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Introduction to Old Germanic


Admission requirements

None. Reading proficiency in German is advisable.


Gothic, Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old English – these are some of the oldest Germanic languages attested, forefathers of the modern language that belong to the Germanic branch of Indo-European. In the first millennium of our era, a number of Germanic peoples started to write texts in their own language. These texts not only show us an earlier stage of present-day Dutch, English, Danish, etc., but also provide a window on the culture that went with the speakers who originally spoke those languages. Before they were Christianized, the Germanic ‘tribes’ had a very different system of beliefs, they had their own system of law and their own poetry, to name just a few of the better-known features of Old Germanic. In this course, I will give a survey of the main linguistic and cultural traits of the Old Germanic peoples.

Course objectives

At the end of the course the student will be familiar with the main common features of the Old Germanic languages, and will have a basic understanding of the main cultural elements (law, religion, arhceology, etc.) which are believed to have been common to all of the Germanic peoples at the beginning of our era.



This course will start Friday 26 September 2014.

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

Written exam. MA students will in addition have to write a research paper (ca. 5-10 pages) on a topic in Old Germanic language or culture.



Reading list

Reading excerpts and supplementary literature will be distributed during the course.


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs