Old French was a Romance language spoken in France from the 9th century to the 14th century. It is a descendant of the Latin spoken by the Roman soldiers who occupied Gaul from the 1st to the 5th centuries. Old French began to diverge from Latin during the 8th century, and by the 9th century was a distinctly different language.
During the 9th and 10th centuries, Old French was the language of the nobility and the literate class, while the common people continued to speak the Vulgar Latin of the time. By the 11th century, Old French was the dominant language of the north of France, and by the 12th century it was spoken throughout the country.
Old French reached its height in the 12th and 13th centuries, when it was the language of the court and of literature. It was during this time that the first French romances were written, and the first French epic, the Chanson de Roland, was composed.
However, by the 14th century, the use of Old French was in decline. The Hundred Years War between England and France (1337-1453) led to the English occupation of large parts of France, and the language of the English court became fashionable among the French nobility. In addition, the rise of the Central European powers, such as the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Poland, led to the decline of French as a language of international importance.
By the end of the 14th century, Old French had largely been replaced by the Central French of the time. However, it continued to be spoken in some regions of France, such as Normandy and Picardy, until the 17th century. It also had a significant impact on the development of the French language, as many Old French words and phrases were adopted into Middle French and Modern French.