UMD Medieval Latin Fall 2021: Place, Space, and Travel in Medieval Latin

Latin 488M/631. Mondays 5:00-7:40 pm, Marie Mount Hall 1218. Office hours by arrangement, via Zoom.

Email Prof. Carin Ruff

Texts for class

Latin texts and other readings are in this Dropbox folder. I will be adding more to this folder week by week.


The syllabus current as of 8/26 is here. Subject to frequent updates! UPDATES to the schedule and assignments are on this web page. Scroll down to see assignments by date.

Schedule of meetings, texts, and topics

Select links to manuscripts and other useful material online are below each week’s heading. (Current as of 8/26; subject to revision.)

Aug. 30    Introduction

Sept. 6     Labor Day, no class

Sept. 13    Itinerarium Egeriae and Valerius of Bierzo’s Letter in praise of Egeria

Texts and a copy of the assignment for this week are in our Dropbox folder

☛ NOTE: Starting next week, 9/20, we will have the first two student presentations on articles about Adomnán and Bede. Take a look at the folder for Sept. 20-27 in our Dropbox folder to see the assignment sheet and the two articles for which we need presenters and think about whether you would like to volunteer for one.

Valerius’s letter in Madrid, BNE, MS 10007 (Spain, early 10th c.). The letter is on fols. 223r-225r = images 226-228 in the digitized MS.

Sept. 20    Adomnán, De locis sanctis. See assignment sheet for specific passages.

Student presentation on “Adomnán’s De Locis Sanctis and the Seventh Century Near East,” by Robert Hoyland and Sarah Waidler

☛ NOTE: Texts, articles, and a copy of the assignment sheet for this week and the following week are in our Dropbox folder

Click here for a Google map showing the locations of monasteries important in Adomnán’s and Bede’s day.

List of MSS of Adomnán’s DLS. Some items have links to the digitized original. Direct links to selected items from that list: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 13048 (DLS on fols. 1r-28v), Corbie, late 8th or 9th c.; St. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 320 (DLS on pp. 254-284), Southern Germany, ca. 1150-1250.

Sept. 27   Adomnán and Bede, De locis sanctis.

☛ UPDATED assignment for this meeting: 

First translate Bede, De locis sanctis, ch. XX, “Conclusio,” on p. 442.

Then look over (skim) Ch. 1 to see how it compares to Ch. 1 of Adomnán, but no need to translate that chapter; we can discuss anything interesting we notice on skimming.

Then translate Ch. 2 of Bede (pp. 406-410). You might glance at the equivalent passage in Adomnán for comparison, but no need to do any more Adomnán translation for next week.

Student presentation on Patrick O’Neill, “Imag(in)ing the Holy Places: A Comparison between the Diagrams in Adomnán’s and Bede’s De locis sanctis.”

Bede, DLS in Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 6389 (Freising, 850-860).

Oct. 4     Bede, De templo. 

Translate Ch. 1, pp. 264-266, as marked on PDF in Dropbox.

Student presentation on the first and second Temples.

Codex Amiatinus online

Oct. 11     The Rule of St. Benedict

☛ TRANSLATE: Regula S. Benedicti Ch. 58 and the Letter of Grimald and Tatto. (Both are in the Dropbox folder for this week.)

AT THIS CLASS I will give you the take-home translation exercise/test, covering our Adomnan and Bede readings, to be completed in the course of the following week.

THIS WEEK: Email me to make an appointment to talk about final project ideas if we have not already talked.

Oct 18     The Plan of St. Gall

DUE: 1st take-home translation test/exercise

No translation assignment for this week. In class, we will look together at the Plan and continue discussing manuscripts.

Oct 25     Nigel Whiteacre (aka Wireker, aka de Longchamps), Speculum Stultorum

☛ READ: Introduction to the edition by Mozley and Raymo, p. 1 to top of p. 9. You might also glance through the list of MSS and discussion of the textual tradition that follows (through p. 28) to get a sense of the poem’s transmission.

☛ TRANSLATE: from line 81 (p. 32) through line 186 (top of p. 35). (In the part we’ll skip, Galienus tells Burnellus a cautionary tale of two cows, and then advises him to go to Salerno.) Pick up again at line 632 (p. 45) and continue through line 716 (p. 47).

☛ NB: There are explanatory notes on the text at the back of the edition, starting on p. 140.

