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Is it ‘Forty’? Or ‘Fourty’?

from Merriam Webster

The following article is from the excellent Merriam Webster online dictionary, and although I tried to post just the link, I couldn’t get it to work. So I’m posting the article in full, and state here and now that none of it is my work. It’s all Merriam Webster, very interesting and deals with the origins and development of the word ‘forty’.

“Hello, everyone. We have an announcement. We are pleased/sorry to report that there is never a u in forty.  

“That’s right: the word for the number 4 is four, but ten times that is 40, which is spelled forty. This is true in all of the vast English language, despite rumors that users of British English like the word to resemble colour (they don’t), and despite the frequent appearances of the misspelling out and about.

“In related facts, the number 14 keeps the u: it’s written as fourteen. But fortieth correlates to forty, so it too goes without a u.
 
“There is no good explanation for why forty lacks a u that its near-relation four has. Forty simply is, as American English Spelling author D.W. Cummings calls it, an “ill-formed but accepted spelling.” It is, however, also a relatively new spelling.  

“Origins and Spelling Variants

“While the word forty dates back to the language’s earliest incarnation, it had many varied spellings over the centuries, and the current spelling forty dates only to the 16th century. The Oxford English Dictionary includes a number of spellings that predate that one. From Old English (English as it existed from the 7th century to around 1100) there are the following:

féowertig

féowurtig

feuortig

“But things really got going in Middle English—English as it existed between the 12th and 15th centuries. In texts from that period the OED notes the following spellings:

fowwerrtig

feortig

feowerti (and fowerti)

feouwerti

feuwerti (and fuwerti)

fuerti

feowrti

fourte

fourti

vourti

vourty

forti

fourty

faurty

fourth

fourthy

“Modern English brought us other options:

fourtie

fourtye

fortie

forty

vorty

“The winner, of course, is forty, nearly the last of the bunch. The logical Middle English relic fourty, hiding most of the way down that long list, lasted until the 18th century, when for reasons unknown it fell out of use. Sometimes that’s just how it goes in English.”

By The Editors. (Merriam Webster)
 

References:

D.W. Cummings, American English Spelling (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988), pgs. 28, 31.
 
“forty.” OED Online, https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/73764. Oxford University Press. Accessed 9/24/2019.

Sixty-four bottoms sitting in a row….?

toilets

An article that is further to this …

Yes, the illustration above is funny (from our fastidious modern viewpoint) but it is also accurate for toilet facilities from early medieval times, right up into the 20th century. I am now in my seventies, and can remember in my country childhood finding outhouses/privies with up to four ‘facilities’, and yes, the holes were in a row in a single wooden plank. So, to me, the thought that in earlier times there were even more in a row is quite obvious. It seems that Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington provided one that could seat 64 bottoms at a time! Wow, that’s a lot of…well, cheeks. The difference is, however, that those small affairs that I came across always had paper – usually newspaper ripped/cut up and sewn into a convenient bunch. And, later, rolls of that awful Bronco stuff that was shiny and didn’t absorb anything! The newspaper was infinitely better. http://broughttolife.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display?id=1790

Anyway, the illustration doesn’t show any provision at all for the wiping of bottoms. How did they manage? Just do their business and then walk away? Hmm, the consequences of that don’t bear thinking about. Our fastidious modern selves would have the vapours. Erm, in a manner of speaking.

Then, of course, those fragrant facilities had to be emptied – as described by Tony Robinson in his Worst Jobs in History series. Sometimes it wasn’t necessary, for example in the public loos overhanging the Thames, which carried their ‘business’ downstream…and then upstream again, and then downstream again, and so on, as the tides chose. So what was convenient and reasonably hygienic at the place of origin, soon became a much greater problem courtesy of the Thames. It continued until a sewage system was built in the 19th century. At huge expense. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_sewerage_system Then, eventually, the Thames ceased to stink, and the need for delightful little scented posies/nosegays was no longer necessary in Parliament. Well, not to fend off the stench from the Thames…the garbage issuing from some speechifying was another matter.

