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Norman Conquest

Norman Conquest

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Consequences of the conquest Certainly, in political terms, William’s victory destroyed England’s links with Scandinavia, bringing the country instead into close contact with the Continent, especially France. Inside England the most radical change was the introduction of land tenure and military service.

What was the effect of the Norman invasion of 1066 on the English culture? It brought elements of French culture and language. The Magna Carta was signed to: Limit the powers of the monarchy.


The English name "Normans" comes from the French words Normans/Normanz, plural of Normant, [14] modern French normand, which is itself borrowed from Old Low Franconian Nortmann "Northman" [15] or directly from Old Norse Norðmaðr, Latinized variously as Nortmannus, Normannus, or Nordmannus (recorded in Medieval Latin, 9th century) to mean "Norseman, Viking". [16]

The 11th century Benedictine monk and historian, Goffredo Malaterra, characterised the Normans thus:

Specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greediness, that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were, moreover, a race skillful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war. [17]

In the course of the 10th century, the initially destructive incursions of Norse war bands going upstream into the rivers of France penetrated further into interior Europe, and evolved into more permanent encampments that included local French women and personal property. [18] From 885 to 886, Odo of Paris (Eudes de Paris) succeeded in defending Paris against Viking raiders (one of the leaders was Sigfred) with his fighting skills, fortification of Paris and tactical shrewdness. [19] In 911, Robert I of France, brother of Odo, again defeated another band of Viking warriors in Chartres with his well-trained horsemen. This victory paved the way for Rollo's baptism and settlement in Normandy [20] The Duchy of Normandy, which began in 911 as a fiefdom, was established by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III (Charles the Simple) (879–929, ruled 893–929) of West Francia and the famed Viking ruler Rollo also known as Gaange Rolf (c. 846-c. 929), from Scandinavia, and was situated in the former Frankish kingdom of Neustria. [21] The treaty offered Rollo and his men the French coastal lands along the English Channel between the river Epte and the Atlantic Ocean coast in exchange for their protection against further Viking incursions. [21] As well as promising to protect the area of Rouen from Viking invasion, Rollo swore not to invade further Frankish lands himself, accepted baptism and conversion to Christianity and swore fealty to King Charles III. Robert I of France stood as godfather during Rollo's baptism. [22] He became the first Duke of Normandy and Count of Rouen. [23] The area corresponded to the northern part of present-day Upper Normandy down to the river Seine, but the Duchy would eventually extend west beyond the Seine. [4] The territory was roughly equivalent to the old province of Rouen, and reproduced the old Roman Empire's administrative structure of Gallia Lugdunensis II (part of the former Gallia Lugdunensis in Gaul).

Before Rollo's arrival, Normandy's populations did not differ from Picardy or the Île-de-France, which were considered "Frankish". Earlier Viking settlers had begun arriving in the 880s, but were divided between colonies in the east (Roumois and Pays de Caux) around the low Seine valley and in the west in the Cotentin Peninsula, and were separated by traditional pagii, where the population remained about the same with almost no foreign settlers. Rollo's contingents from Scandinavia who raided and ultimately settled Normandy and parts of the European Atlantic coast included Danes, Norwegians, Norse–Gaels, Orkney Vikings, possibly Swedes, and Anglo-Danes from the English Danelaw territory which earlier came under Norse control in the late 9th century.

The descendants of Vikings replaced the Norse religion and Old Norse language with Catholicism (Christianity) and the Langue d'oil of the local people, descending from the Latin of the Romans. The Norman language (Norman French) was forged by the adoption of the indigenous langue d'oïl branch of Romance by a Norse-speaking ruling class, and it developed into the French regional languages that survive today. [4]

The Normans thereafter adopted the growing feudal doctrines of the rest of France, and worked them into a functional hierarchical system in both Normandy and in Norman dominated England. [8] The new Norman rulers were culturally and ethnically distinct from the old French aristocracy, most of whom traced their lineage to the Franks of the Carolingian dynasty from the days of Charlemagne in the 9th century. Most Norman knights remained poor and land-hungry, and by the time of the expedition and invasion of England in 1066, Normandy had been exporting fighting horsemen for more than a generation. Many Normans of Italy, France and England eventually served as avid Crusaders soldiers under the Italo-Norman prince Bohemund I of Antioch and the Anglo-Norman king Richard the Lion-Heart, one of the more famous and illustrious Kings of England.

Italy Edit

Opportunistic bands of Normans successfully established a foothold in southern Italy. Probably as the result of returning pilgrims' stories, the Normans entered southern Italy as warriors in 1017 at the latest. In 999, according to Amatus of Montecassino, Norman pilgrims returning from Jerusalem called in at the port of Salerno when a Saracen attack occurred. The Normans fought so valiantly that Prince Guaimar III begged them to stay, but they refused and instead offered to tell others back home of the Prince's request. William of Apulia tells that, in 1016, Norman pilgrims to the shrine of the Archangel Michael at Monte Gargano were met by Melus of Bari, a Lombard nobleman and rebel, who persuaded them to return with more warriors to help throw off the Byzantine rule, which they did.

The two most prominent Norman families to arrive in the Mediterranean were descendants of Tancred of Hauteville and the Drengot family. A group of Normans with at least five brothers from the Drengot family fought the Byzantines in Apulia under the command of Melo di Bari. Between 1016 and 1024, in a fragmented political context, the County of Ariano was founded by another group of Norman knights headed by Gilbert Buatère and hired by Melo di Bari. Defeated at Cannae, Melo di Bari escaped to Bamberg, Germany, where he died in 1022. The County, which replaced the pre-existing chamberlainship, is considered to be the first political body established by the Normans in the South of Italy. [24] Then Rainulf Drengot, from the same family, received the county of Aversa from Duke Sergius IV of Naples in 1030.

The Hauteville family achieved princely rank by proclaiming Prince Guaimar IV of Salerno "Duke of Apulia and Calabria". He promptly awarded their elected leader, William Iron Arm, with the title of count in his capital of Melfi. The Drengot family thereafter attained the principality of Capua, and Emperor Henry III legally ennobled the Hauteville leader, Drogo, as "dux et magister Italiae comesque Normannorum totius Apuliae et Calabriae" ("Duke and Master of Italy and Count of the Normans of all Apulia and Calabria") in 1047. [25] [ citation needed ]

From these bases, the Normans eventually captured Sicily and Malta from the Saracens, under the leadership of the famous Robert Guiscard, a Hauteville, and his younger brother Roger the Great Count. Roger's son, Roger II of Sicily, was crowned king in 1130 (exactly one century after Rainulf was "crowned" count) by Antipope Anacletus II. The Kingdom of Sicily lasted until 1194, when it was transferred to the House of Hohenstaufen through marriage. [26] The Normans left their legacy in many castles, such as William Iron Arm's citadel at Squillace, and cathedrals, such as Roger II's Cappella Palatina at Palermo, which dot the landscape and give a distinct architectural flavor to accompany its unique history.

Institutionally, the Normans combined the administrative machinery of the Byzantines, Arabs, and Lombards with their own conceptions of feudal law and order to forge a unique government. Under this state, there was great religious freedom, and alongside the Norman nobles existed a meritocratic bureaucracy of Jews, Muslims and Christians, both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. The Kingdom of Sicily thus became characterized by Norman, Byzantine, Greek, Arab, Lombard and "native" Sicilian populations living in harmony, and its Norman rulers fostered plans of establishing an empire that would have encompassed Fatimid Egypt as well as the crusader states in the Levant. [27] [28] [29] One of the great geographical treatises of the Middle Ages, the "Tabula Rogeriana", was written by the Andalusian al-Idrisi for King Roger II of Sicily, and entitled "Kitab Rudjdjar" ("The Book of Roger"). [30]

The Iberian Peninsula Edit

The Normans began appearing in the military confrontations between Christians and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula since the early eleventh century. The first Norman who appears in the narrative sources was Roger I of Tosny who according to Ademar of Chabannes and the later Chronicle of St Pierre le Vif went to aid the Barcelonese in a series of raids against the Andalusi Muslims circa 1018. [31] Later in the eleventh century, other Norman adventurers such as Robert Crispin and Walter Giffard participated in the probably papal organised siege of Barbastro of 1064. Even after the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the Normans continued to participate in ventures in the peninsula. After the Frankish conquest of the Holy Land during the First Crusade, the Normans began to be encouraged to participate in ventures of conquest in the North East of the peninsula. The most significant example of this was the incursion of Rotrou II of Perche and Robert Burdet in the 1120s in the Ebro frontier. By 1129 Robert Burdet had been granted a semi-independent principality in the city of Tarragona by the then Archbishop of this see, Oleguer Bonestruga. Several other of Rotrou's Norman followers were rewarded with lands in the Ebro valley by King Alfonso I of Aragon for their services. [32]

With the rising popularity of the sea route to the Holy Land, Norman and Anglo-Norman crusaders also started to be encouraged locally by Iberian prelates to participate in the Portuguese incursions into the western areas of the Peninsula. The first of these incursions occurred when a fleet of these Crusaders was invited by the Portuguese king Afonso I Henriques to conquer the city of Lisbon in 1142. [33] Although this Siege of Lisbon (1142) was a failure it created a precedent for their involvement in Portugal. So in 1147 when another group of Norman and other groups of crusaders from Northern Europe arrived in Porto on their way to join the crusading forces of the Second Crusade, the Bishop of Porto and later the Afonso Henriques according to De expugnatione Lyxbonensi convinced them to help with the siege of Lisbon. This time the city was captured and according to the arrangement agreed with the Portuguese monarch many of them settled in the newly sacked city. [34] The following year the remainder of the crusading fleet that included a substantial number of Anglo-Normans was invited by the count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer IV to participate in the siege of Tortosa (1148). Then again the Normans were rewarded with lands in the newly conquered frontier city. [35]

North Africa Edit

Between 1135 and 1160, the Norman kingdom of Sicily conquered and kept as vassals several cities on the Ifriqiya coast, corresponding to Tunisia and parts of Algeria and Libya today. They were lost to the Almohads.

