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Norman Empire

Coat of arms of Normandy

Norman possessions in the 12th century
Capital Rouen, London
Language(s) Norman, Latin, Middle English
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Monarchy
Norman Monarchs
 - 1066-1087 William I
 - 1135-1154 Stephen
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Established 1066
 - Disestablished 1154

The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of mostly Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock. Their identity emerged initially in the first half of the tenth century, and gradually evolved over succeeding centuries until they disappeared as an ethnic group in the early thirteenth century. The name "Normans" derives from "Northmen" or "Norsemen", after the Vikings from Scandinavia who founded Normandy.

They played a major political, military, and cultural role in medieval Europe and even the Near East. They were famed for their martial spirit and Christian piety. They quickly adopted the Romance language of the land they settled in, their dialect becoming known as Norman, an important literary language. The Duchy of Normandy, which they formed by treaty with the French crown, was one of the great large fiefs of medieval France. The Normans are famed both for their culture, such as their unique Romanesque architecture, and their musical traditions, as well as for their military accomplishments and innovations. Norman adventurers established a kingdom in Sicily and southern Italy by conquest, and a Norman expedition on behalf of their duke led to the Norman Conquest of England. Norman influence spread from these new centres to the Crusader States in the Near East, to Scotland and Wales in Great Britain, and to Ireland.

In Russian historiography, the term "Norman" is often used for the Varangians, as for example in the term "Normanist theory". In French historiography too, the term is often applied to the various Viking groups that raided France in the ninth century before settling down to found Normandy.



Eleventh century Benedictine monk and historian, Geoffrey Malaterra characterised the Normans thus:

Specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greediness, that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were, moreover, a race skillful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war."[1]

Their quick adaptability expressed itself in the shrewd Norman willingness to take on local men of talent, to marry the high-born local women; confidently illiterate Norman masters used the literate clerks of the church for their own purposes.


Geographically, Normandy was approximately the same region as the old church province of Rouen and what was called Brittania Nova as well as western Flanders. It had no natural frontiers and was previously merely an administrative unit. Historically, its population was mostly Frankish. It included Viking settlers, who had begun arriving in the 880s, divided between a small colony in Upper (or eastern) Normandy and a larger one in Lower (or western) Normandy. The Viking contingents who raided, and ultimately settled Normandy and some parts of the Atlantic coast, included Danes, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Vikings, as well as Anglo-Danes from the English Danelaw, under Viking control.

In the course of the 10th century, the initial destructive incursions of Norse war bands into the rivers of France evolved into permanent encampments that included women and chattel. The pagan culture was driven underground by the Christian faith and Gallo-Romance language of the local people. The small groups of Vikings that settled there adopted the language and culture of the French majority. After a generation or two, the Normans were generally indistinguishable from their Frankish neighbours.

In Normandy, they adopted the growing feudal doctrines of the rest of northern France, and worked them, both in Normandy and in England, into a functional hierarchical system. The Norman warrior class was new and different from the old French aristocracy, many of whom could trace their families back to Carolingian times, while the Normans could seldom cite ancestors before the beginning of the 11th century. Most knights remained poor and land-hungry; by 1066, Normandy had been exporting fighting horsemen for more than a generation. Knighthood before the time of the Crusades held little social status, and simply indicated a professional warrior wealthy enough to own a war horse. Many Normans of France and Britain would eventually serve as avid Crusaders.

The Norman language was forged by the adoption of the indigenous oïl language by a Norse-speaking ruling class, and developed into the regional language which survives today.


In Italy

The early Norman castle at Adrano.

Opportunistic bands of Normans successfully established a foothold far to the south of Normandy. Probably the result of returning pilgrims' stories, the Normans entered the Mezzogiorno as warriors in 1017, at the latest. In 999, according to Amatus of Montecassino, pilgrims returning from Jerusalem called in at the port of Salerno, when a Saracen attack occurred. The Normans fought so valiantly that Prince Guaimar IV begged them to stay, but they refused and instead offered to tell others back home of the prince's request. William of Apulia tells that, in 1016, pilgrims to the shrine of the Archangel Michael at Monte Gargano were met by Melus of Bari, a Lombard freedom-fighter, who persuaded them to return with more warriors to help throw off the Byzantine rule, which they did.

The two most prominent families to arrive in the Mediterranean were descendants of Tancred of Hauteville and the Drengots, of whom Rainulf Drengot received the county of Aversa, the first Norman toehold in the south, from Duke Sergius IV of Naples in 1030. The Hautevilles achieved princely rank by proclaiming Prince Guaimar IV of Salerno "Duke of Apulia and Calabria". He promptly awarded their elected leader, William Iron Arm, with the title of count with his capital of Melfi. Soon the Drengots had attained unto the principality of Capua, and the Emperor Henry III had legally ennobled the Hauteville leader, Drogo, as dux et magister Italiae comesque Normannorum totius Apuliae et Calabriae in 1047.

La Cuba, a Siculo-Norman palace in Palermo

From these bases, the Normans eventually captured Sicily and Malta from the Saracens, under the famous Robert Guiscard, a Hauteville, and his young brother Roger the Great Count. Roger's son, Roger II, was crowned king in 1130 (exactly one century after Rainulf was "crowned" count) by Pope Anacletus II. The kingdom of Sicily lasted until 1194, when it fell to the Hohenstaufens through marriage.

