. There's a c and an o. The next two minims could be n or u, but experience in Latin suggests than 'con' is more likely than 'cou.' The f looks the one right above it in 'fidei', as does the e. We've seen the 'ta' before, and the terminal s is also pretty clear. So what is between the e and the 'ta?' I'll suggest it's an 'r', sharing the cross stroke with the t and a. Which gives us 'confertas.' The next word is also fairly easy, 'gerentes.'

'Confertas' is a bit tricky, and I confess it took me a while to figure out. (I also called upon the help of the learned people of the Usenet group alt.language.latin who kindly set me on the right track.) Part of the difficulty is that, like most languages, Latin has words which are spelled the same but mean different things. In English, for example, and off the top of my head, there is the word 'hand' which can be a noun for the part of your body at the end of your arm, a noun meaning a round of applause, or a verb meaning to give, as in 'hand me that wrench.' 'Confertas' can either be an adjective or a passive participle of the verb 'confercio.' The two are related, the verb can mean 'press together' while the adjective can mean 'pressed together.' The participle then would mean 'being pressed.' In either case, it would refer back to the document itself, 'literas,' since it agrees in number and gender. So 'literas confertas,' letter pressed or letter being pressed, and I think it refers to be being sealed 'sub magno Sigillo nostro Anglie.' This usage is a bit unusual, but that's half the fun, isn't it?

Then 'gerentes,' a verb at last. It is the present participle of the verb 'gero' - to carry, to bear, et cetera. The document is bearing something, but what? It is bearing the next word. That word begins with the d we have seen before in 'defensor' just up to the left, is followed by the now familiar 'at' combination most recently seen in 'confertas,' and ends up with five minims! Those five could represent a variety of letters - uui, nni, mii, and many more. However, as this scribe is pretty good about dotting the i's, we can probably dismiss any combinations that include i. Which leaves us with an m, and either a u or an n, in some configuration. Even without knowing Latin, 'um' seems most likely, and if you do know Latin, you know that the -um ending is quite common. So 'datum,' which is another of those words which tends to mean something in Medieval Latin that it didn't mean in Classical Latin. In this case, it means 'date.' 'Gerentes datum' is 'bearing the date.'

And what follows, naturally enough, is the date. The first letter of the next word is, astonishingly enough, a v that isn't just two minims! The rest of the word is pretty clear, given the two dotted i's - vicesimo. The next word is also pretty clear - septimo. Those are the words for twenty and seven, in the ablative, taken together meaning twenty-seventh. The next word is only difficult because of that last stroke. The first bit is 'die.' What's that last bit. Honestly, I think it's just a decorative stroke, because 'die' is word that is needed. 'Die' is the word 'dies,' meaning day, again in the ablative. Altogether then, the 27th day.

But, I hear you ask, the 27th day of what? Well, let us carry on. Again, thanks to the dotted i's, Junii is pretty easy to decipher. (Especially if you expecting a month.) Now, in proper Latin has no 'J' so it would be 'Iunii' if you want to look it up in a Latin dictionary. Iunius is a second declension noun, just as sigillum is, although it is masculine rather than neuter, which is why it is Iunius not Iunium. The genitive of such nouns, the possessive, ends in -i in the singular. Junius is the month of June.

Press on! The date is almost complete. The next word begins with a lovely A that I don't think we've seen before. Then minims and an o. Since we know the boilerplate and dating conventions, that's going to be 'anno,' ablative of the second declension masculine 'annus,' meaning year. The same anno as in A.D. A.D is 'anno domini,' year of the lord. Dominus is a second declension masculine noun just like Iunius, and -i is the genitive. On our document, though, the next two words are regni nostri. Nostri looks a lot like nostro, as well it should. Nostro is 'our' in the ablative and nostri is 'our' in the genitive, to match the case of regni. Regni is the genitive of regnum, which in this case, means 'reign.' 'In the year of our reign.' And the year itself is 'terciodecimo.' It should probably be 'tertiodecimo,' but I stand by my transcription of 'tercio.' The scribe's t's always rise above x height, so that thing that should be a second t, is a c. This is another case where Medieval Latin has drifted from Classical. A lot of t's became c's. In any case, that's 'thirteen.' 'In the thirteenth year of our reign.'

As an aside, Medieval English documents were dated by regnal year, which can be annoying if you want to track them to more standard dating systems. Elizabeth was crown in November of 1558, so June of 1559 would be in her first regnal year, while December 1559 would be in the second. The thirteen year started in November of 1571, so June of the thirteenth year would be in 1572. So our document dates to 27 June 1572.

Valete, amici et amicae


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Luddite'sLog, 13 July 2020
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