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Norman Conquest of England: The Consequences
The Norman Conquest was a crucial event in the history of England. It was the occurrence of this event that led to further developments in the English Monarchy, as well as with regard to the government. It also influenced the English society and the language ultimately giving England a new perspective. There were numerous events that ultimately lead to the conquest of England. It all started off when, King Knute the mighty reined over England and Duke William the Bastard was the Duke of Normandy. England and Normandy had good relations before the conquest occurred, as Aethelred the Unready, was married to a Norman princess, and had fled the country seeking protection in Normandy. His son Edward was born and brought up in France and later his son returned to England to conquer the English throne in 1042. Edward was also known as the 'Confessor'.
After assuming power, Edward established an Anglo-Saxon dynasty and to do so he brought many of his Norman friends and gave them posts in his government. In the year 1066, Edward died childless and after him, Harold who was actually the son of Edward's principal advisor, Godwin came to throne. But William, who was a duke of Normandy, did not appreciate this as being the second cousin of Edward he expected to be King after the demise of Edward. Hence he attacked England in September 1066. Unfortunately, Harold was in the North of England fighting against attacks from Norwegian Vikings. Taking advantage of the situation, William and his troops landed in Pevensey, which is on the south coast of England and captured the territory. On hearing of the attack, Harold tried to set up an opposition but was outnumbered by William's men. Hence the Norman's won the battle because of being more in number and William became the King of England on Christmas Day in 1066.
The period, when the Norman Conquest was being carried out, England was in social chaos. The results of the conquest were disastrous, having different affects on different locations. A very good example is the fact that the Normans found it very difficult to establish control over their newly acquired grounds, both the north and southwest. Right after the conquest, there was a system that let the Englishmen keep their land if they pledged to be loyal to the King. But at the same time, there were quite a few upheavals against the Norman rule between 1067 and 1070, Though quite a few of them were subservient to the Norman empire. Though it can be said in course of time, the defeat and the harsh conditions that the English had undergone which ultimately lead to various social and political turbulences after the conquest were forgotten. (Van Houts, pp: 9). The people just felt that the new rule established was meant to be and for their benefit and just got accustomed to it. The Normans and the English started to intermingle but faster than their mingling was that of national interest. This brings us to the realization that Norman Conquest did not just bring about political or military changes but brought about a rapid change in language, landscape and the building styles.
After the Norman Conquest, French culture started to spread in England. It was during this time that a lot of changes were implemented in England that led to the formation of Modern England. The spread of French was so rapid that French actually became the language of law, and it was also used in most songs, verses and for romance too. It spread so quickly that in a small span of time, all the noble men in Europe knew French and French was considered the ' Language of the civilized'. French culture slowly started to seep into every feature of English lives. The troops that had helped the conqueror while establishing control over England had retained back in England and later by the 11th and 12th century more troops started to pour into the country to work as defense forces for the castles built by the conqueror. In order to retain their conquest the French started to build numerous motte and bailey castles. Initially these were built with wood but later they were made in stone.
An excellent piece of this architecture is the Tower Of London that was built in 1068, that later developed to show the importance of the King. Another important and relevant feature that stands as a sign of the Norman Conquests are the open fields that are still used as ridges and furrow strips but along with this the obvious landscape changes were the mottes and the earth banks. Also along with this to enhance and symbolize Norman architecture were the Forests created by the Normans, like the New Forest. Another great piece of their work were the many churches and cathedrals built by them, an excellent example of which is the "Rochester Cathedral." Their architectural work started to influence the English artists so much that they started to use style like Romanesque and Gothic in their works, which can be found in well-known monuments like the Westminster Abbey and the Bath. (Van Houts, 1995, pp: 832)
Norman culture and people started to enter the various important positions in the church, even to the extent that the two archbishops were of Norman origin. The old English Bishop, Wulfstan of Worcester was the only one who has remained in his position till the Conqueror's reign was flourishing. Though he was of excellent character that did not stop Lanfranc to criticize him by saying that he was a simple and uneducated man, who did not even know French and was a burden as he was anyways not able to help in King. (Baugh&Cable, pp: 35-36). Another important change was the fact that there was a complete transfer of power from the Anglo-Saxon to Norman individuals. Under the Normans the English navy grew in leap and bounds and it was the Normans who had first started the bow in the English army. Before the Conquest, the bow was not very much in use by the Saxons.
After the introduction they started to use it among the masses too. Trade flourished, as the merchants and the craftsmen came from the continent to sell their goods to the troops and nobility in England. It was also because of this that French spread very rapidly. It comes to our notice that the conquest had a very important affect on English language which influenced it to the affect that Old English literature that was dead and long gone before this period in history would have collapsed and disappeared if not for the Norman Conquest. (Ward; Waller; Trent; Erskine; Sherman; Doren, pp: 15-17). Since most of the nobility were of Norman origin they spoke French, but still the commoners continued to speak English. Thus this brought about an obvious distinction between the higher class of individuals and the other ones because of which the vocabulary of English language was affected to a great extent. Thus it was the amalgamation of the Anglo-Saxon culture and the Norman culture that lead to the formation of the new English culture.
After the conquest, in 1066, England started to take active part in European politics and showed keen interest in the Continent. After the Norman Conquest England no longer had bonded relations with Scandinavia instead they started to have better contacts with Western Europe. The Normans during their 88 years of reigning in England brought about a feudal system and the popularity of the Anglo-Saxon community gradually decreased. Some of the major features that encompass Feudalism are vassalage, military grouping and fragmentation of authority. It was after the conquest that the power the King had over the land…[continue]
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