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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

14 - Early Modern Western and Central Europe

from Part II - The Pre-Modern World


The drama of the lexicography of medieval Latin Christendom takes place in the theatre of Latin lexicography, as we see the completeness of the transformation from the modest glossographical traditions of late antiquity to the conceptual grandeur and the ample extent of Latin dictionaries such as the Panormia of Osbern Pinnock or the Derivationes of Hugutio, or to the equal extent and elegant alphabetized information management of Latin–Latin and Latin–vernacular dictionaries such as the Catholicon of Giovanni Balbi and its successors. The drama of the lexicography of early modern western Europe lies partly in the theatre of Latin and Greek lexicography. The set of changes to high culture which we call the Renaissance led the most literate western Europeans into a new relationship to the Latinity of the ancient world, entailing a rejection of that of the Middle Ages, and this demanded a new generation of Latin dictionaries. The rediscovery of ancient Greek which was a salient feature of the Renaissance led to the development of Greek–Latin dictionaries; as we shall see, one of these was the largest and most complex of all the early modern dictionaries of European languages.