Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Norman/French Soldier

An illustration of a Norman soldier, its usual now with the mention of the name Norman, for someone to go into how the Normans were descendants of Vikings etc. but in my opinion, this is much too over exaggerated. To me, they were really just French, for many reasons really for instance they spoke french, their culture was French, they fought in a french style and built in french ways, albeit with a regional character, about the only thing Norse may have been their boats, but I believe that style of boat was becoming the norm around the Atlantic by that time. There was only ever a small amount of Scandinavians who settled in Normandy, and at the time of the 1066 invasion of England they had been well integrated into the native population. And even with the Viking blood it was mostly in the Elites and they had married local for over a hundred years, every generation being half French, meant within a few generations there was very little Scandinavian blood left.

Also the initial invasion force was not only Norman, but there was also Bretons and from many other areas of Northern France. In reality the Norman invasion of England, should really be known as the Northern French invasion of England or if you prefer, the Frankish invasion. At a guess, there is probably many reasons for this change to Norman instead of French, for one Vikings are very popular at the moment and so to debunk the term could damage the book or TV series your selling. Also to write books about Normans you can talk about their influence in various arenas at the time, like the crusades and Sicily but the reality is that even here they were from all over France. If you look at the middle ages, especially in the high medieval period, it is a period dominated by the French, with the likes of Gothic cathedrals reaching fruition and spreading out from there.

Finally, the Normans have been a useful neutral escape goat, like the so called Norman invasion of Ireland, while at the start there was some French & Flemish, the reality was it was mostly a south western English & Welsh invasion, but I believe in the 19th century there was an attempt to reconcile Ireland & Britain, aiming the blame on the neutral Normans would help in this goal.

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