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Beginners' Latin
Domesday Book, entry for Arnulf of Hesdin (Ernulf de Hesding). c.1085-6. Cat ref: E 31/2/1 f 129d

Latin 1086 – 1733:
a practical online tutorial for beginners

The Times Higher Awards 2006

Short listed by The Times Higher Awards 2006 for the Most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning

This tutorial is a beginners' guide to the Latin used in documents between 1086 and 1733. It is the first online tutorial to help you learn the Latin from this period. Try our new Advanced Latin

The tutorial covers Latin as used in England between 1086 and 1733, when it was the official languageGlossary - opens in a new window used in documents. Please note that this type of Latin can be quite different from classicalGlossary - opens in a new window Latin. Read more about these differences.

Knowing Latin will help you to read documents from this period. After 1733, official documents were written in English.

No previous knowledge of Latin is required. This tutorial is suitable for everyone who wants to learn. You may

  • Be a beginner
  • Want to refresh your skills
  • Have studied classicalGlossary - opens in a new window Latin and want to find out about Latin from a different period

All of the grammar is fully explained. No previous knowledge is required.

You can practise by translating sentences taken from real documents held at The National Archives. For example, some are from the Domesday BookGlossary - opens in a new window, written in 1086. It is the earliest surviving public record.

Where to start

Tips on learning Latin


Twelve lessons


Word list, common problems, dating Latin documents and much more


More documents to practise on. New documents will be added periodically.

Further practice

Learn how to read old handwriting 1500-1800 with our interactive online tutorial