Article

Welsh Literature

Frederick Suppe

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online April 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0084
Welsh Literature

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
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  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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The Welsh language is descended from a P-Celtic language which was spoken over much of pre-Roman Britain and which persisted during the period of Roman control. After the Roman withdrawal during the 5th century, this language experienced a significant amount of grammatical change, and by c. 600 ad may be labeled as Early Welsh or Archaic Welsh. For the period when the first texts in vernacular Welsh appeared, between the 9th and mid-12th centuries, the language is called Old Welsh. Middle Welsh refers to the stage of the language between the mid-12th century and the mid-15th century. Among the Celtic countries, the amount and variety of extant literature from medieval Wales are exceeded only by that in Irish from Ireland. This is probably because, although Wales was not a united polity during this period, it did share a common linguistic culture and maintained political independence until it was militarily conquered by the English king Edward I late in the 13th century. Even after this conquest, Wales remained predominantly Welsh speaking and with a class of Welsh gentry who were patrons for a profusion of poets, whose work is only now being subjected to systematic scholarly analysis.

Article.  3007 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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