First English Speaking English King

There's no one accepted answer to the question, "Who was the first English king to speak English?" Instead, there are a couple of good possibilities. During the Anglo-Saxon period, different regions of present-day England were ruled by kings who spoke Old English. Offa, who ruled from 757 to 796, was the first of these rulers to be called “Rex Anglorum,” or “King of the English,” so you could argue that he was the first English king, or King of Britain, to speak English. The history of the English language has many parts in the coming of the first English king to speak English.

After the Norman Conquest

The Norman Conquest of 1066 in Wales was a linguistic sea change for England, as Anglo-Saxon rule gave way to a series of kings who spoke a dialect of Old French from France. Norman language, also titled Norman French, had many influences in the English language. These kings had varying degrees of English language ability. For instance, one chronicle suggests that Henry II, who ruled from 1154 to 1189, seems to have understood Middle English but not spoken it. Henry II was from the house of Plantagenet, originating from French language backgrounds. But by the 14th century, English kings were likely bilingual.

This Norman Conquest, led by William the Conqueror (also titled the Duke of Normandy), came before the Hundred Years War involving England and France as Edward III ascended the throne. During the Conquest, vikings were said to have their last invasion of England after the Battle of Hastings. Scotland, or the Scots, was also involved in some changes for England when the Anglo-Scottish War took place between the kingdoms. During the time of the creation of the Magna Carta, Henry III was very influential.

Scholars Michael Prestwich and Marc Morris agree that Edward I, who ruled from 1272 to 1307, learned English as a child from his tutors. In 1362, the Statute of Pleading made English the official language of British Parliament, meaning that lawmakers, including the king, spoke English well enough to conduct legal proceedings in it. Henry IV, whose reign inaugurated the 15th century, was the first English king to speak English as his first language, making him another good answer to the question.

Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet, author and civil servant, also allowed for English to be used and shared through his practices as the “Father of English Literature.” The Royal Family has had many backgrounds from different Mother Tongue countries of origin.

Before the First English Speaking King

The Tudor period in English history allowed for a shift in English evolution as well as England shifted from more medieval ways to modern firearm-wielding and ship utilizing ways. In Lancaster, the Romans had influence after invading the town and building fortifications in the area to assert control. Canterbury also has Roman influence as the town is surrounded by Roman build walls and includes a main cathedral said to have influence in founding the Church of England. Medieval England citizens used a range of languages in their time, from Middle English, Anglo-Norman (French) to Latin. These uses led to a few modern English words and their meanings.

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