The following is from http://queryblog.tudorhistory.org/2013/10/question-from-george-toilet-facilities.html:

“While the lower courtiers had to use the malodorous communal facilities of the Great House of Easement [at Hampton Court] when they answered a call of nature, Henry VIII had the use of a specially designed box tucked away in a private room off the state bedchamber. This ‘close-stool’ was lavishly covered in black velvet and its lid opened to reveal a padded and beribboned interior covered in the same material. It had a hole in the centre with a pewter bowl placed underneath….it was a privilege to be the Groom of the Stool with the duty of attending the King when he relieved himself, and the position often went to a high-ranking courtier.”

“In 1539, one groom recorded how Henry VIII had taken laxative pills and an enema, sleeping until 2am ‘when His Grace rose to go upon his stool which, with the working of the pills and the enema, His Highness had taken before, had a very fair siege’.”

Ew. Too much information….

PS: Since writing the above, I have come across further information about the, um, toilet habits of our ancestors. Specifically, the Romans. It seems the old sponge-soaked-in-vinegar-and-stuck-on-a-stick tale might not be the whole story! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21204228?fbclid=IwAR26yFjrjUgnKqGvwmQMtkk5fYc4pXIKHB5pvvY8x1YM969iKV0sOJMhuC8

Naughty, fun-loving Henry and the young dancing lady….?

HENRY AND MODEL OF OLD LONDON BRIDGE

We all have this picture of Henry VII being a Scrooge, and I don’t think it’s inaccurate. But it seems he had his more red-blooded moments. Yes, truly. I have happened upon the following article, which quotes from his personal accounts.

Just why did he make the following grants?

“Item to the young demoiselle that daunceth, £30”, 25 August 1493 (BL, Add. MS 7099, p.11)

“Item to a litell mayden that daunceth, £12”, 13 January 1497 (TNA, E 101/414/6, f. 59r)

Hmm. £12 is enormous enough, but £30 is astronomic! Just for dancing? My suspicious mind suspects there was a little more to it. Naughty Henry? Well, anything is possible. Anyway, the whole article makes interesting reading.

A Richard III Easter Egg. . .?

Richsard Easter Egg - 1On reading this article, my thoughts followed their usual wayward course, and I found myself imagining a solid Easter egg with an image of Richard. EAT IT? Never! It would be displayed in splendid perpetuity.

 

 

 

 

The Conisburgh Manorial Court Rolls….

Conisburgh Manorial Rolls

I’m afraid I wouldn’t be capable of reading the original entries in these rolls. My interest, as those who know me are only too aware, is the late mediaeval period, specifically Richards II and III). I would dearly like to be able to understand the source material for “my” period, but haven’t the know-how. But, if you go to the third link below, you see modern translations. Excellent for us all.

Isn’t it amazing to think such a complete record has survived? If only—if ONLY!—the same could be said of all the records for Richard III. Unfortunately, the Tudors did a very thorough job of making things “disappear”. Including Richard himself, but he’s been found again now, and it’s Tudor reputations that are on the line. Hooray!

To see much more about the rolls and the translations, go here.

Down in the Forest, something stirred….

wild boar in Dean

Even for Richard, wild boar were a memory. Does this mean that because of their reintroduction to England, we can see what he never did? The above photograph was taken in the Forest of Dean, which isn’t far from where I live. My daughter and granddaughter had a confrontation with two adult boar and two piglets/hoglets, and that was bad enough. The thought of a whole gang as above doesn’t bear thinking about! The Forest is teeming with them, so walk there with caution.

Small wonder Richard chose such a ferocious creature as his emblem!

 

An excellent article about Richard, but some weird ideas amid the comments….