Byzantium Edit

Soon after the Normans began to enter Italy, they entered the Byzantine Empire and then Armenia, fighting against the Pechenegs, the Bulgarians, and especially the Seljuk Turks. Norman mercenaries were first encouraged to come to the south by the Lombards to act against the Byzantines, but they soon fought in Byzantine service in Sicily. They were prominent alongside Varangian and Lombard contingents in the Sicilian campaign of George Maniaces in 1038–40. There is debate whether the Normans in Greek service actually were from Norman Italy, and it now seems likely only a few came from there. It is also unknown how many of the "Franks", as the Byzantines called them, were Normans and not other Frenchmen.

One of the first Norman mercenaries to serve as a Byzantine general was Hervé in the 1050s. By then, however, there were already Norman mercenaries serving as far away as Trebizond and Georgia. They were based at Malatya and Edessa, under the Byzantine duke of Antioch, Isaac Komnenos. In the 1060s, Robert Crispin led the Normans of Edessa against the Turks. Roussel de Bailleul even tried to carve out an independent state in Asia Minor with support from the local population, but he was stopped by the Byzantine general Alexius Komnenos.

Some Normans joined Turkish forces to aid in the destruction of the Armenian vassal-states of Sassoun and Taron in far eastern Anatolia. Later, many took up service with the Armenian state further south in Cilicia and the Taurus Mountains. A Norman named Oursel led a force of "Franks" into the upper Euphrates valley in northern Syria. From 1073 to 1074, 8,000 of the 20,000 troops of the Armenian general Philaretus Brachamius were Normans—formerly of Oursel—led by Raimbaud. They even lent their ethnicity to the name of their castle: Afranji, meaning "Franks". The known trade between Amalfi and Antioch and between Bari and Tarsus may be related to the presence of Italo-Normans in those cities while Amalfi and Bari were under Norman rule in Italy.

Several families of Byzantine Greece were of Norman mercenary origin during the period of the Comnenian Restoration, when Byzantine emperors were seeking out western European warriors. The Raoulii were descended from an Italo-Norman named Raoul, the Petraliphae were descended from a Pierre d'Aulps, and that group of Albanian clans known as the Maniakates were descended from Normans who served under George Maniaces in the Sicilian expedition of 1038.

Robert Guiscard, another Norman adventurer previously elevated to the dignity of count of Apulia as the result of his military successes, ultimately drove the Byzantines out of southern Italy. Having obtained the consent of Pope Gregory VII and acting as his vassal, Robert continued his campaign conquering the Balkan peninsula as a foothold for western feudal lords and the Catholic Church. After allying himself with Croatia and the Catholic cities of Dalmatia, in 1081 he led an army of 30,000 men in 300 ships landing on the southern shores of Albania, capturing Valona, Kanina, Jericho (Orikumi), and reaching Butrint after numerous pillages. They joined the fleet that had previously conquered Corfu and attacked Dyrrachium from land and sea, devastating everything along the way. Under these harsh circumstances, the locals accepted the call of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus to join forces with the Byzantines against the Normans. The Albanian forces could not take part in the ensuing battle because it had started before their arrival. Immediately before the battle, the Venetian fleet had secured a victory in the coast surrounding the city. Forced to retreat, Alexius ceded the city of Dyrrachium to the Count of the Tent (or Byzantine provincial administrators) mobilizing from Arbanon (i.e., ἐξ Ἀρβάνων ὁρμωμένω Κομισκόρτη the term Κομισκόρτη is short for κόμης της κόρτης meaning "Count of the Tent"). [36] The city's garrison resisted until February 1082, when Dyrrachium was betrayed to the Normans by the Venetian and Amalfitan merchants who had settled there. The Normans were now free to penetrate into the hinterland they took Ioannina and some minor cities in southwestern Macedonia and Thessaly before appearing at the gates of Thessalonica. Dissension among the high ranks coerced the Normans to retreat to Italy. They lost Dyrrachium, Valona, and Butrint in 1085, after the death of Robert.

A few years after the First Crusade, in 1107, the Normans under the command of Bohemond, Robert's son, landed in Valona and besieged Dyrrachium using the most sophisticated military equipment of the time, but to no avail. Meanwhile, they occupied Petrela, the citadel of Mili at the banks of the river Deabolis, Gllavenica (Ballsh), Kanina and Jericho. This time, the Albanians sided with the Normans, dissatisfied by the heavy taxes the Byzantines had imposed upon them. With their help, the Normans secured the Arbanon passes and opened their way to Dibra. The lack of supplies, disease and Byzantine resistance forced Bohemond to retreat from his campaign and sign a peace treaty with the Byzantines in the city of Deabolis.

The further decline of Byzantine state-of-affairs paved the road to a third attack in 1185, when a large Norman army invaded Dyrrachium, owing to the betrayal of high Byzantine officials. Some time later, Dyrrachium—one of the most important naval bases of the Adriatic—fell again to Byzantine hands.

England Edit

The Normans were in contact with England from an early date. Not only were their original Viking brethren still ravaging the English coasts, they occupied most of the important ports opposite England across the English Channel. This relationship eventually produced closer ties of blood through the marriage of Emma, sister of Duke Richard II of Normandy, and King Ethelred II of England. Because of this, Ethelred fled to Normandy in 1013, when he was forced from his kingdom by Sweyn Forkbeard. His stay in Normandy (until 1016) influenced him and his sons by Emma, who stayed in Normandy after Cnut the Great's conquest of the isle.

When Edward the Confessor finally returned from his father's refuge in 1041, at the invitation of his half-brother Harthacnut, he brought with him a Norman-educated mind. He also brought many Norman counsellors and fighters, some of whom established an English cavalry force. This concept never really took root, but it is a typical example of Edward's attitude. He appointed Robert of Jumièges Archbishop of Canterbury and made Ralph the Timid Earl of Hereford. He invited his brother-in-law Eustace II, Count of Boulogne to his court in 1051, an event that resulted in the greatest of early conflicts between Saxon and Norman and ultimately resulted in the exile of Earl Godwin of Wessex.

On 14 October 1066, William the Conqueror gained a decisive victory at the Battle of Hastings, which led to the conquest of England three years later [37] this can be seen on the Bayeux tapestry. The invading Normans and their descendants largely replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England. The nobility of England were part of a single Norman culture and many had lands on both sides of the channel. Early Norman kings of England, as Dukes of Normandy, owed homage to the King of France for their land on the continent. They considered England to be their most important holding (it brought with it the title of King—an important status symbol).

Eventually, [ when? ] the Normans merged with the natives, combining languages and traditions, so much so that Marjorie Chibnall says "writers still referred to Normans and English but the terms no longer meant the same as in the immediate aftermath of 1066." [38] In the course of the Hundred Years' War, the Norman aristocracy often identified themselves as English. The Anglo-Norman language became distinct from the Latin language, something that was the subject of some humour by Geoffrey Chaucer. The Anglo-Norman language was eventually absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon language of their subjects (see Old English) and influenced it, helping (along with the Norse language of the earlier Anglo-Norse settlers and the Latin used by the church) in the development of Middle English, which, in turn, evolved into Modern English.

Ireland Edit

The Normans had a profound effect on Irish culture and history after their invasion at Bannow Bay in 1169. Initially, the Normans maintained a distinct culture and ethnicity. Yet, with time, they came to be subsumed into Irish culture to the point that it has been said that they became "more Irish than the Irish themselves". The Normans settled mostly in an area in the east of Ireland, later known as the Pale, and also built many fine castles and settlements, including Trim Castle and Dublin Castle. The cultures intermixed, borrowing from each other's language, culture and outlook. Norman surnames still exist today. Names such as French, (De) Roche, Devereux, D'Arcy, Treacy and Lacy are particularly common in the southeast of Ireland, especially in the southern part of Wexford County, where the first Norman settlements were established. Other Norman names, such as Furlong, predominate there. [ clarification needed ] Another common Norman-Irish name was Morell (Murrell), derived from the French Norman name Morel. Names beginning with Fitz- (from the Norman for "son") usually indicate Norman ancestry. Hiberno-Norman surnames with the prefix Fitz- include Fitzgerald, FitzGibbons (Gibbons) as well as Fitzmaurice. Families bearing such surnames as Barry (de Barra) and De Búrca (Burke) are also of Norman extraction.

Scotland Edit

One of the claimants of the English throne opposing William the Conqueror, Edgar Atheling, eventually fled to Scotland. King Malcolm III of Scotland married Edgar's sister Margaret, and came into opposition to William who had already disputed Scotland's southern borders. William invaded Scotland in 1072, riding as far as Abernethy where he met up with his fleet of ships. Malcolm submitted, paid homage to William and surrendered his son Duncan as a hostage, beginning a series of arguments as to whether the Scottish Crown owed allegiance to the King of England.

