Learn medieval Latin online

Much of our past is contained in documents few of us can read, let alone understand and interpret. The National Archives have created a set of online tutorials in beginner’s and advanced medieval Latin and palaeography, or, how to read old handwriting. It is the first time a course like this has been offered, free and online. It will be interesting to see who will take on the twelve-lesson challenges. It claims it does not require prior knowledge of classical Latin (usually what we were taught – those of us that were – at school) and is suitable for beginners or those who want to refresh their skills.

Can an online experience be more satisfying than learning in a classroom of people where you hesitate with your ablatives and datives? Will anyone come out of these courses able to have a good stab at old documents in an archive and to debate hotly with another how many minims a word contains? Will these courses be able to convey the importance of grammatic jargon that goes with learning Latin, and still inspire through the gems contained in documents such as Domesday book?

Although I am reading many documents in medieval Latin at the moment, I am going to take the online medieval Latin challenge and report back with a comparison with my book-based and classroom experience.

Medieval Latin, Beginners’ Level (1086-1733)

Medieval Latin, Advanced Level (1086 – 1733)

Palaeography, Reading Old Handwriting (1500-1800)

5 Replies to “Learn medieval Latin online”

  1. You might find that the downloadable Latin lessons on the Latin podcast help to speed up your Latin. although the Latin on offer is all, so far, Classical latin, and spoekn using the Restored Classical Pronunciation, it provides a useful counterbalance to the very useful, but rather dry material on the National Archives website.

  2. I tried to learn Latin the traditional way – and didn’t do too well – so I think this sounds like an interesting intiative. There are plenty of books and manuscripts in libraries and museums where transcription, translation and commentaries are lacking. I think there’s probably a low awareness of how many orginal documents are available for the person of the street to study and look at.


  3. Thank you for the resources. i need to learn Medieval Latin for Grad school and I’m not able to go to the Toronto institute for the Summer so I’m going to try this over my break to see if this will work out.

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