In his latest of many distinguished contributions to the history of medieval education, Nicholas Orme edits and translates into modern English twelve sets of the translation exercises known as ‘latins.’ Devised to teach Anglophone boys the basics of Latin composition, these hundreds of short texts do much more than illustrate pedagogical methods that continued in use even as medieval gave way to humanist Latin in the schools. They provide fascinating glimpses of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century English popular culture and everyday life as viewed by adolescents aspiring to worldly success while enduring outbreaks of plague, bad meals, and especially the master’s harsh discipline. In his introductions and annotations, Orme draws on his unsurpassed knowledge of English grammar schools to contextualize and enhance these vivid images. Historians of education may be the principal audience for the book, but anyone interested in medieval language, customs, and institutions will consult it with pleasure and profit.
Martin Camargo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This edition of twelve collections of grammar-school exercises makes available for the first time the majority of the material in the genre. The exercises – sentences or short prose passages – illustrate the kind of Latin taught in schools at the end of the middle ages and show how schoolmasters went about teaching the language. Together, they also provide a new source for the social and cultural history of England in the century before the Reformation.