Norman England, 1066- 1154: Conquest, Colonisation and Conflict

The social and cultural consequences of the Norman Conquest of England were deep and enduring. A foreign, Francophone regime displaced the native élites: many of the former rulers, women as well as men, fled the kingdom. Enlisting in the Varangian Guard, some Englishmen even went as far as Byzantium and the Crimea. The new regime was inclusive in so far as it was eager to recruit foreigners of all kinds—Frenchmen, Bretons, Lotharingians, Italians, Spaniards, and even Jews—as long as they were serviceable and loyal; but racist in so far as it strove to deny persons of English descent access to high office. The English were denigrated as barbarians and peasants, but because the Conquest was not followed by sustained settlement from the Continent, many natives clung on in sub-altern positions, just below the foreigners who held the highest offices and the best estates. The English were also far from being the only victims: the regime also continued the later Anglo-Saxon state’s efforts to subjugate Wales and northern Britain. A wide-ranging introduction to the history of Norman England and the debates that it has inspired, this course allows you to consider the history and effects of this transformative event.