Greek Nationals in England, 1400-1705

Alan Haynes describes how, for just over three centuries, Greek visitors often settled in England and associated with its clerics and learned men.

The history of English enthusiasm for Greece and the Greek islands is well documented, but the activities of Greeks in England are less well known, though there are now substantial Greek communities in a number of English cities. The earliest recorded arrivals came with Theodore of Tarsus in the seventh century when the saintly ecclesiastic, who was educated in Athens, came to England to be Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the city he and Hadrian founded a centre for scholarship and the transmission of Greek learning. The experiment had no lasting influence, however, and for some time after the Norman Conquest a medieval student would have had great difficulty in finding a competent teacher of Greek. In the twelfth century a Greek or half Greek, surprisingly called Fitzstephen, wrote an account of England, and in the thirteenth century it appears possible that Roger Bacon learnt his Greek from native speakers, for he hints that they were invited here by Robert Grosseteste.

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