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Does modern Britain owe much to the Normans?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The Normans and the French king.
  3. The Anglo-Saxon English peasants.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

?Apparently as the result of one day's fighting (14 October 1066), England received a new royal dynasty, a new aristocracy, a virtually new Church, a new art, a new architecture and a new language.?(DAVIES, 1976; 103). This sentence shows clearly the crucial influence of the Normans on the future of England. However, what happened in one day was just the beginning of longer and deeper changes on British culture. Actually, the conquest of England by William the Conqueror cannot be limited to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After this battle, England became under control of Normandy for few centuries, which is clearly enough to transform an existing society into another one. This era can be seen as a pivotal phase for Britain: this invasion created a stronger bond towards continental Europe.

[...] In reality, the aristocratic class of modern Britain owes much to the Normans than the modern British society as a whole. In the end, the Norman's linguistic legacy is more about giving some richness to the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary than transforming it: structural form of the language has remained purely Germanic? (DIBELIUS; 17). The use of French language in politics and law is completely over, as for the administration in general. It could be told the same about architecture. The Norman influence on architecture, especially concerning religious building as cathedrals, abbeys, is indubitable: number of major churches rebuilt in whole or in part is before 1100 is staggering: they include the cathedrals of Canterbury, Lincoln, Old Sarum, Rochester, Winchester, London, (DAVIES, 1976; 114). [...]


[...] Even if the Normans stayed for centuries, it is not obvious that modern Britain owe everything to the Normans. To what extent can we consider that Norman heritage is crucial to understand modern Britain? We will see in a first part the direct influence of the Normans on the British society. However, we will analyse in the second part how the Norman influence declined through centuries, leading to a modern Britain not so close to continental Europe. Clearly is a key date in British history because for the last time England was invaded. [...]

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