The Normans left their mark however in the many castles, such as the Iron Arm's fortress at Squillace, and cathedrals, such as Roger II's at Cefalù, which dot the landscape and give a wholly distinct architectural flavour to accompany its unique history. Institutionally, the Normans combined the administrative machinery of the Byzantines, Arabs, and Lombards with their own conceptions of feudal law and order to forge a unique government. Under this state, there was great religious freedom, and alongside the Norman nobles existed a meritocratic bureaucracy of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox.

In Byzantium

Soon after the Normans first began to enter Italy, they entered the Byzantine Empire, and then Armenia against the Pechenegs, Bulgars, and especially Seljuk Turks. The Norman mercenaries first encouraged to come to the south by the Lombards to act against the Byzantines soon fought in Byzantine service in Sicily. They were prominent alongside Varangian and Lombard contingents in the Sicilian campaign of George Maniaces of 1038-40. There is debate whether the Normans in Greek service were mostly or at all from Norman Italy, and it now seems likely only a few came from there. It is also unknown how many of the "Franks", as the Byzantines called them, were Normans and not other Frenchmen.

One of the first Norman mercenaries to serve as a Byzantine general was Hervé in the 1050s. By then however, there were already Norman mercenaries serving as far away as Trebizond and Georgia. They were based at Malatya and Edessa, under the Byzantine duke of Antioch, Isaac Komnenos. In the 1060s, Robert Crispin led the Normans of Edessa against the Turks. Roussel de Bailleul even tried to carve out an independent state in Asia Minor with support from the local population, but he was stopped by the Byzantine general Alexius Komnenos.

Some Normans joined Turkish forces to aid in the destruction of the Armenians vassal-states of Sassoun and Taron in far eastern Anatolia. Later, many took up service with the Armenian states further south in Cilicia and the Taurus Mountains. A Norman named Oursel led a force of "Franks" into the upper Euphrates valley in northern Syria. From 1073 to 1074, 8,000 of the 20,000 troops of the Armenian general Philaretus Brachamius were Normans — formerly of Oursel — led by Raimbaud. They even lent their ethnicity to the name of their castle: Afranji, meaning "Franks." The known trade between Amalfi and Antioch and between Bari and Tarsus may be related to the presence of Italo-Normans in those cities while Amalfi and Bari were under Norman rule in Italy.

Several families of Byzantine Greece were of Norman mercenary origin during the period of the Comnenian Restoration, when Byzantine emperors were seeking out western European warriors. The Raoulii were descended from an Italo-Norman named Raoul, the Petraliphae were descended from a Pierre d'Aulps, and that group of Albanian clans known as the Maniakates were descended from Normans who served under George Maniaces in the Sicilian expedition of 1038.

In England

Siege of a motte-and-bailey castle from the Bayeux Tapestry.

The Normans were in contact with England from an early date. Not only were their original Viking brethren still ravaging the English coasts, they occupied most of the important ports opposite England across the Channel. This relationship eventually produced closer ties of blood through the marriage of Emma, sister of Duke Richard II of Normandy, and King Ethelred II of England. Because of this, Ethelred fled to Normandy in 1013, when he was forced from his kingdom by Sweyn Forkbeard. His stay in Normandy (until 1016) influenced him and his sons by Emma, who stayed in Normandy after Canute the Great's conquest of the isle.

When finally Edward the Confessor returned from his father's refuge in 1041, at the invitation of his half-brother Harthacanute, he brought with him a Norman-educated mind. He also brought many Norman counsellors and fighters, some of whom established an English cavalry force. This concept never really took root, but it is a typical example of the attitudes of Edward. He appointed Robert of Jumièges archbishop of Canterbury and made Ralph the Timid earl of Hereford. He invited his brother-in-law Eustace II of Boulogne to his court in 1051, an event which resulted in the greatest of early conflicts between Saxon and Norman and ultimately resulted in the exile of Earl Godwin of Wessex.

In 1066, Duke William II of Normandy conquered England killing King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. The invading Normans and their descendants replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England. The nobility of England were part of a single French-speaking culture and many had lands on both sides of the channel. Early Norman kings of England were, as Dukes of Normandy, vassals to the King of France. They may not have necessarily considered England to be their most important holding (although it brought the title of King - an important status symbol). King Richard I (the Lionheart) is often thought to epitomise a medieval English King, but he only spoke French and spent more time in Aquitaine or on Crusade than in England.

Eventually, the Normans merged with the natives, combining languages and traditions. In the course of the Hundred Years war, the Norman aristocracy often identified themselves as English. The Anglo-Norman language became distinct from the French language, something that was the subject of some humour by Geoffrey Chaucer. The Anglo-Norman language was eventually absorbed into the English language of their subjects (see Old English language) and influenced it, helping (along with the Norse language of the earlier Anglo-Norse settlers and the Latin used by the church) the development of Middle English which would gain much vocabulary of French origin.

In Wales

Chepstow Castle in Wales, first built by William fitzOsbern in 1067.

Even before the Norman Conquest of England, the Normans had come into contact with Wales. Edward the Confessor had set up the aforementioned Ralph as earl of Hereford and charged him with defending the Marches and warring with the Welsh. In these original ventures, the Normans failed to make any headway into Wales.

