The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty-Four – Historical Tidbit

Do you speak more than one language? Have you ever taken advantage of the fact that others around you might not speak that language? Miles Hendon does exactly that in order to help free Edward. Today’s Historical Tidbit is about…


Keep reading or watch the video below to learn more.

Miles makes a judgement about the constable in this chapter and assumes he doesn’t know Latin. Then he uses this to his advantage to use gibberish Latin to make it sound like he had committed a terrible crime (it roughly translates to “the law of retaliation is not in control of the mind, so the glory of the world passes away”).

“ ‘Yes, it hath a name. In the law this crime is called Non compos mentis lex talionis sic transit gloria mundi.’
‘Ah, my God!’
‘And the penalty is death!’
‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ ” (p. 149)

Latin in Tudor England

  • Language of the church
  • Used in many legal and state documents
  • After the Reformation, was no longer used in church (except for during Mary’s brief reign)
  • Replaced by the Book of Common Prayer and English translations of the Bible
  • Boys learned it in grammar school (ages 7-14) for families who could afford it
  • Studied Rudimenta Grammatices by William Lily (referenced in several Shakespeare plays)
  • Great vowel shift took place (led to modern English)

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