Saturday, February 07, 2009

Question from Marilyn R. - Henry VII's accent

Bearing in mind that Henry Tudor spent many years in exile in Brittany, is it known whether or not he spoke English with a French accent?


Anonymous said...

Henry was a teenager before he went into exile in France. Obviously he already spoke English fluently then, so I can't imagine that the years abroad affected his English much if at all.

I've noticed an interesting thing in people who speak a language with one accent but then move to another country that speaks the same language but with a different accent (USA to England for instance). In that case, the person does start to pick up a different accent.

But if the move is to a country with a different language, the first language doesn't seem to be affected at all. One example of this is Princess Grace's children, who grew up in Monaco speaking French but learning English from their mother and her relatives. They all still speak English with a very American accent.

So I doubt Henry's English was affected at all, though his French certainly would have been.

Lara said...

I just had a thought about this... it is possible that while he was in Brittany, he spoke Breton and not French, since Breton is closely related to Welsh. But, even though he was born and lived in Wales for his early life, I don't recall if it is known whether or not he actually knew the Welsh language. But that was just a connection that I thought might be possible.

Anonymous said...

I have read that Henry Tudor is not recorded as ever speaking Welsh. (Given the current Welsh emphasis on reestablishing Welsh, this has surely been researched by someone.) Henry's father died before he was born, and his Uncle Jasper largely raised him, His mother, Margaret Beaufort, was only about thirteen and subsequently remarried. Neither Welsh nor Breton was a courtly language at the time. Henry may well have known some French and/or Latin before he went overseas. That said, Kathy is right about later learned languages not affected the "cradle tongue". Of course English accents were regional in part, so Henry may have spoken Londonese or with some other regional English accent.

Anonymous said...

I have read the opposite. He is unlikely to have had as much contact with his parents and his nanny who was Welsh speaking. I think he is likely to have had a working knowledge of the language.