Subsequent to the Conquest, however, the Marches came completely under the dominance of William's most trusted Norman barons, including Bernard de Neufmarché, Roger of Montgomery in Shropshire and Hugh Lupus in Cheshire. These Normans began a long period of slow conquest during which almost all of Wales was at some point subject to Norman interference. Norman words, such as baron (barwn), first entered Welsh at that time.

On Crusade

The legendary religious zeal of the Normans was exercised in religious wars long before the First Crusade carved out a Norman principality in Antioch. They were major foreign participants in the Reconquista in Iberia. In 1018, Roger de Tony travelled to the Iberian Peninsula to carve out a state for himself from Moorish lands, but failed. In 1064, during the War of Barbastro, William of Montreuil led the papal army and took a huge booty.

In 1096, Crusaders passing by the siege of Amalfi were joined by Bohemond of Taranto and his nephew Tancred with an army of Italo-Normans. Bohemond was the de facto leader of the Crusade during its passage through Asia Minor. After the successful Siege of Antioch in 1097, Bohemond began carving out an independent principality around that city. Tancred was instrumental in the conquest of Jerusalem and he worked for the expansion of the Crusader kingdom in Transjordan and the region of Galilee.[citation needed]

In Scotland

One of the claimants of the English throne opposing William the Conqueror, Edgar Atheling, eventually fled to Scotland. King Malcolm III of Scotland married Edgar's sister Margaret, and came into opposition to William who had already disputed Scotland's southern borders. William invaded Scotland in 1072, riding as far as the Abernethy where he met up with his fleet of ships. Malcolm submitted, paid homage to William, and surrendered his son Duncan as a hostage, beginning a series of arguments as to whether the Scottish Crown owed allegiance to the King of England.

Normans came into Scotland, building castles and founding noble families who would provide some future kings such as Robert the Bruce as well as founding some of the Scottish clans. King David I of Scotland was instrumental in introducing Normans and Norman culture to Scotland, part of the process some scholars call the "Davidian Revolution". Having spent time at the court of Henry I of England (married to David's sister Maud of Scotland), and needing them to wrestle the kingdom from his half-brother Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair, David had to reward many with lands. The process was continued under David's successors, most intensely of all under William the Lion. The Norman-derived feudal system was applied in varying degrees to most of Scotland. Scottish clans of the name Ramsey, Fraser, Hunter, Ogilvie, Lamont, Cameron, Douglas, Wallace, & Gordon to name but a few can all be traced back to Norman ancestry.

In Ireland

Norman keep in Trim, County Meath.

The Normans had a profound effect on Irish culture and history after their invasion at Bannow Bay in 1169. Initially the Normans maintained a distinct culture and ethnicity. Yet, with time, they came to be subsumed into Irish culture to the point that it has been said that they became "more Irish than the Irish themselves." The Normans settled mostly in an area in the east of Ireland, later known as the Pale, and also built many fine castles and settlements, including Trim Castle and Dublin Castle. Both cultures intermixed, borrowing from each other's language, culture and outlook. Norman descendants today can be recognised by their surnames. Names such as French, (De) Roche, D'Arcy and Leacy are particularly common in the southeast of Ireland, especially in the southern part of County Wexford where the first Norman settlements were established. Another common Norman-Irish name was Morell (Murrell) derived from the French-Norman name Morel.



A quintessential Norman keep: the White Tower in London.


The Normans' architecture typically stands out as a new stage in the architectural history of the regions which they subdued. They spread a unique Romanesque idiom to England and Italy and the encastellation of these regions with keeps in their north French style fundamentally altered the military landscape. Their style was characterised by rounded arches (particularly over windows and doorways) and massive proportions.

In Italy, the Normans incorporated elements of the native Islamic, Lombard, and Byzantine architecture into their own, initiating a style known as Sicilian Romanesque. In England, the period of Norman architecture immediately succeeds that of the Anglo-Saxon and precedes the Early Gothic.

Visual arts

A bronze lion sculpture attributed to an Italo-Norman artist. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the visual arts, the Normans did not have the rich and distinctive traditions of the cultures they conquered. However, in the early eleventh century the dukes began a programme of church reform, encouraging the Cluniac reform of monasteries and patronising intellectual pursuits, especially the proliferation of scriptoria and the reconstitution of a compilation of lost illuminated manuscripts. The church was utilised by the dukes as a unifying force for their disparate duchy. The chief monasteries taking part in this "renaissance" of Norman art and scholarship were Mont-Saint-Michel, Fécamp, Jumièges, Bec, Saint-Ouen, Saint-Evroul, and Saint-Wandrille. These centres were in contact with the so-called "Winchester school", which channeled a pure Carolingian artistic tradition to Normandy. In the final decade of the eleventh and the first of twelfth century, Normandy experienced a golden age of illustrated manuscripts, but it was brief and the major scriptoria of Normandy ceased to function after the midpoint of the century.

The Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century and French Revolution in the eighteenth successively destroyed much of what existed in the way of the architectural and artistic remnant of this Norman creativity. The first, by their violence, caused the wanton destruction of many Norman edifices; and the second, by its assault on religion, caused the purposeful destruction of religious objects of any type and by its destabilisation of society resulted in rampant pillaging.

By far the most famous work of Norman art is the Bayeux Tapestry, which is not a tapestry but a work of embroidery. It was commissioned by Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux and first Earl of Kent, employing natives from Kent who were learned in the Nordic traditions imported in the previous half century by the Danish Vikings.

