Timeline of the English Language

A timeline descibing the most prominant events in the evolution of the English Language, including historical context and examples of popular literature.

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Evolving English ­ Timeline
1000s ­ Beowolf
1010 ­ First recorded conversation (between a pupil and a teacher, discussing learning
1016 ­ Cnut of Denmark becomes King of England
1031 ­ `Book of Life' ­ a record of the names of members and friends of monasteries or
convents: the belief was that these names would also appear in the heavenly book opened
on the Day of Judgement
1066 ­ Norman Invasion ­ William the Conqueror becomes King. Many French words
enter the English language.
1150s ­ First text in Middle English? An English translation of a Latin sermon in which we
can see many of the changes that signal the end of Old English. The rhythm and pattern of
the sentences are beginning to sound distinctly modern.
1190s ­ The Owl and the Nightingale written
19th June 1215 ­ King John seals Magna Carta the first written material to set limits
on the power of an English monarch, and was intended to prevent King John from exploiting
his people.
1250s ­ Matthew Paris' map of Britain This is one of four maps of Great Britain drawn in the
1250s by Matthew Paris, a monk at St Alban's Abbey.
1271 ­ The Last Crusade
1290 ­ Expulsion of Jews from England
1308 ­ Dante begins Divine Comedy
13371450s ­ 100 years war ­ After which the status of English rises. The universities of
Oxford and Cambridge are established.
1348 ­ The Black Death reaches England
1360 Le Palmer's Encyclopaedia ­ with more than 2,000 pages and 800 illustrations, and it
is not even finished. It covers subjects as broad as natural sciences, the history of man,
theology, the liberal arts and religion.
12th June 1381 ­ The Peasant's Revolt
1390s ­ First English cookery manuscript
25th October 1400 ­ Chaucer, who wrote `The Canterbury Tales', dies
25th October 1415 ­ Battle of Agincourt
1450 ­ Western Printing Press invented ­ the Gutenberg Bible is the earliest
fullscale work printed on it.
1469 ­ `The Legend of King Arthur' by Thomas Malory
1470s ­ The Renaissance
1470s ­ `The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye' ­ the first book printed in English
24th June 1509 ­ Henry VIII crowned King
1520s ­ First Bible printed in English
1536 ­ Dissolution of the monasteries begins
17th November 1558 ­ Elizabeth I becomes Queen
1567 ­ The First National Lottery
1588 ­ Defeat of the Spanish Armada
1597 ­ Shakespeare's Richard III
5th November 1605 ­ the Gunpowder Plot
1600s ­ Shakespeare (King Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Sonnets)
1604 ­ Doctor Faustus by Marlowe
1620 ­ Shakespeare's collected works first published.
30th January 1649 ­ Execution of Charles I
1665 ­ 1666 ­ Great Plague followed by Great Fire of London
1668 John Milton's Paradise Lost
1679 Habeas Corpus Act
1755 Samuel Johnson publishes dictionary
4th July 1776 ­ US Declaration of Independence signed
14th July 1789 ­ French Revolution begins

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­ William Blake (e.g. in 1794 `Songs of Innocence and Experience')
1791 Thomas Paine's Rights of Man
1807 Wordsworth ­ `I wandered lonely as a cloud'
1810s ­ Jane Austen, `Persuasion' and Mary Shelley, `Frankenstein'.
20th June 1837 ­ Victoria becomes Queen
1830s ­ Charles Dickens ­ Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.
1840s ­ Charles Dickens (`A Christmas Carol'), Charlotte Bronte (`Jane Eyre'), Emily Bronte
(`Wuthering Heights'), The Communist Manifesto.…read more


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