Richard-III-Bosworth

Here is another fine article by Matthew Lewis, concerning whether or not Richard III was a villain, or a good king. Matt is, as always, excellent to read, and puts forward the strong case that Richard was good. Well, we all know this to be so, but some of the comments following the article are a little inaccurate, to say the least.

For instance, concerning Elizabeth Woodville: “Elizabeth Woodville may have been sent to a convent some 15 months after she was reinstated as Queen Dowager, but she was granted several grants of land and rights and her titles. She was very wealthy when she died and was not mistreated in any way.”

I think not! She was bundled off to Bermondsey Abbey (a male monastery), and her lands and so on were handed over to her daughter, by then Henry VII’s queen. Henry did not treat Elizabeth Woodville kindly, and she lived on a mere allowance. She was far from wealthy when she died, as she stated in her will. Henry Tudor was not a loving son-in-law, but a spiteful one. Richard had great cause to dislike Elizabeth Woodville, but nevertheless treated her well.

http://www.royalcentral.co.uk/blogs/history/the-real-white-queen-a-defence-of-king-richard-iii-13421

 

More remains found, but pre-Richard….

July 1st 2016 Thornton Abbey Lincolnshire

Human remains are being discovered everywhere, it seems. Richard III appears to have started a fashion. But no, I should not make light of it. This poor priest suffered greatly before death.

 

The REAL Elizabeth of York….?

Princess Elizabeth of York

Well, folks, here’s something to boggle you. The story of the real Elizabeth of York. Real? What you get is a lucky dip of some fact and a LOT of pure invention. If it made clear that it was fiction and pure White Princess, all well and good, but it doesn’t. It purports to tell you the truth about Elizabeth. Anyway, if you want to laugh or cry (you can do either) then this is just the thing for you.

 

Was Richard II a fourteenth-century Peter Pan….?

Richard II and Anne of Bohemia

Richard II is my second favourite king (you all know who’s first!) and both are controversial, albeit for very different reasons. One of the charges against Richard II is that he was something of a Peter Pan, and did not want to grow up. He had portraits painted depicting him as a boy, when he was a mature man. He did not grow a beard until well after the customary time, and he was criticised for his devotion to clothes, luxury…the very things in which we’d all like to indulge.

Whether he was a Peter Pan, though, is open to question. There has been much speculation about his marriage to Anne of Bohemia, with a frequent remark being that they were more like brother and sister than husband and wife. Historians have hinted that his desire to stay young meant that he had to preserve his virginity. The fact that there was, apparently, no sign of Anne being pregnant, seemed to uphold this view. He was broken-hearted when she died, but then, they said, a devoted brother would weep for his sister.

But…there is a letter from Anne to her half-brother, Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, which is referred to by Kristen Geaman, (Engl Hist Rev (2013) 128 (534): 1086-1094, 04 September 2013): “…Anne of Bohemia, first wife of Richard II, is a rather enigmatic queen but a letter (from British Library Additional 6159) sheds new light on her Bohemian connections and personal life. In a letter written by Anne to her half-brother Wenceslas IV, the queen informs Wenceslas of the successes of mutual acquaintances and requests that further Bohemian ladies be sent to Richard’s court. Anne’s comments offer increased evidence of the connections between the English and Bohemian courts, as well as shedding further light on the activities of the queen. Furthermore, at the end of the letter, Anne also reveals her sorrow over a miscarriage, proving that the couple did not have a chaste marriage…”

Another reference to this letter is in ‘Medieval Women and Their Objects’ by Nancy Bradbury and Jennifer Adams “…She [Anne of Bohemia] closes by saying that the one point of sorrow is that they [she and Richard II] are not rejoicing in childbirth, but have hopes for the future with good health, God permitting….”

So it would seem that the marriage of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia was perfectly normal. What’s more, they loved each other. Their heartbreak was that they did not/could not have children. Not that they would not. What a difference such a child might have made to history. No Lancastrian or Yorkist kings…no Tudors!

 

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