In Britain, Norman art primarily survives as stonework or metalwork, such as capitals and baptismal fonts. In southern Italy, however, Norman artwork survives plentifully in forms strongly influenced by its Greek, Lombard, and Arab forebears. Of the royal regalia preserved in Palermo, the crown is Byzantine in style and the coronation cloak is of Arab craftsmanship with Arabic inscriptions. Many churches preserve sculptured fonts, capitals, and more importantly mosaics, which were common in Norman Italy and drew heavily on the Greek heritage. Lombard Salerno was a centre of ivorywork in the eleventh century and this continued under Norman domination. Finally should be noted the intercourse between French Crusaders traveling to the Holy Land who brought with them French artefacts with which to gift the churches at which they stopped in southern Italy amongst their Norman cousins. For this reason many south Italian churches preserve works from France alongside their native pieces.


A manuscript from Saint-Evroul depicting King David on the lyre (or harp) in the middle of the back of the initial 'B'.

Normandy was the site of several important developments in the history of classical music in the eleventh century. Fécamp Abbey and Saint-Evroul Abbey were centres of musical production and education. At Fécamp, under two Italian abbots, William of Volpiano and John of Ravenna, the system of denoting notes by letters was developed and taught. It is still the most common form of pitch representation in English- and German-speaking countries today. Also at Fécamp, the staff, around which neumes were oriented, was first developed and taught in the eleventh century. Under the German abbot Isembard, La Trinité-du-Mont became a centre of musical composition.

At Saint Evroul, a tradition of singing had developed and the choir achieved fame in Normandy. Under the Norman abbot Robert de Grantmesnil, several monks of Saint-Evroul fled to southern Italy, where they were patronised by Robert Guiscard and established a Latin monastery at Sant'Eufemia. There they continued the tradition of singing.


  1. ^ Malaterra in Peter Gunn, Normandy: Landscape with Figures.




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  • Lucas Villegas-Aristizábal, 2007. "Norman and Anglo-Norman Participation in the Iberian Reconquista." PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
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ginger people generally come from this part of the country.

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NORMANS, the softened form of the word "Northman," applied first to the people of Scandinavia in general, and afterwards specially to the people of Norway. In the form of "Norman" (Northmannus, Normannus, Normand) it is the name of those colonists from Scandinavia who settled themselves in Gaul, who founded Normandy, who adopted the French tongue and French manners, and who from their new home set forth on new errands of conquest, chiefly in the British Islands and in southern Italy and Sicily. From one point of view the expeditions of the Normans may be looked on as continuations of the expeditions of the Northmen. As the name is etymologically the same, so the people are by descent the same, and they are still led by the old spirit of war and adventure. But in the view of general history Normans and Northmen must be carefully distinguished. The change in the name is the sign of a thorough change, if not in the people themselves, yet in their historical position. Their national character remains largely the same; but they have adopted a new religion, a new language, a new system of law and society, new thoughts and feelings on all matters. Like as the Norman still is to the Northman, the effects of a settlement of Normans are utterly different from the effects of a settlement of Northmen. There can be no doubt that the establishment of the Norman power in England was, like the establishment of the Danish power, greatly helped by the essential kindred of Normans, Danes and English. But it was helped only silently. To all outward appearance the Norman conquest of England was an event of an altogether different character from the Danish conquest. The one was a conquest by a people whose tongue and institutions were still palpably akin to those of the English. The other was a conquest by a people whose tongue and institutions were palpably different from those of the English. The Norman settlers in England felt no community with the earlier Danish settlers in England. In fact the Normans met with the steadiest resistance in a part of England which was largely Danish. But the effect of real, though unacknowledged, kindred had none the less an important practical effect. There can be no doubt that this hidden working of kindred between conquerors and conquered in England, as compared with the utter lack of all fellowship between conquerors and conquered in Sicily, was one cause out of several which made so wide a difference between the Norman conquest of England and the Norman conquest of Sicily.

These two conquests, wrought in the great island of the Ocean and in the great island of the Mediterranean, were the main works of the Normans after they had fully put on the character of a Christian and French-speaking people, in other words, after they had changed from Northmen into Normans. The English and the Sicilian settlements form the main Norman history of the II th century. The 10th century is the time of the settlement of the Northmen in Gaul, and of the change in religion and language of which the softening of the name is the outward sign. By the end of it, any traces of heathen faith, and even of Scandinavian speech, must have been mere survivals. The new creed, the new speech, the new social system, had taken such deep root that the descendants of the Scandinavian settlers were better fitted to be the armed missionaries of all these things than the neighbours from whom they had borrowed their new possessions. With the zeal of new converts they set forth on their new errand very much in the spirit of their heathen forefathers. If Britain and Sicily were the greatest fields of their enterprise, they were very far from being the only fields. The same spirit of enterprise which brought the Northmen into Gaul seems to carry the Normans out of Gaul into every corner of the world. Their character is well painted by a contemporary historian of their exploits.' He sets the Normans before us as a race specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greediness - that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men, he adds, were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were, moreover, a race skilful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war. Several of these features stand out very clearly in Norman history. The cunning of the Normans is plain enough; so is their impatience of restraint, unless held down by a strong master. Love of imitation is also marked. Little of original invention can be traced to any strictly Norman source; but no people were ever more eager to adopt from other nations, to take into their service and friendship from any quarter men of learning and skill and eminence of every kind. To this quality is perhaps to be attributed the fact that a people who did so much, who settled and conquered in so large a part of Europe, has practically vanished from the face of the earth. If Normans, as Normans, now exist anywhere, it is certainly only in that insular fragment of the ancient duchy which still cleaves to the successor of its ancient dukes. Elsewhere, as the settlers in Gaul became French, the emigrants from Gaul became English, Irish, Scottish, and whatever we are to call the present inhabitants of Sicily and southern Italy. Every ' Geoffrey Malaterra, i. 3 "Est quippe gens astutissima, injuriarum ultrix, spe alias plus lucrandi, patrios agros vilipendens, quaestus et dominationis avida, cujuslibet rei simulatrix, inter largitatem et avaritiam quoddam medium habens. Principes vero delectatione bonae famae largissimi, gens adulari sciens, eloquentiis in studiis inserviens in tantum, ut etiam ipsos pueros quasi rhetores attendas, quae quidem, nisi jugo justitiae prematur, effrenatissima est; laboris, inediae, algoris, ubi fortuna expedit, patiens, venationi accipitrum exercitio inserviens. Equorum, caeterorumque militiae instrumentorum, et vestium luxuria delectatur. Ex nomine itaque silo terrae nomen indiderunt. North quippe Anglica lingua aquilonaris plaga dicitur. Et quia ipsi ab aquilone venerant terram ipsam etiam Normanniam appellarunt." where the.y gradually lost themselves among the people whom they conquered; they adopted the language and the national feelings of the lands in which they settled; but at the same time they often modified, often strengthened the national usages and national life of the various nations in which they were finally merged.

