But Old English had survived in the general population and certainly continued to be the language of town and country life. Consequently, after the Black Death wiped out between a third and a half of the English population between 1348 and 1375, the 13-year-old King Richard II was obliged to do an unusual thing - address those defeated in the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt in halting English. This being the first time a monarch had used the language since the Conquest, 315 years earlier. As far as we know, none of the preceding monarchs had been able to speak English. And it would not be until 1399, when Henry, Duke of Lancaster deposed Richard to become Henry IV, that a monarch claimed the crown, not in Latin, the language of state business, nor in French, the language of the ruling classes, but in English, Middle English, the language of Chaucer. Albeit with around 30 per cent of its then 50,000-word lexicon being French in origin.
I'm thinking we should move the history of English to a seperate article. Any thoughts TP?--Bob M 18:04, 20 May 2009 (UTC)