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In our last session of The Norman World we briefly looked at the Welsh Marches. As we can see from the Wikipedia entry on the subject: ‘the English terms “Welsh March” and “the March of Wales” (in Medieval Latin Marchia Walliae) were originally used in the Middle Ages to denote a more precisely defined territory, the marches between England and the Principality of Wales, in which Marcher lords had specific rights, exercised to some extent independently of the king of England.’

The question arose of what, exactly, was a ‘march’. Again, I quote, : ‘the word “march” derives ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European root *mereg-, meaning “edge, boundary”. The root *mereg- produced Latin margo (“margin”), Old Irish mruig (“borderland”), and Persian and Armenian marz (“borderland”). The Proto-Germanic *marko gave rise to the Old English word mearc and Frankish marka, as well as Old Norse mörk meaning “borderland, forest”, and derived form merki “boundary, sign”, denoting a borderland between two centres of power.’

A march was, therefore, a medieval European term for any kind of borderland, as opposed to a notional “heartland”.

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