Latin in the Twelfth Century

“Latin in the twelfth century was a study of as much practical importance as English composition in the twentieth. It was not only the language of literature, of the Church, of the law-courts, of all educated men, but of ordinary correspondence: the language in which a student will write home for a pair of boots, or suggest that it is the part of a discreet sister to inflame the affection of the relations, nay, even the brother-in-law, of a deserving scholar, who at the moment has neither sheets to his bed, nor shirt to his back, and in which she will reply that she is sending him two pairs of sheets and 100 sol., but not a word to my husband, or ‘I shall be dead and destroyed [mortua essem penitus et destructa]. I think he means to send you something himself’; or, a more delicate matter, to a sweetheart, that he sees a fellow-student ruffling it in the girdle he had given her, and fears her favours have gone with it. ‘I could stand the loss of the belt’, says he magnificently. Clearly, an even livelier language than the Latin of Erasmus or More.” (Helen Waddell, The Wandering Scholars, 1927)