Normans went into Scotland, building castles and founding noble families that would provide some future kings, such as Robert the Bruce, as well as founding a considerable number of the Scottish clans. King David I of Scotland, whose elder brother Alexander I had married Sybilla of Normandy, was instrumental in introducing Normans and Norman culture to Scotland, part of the process some scholars call the "Davidian Revolution". Having spent time at the court of Henry I of England (married to David's sister Maud of Scotland), and needing them to wrestle the kingdom from his half-brother Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, David had to reward many with lands. The process was continued under David's successors, most intensely of all under William the Lion. The Norman-derived feudal system was applied in varying degrees to most of Scotland. Scottish families of the names Bruce, Gray, Ramsay, Fraser, Rose, Ogilvie, Montgomery, Sinclair, Pollock, Burnard, Douglas and Gordon to name but a few, and including the later royal House of Stewart, can all be traced back to Norman ancestry.

Wales Edit

Even before the Norman Conquest of England, the Normans had come into contact with Wales. Edward the Confessor had set up the aforementioned Ralph as Earl of Hereford and charged him with defending the Marches and warring with the Welsh. In these original ventures, the Normans failed to make any headway into Wales.

After the Conquest, however, the Marches came completely under the dominance of William's most trusted Norman barons, including Bernard de Neufmarché, Roger of Montgomery in Shropshire and Hugh Lupus in Cheshire. These Normans began a long period of slow conquest during which almost all of Wales was at some point subject to Norman interference. Norman words, such as baron (barwn), first entered Welsh at that time.

On crusade Edit

The legendary religious zeal of the Normans was exercised in religious wars long before the First Crusade carved out a Norman principality in Antioch. They were major foreign combatants in the Reconquista in Iberia. In 1018, Roger de Tosny travelled to the Iberian Peninsula to carve out a state for himself from Moorish lands, but failed. In 1064, during the War of Barbastro, William of Montreuil led the papal army and took a huge booty.

In 1096, Crusaders passing by the siege of Amalfi were joined by Bohemond of Taranto and his nephew Tancred with an army of Italo-Normans. Bohemond was the de facto leader of the Crusade during its passage through Asia Minor. After the successful Siege of Antioch in 1097, Bohemond began carving out an independent principality around that city. Tancred was instrumental in the conquest of Jerusalem and he worked for the expansion of the Crusader kingdom in Transjordan and the region of Galilee. [ citation needed ]

Anglo-Norman conquest of Cyprus Edit

The conquest of Cyprus by the Anglo-Norman forces of the Third Crusade opened a new chapter in the history of the island, which would be under Western European domination for the following 380 years. Although not part of a planned operation, the conquest had much more permanent results than initially expected.

In April 1191, Richard the Lion-hearted left Messina with a large fleet in order to reach Acre. [39] But a storm dispersed the fleet. After some searching, it was discovered that the boat carrying his sister and his fiancée Berengaria was anchored on the south coast of Cyprus, together with the wrecks of several other ships, including the treasure ship. Survivors of the wrecks had been taken prisoner by the island's despot Isaac Komnenos. [40] On 1 May 1191, Richard's fleet arrived in the port of Limassol on Cyprus. [40] He ordered Isaac to release the prisoners and the treasure. [40] Isaac refused, so Richard landed his troops and took Limassol. [41]

Various princes of the Holy Land arrived in Limassol at the same time, in particular Guy de Lusignan. All declared their support for Richard provided that he support Guy against his rival Conrad of Montferrat. [42] The local barons abandoned Isaac, who considered making peace with Richard, joining him on the crusade, and offering his daughter in marriage to the person named by Richard. [43] But Isaac changed his mind and tried to escape. Richard then proceeded to conquer the whole island, his troops being led by Guy de Lusignan. Isaac surrendered and was confined with silver chains, because Richard had promised that he would not place him in irons. By 1 June, Richard had conquered the whole island. His exploit was well publicized and contributed to his reputation he also derived significant financial gains from the conquest of the island. [44] Richard left for Acre on 5 June, with his allies. [44] Before his departure, he named two of his Norman generals, Richard de Camville and Robert de Thornham, as governors of Cyprus.

While in Limassol, Richard the Lion-Heart married Berengaria of Navarre, first-born daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre. The wedding was held on 12 May 1191 at the Chapel of St. George and it was attended by Richard's sister Joan, whom he had brought from Sicily. The marriage was celebrated with great pomp and splendor. Among other grand ceremonies was a double coronation: Richard caused himself to be crowned King of Cyprus, and Berengaria Queen of England and Queen of Cyprus as well.

The rapid Anglo-Norman conquest proved more important than it seemed. The island occupied a key strategic position on the maritime lanes to the Holy Land, whose occupation by the Christians could not continue without support from the sea. [45] Shortly after the conquest, Cyprus was sold to the Knights Templar and it was subsequently acquired, in 1192, by Guy de Lusignan and became a stable feudal kingdom. [45] It was only in 1489 that the Venetians acquired full control of the island, which remained a Christian stronghold until the fall of Famagusta in 1571. [44]

Canary Islands Edit

Between 1402 and 1405, the expedition led by the Norman noble Jean de Bethencourt [46] and the Poitevine Gadifer de la Salle conquered the Canarian islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and El Hierro off the Atlantic coast of Africa. Their troops were gathered in Normandy, Gascony and were later reinforced by Castilian colonists.

Bethencourt took the title of King of the Canary Islands, as vassal to Henry III of Castile. In 1418, Jean's nephew Maciot de Bethencourt sold the rights to the islands to Enrique Pérez de Guzmán, 2nd Count de Niebla.

Norman law Edit

The customary law of Normandy was developed between the 10th and 13th centuries and survives today through the legal systems of Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Norman customary law was transcribed in two customaries in Latin by two judges for use by them and their colleagues: [47] These are the Très ancien coutumier (Very ancient customary), authored between 1200 and 1245 and the Grand coutumier de Normandie (Great customary of Normandy, originally Summa de legibus Normanniae in curia laïcali), authored between 1235 and 1245.

Architecture Edit

Norman architecture typically stands out as a new stage in the architectural history of the regions they subdued. They spread a unique Romanesque idiom to England, Italy and Ireland, and the encastellation of these regions with keeps in their north French style fundamentally altered the military landscape. Their style was characterised by rounded arches, particularly over windows and doorways, and massive proportions.

In England, the period of Norman architecture immediately succeeds that of the Anglo-Saxon and precedes the Early Gothic. In southern Italy, the Normans incorporated elements of Islamic, Lombard, and Byzantine building techniques into their own, initiating a unique style known as Norman-Arab architecture within the Kingdom of Sicily. [5]

Visual arts Edit

In the visual arts, the Normans did not have the rich and distinctive traditions of the cultures they conquered. However, in the early 11th century, the dukes began a programme of church reform, encouraging the Cluniac reform of monasteries and patronising intellectual pursuits, especially the proliferation of scriptoria and the reconstitution of a compilation of lost illuminated manuscripts. The church was utilised by the dukes as a unifying force for their disparate duchy. The chief monasteries taking part in this "renaissance" of Norman art and scholarship were Mont-Saint-Michel, Fécamp, Jumièges, Bec, Saint-Ouen, Saint-Evroul, and Saint-Wandrille. These centres were in contact with the so-called "Winchester school", which channeled a pure Carolingian artistic tradition to Normandy. In the final decade of the 11th and first of the 12th century, Normandy experienced a golden age of illustrated manuscripts, but it was brief and the major scriptoria of Normandy ceased to function after the midpoint of the century.

The French Wars of Religion in the 16th century and the French Revolution in the 18th successively destroyed much of what existed in the way of the architectural and artistic remnant of this Norman creativity. The former, with their violence, caused the wanton destruction of many Norman edifices the latter, with its assault on religion, caused the purposeful destruction of religious objects of any type, and its destabilisation of society resulted in rampant pillaging.

By far the most famous work of Norman art is the Bayeux Tapestry, which is not a tapestry but a work of embroidery. It was commissioned by Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux and first Earl of Kent, employing natives from Kent who were learned in the Nordic traditions imported in the previous half century by the Danish Vikings.

In Britain, Norman art primarily survives as stonework or metalwork, such as capitals and baptismal fonts. In southern Italy, however, Norman artwork survives plentifully in forms strongly influenced by its Greek, Lombard, and Arab forebears. Of the royal regalia preserved in Palermo, the crown is Byzantine in style and the coronation cloak is of Arab craftsmanship with Arabic inscriptions. Many churches preserve sculptured fonts, capitals, and more importantly mosaics, which were common in Norman Italy and drew heavily on the Greek heritage. Lombard Salerno was a centre of ivorywork in the 11th century and this continued under Norman domination. French Crusaders traveling to the Holy Land brought with them French artefacts with which to gift the churches at which they stopped in southern Italy amongst their Norman cousins. For this reason many south Italian churches preserve works from France alongside their native pieces.

