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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old December 10th, 2012, 05:18 AM   #1

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Latin language in Byzantium?


I know that Greek was the common language spoken in the Eastern Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire, but was Latin still spoken by a portion of the population? I would imagine that the nobility would speak Latin just as the nobility of the other European kingdoms of the time did, how about the general population though?
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Old December 10th, 2012, 06:17 AM   #2
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What is now Rumania still spoke a form of Latin, but was part of the Byzantine empire. The language of Rumania is still derived from Latin, much Italian and French are.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 06:38 AM   #3
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What is now Rumania still spoke a form of Latin, but was part of the Byzantine empire. The language of Rumania is still derived from Latin, much Italian and French are.
What is now Romania was not part of the Byzantine empire, excepting Dobrogea, but Vlach (
Vlachs Vlachs
) population in the Byzantine empire did exist.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 07:44 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by Irish Yankee View Post
I know that Greek was the common language spoken in the Eastern Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire, but was Latin still spoken by a portion of the population? I would imagine that the nobility would speak Latin just as the nobility of the other European kingdoms of the time did, how about the general population though?
Latin lost its status to Greek in the 7th century (during the rule of the emperor Heraclius if I am not mistaken), but I guess that a tiny elite of intellectuals still retained some knowledge of that language, since some important works such as Justinian's Code were written in it and it was still the dominant language of Western Europe.

As for the general population, there were some romance speakers living under Byzantine rule in southern Italy and Balkans, but the vast majority of the population spoke Greek, Armenian, Slavic and other languages.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 08:53 AM   #5

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Greek was essentially the de-facto language of just about everything from the fifth century, but it's only in the 530s do we see the government start to give up with communicating in Latin. With the loss of the Balkans there were very few Latin speakers in the Empire, and Greek was the primary language, with Armenian a close second. Latin occasionally still appears on coins and seals, but it's not always good Latin.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 09:26 PM   #6

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What is now Romania was not part of the Byzantine empire, excepting Dobrogea, but Vlach (Vlachs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) population in the Byzantine empire did exist.


Vast areas of the balkans north of southern Macedonia and Dyrrhachium, and even into northern greece, were Latinized to some extent mkre than hellenized. justinian was from Painonia(?Maybe further west?) and who's family was Latin-speaking to some extent. It is also obvious that, until the coming of the Avars and the Slavs, Moesia was a Latinized province. Lets not forget that, for 150 years, Constantinople held sway over North Africa, which was, west of Cyrenaica, Heavily Latinized.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 09:30 PM   #7

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Greek was essentially the de-facto language of just about everything from the fifth century, but it's only in the 530s do we see the government start to give up with communicating in Latin. With the loss of the Balkans there were very few Latin speakers in the Empire, and Greek was the primary language, with Armenian a close second. Latin occasionally still appears on coins and seals, but it's not always good Latin.
You'd think they would have gotten an official translation before minting...
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Old December 10th, 2012, 11:46 PM   #8

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You'd think they would have gotten an official translation before minting...
Yes, you'd think people would be more careful about crafting phrases in their adopted language, however...

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Old December 11th, 2012, 01:44 AM   #9

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Yes, you'd think people would be more careful about crafting phrases in their adopted language, however...

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Old December 11th, 2012, 02:49 AM   #10
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When did latin stop being he formal language of command? (commands for formation changes were in Latin for a while but that dont mean the soldiers spoke latin beyond understanding a few words of command.)
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