THE NORMAN CONQUEST OF ENGLANDCategory: 11th century
As you already know four different peoples invaded England.
First came the Celts in the 6th century В. C.; then the Romans in the 1st century A. D.; they were followed by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century; after them came the Danes at the end of the 8th century.
In the 11th century England was invaded by the Normans.
This was the fifth and the last invasion of England.
In the 9th century while the Danes were plundering England another branch of Northmen who were related to the Danes were doing the same along the Northern coasts of France. They came to be called the Normans, a variation of the word “Northmen”. The Danes, as you remember, settled down in the conquered part of England known as the Danelaw. Likewise, the Normans settled down on land conquered from the French king — a territory which is still called Normandy after these Normans.
Many changes came about in the life of the Normans and the Danes after the 9th century. By the 11th century the Danes had finally settled down as subjects of the English kings. As time went on they gradually mixed with the Anglo-Saxons among whom they lived. Thus they retained their Germanic language and many of their customs that were very much like those of the Anglo-Saxons. But the Normans who had settled down in France were now quite different from their Germanic forefathers. They lived among the French people, who were a different people, with different manners, customs and language. They had learned to speak the French language, many ways, they had become like the French themselves. They adopted their manners and customs, and their way of life. The establishment of the feudal system in France had been completed by the 11th century and the Norman barons had come into possession of large tracts of land and a great number of serfs.
The Normans lived under the rule of their own duke. By the 11th century the dukes of Normandy had become very powerful. Though they acknowledged the king of France as their overlord, they were actually as strong as the king himself, whose domain was smaller than the Duchy of Normandy. Like other French dukes and counts they made themselves practically independent. They coined their own money, made their own laws, held their own courts, built their own castles. They could wage wars against other dukes and even against the king himself. As a well- armed and well-trained cavalry, the Norman knights were the best in Europe. They were formidable fighters and would wage wars in order to seize new lands and serfs.
These descendants of the Northmen who had settled in northern France in the 9th century became the new conquerors of England.