Today I came across The Bawdy Courts of Lichfield, the blog of a project intended to widen access to the history of people and places in the Midlands as revealed in the vastly underexploited church court case papers of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry held by Staffordshire Archives and Heritage. Fascinating stuff, if you are keen on Early Modern England. And who isn’t?
I bring it to this blog because of the post entitled Insults, idioms and allusions: language in the courts, in which the writer notes that the verbatim recording of testimony means that idiom and vernacular are preserved in a way unusual for formal records.
The records run from the late 16th century, and so begin more or less contemporary with Shakespeare. I wonder if the increased digitization of these kinds of archives will affect how we read his language and those of his contemporaries. Either way, though, it’s just a lovely little peek into history.