So where did the Norman’s originate from and become a major force upon the lands of England?
According to history; Viking sea-raiders came in their longship’s from Scandinavia, creating a state of fear as they attacked the lands of Western Europe… They plundered; they killed and took captives to sell into a life of slavery.
Vikings under their leader Hrolf, pillaged the lands of North-Eastern France, around the area of the Seine River in 911. The threat they imposed led to King Charles of the Franks, negotiating a treaty at St.Clair-sur-Epte in 911. Effectively giving the lands bound by the rivers Brestle, Epte, Avre and Dives, by 924 they received Bayeux, Exmes and Sees, and in 933 the Cotenin and Avranchin, making up the lands of Normandy.
These Viking’s had come from the land’s of the north. Two generation on and their lifestyle had changed. They had taken under their wing so to speak, the language, religion, laws, customs and politics of the Franks. They were referred to as the Northmen of Normandy, only later to be known as Normans.
Their desire for conquest, led Normans to pursue military goals abroad. Normans went to Spain to fight the Moors; to Byzantium to fight the Turks; to Sicily in 1061 to fight the Saracens; and England in 1066.
The Norman Duke, William I, friend of Edward the Confessor, the Saxon English King who reigned from 1042-1066, and who supposedly promised the throne to William upon his death.
William I had no choice in his eyes, when Harold II claimed the English throne, which had been promised to him. So these two armies met to decide who should be the rightful King of England. The Norman style of fighting against the Anglo-Saxons… there was no real contest as William I… William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066. It was a brutal time, as thousand’s were slaughtered in battle, and more died through famine and disease.
Norman England added to Norman France created a powerful and rich territory across Europe.
The last ruling Norman Monarch, should not have been King Stephen, for he stole it from Queen Matilda, the rightful heir of King Henry I; her father. At that time England was a male dominated society, which would not crown a woman as the outright successor. Matilda, was her father’s daughter, if she wasn’t going to reign, made sure her son Henry II; leader of the Plantagenet Dynasty would be the next King of England.
The legacy left by the Norman’s has to be its Churches, Cathedrals and Castles, many of which were built out of stone, that stretched across this land of ours:
Durham Cathedral – Winchester Cathedral
The Nave Arcade of Norwich Cathedral (1094-1145)
The West Front of Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire (1108)
The Nave of Rochester Cathedral built by Gundulf (1080)
Tower of London – Windsor Castle
Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Cambridge. Built by the Knight’s Templar, a monastic order founded in 1115 to protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem.
William I ran England using the “Feudal System” where the King owned everything. So that meant he rented everything to his Barons, and they provided him with as army when required. These Baron’s leased out land to farmer’s etc, and so the Domesday Book of 1086 was produced, creating an inventory of the country…
The Bayeux Tapestry was instigated by William’s half brother; Odo and produced by Queen Matilda. It provides one with a visual record of events in 1066.
The New Forest, which to-day is a National Park, was formerly lands located to the North-East of Southampton and commandeered by William I, as his exclusive hunting grounds.
Viking Ships Painting: Wikipedia