1066, and all that
0 comment Friday, May 30, 2014 |
On September 28, 1066, William, Duke of Normandy landed at Pevensey in Sussex; this led eventually to the Norman conquest of England.
What does this have to do with America? It's part of our Western heritage, part of the backstory of America.
The Normans don't get much favorable coverage in our history books; the prevailing attitude is that the Normans were just these aggressors who came, saw, and conquered, and after playing the villains in stories like Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, disappeared into the mists of history. Wrong; they have many descendants in England today, as well as throughout the countries settled by British men and women. The Normans in fact have descendants in America today. Many of us of old-stock ancestry have considerable Norman ancestry.
We hear the term 'Anglo-Saxon' used so frequently that we forget the contribution Normans made to the history and the culture of Britain.
The influence on the English language was considerable; just compare Old English to Middle English.
Some of the Norman words which entered English are parliament, marriage, matrimony, courtesy, chivalry, and many others.
And speaking of invasions of England, Sir George Trevelyan said
It is a commonplace to say that the British are a people of mixed blood´┐Ż.it may be as well to say, at the outset, that the entrance to our islands of the races who people it today was completed at the time of the Norman conquest. With that event, which itself made less racial than social and cultural change, we come to an end of migratory invasions and forced entry at point of sword. Since Hastings there has been nothing more catastrophic than a slow peaceful infiltration of alien craftsmen and labourers -- Flemings, Huguenots, Irish and others -- with the acquiescence of the existing inhabitants of the island."
I don't know when Sir George Trevelyan wrote those words, but doubtless it was before Britain was inundated with immigrants -- without the active consent of the existing inhabitants of the island.

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