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Post  Admin on Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:49 am

17) Describe in detail the political situation in Britain leading up to the Norman Invasion and
immediately after (Simon, Sandie)


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Post  Sandie on Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:03 pm

When in 1042, an English king regained the throne, namely Edward the Confessor, he turned out to be a harbinger of French influence rather than a restorer of the English tongue. A king perhaps wiser in the ways of heaven than the ways of earth, and, what is more to the point, one who had spent a long period in exile, Edward cultivated close relations with the dukes of Normandy and even, in 1050, appointed a Frenchman as bishop of London. When Edward died in January 1066 he had managed, with the help of the rival claimants, to muddy the succession to the throne sufficiently to ensure that both Harold and William of Normandy could lay reasonable claim to the throne, and neither was reluctant to do so.
It is most reasonable to suggest that the most important immediate effect of the Norman Conquest was political and that the most important long-term effects were cultural.
The Cambridge History of the English Language, p.9-10

The Norman Conquest was the last successful invasion of England by a foreign claimant. Others have tried – such as the Spanish, the French, the Germans – and failed. We can therefore look back on the Norman Conquest as helping to shape the England of the present. The importance of 1066 is seen in the permanence of those changes.


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Post  Admin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:13 am

One cannot talk about the political situation in britain without talking about the Vikings. In 911 the French ruler Charles the simple allowed a group of vikings to settle in Normandy he hoped that by doing this he would protect himself from future vikings invasions.Their settlement proved so succesfull that with times these vikings became known has the Northmen adopting the religion and language of the region.

In 1002 the king of england married Richard 2, duke of Normandy. Their son Edward the confessor spent many years in Normandy. In 1042 Edward succeded to the english throne.This led to the a powerfull intrusion of Norman interest in English politics as Edward would appoint soldiers,courtiers and clerics to various positions of powers.

When Edward died in 1066 he lacked an heir this let to a large dispute over who would succeed him on the english throne. Edward immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex, Harod Godwinson. However Duke william claimed that Edward promised him the crown. Without an agreement both prepared their troops and ships for invasion.



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Post  mavezina on Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:20 am

17) Describe in detail the political situation in Britain leading up to the Norman Invasion and immediately after.
Morris, Lori. It’s a Long Story.
(p. 85-87) As you probably :p know, mid 5th century, the Saxons, the Jutes, the Angles and the Frisians invaded the British Isles and established seven kingdoms. (The list of more famous Old English kings includes Ethelbert who ruled in Kent in the early part of the Old English period, Egbert of Wessex who took over in 825 and his grandson Alfred, who came to power in 899). By the time Alfred ascended to the throne, a number of kingdoms had joined or been forcibly joined together, enough for Alfred's line of heirs to declare themselves to be kings of the English people.

Hence, some 400 years after the Germanic peoples had begun settling in the British Isles (455), the English nation was born. There were many wars during that 400 year period, wars between the kingdoms and a certain Christian influence from Rome which spread throughout the Isles. Thus, churches and schools spread, the Latin language again took more importance.

Then, marauding Danes started to cause trouble, burning majestic cathedrals. The Danish incursions marked the beginning of a long series of plundering Scandinavian attacks on various English sites. By 850 whole armies of Danes began to arrive in England once again: by 851 both Canterbury and London had fallen to the invaders. In 867 York fell and in 869 Edmund, the king of East Anglia, was killed by the Danes.

The Danes were threatening King Alfred’s kingdom. But in spite of the Danish threat, Alfred managed to scrape together enough English support to launch his own attack on the Danes. By 878 he had forced them to capitulate.

Alfred's heroics did not put a complete end to the Danish threat. His successors had to deal with new invasions. They also had the added complication of Danish-Scottish complicity to contend with. The Scots, who had not forgotten their losses to the original Germanic invaders hundreds of years earlier, allied themselves with the Danish. In 1014, the Danes drove the English king from the throne and, after several more years of skirmishes, took over the task of governing for a period of twenty-five years!

(88) The Normans had close relations with the people of England, both economical and political, since they were close ethnically to the Germanic and Danish invaders. When a Danish king of England died with no heir in 1042, Edward inherited the English throne and died in 1066 without an heir. To fill the power vacuum, Harold was chosen by influential English nobles to be king.

While the choice of Harold caused no particular problems in England, back in Normandy there were some people who were not happy with the decision. William, who was the duke of Normandy, felt that he should have been chosen. William was indignant enough about the choice of Harold to raise an army and sail across the English Channel to set matters straight. The armies of Harold and William met near Hastings in south-eastern England in September of 1066. Harold died. The English army fled and William began burning and pillaging his way toward London. Rather than see London burn, the inhabitants capitulated on Christmas Day of 1066 and William became the king of England.

The Norman victory meant changes on a massive scale for England and for the English language.
While in many respects, the Danes treated the English as equals which served to lessen the linguistic and social impact of the Danish ascension to power, the Norman Conquest, in contrast, resulted in a linguistic and social rupture in England.


William and his entourage brought a non-Germanic language with them when they came to power. When this language became the official language of administration in England, an unparalleled linguistic and social rift resulted. French became the language of power and of prestige. English was the language of the conquered masses. This is why the end of the Old English period is set in 1100, just after the Norman Conquest. Middle English would emerge as a substantially different form of
the language: a variety of English awash in French borrowings.

(91) His first political moves were designed to consolidate the French hold on England by replacing native English earls and churchmen with his people, as well as traders and merchants who bought French in business tradings. The result was a wholesale change in the administration of England and in the language of administration.

Native English speakers who wished to get ahead quickly in politics or in business realized that an ability to speak the language of the conquerors was essential and they set about learning French. After a generation or two of this pursuit of French the result was a linguistic split in England along class
lines. Since the upper classes were the literate classes and the upper classes were now French-speaking, English literature, which had not been highly developed to start with, was relegated to a position of inferiority with respect to French literature. It took a 100 years for the English language to make a comeback…

Mugglestone, Lynda (ed). (2006) The Oxford History of English. Oxford University Press.
(44) During Alfred’s reign (871-899), he succeeded in the education of many of his subjects and in making his kingdom a center of intellectual achievement.
(55) Cultural, social and political as well as the spoken language underwent enormous changes because of the Norman Conquest which will reflect in the development of Middle English.
(66) Following the Viking wars (870 +) from the time of King Alfred, Norse spearkers were found in England (first spoken (not written) language of a substantial immigrant community, it was long-lived)…
However, the conquerors from the Norman Conquest spoke a different language than their subjects, they made French the administrative language..

*See question on Diglossia: As Norse, French(H) and English(L) were all spoken in England during that period, it may be a said that a situation of diglossia existed between these languages.


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