Music Edit

Normandy was the site of several important developments in the history of classical music in the 11th century. Fécamp Abbey and Saint-Evroul Abbey were centres of musical production and education. At Fécamp, under two Italian abbots, William of Volpiano and John of Ravenna, the system of denoting notes by letters was developed and taught. It is still the most common form of pitch representation in English- and German-speaking countries today. Also at Fécamp, the staff, around which neumes were oriented, was first developed and taught in the 11th century. Under the German abbot Isembard, La Trinité-du-Mont became a centre of musical composition.

At Saint Evroul, a tradition of singing had developed and the choir achieved fame in Normandy. Under the Norman abbot Robert de Grantmesnil, several monks of Saint-Evroul fled to southern Italy, where they were patronised by Robert Guiscard and established a Latin monastery at Sant'Eufemia Lamezia. There they continued the tradition of singing.


First invasion

When the Syracusan Arab ruler Ibn at-Timnah was forced to flee from the island amid a blood feud with the Agrigentine Arab ruler Ibn al-Hawas in 1061, he approached Roger d'Hauteville in Calabria and enlisted his aid, having been crushed in battle. Roger, the younger and more hot-blooded of the Hauteville brothers, jumped at this opportunity. In the winter of 1061, 150 mounted Norman knights and a handful of auxiliaries crossed the Strait and landed north of Messina, plundering the rich and undefended countryside before crushing a Muslim amry which had been sent against them. They failed to take Messina and fled to their ships, only to find that their ships had been scattered by a Muslim fleet. For three days, they withstood raids from Messina before evacuating on their ships on the fourth day.

Second invasion

The Normans, now aware of the island's riches, prepared a second invasion. In the spring of 1062, the Normans levied another army of 2,000 infantry and 450 mounted knights, led by both Hauteville brothers. Robert mustered the lion's share of his men and ships at the rock of Scylla to divert the Muslim fleet's attention, while Roger sneakily made the crossing five miles south with 500 men. They struck Messina from the south and captured the entirely unprotected city, and the Muslims fled rather than be caught in a pincer attack. The Greek Christians greeted the Normans as liberators and offered them a thanksgiving service, and Ibn at-Timnah soon attached his army to the Normans together, they marched deeper into the heart of the island. Much of eastern Sicily was loyal to Ibn at-Timnah and did not resist him or the Normans, and Paterno fell quickly. The mountain fortress of Enna, Ibn al-Hawas' principal stronghold, held out as the Normans harassed the countryside. The Normans then lured Ibn al-Hawas' army into an open battle, and his men were crushed by the Norman knights. Despite this great victory, Robert knew he was overextended, so he left the fortress untaken and consolidated his gains, while he let his men return to their families in Apulia with loot in hand. Meanwhile, Roger entered into the Greek Christian town of Troina, which welcomed him as a liberator. He wintered at Troina, but he returned home to marry his betrothed Judith d'Evreux at Mileto. Roger was incensed with his older brother's tendency to take most of the loot during his campaigns, and he demanded titles and privileges from his brother before threatening to take them by force. Robert responded by laying siege to him at Mileto, and Roger slipped out of the city in disguise and fled to Gerace. The townsfolk captured Robert when he came to pursue Roger, but Roger realized that, without Robert, his political ambitions would be crippled. The two siblings embraced as a gesture of peace, preventing a civil war and leading to Roger being given his fair share of the loot.

Third invasion

Zirid troops arriving in Sicily

Meanwhile, Ibn at-Timnah had been ambushed and slain by Ibn al-Hawas in northern Sicily. In the summer of 1062, as Robert put down Byzantine-supported rebellions in Apulia, Roger returned to Sicily, finding a cold reception in Troina. The Greeks there realized that the Normans were harsh overlords and brutal thieves, and they attempted to kidnap Judith as Roger campaigned further into Sicily. The small Norman garrison rallied to the defense of their lady, and Roger and his army returned to the city to join the garrison. However, he found that thousands of Muslims from the countryside had taken up arms to aid the Christian Greeks. Overwhelmed, Roger led a retreat into Troina's citadel and prepared for a siege, holding out for four months. Once again, the Normans' salvation came through sheer luck. The Saracen soldiers on the perimeter had taken to drinking red wine to warm themselves during the winter normally forbidden from drinking alcohol due to their religion, they became intoxicated. Roger took advantage of the drunkenness, and, in January, he led a foray onto the open streets and subdued the inebriated Muslims at their outposts. They then engaged the Greek and Saracen besiegers and retook the city.

Battle of Cerami

By now, the Muslim rulers of Sicily realized that the Normans were a real threat, and the Saracen princes set aside their differences and put up a united front. They then received reinforcements of North African Berbers from the Zirid dynasty of Algeria, led by the Emir's princely sons. Roger returned to Calabria to retrieve more horses for his knights (as his men had eaten most of their horses during the siege) meanwhile, Judith held Troina as bands of Normans pillaged the countryside for supplies. By the time of Roger's return, a Muslim army had gathered at Palermo and was marching on his position. Roger had 130 knights and 500 infantrymen at his disposal, while the Saracens had up to 50,000 troops. Roger sent his cousin Serlo II of Hauteville with 30 knights to secure Cerami to the west of Troina, and, in June of 1063, the two armies met at the Battle of Cerami. The Normans again defied the odds and slew 20,000 Muslims, and their victory established the permanence of the Normans in Sicily.

Conquest of Sicily

In 1064, Norman brothers mustered their levies and laid siege to Palermo, knowing that control over the prosperous capital city would guarantee dominion over the entire island. Their siege camp was infested by venomous tarantula during the siege, forcing the Normans to abandon the campaign. The following years saw perpetual rebellions against Robert in Apulia, and Roger was forced on the defensive as his brother put down Greek uprisings. In 1068, Roger defeated the Muslims outside of Misilmeri, causing the Kalbids of Palermo to turn on the Zirids, blaming their defeats on North African interference. As riots broke out in Palermo, Ibn al-Hawas was killed and the Zirid princes decided to pack up and return to North Africa. Muslim Sicily was now leaderless and deprived of the bulk of its army, and, in 1071, Robert Guiscard ended his campaign in Apulia by conquering Bari and finally ending the Byzantine presence in Bari. The Franco-Norsemen then focused on the conquest of Palermo, which fell in 1072. The Islamic rump state in Sicily was given a reprieve as the Hautevilles focused on conquering Naples, Amalfi, Salerno, and Abruzzo, but, by now, the Sicilian Arabs' fate was inevitable. In 1085, Roger conquered Syracuse, the last great Muslim city in Sicily. In 1091, Noto, the final Islamic outpost, fell to the relentless Hauteville, ending two centuries of Muslim rule on the island. Its people remained diverse, with the Normans and their Orthodox Greek and Muslim subjects forming the most dynamic kingdom in the history of medieval Europe.

The Normans.

To fully understand the warrior spirits and drive towards the conquest of other lands you must first understand who The Normans were and where they came from.

Every story starts with one person and in the case of the Normans that person was the infamous Viking warrior named Rollo. Rollo was a Viking Warrior Lord who after years of vicious fighting, finally agreed to swear his loyalty to the French King Charles III.

In return for this loyalty and protection against further Norse Raids on France, he was granted the lands that would become known as the Duchy of Normandy, around the area that we now know as Normandy, these lands would start to expand eventually forming an Empire. Normandy derives its name from the use of the Norseman, which became Northman and later turned into Norman, also giving their name to the area known as Normandy.

By the 10th Century the Norsemen had grown into there own unique and powerful culture, and they continued to evolve and adapt to the times and were advanced in military technology.

Their culture and warrior nature spread throughout Europe and to the near and Middle East They were of the Catholic faith and would eventually start their crusades in the Holy Land under the guise of Christianity.

They would forever leave their mark throughout Europe they changed the landscape politically and culturally, their military campagins impacting the entire political and physical landscape of Medieval Europe. Their Romanesque architecture and massive defensive features such as their ferocious and imposing Castles that will forever dot the landscapes of Europe. They brought with them new technologies and industries that would forever change the known world, especially in the case of warfare.

Possibly one of the most important dates in history is 1066 when William the Conqueror followed though with his claim to the English Throne and took the country by force expanding Norman Conquest in Europe.

Conquering England was essential to their expansion as it not only brought with it massive lands, more importantly it brought the title of King, ensuring the Normans now held one of Europe’s largest kingdoms and strongest powerbases.

The Norman Empire spread through France, Italy, North Africa and eventually the Holy Land and modern day Turkey. (Byzantine is the name the Normans gave to modern day Istanbul) The Normans were by blood warriors and were exceptional at this inherited craft that seemed to flow in their veins.

The Normans created what is now known world wide as a Knight. Norman Knights were excellent warriors, keen to prove themselves in battles and tournaments as many were landless and were dependant on war to make their fortune.

This is when we see the creation of one The Middle Ages most popular words, chivalry. This word congers up images of gracious and loyal Knights like those from the tales of Arthur and his legendry Knights.

This word comes from the French word Chevalerie meaning horseman or horse soldiery, because first and fore most the Norman Knights were exceptional horsemen, their skill forever remembered in the Legends of the Medieval Era.

The Chivalric Code was a code of conduct that all Knights were required to follow. The code laid out how knights were meant to behave and governed the manners that they must have at royal courts, establishing the code of Honor.

They believed and followed church teachings. There was also a set of rules governing romance and behavior. Horses were Norman Knight’s bread and butters.

As they conquered the established powerbases in former Anglo-Saxon regions of England they created permanent settlements that are still visible today.

They brought with them massive defensive structures known as the Motte and Bailey, these are the forgotten castles of the Normans, and they were quick and easy to build and offered protection in the short term as they were made of wood.

However with time, the Normans began to replace these initial structures with stone, symbolizing their power and dominance over the local peoples.

Possibly the most famous Norman Structure build in England is still an enduring symbol of fear and horror, The Tower of London’s White Tower was started by William the Conquer. Some of the world’s most famous warriors and Kings were directly descendant from Rollo the Viking, such as Richard the Lionheart and Edward 1.

The next target on their list would be Ireland and the deposed King of Leinster played right into their hands, under the watchful eye of King Henry II.

Dermot MacMurrough requested the help of the Normans to regain his lost Kingdom, a decision that lead to one of the most important events in Irish History.


Bede completed his book Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) in around 731. Thus the term for English people (Latin: gens Anglorum Anglo-Saxon: Angelcynn) was in use by then to distinguish Germanic groups in Britain from those on the continent (Old Saxony in Northern Germany). [1] [a] The term 'Anglo-Saxon' came into use in the 8th century (probably by Paul the Deacon) to distinguish English Saxons from continental Saxons (Ealdseaxan, 'old' Saxons).

The historian James Campbell suggested that it was not until the late Anglo-Saxon period that England could be described as a nation state. [2] It is certain that the concept of "Englishness" only developed very slowly. [3] [4]

As the Roman occupation of Britain was coming to an end, Constantine III withdrew the remains of the army in reaction to the Germanic invasion of Gaul with the Crossing of the Rhine in December 406. [5] [6] The Romano-British leaders were faced with an increasing security problem from seaborne raids, particularly by Picts on the east coast of England. [7] The expedient adopted by the Romano-British leaders was to enlist the help of Anglo-Saxon mercenaries (known as foederati), to whom they ceded territory. [7] [8] In about 442 the Anglo-Saxons mutinied, apparently because they had not been paid. [9] The Romano-British responded by appealing to the Roman commander of the Western empire, Aëtius, for help (a document known as the Groans of the Britons), even though Honorius, the Western Roman Emperor, had written to the British civitas in or about 410 telling them to look to their own defence. [10] [11] [12] [13] There then followed several years of fighting between the British and the Anglo-Saxons. [14] The fighting continued until around 500, when, at the Battle of Mount Badon, the Britons inflicted a severe defeat on the Anglo-Saxons. [15]

There are records of Germanic infiltration into Britain that date before the collapse of the Roman Empire. [16] It is believed that the earliest Germanic visitors were eight cohorts of Batavians attached to the 14th Legion in the original invasion force under Aulus Plautius in AD 43. [16] [17] [18] There is a recent hypothesis that some of the native tribes, identified as Britons by the Romans, may have been Germanic-language speakers, but most scholars disagree with this due to an insufficient record of local languages in Roman-period artefacts. [19] [20] [21]

It was quite common for Rome to swell its legions with foederati recruited from the German homelands. [22] This practice also extended to the army serving in Britain, and graves of these mercenaries, along with their families, can be identified in the Roman cemeteries of the period. [23] The migration continued with the departure of the Roman army, when Anglo-Saxons were recruited to defend Britain and also during the period of the Anglo-Saxon first rebellion of 442. [24]

If the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is to be believed, the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which eventually merged to become England were founded when small fleets of three or five ships of invaders arrived at various points around the coast of England to fight the sub-Roman British, and conquered their lands. [25] The language of the migrants, Old English, came over the next few centuries to predominate throughout what is now England, at the expense of British Celtic and British Latin.

The arrival of the Anglo-Saxons into Britain can be seen in the context of a general movement of Germanic peoples around Europe between the years 300 and 700, known as the Migration period (also called the Barbarian Invasions or Völkerwanderung). In the same period there were migrations of Britons to the Armorican peninsula (Brittany and Normandy in modern-day France): initially around 383 during Roman rule, but also c. 460 and in the 540s and 550s the 460s migration is thought to be a reaction to the fighting during the Anglo-Saxon mutiny between about 450 to 500, as was the migration to Britonia (modern day Galicia, in northwest Spain) at about the same time. [26] The historian Peter Hunter-Blair expounded what is now regarded as the traditional view of the Anglo-Saxon arrival in Britain. [27] He suggested a mass immigration, with the incomers fighting and driving the sub-Roman Britons off their land and into the western extremities of the islands, and into the Breton and Iberian peninsulas. [28] This view is based on sources such as Bede, who mentions the Britons being slaughtered or going into "perpetual servitude". [29] According to Härke the more modern view is of co-existence between the British and the Anglo-Saxons. [30] [31] [32] He suggests that several modern archaeologists have now re-assessed the invasion model, and have developed a co-existence model largely based on the Laws of Ine. The laws include several clauses that provide six different wergild levels for the Britons, of which four are below that of freeman. [33] Although it was possible for the Britons to be rich freemen in Anglo-Saxon society, generally it seems that they had a lower status than that of the Anglo-Saxons. [32] [33]

Discussions and analysis still continue on the size of the migration, and whether it was a small elite band of Anglo-Saxons who came in and took over the running of the country, or a mass migration of peoples who overwhelmed the Britons. [34] [35] [36] [37] An emerging view is that two scenarios could have co-occurred, with large-scale migration and demographic change in the core areas of the settlement and elite dominance in peripheral regions. [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45]

According to Gildas, initial vigorous British resistance was led by a man called Ambrosius Aurelianus, [46] from which time victory fluctuated between the two peoples. Gildas records a "final" victory of the Britons at the Battle of Mount Badon in c. 500, and this might mark a point at which Anglo-Saxon migration was temporarily stemmed. [15] Gildas said that this battle was "forty-four years and one month" after the arrival of the Saxons, and was also the year of his birth. [15] He said that a time of great prosperity followed. [15] But, despite the lull, the Anglo-Saxons took control of Sussex, Kent, East Anglia and part of Yorkshire while the West Saxons founded a kingdom in Hampshire under the leadership of Cerdic, around 520. [47] However, it was to be 50 years before the Anglo-Saxons began further major advances. [47] In the intervening years the Britons exhausted themselves with civil war, internal disputes, and general unrest, which was the inspiration behind Gildas's book De Excidio Britanniae (The Ruin of Britain). [48]

The next major campaign against the Britons was in 577, led by Ceawlin, king of Wessex, whose campaigns succeeded in taking Cirencester, Gloucester and Bath (known as the Battle of Dyrham). [47] [49] [50] This expansion of Wessex ended abruptly when the Anglo-Saxons started fighting among themselves and resulted in Ceawlin retreating to his original territory. He was then replaced by Ceol (who was possibly his nephew). Ceawlin was killed the following year, but the annals do not specify by whom. [51] [52] Cirencester subsequently became an Anglo-Saxon kingdom under the overlordship of the Mercians, rather than Wessex. [53]

By 600, a new order was developing, of kingdoms and sub-Kingdoms. The medieval historian Henry of Huntingdon conceived the idea of the Heptarchy, which consisted of the seven principal Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (Heptarchy literal translation from the Greek: hept – seven archy – rule). [54]

Anglo-Saxon England heptarchy Edit

The four main kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England were:

Other minor kingdoms and territories Edit

At the end of the 6th century the most powerful ruler in England was Æthelberht of Kent, whose lands extended north to the River Humber. [55] In the early years of the 7th century, Kent and East Anglia were the leading English kingdoms. [56] After the death of Æthelberht in 616, Rædwald of East Anglia became the most powerful leader south of the Humber. [56]

Following the death of Æthelfrith of Northumbria, Rædwald provided military assistance to the Deiran Edwin in his struggle to take over the two dynasties of Deira and Bernicia in the unified kingdom of Northumbria. [56] Upon the death of Rædwald, Edwin was able to pursue a grand plan to expand Northumbrian power. [56]

The growing strength of Edwin of Northumbria forced the Anglo-Saxon Mercians under Penda into an alliance with the Welsh King Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd, and together they invaded Edwin's lands and defeated and killed him at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633. [57] [58] Their success was short-lived, as Oswald (one of the sons of the late King of Northumbria, Æthelfrith) defeated and killed Cadwallon at Heavenfield near Hexham. [59] In less than a decade Penda again waged war against Northumbria, and killed Oswald in the Battle of Maserfield in 642. [60]

His brother Oswiu was chased to the northern extremes of his kingdom. [60] [61] However, Oswiu killed Penda shortly after, and Mercia spent the rest of the 7th and all of the 8th century fighting the kingdom of Powys. [60] The war reached its climax during the reign of Offa of Mercia, [60] who is remembered for the construction of a 150-mile-long dyke which formed the Wales/England border. [62] It is not clear whether this was a boundary line or a defensive position. [62] The ascendency of the Mercians came to an end in 825, when they were soundly beaten under Beornwulf at the Battle of Ellendun by Egbert of Wessex. [63]

Christianity had been introduced into the British Isles during the Roman occupation. [64] The early Christian Berber author, Tertullian, writing in the 3rd century, said that "Christianity could even be found in Britain." [65] The Roman Emperor Constantine (306–337), granted official tolerance to Christianity with the Edict of Milan in 313. [66] Then, in the reign of Emperor Theodosius "the Great" (378–395), Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire. [67]

It is not entirely clear how many Britons would have been Christian when the pagan Anglo-Saxons arrived. [68] [69] There had been attempts to evangelise the Irish by Pope Celestine I in 431. [70] However, it was Saint Patrick who is credited with converting the Irish en-masse. [70] A Christian Ireland then set about evangelising the rest of the British Isles, and Columba was sent to found a religious community in Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. [71] Then Aidan was sent from Iona to set up his see in Northumbria, at Lindisfarne, between 635–651. [72] Hence Northumbria was converted by the Celtic (Irish) church. [72]

Bede is very uncomplimentary about the indigenous British clergy: in his Historia ecclesiastica he complains of their "unspeakable crimes", and that they did not preach the faith to the Angles or Saxons. [73] Pope Gregory I sent Augustine in 597 to convert the Anglo-Saxons, but Bede says the British clergy refused to help Augustine in his mission. [74] [75] Despite Bede's complaints, it is now believed that the Britons played an important role in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. [76] On arrival in the south east of England in 597, Augustine was given land by King Æthelberht of Kent to build a church so in 597 Augustine built the church and founded the See at Canterbury. [77] Æthelberht was baptised by 601, and he then continued with his mission to convert the English. [78] Most of the north and east of England had already been evangelised by the Irish Church. However, Sussex and the Isle of Wight remained mainly pagan until the arrival of Saint Wilfrid, the exiled Archbishop of York, who converted Sussex around 681 and the Isle of Wight in 683. [79] [80] [81]

It remains unclear what "conversion" actually meant. The ecclesiastical writers tended to declare a territory as "converted" merely because the local king had agreed to be baptised, regardless of whether, in reality, he actually adopted Christian practices and regardless, too, of whether the general population of his kingdom did. [82] When churches were built, they tended to include pagan as well as Christian symbols, evidencing an attempt to reach out to the pagan Anglo-Saxons, rather than demonstrating that they were already converted. [83] [84]

Even after Christianity had been set up in all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, there was friction between the followers of the Roman rites and the Irish rites, particularly over the date on which Easter fell and the way monks cut their hair. [85] In 664 a conference was held at Whitby Abbey (known as the Whitby Synod) to decide the matter Saint Wilfrid was an advocate for the Roman rites and Bishop Colmán for the Irish rites. [86] Wilfrid's argument won the day and Colmán and his party returned to Ireland in their bitter disappointment. [86] The Roman rites were adopted by the English church, although they were not universally accepted by the Irish Church until Henry II of England invaded Ireland in the 12th century and imposed the Roman rites by force. [86] [87]

Between the 8th and 11th centuries, raiders and colonists from Scandinavia, mainly Danish and Norwegian, plundered western Europe, including the British Isles. [88] These raiders came to be known as the Vikings the name is believed to derive from Scandinavia, where the Vikings originated. [89] [90] The first raids in the British Isles were in the late 8th century, mainly on churches and monasteries (which were seen as centres of wealth). [89] [91] The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that the holy island of Lindisfarne was sacked in 793. [92] The raiding then virtually stopped for around 40 years but in about 835, it started becoming more regular. [93]

In the 860s, instead of raids, the Danes mounted a full-scale invasion. In 865, an enlarged army arrived that the Anglo-Saxons described as the Great Heathen Army. This was reinforced in 871 by the Great Summer Army. [93] Within ten years nearly all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms fell to the invaders: Northumbria in 867, East Anglia in 869, and nearly all of Mercia in 874–77. [93] Kingdoms, centres of learning, archives, and churches all fell before the onslaught from the invading Danes. Only the Kingdom of Wessex was able to survive. [93] In March 878, the Anglo-Saxon King of Wessex, Alfred, with a few men, built a fortress at Athelney, hidden deep in the marshes of Somerset. [95] He used this as a base from which to harry the Vikings. In May 878 he put together an army formed from the populations of Somerset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, which defeated the Viking army in the Battle of Edington. [95] The Vikings retreated to their stronghold, and Alfred laid siege to it. [95] Ultimately the Danes capitulated, and their leader Guthrum agreed to withdraw from Wessex and to be baptised. The formal ceremony was completed a few days later at Wedmore. [95] [96] There followed a peace treaty between Alfred and Guthrum, which had a variety of provisions, including defining the boundaries of the area to be ruled by the Danes (which became known as the Danelaw) and those of Wessex. [97] The Kingdom of Wessex controlled part of the Midlands and the whole of the South (apart from Cornwall, which was still held by the Britons), while the Danes held East Anglia and the North. [98]

After the victory at Edington and resultant peace treaty, Alfred set about transforming his Kingdom of Wessex into a society on a full-time war footing. [99] He built a navy, reorganised the army, and set up a system of fortified towns known as burhs. He mainly used old Roman cities for his burhs, as he was able to rebuild and reinforce their existing fortifications. [99] To maintain the burhs, and the standing army, he set up a taxation system known as the Burghal Hidage. [100] These burhs (or burghs) operated as defensive structures. The Vikings were thereafter unable to cross large sections of Wessex: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that a Danish raiding party was defeated when it tried to attack the burh of Chichester. [101] [102]

Although the burhs were primarily designed as defensive structures, they were also commercial centres, attracting traders and markets to a safe haven, and they provided a safe place for the king's moneyers and mints. [103] A new wave of Danish invasions commenced in 891, [104] beginning a war that lasted over three years. [105] [106] Alfred's new system of defence worked, however, and ultimately it wore the Danes down: they gave up and dispersed in mid-896. [106]

Alfred is remembered as a literate king. He or his court commissioned the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which was written in Old English (rather than in Latin, the language of the European annals). [107] Alfred's own literary output was mainly of translations, but he also wrote introductions and amended manuscripts. [107] [108]

From 874–879 the western half of Mercia was ruled by Ceowulf II, who was succeeded by Æthelred. [109] Alfred the Great of Wessex styled himself King of the Anglo-Saxons from about 886. In 886/887 Æthelred married Alfred's daughter Æthelflæd. [109]

On Alfred's death in 899, his son Edward the Elder succeeded him. [110] Edward, along with Alfred's grandsons Æthelstan, Edmund I, and Eadred, continued the policy of resistance against the Vikings. [111]

When Æthelred died in 911, his widow administered the Mercian province with the title "Lady of the Mercians". [109] As commander of the Mercian army she worked with her brother, Edward the Elder, to win back the Mercian lands that were under Danish control. [109] Edward and his successors expanded Alfred's network of fortified burhs, a key element of their strategy, enabling them to go on the offensive. [111] [112] Edward recaptured Essex in 913. Edward's son, Æthelstan, annexed Northumbria and forced the kings of Wales to submit at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937, he defeated an alliance of the Scots, Danes, and Vikings to become King of all England. [111] [113]

Along with the Britons and the settled Danes, some of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms disliked being ruled by Wessex. Consequently, the death of a Wessex king would be followed by rebellion, particularly in Northumbria. [111] Alfred's great-grandson, Edgar, who had come to the throne in 959, was crowned at Bath in 973 and soon afterwards the other British kings met him at Chester and acknowledges his authority. [114]

The presence of Danish and Norse settlers in the Danelaw had a lasting impact the people there saw themselves as "armies" a hundred years after settlement: [115] King Edgar issued a law code in 962 that was to include the people of Northumbria, so he addressed it to Earl Olac "and all the army that live in that earldom". [115] There are over 3,000 words in modern English that have Scandinavian roots, [116] [117] and more than 1,500 place-names in England are Scandinavian in origin for example, topographic names such as Howe, Norfolk and Howe, North Yorkshire are derived from the Old Norse word haugr meaning hill, knoll, or mound. [117] [118] In archaeology and other academic contexts the term Anglo-Scandinavian is often used for Scandinavian culture in England.

Edgar died in 975, sixteen years after gaining the throne, while still only in his early thirties. Some magnates supported the succession of his younger son, Æthelred, but his elder half-brother, Edward was elected, aged about twelve. His reign was marked by disorder, and three years later, in 978, he was assassinated by some of his half-brother's retainers. [119] Æthelred succeeded, and although he reigned for thirty-eight years, one of the longest reigns in English history, he earned the name "Æthelred the Unready", as he proved to be one of England's most disastrous kings. [120] William of Malmesbury, writing in his Chronicle of the kings of England about one hundred years later, was scathing in his criticism of Æthelred, saying that he occupied the kingdom, rather than governed it. [121]

Just as Æthelred was being crowned, the Danish King Gormsson was trying to force Christianity onto his domain. [122] Many of his subjects did not like this idea, and shortly before 988, Swein, his son, drove his father from the kingdom. [122] The rebels, dispossessed at home, probably formed the first waves of raids on the English coast. [122] The rebels did so well in their raiding that the Danish kings decided to take over the campaign themselves. [123]

In 991 the Vikings sacked Ipswich, and their fleet made landfall near Maldon in Essex. [123] The Danes demanded that the English pay a ransom, but the English commander Byrhtnoth refused he was killed in the ensuing Battle of Maldon, and the English were easily defeated. [123] From then on the Vikings seem to have raided anywhere at will they were contemptuous of the lack of resistance from the English. Even the Alfredian systems of burhs failed. [124] Æthelred seems to have just hidden, out of range of the raiders. [124]