But Geoffrey hardly did justice to the Normans if he meant to imply that they were simple imitators of others. Their position was very like that of the Saracens. Hasty writers who Their forget the existence of the eastern Rome are apt to claim for the Saracens of Bagdad, or more commonly for those of Cordova, a monopoly of science and art at some time not very clearly defined by dates. In so doing they slur over the real position and the real merit of the Saracens with regard to science and art. In neither department did any Saracen, strictly speaking, invent anything; but they learned much both from Constantinople and from Persia, and what they learned they largely developed and improved. The Normans did just the same. They adopted the French tongue, and were presently among the first to practise and spread abroad its literature. They adopted the growing feudal doctrines of France, and worked them, both in Normandy and in England, into a harmonious system. From northern Italy, as it would seem, they adopted a style of architecture which grew in their hands, both in Normandy and in England, into a marked and living form of art. Settled in Gaul, the Scandinavian from a seafaring man became a landsman. Even in land-warfare he cast aside the weapons of his forefathers; but he soon learned to handle the weapons of his new land with greater prowess than they had ever been handled before. He welcomed the lore of every stranger. Lanfranc brought law and discipline; Anselm brought theology and philosophy. The gifts of each were adopted and bore fruit on both sides of the Channel. And no people ever better knew how to be all things to all men. The Norman power in England was founded on full and speedy union with the one nation among whom they found themselves. The Norman power in Sicily was founded on a strong distinction between the ruling people and the many nations which they kept in peace and prosperity by not throwing in their lot with any one among them.

The quality which Geoffrey Malaterra expresses by the word "effrenatissima" is also clearly marked in Norman history. It is, in fact, the groundwork of the historic Norman character. It takes in one case the form of ceaseless enterprise, in another the form of that lawlessness which ever broke out, both in Normandy and in every other country settled by Normans, when the hand of a strong ruler was wanting. But it was balanced by another quality which Geoffrey does not speak of, one which is not really inconsistent with the other, one which is very prominent in the Norman character, and which is, no less than the other, a direct heritage from their Scandinavian forefathers. This is the excessive litigiousness, the fondness for law, legal forms, legal processes, which has ever been characteristic of the people. If the Norman was a born soldier, he was also a born lawyer. Ranulf Flambard, working together the detached feudal usages of earlier times into a compact and logical system of feudal law, was as characteristic a type of the people as any warrior in the Conqueror's following. He was the organizer of an endless official army, of an elaborate technical system of administration, which had nothing like it in England before, but which grew up to perfection under Norman rulers. 2 But nothing so well illustrates this formal side of the Norman character as the whole position of William the Conqueror himself. His claim to the crown of England is something without earlier precedent, something as far as possible removed from the open violence of aggressors who have no pretexts with which to disguise their aggression. It rested on a mass of legal assumptions and subtleties, fallacious indeed, but ingenious, and, as the result proved, effective. His whole system of government, his 2 This view of Ranulf Flambard's work, which on Freeman's authority superseded the older view, which attributed the feudal organization of England to the Conqueror himself, was subjected to a destructive criticism by Mr J. H. Round in his Feudal England. (Ed.) confiscations, his grants, all that he did, was a logical deduction from one or two legal principles, arbitrary certainly in their conception, but strictly carried out to their results. Even Norman lawlessness in some sort took a legal shape. In the worst days of anarchy, in the minority of William or under the no-reign of Robert, the robber-baron could commonly give elaborate reasons for every act of wrong that he did.

