The Normans were a group of people that originated in Normandy, France.
They were descendants of the Viking settlers that had invaded and settled in the area in the 9th and 10th centuries.
The Normans were a warrior people, and they quickly became a force to be reckoned with in Europe. They were able to conquer England in 1066, thanks in part to their use of the feudal system, which allowed them to create a strong centralized government.
The feudal system was a way of organizing society that was based on the idea of nobles owing loyalty to their king in exchange for protection and rewards. Under this system, the king controlled all the land in his kingdom and granted it to his noblemen in exchange for their loyalty and service.
The noblemen then divided up their land among their vassals, who were in turn required to give their loyalty and service to the nobleman. This system created a hierarchical society in which everyone owed allegiance to someone else. It was an efficient way of organizing society, but it also led to a lot of conflict as people fought for power and status.
The Normans were also responsible for bringing new technologies and ideas to England, including the use of castles and the introduction of the French language.
The Domesday book is a record of the land and property in England that was created by William the Conqueror in 1086. It was a survey of all the land and property in the country, and it was used to assess how much tax the king could collect. The book was named after the day on which it was completed – Domesday (which means ‘day of judgement’).
Top 10 Facts About the Normans
Here are ten interesting facts about the Normans:
1. The Normans were a warrior people who were able to conquer England after the Battle of Hastings 1066.
2. The Normans were considered “Norsemen” by the people they conquered, due to their Viking ancestry. Those that invaded Norway were also called Northmen.
3. They spoke French, which is why they are sometimes referred to as the Northern French People or the North French People.
4. They were descended from Scandinavians (Norwegians, Danes and Swedes) that had settled in the Normandy region of France.
5. After conquering England, many Normans went on to help William the Conqueror conquer Sicily in southern Italy.
6. The term “Norman” actually comes from a type of castle that was built by the Normans.
7. As a way to thank God for their victories, some of the knights carved figures from stone and placed them on their castle walls or church walls as decorations. These carvings also became known as “Norman Soldiers” which is how they got their name.
8. In 1066, William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings marked the beginning of Norman occupation in England.
9. For centuries after their invasion, English rulers would still use some French words for official titles and legal documents that are still used today. They also had permanent French speaking advisors that worked closely with them on court business.
10. In 1066, the Norman language was close to Old French and is actually a dialect of it.
Timeline of the Norman Conquest
- January 1066 – Edward the Confessor died, and Harold II became king.
- 25 September 1066 – Battle of Stamford Bridge took place near York, between the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings
- 14 October 1066 – Harold II was killed in the Battle of Hastings
- 25 December 1066 – William the Conqueror was crowned at Westminster Abbey, making him King William I
- 1070 – First Norman stone castle is built in Wales
- 9 September 1087 – William I dies in Rouen France
- 26 September 1087 – William II is crowned at Westminster Abbey
- 1096 – Oxford University is Founded
- 2 August 1100 – William II dies while hunting in the New Forest
- 5 August 1100 – Henry I is crowned King at Westminster Abbey
- 22 December 1135 – Stephen is crowned king after the death of Henry I in Normandy
- 1141 – Matilda briefly claims the throne from her cousin Stephen
- May 1152 – Henry of Anjou (the future Henry II of England) marries Eleanor of Aquitaine
- January 1153 – Henry of Anjou arrives in England to press his claim for the throne
- December 1153 – Stephen signs the Treaty of Wallingford agreeing Henry is to be the next King of England
- October 1154 – Henry returns to England after the death of Stephen I
William I, the Conqueror (king from 1066-1087) – the first Norman king of England, and he ruled from 1066-1087. He was able to conquer England due to his use of the feudal system, which allowed him to create a strong centralized government.
He also brought new technologies and ideas to England, including the use of castles and the introduction of the French language. William was a ruthless ruler, and he is best known for his brutal suppression of the Saxon uprising in 1069. Despite his harsh methods, he was able to bring stability to England and usher in a new golden age for the country.
William II, Rufus (king from 1087-1100) – William II was called Rufus (which means ‘reddish’) because he had a red face, and not because he had red hair. William died in suspicious circumstances.
Henry I, Beauclerc (king from 1100-1135) – Henry I was called Beauclerc because he was very well educated – it means ‘fine scholar’
Stephen (king from 1135-1154) – When Henry I died in 1135, Stephen was crowned king, he was a weak and ineffective ruler, and his reign was marked by civil war. In 1154, he was forced to sign the Treaty of Wallingford, which recognized, Henry II, as the rightful heir to the throne.
Empress Matilda (1141) – Empress Matilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England and his wife, Queen Matilda of Scotland. She had two older brothers, Robert and William, who both died young. As the only surviving child of Henry I, she was heir to the throne of England. When her father died in 1135, Stephen (her cousin) claimed the throne even though he had no legal right.
After the death of Stephen, Henry of Anjou is crowned Henry II and begins the Plantagenet Dynasty.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "The Normans" https://englishhistory.net/middle-ages/the-normans/, January 27, 2022