Nov 1     Speculum Stultorum, cont’d.:

☛ TRANSLATE: Burnellus sets out home, falls afoul of a Cistercian, Fromundus, and his dogs: lines 827-898; Burnellus tricks Fromundus to his death and sings a song: lines 1049-1100.  ☛ IF you finish that in good time, start in on the next week’s assignment.

Nov 8     Finish Speculum Stultorum excerpts:

☛ TRANSLATE: Burnellus goes to Paris: lines 1503-1598; Burnellus leaves Paris: lines 1913-1986.

Nov 15     Giraldus Cambrensis:

☛ TRANSLATE: Selections from the Topographia Hiberniae and Gemma ecclesiastica in the folder “Nov 15-22-29 Giraldus Cambrensis” > “Giraldus selections for Nov 15”

Student presentations on Giraldus topics

Nov 22    Giraldus Cambrensis, selections from the Itinerarium Cambriae. 

TRANSLATE AT SIGHT TOGETHER. No translation assignment.

Student presentations on Giraldus topics, cont’d.: Glen and Charlotte

Giraldus manuscript to look at in class.

Nov 29    Giraldus Cambrensis, cont’d.

TRANSLATE AT SIGHT TOGETHER. No translation assignment.

I will hand out the second take-home test, which you will have 2 WEEKS to complete. 1 Nigel passage, 1 Gerald passage, and an extra-credit scansion question.

Maps &c. to look at together: Digital Mappa project

Dec 6   Student presentations of final projects in progress.

Dec 13     Student presentations of final projects in progress.

2nd take-home test DUE.

Sat., Dec. 18, 10:00 am     DUE: Final projects

Dictionaries and other reference


Search Lewis & Short’s Latin Dictionary

Lewis & Short is your go-to dictionary for postclassical Latin, because it covers texts up to A.D. 600 and thus includes the usage of the Latin Bible and the Fathers. Get in the habit of reading the whole entry for any word you look up to check for any notes on postclassical meanings and usage patterns. Note that postclassical authors may also use preclassical meanings, which either survived in spoken Latin or were learned from glossaries and the ancient grammarians.

Search entries in multiple dictionaries at Logeion

Logeion provides centralized access through a single search function to several dictionaries of importance for medievalists, including Lewis & Short, The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, and Du Cange, Glossarium mediæ et infimæ latinitatis. Read more about the Logeion tools at


Search or browse the Clementine Vulgate and other biblical translations.

NB: This is a post-medieval version of the Vulgate and is a convenient way to locate a passage, but when it comes to doing serious textual work or citing the text in an essay, you must use the critical edition of the Vulgate, Biblia Sacra Vulgata, ed. Weber and Grayson (the Stuttgart “Green” Vulgate). That edition is available for around $50 from Amazon or from various sellers on ABEbooks and is a good investment if you plan to continue working with Christian Latin.

Bible Gateway, an alternative interface for searching and browsing many translations of the Bible.

Postclassical Latin pronunciation

W. Sidney Allen, Vox Latina: The Pronunciation of Classical Latin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Explains the pronunciation of Latin letter by letter. Despite the title, Allen actually covers evidence through the late-antique period, so this is a very useful source for understanding changes already present in the earliest authors for this course. The appendix on the pronunciation of Latin in England from the later Middle Ages to the 20th century is also particularly informative for Classicists. PDF is in the Dropbox folder.

Timothy J. McGee, A. G. Rigg, David N. Klausner, ed., Singing Early Music: The Pronunciation of European Languages in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

Includes chapters on the pronunciation of Latin in different European countries. PDF is in the Dropbox folder.

See also Mantello and Rigg, below.

Medieval Latin Handbooks and Bibliography

F.A.C. Mantello and A.G. Rigg, ed., Medieval Latin. An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide.  Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996.

A PDF of the chapter “Medieval Latin Philology” is in the Dropbox folderThe first 22 pages, by A.G. Rigg on the nature of Medieval Latin, orthography and pronunciation, and morphology and syntax, are particularly useful.

Ralph J. Hexter and David Townsend, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. McKeldin Library Stacks, PA2025 .O94 2012.

Online resources via UMD libraries

The International Medieval Bibliography

Click here to access and it should ask you to authenticate with your UMD credentials. If for some reason that link doesn’t work, start here and then click on the database title.


Generally the most useful database of journal content for the humanities. Click here for the advanced search page, since the simple search in the landing page is weirdly opaque and unhelpful.

Stay tuned for more bibliography to be posted soon.