It is perhaps less wonderful that this characteristic should have been left out in a picture of the Normans in Apulia and Sicily than if it had been left out in a picture of the Normans in Normandy and England. The circumstances of their Apulian and Sicilian conquests certainly did not tend to bring out this feature of their character so strongly as it was brought out by the circumstances of their English conquest. Possibly the same cause may have kept the chronicler from enlarging on their religious character; yet in Sicily at least they might pass for crusaders. Crusaders in fact they were before crusades were preached. Norman warriors had long before helped the Christians of Spain in their warfare with the Saracens of the Peninsula, and in Sicily it was from the same enemy that they won the great Mediterranean island. Others had done a kindred work in a more distant field as helpers of the Eastern emperors against the Turks of Asia. All these might pass for religious wars, and they might really be so; it needed greater ingenuity to set forth the invasion of England as a missionary enterprise designed for the spiritual good of the benighted islanders. The Norman, a strict observer of forms in all matters, attended to the forms of religion with special care. No people were more bountiful to ecclesiastical bodies on both sides of the Channel; the foundation of a Benedictine monastery in the i Ith century, of a Cistercian monastery in the 12th seemed almost a matter of course on the part of a Norman baron. The Conqueror beyond doubt sincerely aimed at being a religious reformer both in his duchy and in his kingdom, while it is needless to say that his immediate successor was exceptionally ungodly, whether among Normans or among other men. But among their countrymen generally strict attendance to religious observances, a wide bounty to religious foundations, may be set down as national characteristics. On the other hand, none were less inclined to submit to encroachments on the part of the ecclesiastical power, the Conqueror himself least of all.

We thus see in the Scandinavian settlers in Gaul, after they had put on the outward garb of their adopted country, a people restless and enterprising above all others, adopting and spreading abroad all that they could make their own in their new land and everywhere else - a people in many ways highly gifted, greatly affecting and of Sicily modifying at the time every land in which they settled, but, wherever they settled, gradually losing themselves among the people of the land. The Norman, as a visible element in the country, has vanished from England, and he has vanished from Sicily. The circumstances of his settlement in his two great fields of conquest were widely different; his position when he was fully established in his two insular realms was widely different; but the end has been the same in both cases. Neither island has for ages been in any sense a Norman land, and the tongue which the Norman brought with him into both has not for ages been spoken in either. Norman influence has been far stronger in England than in Sicily, and signs of Norman presence are far more easily recognized. But the Norman, as a distinct people, is as little to be seen in the one island as in the other. His disappearance in both cases is an illustration of one of the features which we have spoken of in the Norman character, the tendency which in fact made Normans out of Northmen, the tendency to adopt the language and manners of the people among whom they found themselves. But, as far as outward circumstances are concerned, we may say that the same effect has been brought about by different and almost opposite causes. The whole circumstances of the conquest of England constrained the conquerors to become Englishmen in order to establish themselves in the conquered land. In William's theory, the forcible conquest of England by strangers was an untoward accident. The lawful heir of the English crown was driven against his will to win his rights by force from outside. But he none the less held his crown as an English king succeeding according to English law. Moreover, every Norman to whom he granted lands and offices held them by English law in a much truer sense than the king held his; he was deemed to step into the exact position of his English predecessor, whatever that might be. This legal theory worked together with other causes to wipe out all practical distinction between the conquerors and the conquered in a wonderfully short time. By the end of the 12th century the Normans in England might fairly pass as Englishmen, and they had largely adopted the use of the English language. The fashionable use of French for nearly two centuries longer was far more a French fashion than a Norman tradition. When the tradition of speaking French had all but died out, the practice was revived by fashion. Still the tradition had its effect. The fashion could hardly have taken root except in a land where the tradition had gone before it.

The Normans in England therefore became Englishmen, because there was an English nation into which they could be absorbed. The Normans in Sicily could hardly be said to become Sicilians, for there assuredly was no Sicilian nation for them to be absorbed into. While the Normans in England were lost among the people of the land, the Normans in Sicily were lost among their fellow-settlers in the land. The Normans who came into Sicily must have been much less purely Norman than the Normans who came into England. The army of Duke William was undoubtedly very far from being wholly made up of Normans, but it was a Norman army; the element which was not Norman, though considerable, was exceptional. But we may doubt whether the Norman invaders of Sicily were Norman in much more than being commanded by Norman leaders. They were almost as little entitled to be called pure Scandinavians as the Saracens whom they found in the island were entitled to be called pure Arabs. The conquest of England was made directly from Normandy, by the reigning duke, in a comparatively short time, while the conquest of Sicily grew out of the earlier and far more gradual conquest of Apulia and Calabria by private men. The Norman settlements at Aversa and Capua were the work of adventurers, making their own fortunes and gathering round them followers from all quarters. They fought simply for their own hands, and took what they could by the right of the stronger. They started with no such claim as Duke William put forth to justify his invasion of England; their only show of legal right was the papal grant of conquests that were already made. The conquest of Apulia, won bit by bit in many years of what we can only call freebooting, was not a national Norman enterprise like the conquest of England, and the settlement to which it led could not be a national Norman settlement in the same sense. The Sicilian enterprise had in some respects another character. By the time it began the freebooters had grown into princes. Sicily was won by a duke of Apulia and a count of Sicily.' Still there was a wide difference between the duke of the Normans and the duke of Apulia, between an hereditary prince of a hundred and fifty years' standing and an adventurer who had carved out his duchy for himself. And, besides this, warfare in Sicily brought in higher motives and objects. Though crusades had not yet been preached, the strife with the Mussulman at once brought in the crusading element; to the Christian people of the island they were in many cases real deliverers; still, the actual process by which Sicily was won was not so very different from that by which Apulia had been won. Duke William was undisputed master of England at the end of five years; it took Count Roger thirty years to make himself undisputed master of Sicily. The one claimed an existing kingdom, and obtained full possession of it in a comparatively short time; the other formed for himself a dominion bit by bit, which rose to the rank of a kingdom I Roger de Hauteville, the conqueror of Sicily, was a brother of the first four dukes or counts of Apulia, and was invested with the countship of Sicily by the pope before starting on his adventure.

