The Influence of the Norman Conquest
Incorporating French into English Culture and Language
Normandy and England circa. 1066
Normandy is a coastal district in France that lies almost directly across from England. Its name was derived from the groups of Northmen who settled in the district only a century or two before the Norman Conquest. Although the Norman population would be largely Scandinavian in origin during the ninth and tenth centuries, it would shift in the century spanning 966 to 1066 to a largely French population (Baugh, 1959, p. 128).
In the year 1066, England was challenged by the fact that it had lost its king, Edward the Confessor. England found itself in a ...view middle of the document...
Edward was their only child and heir to the throne at his father's passing in 1042 (Emerson, 1894, p. 54).
Just a year before the Norman Conquest, King Edward was dealing with the significant threat of civil unrest and a political coup and his death at the turn of 1066 worked to further set the stage for the Norman Conquest (Kapelle, 1979, p. 100). Unfortunately, the uncertainty of Edward's true intentions concerning who should succeed him to the throne of England contributed to the Norman Conquest by forcing William of Normandy to take the English throne by force. Earl Harold had quickly established who would take the throne by taking it himself (p. 101). William, who would eventually be called William the Conqueror, would have to take the throne from the largely self-appointed King Harold.
The Norman Conquest
A comprehensive examination of the Norman Conquest is beyond the scope of the present research however it is essential to look at some of its key events in relation to stimulating cultural change in England. It is no surprise that the Norman Conquest is given major significance in the history of England and English society. An examination of the literature reveals more than two centuries of Norman rule that was consistently challenged by the civil unrest that had face Edward, was inherited by Harold and would ultimately be transferred to William of Normandy. William would first have to take the English throne from Harold, which he did on October 14, 1066 when he completely defeated Harold and his army at Hastings (Kapelle, 1979, p. 105).
The research demonstrates that the Norman Conquest was not necessarily an unexpected or devastating experience for all of England. On the contrary, there was a centuries-long connection between Normandy and England that had made the Conquest both inevitable and somehow expected (Frame, 1995, p. 23). For example, the Norman Conquest as a strategic and internationally significant event has been minimized by descriptions like that offered by Davis (1905):
The Norman Conquest of England was the outcome of a struggle, short and spasmodic in its character, between a handful of adventurers and a decadent nation lying on the outer fringe of European politics; and although it nearly affected the interests of several powers it occasioned no general disturbance of international relations (p. 1). The proximity of England and Normandy also made it extremely easy to travel from England to Normandy or vice versa, which over the centuries worked to make most gaps between the English and Norman society almost entirely imperceptible (Davis, 1905, p. 23). It was not just the English and Norman societies but also the English and Norman worlds as a whole that were joined by forces that were "stronger than those that would have sundered them" (p. 23). The research will demonstrate one of those forces was the person of the ruler, both Norman and English but especially by the example of William (p. 23).