In the year 1066, the Saxon-Dane rulers of England were overthrown and replaced by new invaders.... The Normans

By the end of the year, the old king was gone and the fate of the country was changed for ever.

History of the Normans

Farleigh Hungerford Castle - Built by one of the last families to trace themselves back to the NormansContinuing the on-going history of the British Isles, this site looks at the effects and changes brought in by the Norman invasion.

When William defeated Harold in AD 1066, the future of the Isles took a major change. For hundreds of years to come, it would be embroiled in wars in Europe and the Holy Lands. Civil unrest would be rife and the once proud traditions of the Saxons would be ground under the stone of a network of castles that covered the country. However, there is much more to the new rule than this gloomy picture paints! The Normans brought a whole new society which made the country what it is today.

Norman Life

The Normans had an interesting mix of cultures. Historically, they were a combination of viking settlers who had married into the local Frankish cultures and as a result their society was a conglomerate of the two.

Norman Cavalry SoldiersAs befits their descendancy from the vikings, the Normans were a warlike culture and prized mounted soldiers. The Norman cavalry were to form the basis for medieval Knights and what we now look at as "Chivalry" stems from the Norman codes of conduct on the battlefield.

Norman Architecture - ArchesThe Normans were more than just mobile killing machines (although they excelled at this), and with their invasion of England they brought in some fantasic examples of architecture and style. As they were devout folowers of the medieval Christian church, the best examples of Norman style can be found in the churches and chapels that still exist all over the country...<Read More>...

Norman Warfare

The Normans brought with them a wholly new form of warfare. The Saxons and, before them, the Celts had largely depended on armies of "brave warriors" who would band together to fight the enemy. Often battles were resolved through one on one fights between clan heroes. (Very similar to classical era Greeks).

The Normans had a warfare style that evolved from their Norse roots and was heavily influenced by the European wars of the 9th and 10th centuries AD and the Frankish kings like Charlemagne.

Norman Footsoldier and Knight, Approx 1100ADThis resulted in the Norman armies being very organised and disciplined. The mainstay of the army was the heavy foot soldier, although the nobles and leaders were always mounted on powerful horses. During the middle-medieval period the status symbol of horses became firmly rooted and even today people think of owning a horse as being something the "rich" do

In addition to the new forms of combat, the Normans brought with them a brand new way of defending territory. The Saxons were from a culture of mobile raiders and as such tended to not rely on heavy defensive structures as we think of them today. Most Saxon strongholds were hill forts similar to the ones the Celts used, or where they had taken over an old Roman fortification the Saxons would shore up the walls and reuse it. In the mainstream of Saxon culture, it was wrong to attack the settlements where people lived (raids, however, were common place) and battles were always fought in open ground.

Example Norman Castle - lots still survive to this dayThis changed with the arrival of the Normans. They brought with them the massive stone structures we still see today. Norman castles were a stamp of authority as much as a defensive structure and the conquerors spent little time building hundreds of them accross the country...< More Soon >...

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Who were the Normans.

A common misconception today is that the Normans were "French." Strictly speaking this is not true although it is a widely held belief and, like most beliefs, has some basis in fact.

The name "Normans" comes from the term "Norsemen" and was applied to the vikings who sailed from Scandinavia, raided the Frankish kingdom and eventually settled.

During the 8th and 9th centuries, it was very common for vikings to raid then settle in new lands, and from the Frankish point of view, it must have been easier to give them the land...<read more>...

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