in the next generation. When Count Roger at last found himself lord of the whole island, he found himself lord of men of various creeds and tongues, of whom his own Norman followers were but one class out of several. And the circumstances of his conquest were such that the true Normans among his following could not possibly lose themselves among the existing inhabitants of the island, while everything tended to make them lose themselves among their fellow-adventurers of other races, among whom, by the time the conquest was ended, they could hardly have been even a dominant element.

As far then as concerned the lands in which the settlements were made, the difference lay in this, that, as has been already said, while there was an English nation, there was no Sicilian nation. The characteristic point of Norman rule in Sicily is that it is the rule of princes who were foreign to all the inhabitants of the island, but who were not more foreign to the inhabitants of the island than different classes of them were to one another. The Norman conqueror found in Sicily a Christian and Greekspeaking people and a Mussulman and Arabic-speaking people. The relations between the two differed widely in different parts of the island, according to the way in which the Saracens had become possessed of different towns and districts. In one place the Christians were in utter bondage, in another they were simply tributary; still, everywhere the Mussulman Saracen formed the ruling class, the Christian Greek formed the subject class. We speak of the Saracen very much as we speak of the Norman; for of the Mussulman masters of Sicily very many must have been only artificial Arabs, Africans who had adopted the creed, language and manners of Arabia. In each case the Arab or the Norman was the kernel, the centre round which all other elements gathered and which gave its character to the whole. Besides these two main races, Greek and Saracen, others came in through the Norman invasion itself. There were the conquerors themselves; there were the Italians, in Sicily known as Lombards, who followed in their wake; there were also the Jews, whom they may have found in the island, or who may have followed the Norman into Sicily, as they certainly followed him into England. The special character of Norman rule in Sicily was that all these various races flourished, each in its own fashion, each keeping its own creed, tongue and manners, under the protection of a common sovereign, who belonged to none of them, but who did impartial justice to all. Such a state of things might seem degradation to the Mussulman, but it was deliverance to the native Christian, while to settlers of every kind from outside it was an opening such as they could hardly find elsewhere. But the growth of a united Sicilian nation was impossible; the usual style to express the inhabitants of the island is "omnes" or "u n iversi Siciliae populi." In the end something like a Sicilian nation did arise; but it arose rather by the dying out of several of the elements in the country, the Norman element among them, than by any such fusion as took place in England. That is, as has been already said, the Norman as such has vanished in two different ways. In England the Norman duke came in as a foreign intruder, without a native supporter to establish his rule over a single nation in its own land. He could not profess to be, as the count of Sicily could honestly profess to be, a deliverer to a large part of the people of the land. But, coming in by a title which professed to be founded on English law, establishing his followers by grants which professed no less to be founded on English law, he planted a dynasty, and established a dominant order, which could not fail to become English. The Normans in England did not die out; they were merged in the existing nation. The Normans in Sicily, so far as they did not die out, were merged, not in a Sicilian nation, for that did not exist, but in the common mass of settlers of Latin speech and rite, as distinguished from the older inhabitants, Greek and Saracen. The Norman conquest of England was at the moment a curse; the Norman conquest of Sicily was at the moment a blessing. But the gradual and indirect results of the Norman conquest of England are easily to be seen to this day, and they have been largely, though indirectly, results for good. Its chief result has been, not so much to create anything new as at once to modify and to strengthen what was old, to call up older institutions to a new life under other forms. But whatever it has done it has done silently; there has not been at any time any violent change of one set of institutions for another. In Sicily and southern Italy there is hardly any visible Norman influence, except the great historic fact which we may call the creation of Sicily and southern Italy in their modern sense. The coming of the Norman ruled that these lands should be neither Saracen nor Greek, nor yet Italian in the same sense as northern Italy, but that they should politically belong to the same group of states as the kingdoms and principalities of feudal Europe. William assuredly did not create the kingdom of England; Roger assuredly did create the kingdom of Sicily. And yet, notwithstanding all this, and partly because of all this, real and distinct Norman influence has been far more extensive and far more abiding in England than it has been in Sicily.

In Sicily then the circumstances of the conquest led the Norman settlers to remain far more distinct from the older races of the land than they did in England, and in the end to lose themselves, not in those older races of the land, but in the settlers of other races who accompanied and followed them. So far as there ever was a Sicilian nation at all, it might be said to be called into being by the emperor-king Frederick II. In his day a Latin element finally triumphed; but it was not a Norman or French-speaking element of any kind. The speech of the Lombards at last got the better of Greek, Arabic and French; how far its ascendancy can have been built on any survival of an earlier Latin speech which had lived on alongside of Greek and Arabic this is not the place to inquire.

