A century is equivalent to hundred years and the origin of hundred dates back to Old English
From Old English hundred, from Proto-Germanic * hundaradą, from * hundą (from Proto-Indo-European *ḱm̥tóm) + * radą (“count”). Compare West Frisian hûndert, Dutch honderd, Low German hunnert, hunnerd, German Hundert, Danish hundred.
From Proto-Germanic *hundaradą (“telling of 100”), from *hundą (< Proto-Indo-European *ḱm̥tóm) + *radą (“count”). Cognate with Old Frisian hundred, Old Saxon hunderod, Middle Dutch hondert (Dutch honderd), Old High German hundert (German Hundert), Old Norse hundrað (“120; 100”) (Swedish hundra (“100”)).
hunnert (plural hunnerts)
- Eye dialect spelling of hundred.
From Middle English yeer, yere, from Old English ġēr, ġēar (“year”),
From On the interaction between
constructional & lexical change
Copular, Passive and related Constructions in
Old and Middle English
Ær ðam ðe Romeburh getimbred wære eahta < hund > wintra, mid ...
before that that Rome built were eight hundred winters with ...
þa beoð on lenge hundteontiges fotmæla lange & fiftiges. Hy beoð
who are in length hundred:GEN feet:GEN long and fifty:GEN they are
- greate swa stænene sweras micle.
great as stone pillars great
It appears in early Modern English, before the concept of century (i.e. 100 years) was adopted, phrases had to be employed. In A Christian directorie guiding men to their salvation, printed in 1585 the following phrases are used:
“... complained in their Talmud, that ther seemed to them in thos dayes, seven hundred & fourtiene years past, since Christ by the scriptures, should have appeared;...”
“... thou hast to remember (loving brother) that for the space of three hundred years together after Christs departure out of this world; he sent almost continual temptations, that is to say continual tribulatios affliction ...”
Many thanks to @V0ight who posted the relevant link
Today, we might express the first date as the 8th century / 714 A.D,
while the second, as being the 4th century / 333 A.D (or CE)
Lastly, the works of William Shakespeare contain eight citations for “hundred years”
No, I'll nor sell nor give him: lend you him I will
For half a hundred years. Summon the town.
Over whose acres walk'd those blessed feet
Which fourteen hundred years ago were nail'd
For our advantage on the bitter cross.
Was not devised for the realm of France:
Nor did the French possess the Salique land
Until four hundred one and twenty years
After defunction of King Pharamond,
Who died within the year of our redemption
Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French
Beyond the river Sala, in the year
Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three
As in a vault, an ancient receptacle,
Where, for these many hundred years, the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are packed:
Traitors, away! he rests not in this tomb:
This monument five hundred years hath stood,
Which I have sumptuously re-edified:
Here none but soldiers and Rome's servitors
Repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls: