The Norman Conquest. • Norman conquest was the invasion and conquest of England by an army of Normans (the French) led by Duke William II of Normandy. • William, who defeated King Harold II of England on 14 October 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, was crowned as king on Christmas Day 1066. • When Edward the Confessor died in 1066, he left a disputed succession. The throne was seized by his leading aristocrat, Harold Godwinson, who was rapidly crowned. • Almost immediately, Harold faced two invasions - one from the king of Norway, HaraldHardrada, who was supported by Harold Godwinson's brother Tostig, and the other from William, Duke of Normandy.
Harold defeated the Norwegian invasion at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September 1066, but he was defeated and killed shortly afterwards at the Battle of Hastings, on 14 October in the same year. • The victorious William, now known as 'the Conqueror', brought a new aristocracy to England from Normandy and some other areas of France. • He also strengthened aristocratic lordship and moved towards reform of the church. At the same time, William was careful to preserve the powerful administrative machinery that had distinguished the regime of the late Anglo-Saxon kings.
The Origin Of Normandy. • In 911, the French Carolingian ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo to settle in Normandy as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte(singed between Charles III of France and Rollo, the leader of the Vikings). • In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against future Viking invaders.
Their settlement proved successful, and the Vikings in the region became known as the "Northmen" from which "Normandy" and "Normans" are derived. • They further blended into the culture by intermarrying with the local population (the French).
Norman Conquest in 1066. • In 1066 King Edward (the Confessor) died childless. Edward's chief advisor (earl of West Saxon), Godwin, had a son names Harold. • Harold succeeded his father Godwin and virtually ruled England the last 12 years of Edward's reign. Upon Edward's death, Harold was elected King. • William, the duke of Normandy, was 2nd cousin to Edward, and Edward had promised him the throne upon Edward's death.
Once William learns of Harold's succession to the throne, William begins a very detailed and careful plan to win the crown. • When William landed (Sept. 1066 at Pevensy in the south of England), he was unopposed as Harold was busy in northern England trying to ward off an invaion by the king of Norway, who also wanted the throne.
When Harold finally marshals his army, he didn't have the numbers that William did. • However, the day of the big battle, Harold managed a valiant fight and actually held William off. • According to history, military might had nothing to do with William's victory. • Instead, Harold was killed, and in the confusion without a leader, the English troops fell apart. Thus, William was able to triumph at Hastings.
However, William had to burn and pillage southeast England before the people gave in, and on Christmas Day 1066, William was crowned king. • William's reign virtually wipes out all of the old English nobility. • In its place, a new nobility---of Norman descent. • With Norman nobility in place, nearly all great estates and important positions were held by Normans or other foriegners.
Elite Replacement • A direct consequence of the invasion was the near-total elimination of the old English aristocracy and the loss of English control over the Catholic Church in England. • William systematically dispossessed English landowners and conferred their property on his continental followers. • Natives ( the English) were also removed from high governmental and ecclesiastical office. • After 1075 all earldoms were held by Normans, while Englishmen were only occasionally appointed as sheriffs.
The Use of French and English. • At the beginning French was spoken only by the Normans but soon through intermarriage, English men learnt French. • Due to the fact that many French nobles had infiltrated the ranks of English the nobility and ruling class, French became the court’s language and the language of the higher class. • However, the language of masses remains English.
Fusion Of French and English. • Fusion of the French and English--over time, the two "cultures" assimilated and adjusted to one another. • Some 10,000 French words were taken into English language during the Middle English period and about 75% of them are still in use. • In grammatical use the English suffixes and prefixes were freely added with the French words. e.g. ‘gentle’ borrowed in 1225 is found compounded with an English word ‘gentlewomen’ in 1230. • We might say that in the period up to 1200 A.D. the Normans did not cultivate English although they were not ignorant of it.
The English servants serving meat at the dining table to the French upper classes had to conform to them in French. Thus the names of the animals remained English while their meat had French names –
Since French-speaking Normans took control over the church and the court of London. A largest number of words borrowed by the government, spiritual and ecclesiastical (religious) services. • As example – state, royal (roial), exile (exil), rebel, noble, peer, prince, princess, justice, army (armee), navy (navie), enemy (enemi), battle, soldier, spy (verb), combat (verb) and more. French words also borrowed in English art, culture, and fashion as music, poet (poete), prose, romance, pen, paper, grammar, noun, gender, pain, blue, diamond, dance (verb), melody, image, beauty, remedy, poison, joy, poor, nice, etc. • Many of the above words are different from modern French in use or pronunciation or spelling.
The 13th Century • French continued to be spoken by the upper class in England, but not for different reasons. • No longer the "mother" tongue, French was spoken as a matter of social custom and administrative convention. • However, with the separation of nobility from interests in France and Normandy, the upper classes were generally using it. • Because French use was fading and English use becoming prevalent, the impact of "borrowing" French vocabulary is major.
When an English term was unknown and needed to be expressed, a French word or phrase was used.On the whole English use was steady. • By the middle of the 13th century, French is considered a foreign language. • Some attempt to preserve French existed in the clergy and from scholars, but not much. • The French that had been spoken among "Englishmen" was considered by Francophiles to be a "backard" and butchered dialect.
Other Factors Contributing to the Rise of English. • The 100 years' War-promoted national unity against the French to a very intense degree. • Because the English came to "hate" the French, the French language was used less and less. • The rise of the middle class-with the outbreak of "The Black Death" in 1348, approximately 30% of the population died. • This brought a shortage of labor; consequently, the economic importance of the working class grew.
Since English was the language of the common laborer, its use become even more widespread. • By the beginning of the 14th century, English was once again the dominant language. • Futher, in 1362 Parliament enacted a law requiring all lawsuits to be conducted in English. • English is, then, officially recognized. From here, the use of English filtered down to other branches of government and law.
Henry V's reign from 1413-1422 marked a turning point in English as a written language. Henry used English in writing letters, and the practice diffused among the English people. • French literature was not so easily replaced, though, by English literature. • Most of the literature in Middle English comes in the form of religious.
The diffusion of hte language does extend eventually to literature. • Chaucer (1340-1400), Langland (Piers Plowman), and the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight emerge, leading to the labeling of writing at the time as The Period of Great individual Writing (1350-1400). • The 15th century literature of England becomes known as the Imitative Period or Transition Period, the period of imitators of Chaucer and before Shakespeare.