How did The Normans Change England?

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      The Norman Conquest of England Quizlet(1066) is an event of great significance in the life of the Anglo-Saxon people and their literature. The Normans were not really alien to the Anglo-Saxons, for both were the races of the Pagan Danes, having strange affinities. It was when these Danes became masters of the French province called Normandy and Saxons became definitely settled in the island that the break between the two races became complete. The Normans were quickly Frenchified in their character and outlook and had forgotten their Paganism together with the country of their origin and also its language and tradition. This was not the case of the Anglo-Saxons, who were still Pagans, retaining their traditions of the continental home. At the time of the conquest the Normans were real Frenchmen in language and civilization, and French revolution in English literature happen.

Norman Conquest timeline, how long Norman Conquest took place
Norman Conquest of England

      In 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy, who claimed the English crown on the death of King Edward the confessor, invaded England with a large army and marched inland. Harold, the English King, marched to the south of the country, collecting reinforcement on the way. He took up position on a hill about six miles from Hastings, where the Normans found him. The battle, usually called the Battle of Hastings (Oct. 14,1066) was stubbornly contested, but after a time William tried a ruse. He pretended to fly along with some of his men. Many of the Saxons pursued them, thus breaking their ranks, while others stood faithfully round their king. Shooting in the air the Norman archers killed a good number of the enemies, including Harold himself. The Saxon army was completely destroyed and William was free to march to London, where he proclaimed himself as the King of England. Thus on the field of Hastings the English suffered a defeat, which was fruitful of great cosequences for their life and culture.

      The Norman Conquest good for England, it has been said, "brought England more than a change of rulers." The Normans brought with them new literary ideals together with their laws and administration. Latin was the language of official documents. The polite societies wrote in Latin and spoke in French. Educated readers read not English but Latin and French. The aristocrats were all Normans. As a result the native language receded to the background, was completely despised, and English literature disappeared and became Silent for a century. After the Battle of Maldon English poetry produced practically nothing for a century. And at last when the language regained its ascendency as the official and the national language due to a rise of insular patriotism among the Anglo-Saxon but a new language with a strong mixture of French vocabulary, grammatical rules, etc. The new literature which was the work of the Anglo-Normans and mostly aristocrats, was written in this new language. Two French ideals influenced this literature - romance and allegory. Not only the secular poems but even the religious poetry of the age were influenced by these ideals, especially the latter.

      The Middle English poetry begins in the translation of French romance and allegory. There were the four cycles of romances, namely the matter of France, the matter of Rome, the matter of Britain, besides romances of Saxon origin. Fierce war and courtly love were the themes of these romances. The allegories dealt with the new religion of courtly love, the most important being Roman de la Rose (1250) which has written by Guillame de Lorris, himself a cleric. But the bourgeois too had their characteristic poetry-the Fables, in which vices and follies were satirised under the likeness of beasts. The most famous of the kind was Reynard the Fox. Lyrical poetry too had its hey-day and these were 'composed to be sung'.

      The Middle English prose is inconsiderable. It is generally practical in purpose and moralistic. The Ancrene Ritvle is a treatise containing instructions and guidance to women adopting the life of ancresses (recluse), written by one Bishop Poore. Another work The Ayenbite of Inwyt (the Remorse of Conscience) is a translation of a French work and a bad one at that. But it points to the way in which the language is developing

      Contemporary literature in English "laboured under the disadvantages of a despised language, a loss of tradition and lack of culture" in Norman Conquest timeline. Its aesthetic value is therefore small. lt was a literature written by half-educated men for ignorant people. But this has a great interest for the philologist, in as much as it shows the gradual transformation that the old language was undergoing. It was in the end of the fourteenth century that the dialect of East Midlands the district of London and the seat of the two universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the region in which the King had his residence, triumphed over the others and became 'King's English of the present day.

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