Payment of Danegeld Edit

By the 980s the kings of Wessex had a powerful grip on the coinage of the realm. It is reckoned there were about 300 moneyers, and 60 mints, around the country. [125] Every five or six years the coinage in circulation would cease to be legal tender and new coins were issued. [125] The system controlling the currency around the country was extremely sophisticated this enabled the king to raise large sums of money if needed. [126] [127] The need indeed arose after the battle of Maldon, as Æthelred decided that, rather than fight, he would pay ransom to the Danes in a system known as Danegeld. [128] As part of the ransom, a peace treaty was drawn up that was intended to stop the raids. However, rather than buying the Vikings off, payment of Danegeld only encouraged them to come back for more. [129]

The Dukes of Normandy were quite happy to allow these Danish adventurers to use their ports for raids on the English coast. The result was that the courts of England and Normandy became increasingly hostile to each other. [122] Eventually, Æthelred sought a treaty with the Normans, and ended up marrying Emma, daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy in the Spring of 1002, which was seen as an attempt to break the link between the raiders and Normandy. [124] [130]

Then, on St. Brice's day in November 1002, Danes living in England were slaughtered on the orders of Æthelred. [131]

Rise of Cnut Edit

In mid-1013, Sven Forkbeard, King of Denmark, brought the Danish fleet to Sandwich, Kent. [132] From there he went north to the Danelaw, where the locals immediately agreed to support him. [132] He then struck south, forcing Æthelred into exile in Normandy (1013–1014). However, on 3 February 1014, Sven died suddenly. [132] Capitalising on his death, Æthelred returned to England and drove Sven's son, Cnut, back to Denmark, forcing him to abandon his allies in the process. [132]

In 1015, Cnut launched a new campaign against England. [132] Edmund fell out with his father, Æthelred, and struck out on his own. [133] Some English leaders decided to support Cnut, so Æthelred ultimately retreated to London. [133] Before engagement with the Danish army, Æthelred died and was replaced by Edmund. [133] The Danish army encircled and besieged London, but Edmund was able to escape and raised an army of loyalists. [133] Edmund's army routed the Danes, but the success was short-lived: at the Battle of Ashingdon, the Danes were victorious, and many of the English leaders were killed. [133] Cnut and Edmund agreed to split the kingdom in two, with Edmund ruling Wessex and Cnut the rest. [133] [134]

In 1017, Edmund died in mysterious circumstances, probably murdered by Cnut or his supporters, and the English council (the witan) confirmed Cnut as king of all England. [133] Cnut divided England into earldoms: most of these were allocated to nobles of Danish descent, but he made an Englishman earl of Wessex. The man he appointed was Godwin, who eventually became part of the extended royal family when he married the king's sister-in-law. [135] In the summer of 1017, Cnut sent for Æthelred's widow, Emma, with the intention of marrying her. [136] It seems that Emma agreed to marry the king on condition that he would limit the English succession to the children born of their union. [137] Cnut already had a wife, known as Ælfgifu of Northampton, who bore him two sons, Svein and Harold Harefoot. [137] The church, however, seems to have regarded Ælfgifu as Cnut's concubine rather than his wife. [137] In addition to the two sons he had with Ælfgifu, he had a further son with Emma, who was named Harthacnut. [137] [138]

When Cnut's brother, Harald II, King of Denmark, died in 1018, Cnut went to Denmark to secure that realm. Two years later, Cnut brought Norway under his control, and he gave Ælfgifu and their son Svein the job of governing it. [138]

Edward becomes king Edit

One result of Cnut's marriage to Emma was to precipitate a succession crisis after his death in 1035, [138] as the throne was disputed between Ælfgifu's son, Harald Harefoot, and Emma's son, Harthacnut. [139] Emma supported her son by Cnut, Harthacnut, rather than a son by Æthelred. [140] Her son by Æthelred, Edward, made an unsuccessful raid on Southampton, and his brother Alfred was murdered on an expedition to England in 1036. [140] Emma fled to Bruges when Harald Harefoot became king of England, but when he died in 1040 Harthacnut was able to take over as king. [139] Harthacnut quickly developed a reputation for imposing high taxes on England. [139] He became so unpopular that Edward was invited to return from exile in Normandy to be recognised as Harthacnut's heir, [140] [141] and when Harthacnut died suddenly in 1042 (probably murdered), Edward (known to posterity as Edward the Confessor) became king. [140]

Edward was supported by Earl Godwin of Wessex and married the earl's daughter. This arrangement was seen as expedient, however, as Godwin had been implicated in the murder of Alfred, the king's brother. In 1051 one of Edward's in-laws, Eustace, arrived to take up residence in Dover the men of Dover objected and killed some of Eustace's men. [140] When Godwin refused to punish them, the king, who had been unhappy with the Godwins for some time, summoned them to trial. Stigand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was chosen to deliver the news to Godwin and his family. [142] The Godwins fled rather than face trial. [142] Norman accounts suggest that at this time Edward offered the succession to his cousin, William (duke) of Normandy (also known as William the Conqueror, William the Bastard, or William I), though this is unlikely given that accession to the Anglo-Saxon kingship was by election, not heredity – a fact which Edward would surely have known, having been elected himself by the Witenagemot.

The Godwins, having previously fled, threatened to invade England. Edward is said to have wanted to fight, but at a Great Council meeting in Westminster, Earl Godwin laid down all his weapons and asked the king to allow him to purge himself of all crimes. [143] The king and Godwin were reconciled, [143] and the Godwins thus became the most powerful family in England after the king. [144] [145] On Godwin's death in 1053, his son Harold succeeded to the earldom of Wessex Harold's brothers Gyrth, Leofwine, and Tostig were given East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria. [144] The Northumbrians disliked Tostig for his harsh behaviour, and he was expelled to an exile in Flanders, in the process falling out with his brother Harold, who supported the king's line in backing the Northumbrians. [146] [147]

Death of Edward the Confessor Edit

On 26 December 1065, Edward was taken ill. [147] He took to his bed and fell into a coma at one point he woke and turned to Harold Godwinson and asked him to protect the Queen and the kingdom. [148] [149] On 5 January 1066 Edward the Confessor died, and Harold was declared king. [147] The following day, 6 January 1066, Edward was buried and Harold crowned. [149] [150]

Although Harold Godwinson had "grabbed" the crown of England, others laid claim to it, primarily William, Duke of Normandy, who was cousin to Edward the Confessor through his aunt, Emma of Normandy. [151] It is believed that Edward had promised the crown to William. [140] Harold Godwinson had agreed to support William's claim after being imprisoned in Normandy, by Guy of Ponthieu. William had demanded and received Harold's release, then during his stay under William's protection it is claimed, by the Normans, that Harold swore "a solemn oath" of loyalty to William. [152]

Harald Hardrada ("The Ruthless") of Norway also had a claim on England, through Cnut and his successors. [151] He had a further claim based on a pact between Harthacnut, King of Denmark (Cnut's son) and Magnus, King of Norway. [151]

Tostig, Harold's estranged brother, was the first to move according to the medieval historian Orderic Vitalis, he travelled to Normandy to enlist the help of William, Duke of Normandy, later to be known as William the Conqueror. [151] [152] [153] William was not ready to get involved so Tostig sailed from the Cotentin Peninsula, but because of storms ended up in Norway, where he successfully enlisted the help of Harald Hardrada. [153] [154] The Anglo Saxon Chronicle has a different version of the story, having Tostig land in the Isle of Wight in May 1066, then ravaging the English coast, before arriving at Sandwich, Kent. [150] [154] At Sandwich Tostig is said to have enlisted and press ganged sailors before sailing north where, after battling some of the northern earls and also visiting Scotland, he eventually joined Hardrada (possibly in Scotland or at the mouth of the river Tyne). [150] [154]

Battle of Fulford and aftermath Edit

According to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle (Manuscripts D and E) Tostig became Hadrada's vassal, and then with 300 or so longships sailed up the Humber Estuary bottling the English fleet in the river Swale and then landed at Riccall on the Ouse on 24 September. [154] [155] They marched towards York, where they were confronted, at Fulford Gate, by the English forces that were under the command of the northern earls, Edwin and Morcar the battle of Fulford Gate followed, on 20 September, which was one of the bloodiest battles of medieval times. [156] The English forces were routed, though Edwin and Morcar escaped. The victors entered the city of York, exchanged hostages and were provisioned. [157] Hearing the news whilst in London, Harold Godwinson force-marched a second English army to Tadcaster by the night of the 24th, and after catching Harald Hardrada by surprise, on the morning of the 25 September, Harold achieved a total victory over the Scandinavian horde after a two-day-long engagement at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. [158] Harold gave quarter to the survivors allowing them to leave in 20 ships. [158]

William of Normandy sails for England Edit

Harold would have been celebrating his victory at Stamford Bridge on the night of 26/27 September 1066, while William of Normandy's invasion fleet set sail for England on the morning of 27 September 1066. [159] Harold marched his army back down to the south coast, where he met William's army, at a place now called Battle just outside Hastings. [160] Harold was killed when he fought and lost the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. [161]

The Battle of Hastings virtually destroyed the Godwin dynasty. Harold and his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine were dead on the battlefield, as was their uncle Ælfwig, Abbot of Newminster. Tostig had been killed at Stamford Bridge. Wulfnoth was a hostage of William the Conqueror. The Godwin women who remained were either dead or childless. [162]

William marched on London. The city leaders surrendered the kingdom to him, and he was crowned at Westminster Abbey, Edward the Confessor's new church, on Christmas Day 1066. [163] It took William a further ten years to consolidate his kingdom, during which any opposition was suppressed ruthlessly in a particularly brutal process known as the Harrying of the North, William issued orders to lay waste the north and burn all the cattle, crops and farming equipment and to poison the earth. [164] According to Orderic Vitalis, the Anglo-Norman chronicler, over one hundred thousand people died of starvation. [165] Figures based on the returns for the Domesday Book estimate that the population of England in 1086 was about 2.25 million, so the figure of one hundred thousand deaths, due to starvation, would have been a huge proportion (about one in 20) of the population. [166]

By the time of William's death in 1087 it was estimated that only about 8 percent of the land was under Anglo-Saxon control. [163] Nearly all the Anglo-Saxon cathedrals and abbeys of any note had been demolished and replaced with Norman-style architecture by 1200. [167]

The Normans episode 2 – Conquest

The Normans episode 2 – Conquest: In the second of this three-part series, Professor Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Norman conquest of Britain and Ireland. Bartlett shows how William the Conqueror imposed a new aristocracy, savagely cut down opposition and built scores of castles and cathedrals to intimidate and control. He also commissioned the Domesday Book, the greatest national survey of England that had ever been attempted.

