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The Routes of English - BBC Radio 4
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1337-1454 - The World of English
  1337-1454 - 100 Year War
The period 1337-1454, known as the Hundred Years War between England and France, provided a major impetus for people to speak English.

At the same time, the 'Black Death' killed many of the ruling classes, contributing to the rise in status of the English working man, who spoke neither French nor Latin. In schools, classes previously taught in French were taking place in English, since now teaching posts were being held by semi-educated teachers and churchmen who knew no French.

By the middle of this period, English was being used at court and, when Henry IV claimed the throne of England, his speeches were in English. Even among the educated, it seems that French had become an acquired rather than a natural language, and it was no longer spoken in the home.

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