Based on nearly two hundred manuscripts containing vernacular glosses, this is the first systematic study of the teaching aids which constituted the set-texts of Latin instruction in thirteenth-century England, some of which are printed here for the first time. These glosses provide the key to discovering the linguistic competence and interest of students at an elementary level: men and women who needed a working knowledge of Latin for practical purposes. The received view that Latin was the exclusive language of the schoolroom is shown to be mistaken and the exhaustive recording of the vernacular glosses provides a hitherto untapped source of lexical materials in French and Middle English.
A major contribution to the history of language, literature, education and manuscript studies in the middle ages... The glosses throw light on two topics. They tell us about schools...(and) they are also informative about the status and use of languages at a time when three tongues were in verbal and written use in England... It is one of the virtues of this excellent work that, as well as providing so much information, it stimulates fresh thoughts and opens up new lines of research. HISTORIOGRAPHIA LINGUISTICA