England adapted to its new masters and both the language and culture were transformed as the Normans and the English intermarried. Bartlett shows how the political and cultural landscape of Scotland, Wales and Ireland were also forged by the Normans and argues that the Normans created the blueprint for colonialism in the modern world.

The Normans episode 2 – Conquest

William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. He was a descendant of Rollo and was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. His hold was secure on Normandy by 1060, following a long struggle to establish his throne, and he launched the Norman conquest of England six years later. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son, Robert Curthose.

William was the son of the unmarried Robert I, Duke of Normandy, by his mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status and his youth caused some difficulties for him after he succeeded his father, as did the anarchy which plagued the first years of his rule. During his childhood and adolescence, members of the Norman aristocracy battled each other, both for control of the child duke and for their own ends. In 1047, William was able to quash a rebellion and begin to establish his authority over the duchy, a process that was not complete until about 1060.

His marriage in the 1050s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a powerful ally in the neighbouring county of Flanders. By the time of his marriage, William was able to arrange the appointment of his supporters as bishops and abbots in the Norman church. His consolidation of power allowed him to expand his horizons, and he secured control of the neighbouring county of Maine by 1062.

Domesday Book

Domesday Book is a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. Written in Medieval Latin, it was highly abbreviated and included some vernacular native terms without Latin equivalents. The survey’s main purpose was to determine what taxes had been owed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor, thereby allowing William to reassert the rights of the Crown and assess where power lay after a wholesale redistribution of land following the Norman conquest.

The assessors’ reckoning of a man’s holdings and their values, as recorded in Domesday Book, was dispositive and without appeal. The name “Domesday Book” (Middle English for “Doomsday Book”) came into use in the 12th century.

The Norman Conquest

To understand who the Normans were, we have to go back a little to 911. In this year a rather large Viking chief (reckoned to be so big that a horse could not carry him!) called Rollo accepted the ‘kind’ offer of a large area of Northern France from the then king of France, Charles II (‘The Simple’ ) as part of a peace treaty.

Rollo and his ‘Nor(th) Men’ settled in this area of northern France now known as Normandy. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy and over the next hundred years or so the Normans adopted the French language and culture.

On 5th January 1066, Edward the Confessor, King of England, died. The next day the Anglo-Saxon Witan (a council of high ranking men) elected Harold Godwin, Earl of Essex (and Edward’s brother-in-law) to succeed him. The crown had scarcely been put on his head when King Harold’s problems started.

The Funeral of Edward the Confessor, Bayeux Tapestry In Normandy Duke William did not agree with the voting of the Witan. William claimed that years earlier, Edward had promised the crown of England to him. In addition, he believed that he had strengthened his claim still further when in 1063 he had tricked Harold into swearing to support his claim to the English throne. More than a little annoyed, William prepared to invade.

King Harold also had problems to the north of England – sibling rivalry. Harold’s brother Tostig had joined forces with Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, and had landed with an army in Yorkshire. Harold marched his own English army north from London to repel the invaders. Arriving at Tadcaster on 24th September, he seized the opportunity to catch the enemy off guard. His army was exhausted after the forced march from London, but after a bitter, bloody battle to capture the bridge at Stamford, Harold won a decisive victory on 25th September. Harold Hardrada and Tostig were both killed.

On October 1st Harold and his depleted army then marched the three hundred kilometres south to do battle with Duke William of Normandy who had landed at Pevensey, East Sussex on the 28th September. Harold’s sick, exhausted Saxon army met William’s fresh, rested Norman troops on October 14th at Battle near Hastings, and the great battle began.

At first, the two-handed Saxon battleaxes sliced through the armour of the Norman knights, but slowly the Normans began to gain control. King Harold was struck in the eye by a chance Norman arrow and was killed, but the battle raged on until all of Harold’s loyal bodyguard were slain.

Although William of Normandy had won the Battle of Hastings it would take a few weeks longer to convince the good folk of London to hand over the keys of the city to him. Anglo-Saxon resistance included blocking the Norman advance at the Battle of Southwark. This battle was for control of London Bridge, which crossed the River Thames allowing the Normans easy access to the English capital of London.

This failure to cross the Thames at Southwark required a detour of fifty miles upriver to Wallingford, the next crossing point for William.

Following threats promises and bribes, William’s troops finally entered the city gates of London in December, and on Christmas Day 1066, Archbishop Ealdred of York crowned William, King of England. William could truly now be called ‘The Conqueror’!

This stone below marks the spot at Battle Abbey where the high altar stood on the place where King Harold is said to have died:

Site of the High Altar at Battle Abbey

The early years of William’s English rule were a little insecure. He built castles across England to convince everyone who was the boss, meeting force with even greater force as rebellious regions like Yorkshire were laid waste (the harrowing of the North).

By around 1072, the Norman hold on the kingdom was firmly established. Normans controlled most major functions within the Church and the State. The Domesday Book exists today as a record, compiled some 20 years after the Battle of Hastings, showing all landholder’s estates throughout England. It demonstrates the Norman genius for order and good government as well as showing the vast tracts of land acquired by the new Norman owners.

Norman genius was also expressed in architecture. Saxon buildings had mostly been wooden structures the French ‘brickies’ at once made a more permanent mark on the landscape. Massive stone castles, churches, cathedrals and monasteries were erected, these imposing structures again clearly demonstrating just who was now in charge.

Where Were the Normans From?

The Normans, who were originally Vikings, primarily came from Scandinavian areas. The Normans came from Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Some Normans may have visited the British Isles first and then moved to the French coastline, but the Normans call parts of Scandinavia their original homeland.

The Norman Conquest (Invasion) of England

The Norman Conquest was an invasion that resulted from confusion as to who had the right claim to the English throne in the early 11 th century. In 1066, King Edward the Confessor died in England. He had no heirs, so decisions had to be made as to who had claimed to the throne.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Essex in England, claimed the throne. The claim was supported by Anglo-Saxon councils and wealthy aristocrats. On the other hand, Duke William of Normandy did not agree with Harold’s claim. Duke William claimed that the throne was promised to him

In the north, King Harold’s brother teamed with the King of Norway, named Harold Hardrada, and invaded English shores. King Harold won the battle for England, but King Harold and the Vikings were quickly threatened by Duke William’s army invading in southern England.

King Harold’s and Duke William’s army fought each other in the famous Battle of Hastings. Since King Harold’s army was tired, weak, and smaller after their previous battle, they faced significant disadvantages when meeting the Norman army.

It was in the Battle of Hastings that King Harold was killed. A Norman archer managed to shoot King Harold in the eye with an arrow, killing him. After a few more battles, Duke William of Normandy, along with the Normans following him, took over England. It was at the Battle of the Hasting that the Normans successfully invaded England.

On Christmas in 1066, Duke William was crowned the King of England. The Normans, which were now French Vikings changed the architectural landscape of England, as well as the religious environment.

10) Durham Castle and Cathedral, Durham

One of the bloodiest assaults against Norman rule took place at Durham in 1069. A garrison of 700 men had been sent by William to the town but they were promptly slaughtered by local English. In response the king reacted with strength, sending in the heavy brigade to suppress the revolt and forcing many of the inhabitants to flee.

There were only about three castles in England before the Norman Conquest but by the end of the 11th century the country contained several hundred. In Durham, as elsewhere, William built a fortress to help keep order among a potentially unruly population.

Durham Castle was begun in 1072 and still stands today, albeit following several centuries of modifications. It is part of the University of Durham and can be accessed via guided tours.

Across the green from the castle is the awesome Durham Cathedral. Begun in 1093 it is acclaimed as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture. The cathedral housed the prince-bishops of Durham who, from the late 11th century, were given quasi-royal authority to help keep control over the locality.

Durham Cathedral tel: 0191 386 4266

Words by Rob Attar. Historical advisor: Professor Nicholas Higham, University of Manchester.

Watch the video: 1066 - Kampf um England 13: Die Invasion der Normannen Doku 2014 (May 2022).


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