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Five Facts About What the Normans Brought to Britain

By Edited Dec 27, 2015 3 5

1. Before William the conqueror invaded, if you were called Alex, then you would be called Alex. But if someone else shared your name in your area, then you would be called David's son Alex or Alex the carpenter. When William arrived he brought all the surnames over with him like Davidson.

2. The buildings we know as castles were invented by the Normans as the idea was brought with them. Before they were here, we had fortified towns and houses, but when the Normans won the Battle of Hastings, they built towers on top of mounds surrounded by another walled enclosure (called Bailey Towers) and other bigger versions, more like palaces we know today.

Motte and Bailey Castle

3. The Normans introduced French words into the English language because when William I won, he gave all the top jobs to French people. These high ranking nobles still spoke French whilst all the peasants were speaking English. Therefore the commoners started to pick up a word or two and incorporate it into their sentences. This was seen as posh and well-bred. Certain words like chair and parliament were introduced this way.

An English Longbow
4. The Normans managed to make the Britons use the bow more and helped us invent the longbow. Before they came we hardly used the bow, after they had defeated us, (and a few months of using a bow four feet long) we built the longbow, a very deadly and effective weapon.

5. The Normans effectively brought over an economy and lordship. Many Kings and Queens sought to help stimulate their country's wealth. David I of Scotland was exiled and so joined Henry I's court. He was influenced by the Norman culture and when the crown of Scotland was ready for the taking, managed to get it with backing from Henry I. He then brought in the feudal system through English and French knights. With an economy like this, there was space for anyone to rise with increased wealth. Yet it still remained a hierarchy society as invasions strengthened their power.




Apr 11, 2009 4:45pm
Very intresting article
Apr 12, 2009 7:35am
Thank you. Took me a while to find some of this info :)
Aug 26, 2009 1:19pm
Why is this article featured? It’s riddled with grammatical and structural errors, which makes it easy to misconstrue the content and mislead readers. The research seems slapdash, the support nonexistent, and the explanations underdeveloped.

1."When William arrived he brought all the surnames over with him like Davidson." This makes Davidson sound like a person William the Conqueror is trying to emulate. It should read: "When William arrived, he brought surnames such as "Davidson" over with him." The other problem is that, according to this sentence, William himself implemented surnames in England, which he didn’t. William's invasion was in the 11th Century, and the Norman aristocracy in Britain didn't adopt surnames until the 13th Century, and the lower classes didn't completely do it until the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th Century. Therefore it's misleading to say that William brought over surnames. It’s true, his invasion yielded that eventual result, but it was not something done by the man himself. If the author had said "the Normans introduced surnames", the discrepancy could be amended.

2. “The buildings we know as castles were invented by the Normans as the idea was brought with them.” Why is the word “invented” used here? Shouldn’t the word “introduced” be used instead? Better yet, why not reorganize the sentence: “The Normans brought castles from mainland Europe…” and continue on?

“Before they were here, we had fortified towns and houses” Who is “we” here? Is the author assuming his or her audience to be British, or assuming that we know he or she is British? Why not combine the information with the previous sentence. “England had fortified towns and houses before the Normans brought castles from mainland Europe.” Then continue with the bit about the Battle of Hastings. Further, it should be noted that Normans brought Motte and Bailey castles (the same type) to England before William the Conqueror (in fact, by King Edward the Confessor’s vassals), since the previous section deals with a later point in history.

“…they built towers on top of mounds surrounded by another walled enclosure (called bailey towers) and other bigger versions, more like palaces we know today.” This is difficult to picture. From this sentence, a reader wouldn’t know whether the walled enclosure is around the mound or the tower. Furthermore, the author seems to be defining the WALL as the bailey tower rather than the tower itself. This is likely an error of sentence structure, but it creates confusion nonetheless. The wall is called a “curtain wall”, and the “bailey” is the courtyard inside that wall, and any tower inside that bailey may be called a bailey tower, but would more properly be referred to as a “keep”.

It should also be noted that “castle” and “palace” are not interchangeable synonyms. A castle is built for the purpose of fortification, whereas a palace is built as a residence

I could continue on with parts three through five, but I feel I've made my point clearly enough.
Sep 13, 2009 2:39pm
References to sources would be good for this type of article so that facts can be verified. Overall, some good information here despite some grammatical errors.
Nov 30, 2009 9:54am
Does the author assert that the feudal system allowed serfs to rise and gain wealth and social status? Or was it a form of enslavement to allow a powerful few to amass wealth through the forced labor of those serfs? Either I need a refresher on economics, or they do.
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