Romance languages

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Spread of Romance languages in Southwestern Europe, 1000-2000. Basque is an ancient language, that predates Latin.

The languanges now known as the romance languages all derived from the Latin language spoken by people in the Roman empire. Romance languages developed in some, but not all of former provinces of the Western Roman Empire, notably, in what is now France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Malta - but not England, or the Roman occupied regions of The Netherlands, Germany, and parts of Belgium.

After the fall of the Roman empire, warlike tribes, speaking variants of the original Germanic language, occupied areas of what was formerly Rome, and set up small kingdoms.

The dialects of Latin spoken in each small kingdom evolved into different languages, under the influence of the different versions of Germanic spoken by their new rulers. The early history of the of the development of these new Romance languages is very poorly documented, as, after the fall of the Roman empire, relatively few people ever learned to read and write, and those who had learned to write wrote in Latin, not the local languages that had sprung up.

Charlemagne, an 8th century Germanic ruler who ruled a brief empire in lands that included all of what is now France, and much of what is now Germany and Italy, tried to revive scholarship. But the documents written in his court were still written in Latin.

It wasn't until decades after his death that scholars recognize literature being written in the Romance languages.

Some romance languages have disappeared as more states, with modern bureaucracies, have spread the language of the Capital city to the rest of the county. France and Spain being examples of countries where the official language of the Capital has marginalized other languages.