The use of language and nomenclature during the time of Norman rule in the two countries forms a remarkable contrast, and illustrates the circumstances of the two as they have just been sketched. The chroniclers of the conquest of Apulia and Sicily use the Norman name in every page as the name of the followers of the conquerors from Hauteville. It was the natural name for a body of men who must, by the time the conquest of Sicily was over, have been very mixed, but whose kernel was Norman, whose strength and feelings and traditions all came from a Norman source. But if we turn to Hugo Falcandus, the historian of Sicily in the 12th century, the Norman name is hardly found, unless when it is used historically to point out (as in Muratori vii. 260) that the royal house of Sicily was of Norman descent. Of the various "Siciliae populi," we hear of Greeks, Saracens, Lombards, sometimes of Franci, for by that time there were many French-speaking settlers in Sicily who were not of Norman descent. There is a distinction between Christians and Saracens; among Christians there seems to be again a distinction between Greeks and Latins, though perhaps without any distinct use of the Latin name; there is again a further distinction between "Lombardi" and "Franci"; but Normans, as a separate class, do not appear. In England there is no room for such subtleties. The narratives of the conquest of England use both the Norman and the French names to express the followers of William. In the English chronicles "French" is the only name used. It appears also in the Bayeux Tapestry, and it is the only word used when any legal distinction had to be drawn between classes of men in the English kingdom. "Franci" and "Angli" are often opposed in Domesday and other documents, and the formula went on in charters long after all real distinction had passed away. That is to say, there were several purposes for which it was convenient to distinguish "English" and "French" - the last name taking in all the followers of the Conqueror; there were no purposes for which there was any need to distinguish Normans as such, either from the general mass of the people or from others who spoke the French tongue. We can see also that, though several languages were in use in England during the time of Norman rule, yet England was not a land of many languages in the same sense in which Sicily was. In the 12th century three languages were certainly spoken in London; yet London could not call itself the "city of threefold speech," as Palermo did. English, French, Latin, were all in use in England; but the distinction was rather that they were used for three different purposes than that they were used by three distinct races or even classes. No doubt there was a class that knew only English; there may have been a much smaller class that knew only French; any man who pretended to high cultivation would speak all as a matter of course; Bishop Gilbert Foliot, for instance, was eloquent in all three. But in Sicily we see the quite different phenomenon of three, four, five classes of men living side by side, each keeping its own nationality and speaking its own tongue. If a man of one people knew the speech of any of the others, he knew it strictly as a foreign language. Before the Norman Conquest England had two official tongues; documents Sicily. were drawn up sometimes in English, sometimes in Latin, now and then in both. And the same usage went on after the Conquest; the use of English becomes gradually rarer, and dies out under the first Angevins, but it is in favour of Latin that it dies out. French, the language which the Normans brought with them, did not become an official language in England till after strictly Norman rule had passed away. French documents are unknown till the days of French fashion had come in, that is, till deep in the 13th century. So it was in Sicily also; of all the tongues of Sicily French was the most needful in the king's court ("Francorum lingua quae maxime necessaria esset in curia," says Hugo Falcandus, 321); but it was not an official tongue. The three tongues of Palermo are Greek, Arabic and Latin. King Roger's clock is commemorated in all three. Documents were drawn up in such and so many of these tongues as was convenient for the parties concerned; not a few private documents add a fourth tongue, and are drawn up in Greek, Arabic, Latin and Hebrew. In neither case is the actual speech of the conquerors one of the tongues in formal use. French, as a separate tongue from Latin, already existed as a literary speech, and no people had done more than the Normans to spread it as a literary speech, in both prose and verse. But neither in England nor in Sicily did official formalism acknowledge even French, much less Italian, as a fit tongue for solemn documents. In England, English, French, Latin, were the three tongues of a single nation; they were its vulgar, its courtly and its learned speeches, of which three the courtly was fast giving way to the vulgar. In Sicily, Greek, Arabic, Latin and its children were the tongues of distinct nations; French might be the politest speech, but neither Greek nor Arabic could be set down as a vulgar tongue, Arabic even less than Greek.

The different positions then which the conquering Norman took in his two great conquests of England and of Sicily amply illustrate the way in which he could adapt himself to any circumstances in which he found himself, the way in which he could adopt whatever suited his purpose in the institutions of any other people, the way in which he commonly lost his national being in that of some other people. From England, moreover, he spread into Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and in each land his settlement put on a somewhat different character, according to the circumstances of the land. In Scotland he was not a conqueror, but a mere visitor, and oddly enough he came as a visitor along with those whom he had himself overcome in England. Both Normans and English came to Scotland in crowds in the days of Margaret, Edgar and David, and Scottish national feeling sometimes rose up against them. In Scotland again the Norman settlers were lost in the mixed nationality of the country, but not till they had modified many things in the same way in which they modified things in England. They gave Scotland nobles and even kings; Bruce and Balliol were both of the truest Norman descent; the true Norman descent of Comyn might be doubted, but he was of the stock of the Francigenae of the Conquest. In Wales the Norman came as a conqueror, more strictly a conqueror than in England; he could not claim Welsh crowns or Welsh estates under any fiction of Welsh law. The Norman settler in Wales, therefore, did not to any perceptible extent become a Welshman; the existing relations of England and Wales were such that he in the end became an Englishman, but he seems not unnaturally to have been somewhat slower in so doing in Wales than he was in England. At least Giraldus Cambrensis, the Norman Welshman or Welsh Norman, was certainly more alive to the distinction between Normans and English than any other of his contemporaries. In Ireland the Norman was more purely a conqueror than anywhere else; but in Ireland his power of adaptation caused him to sink in a way in which he sank nowhere else. While some of the Norman settlers in Ireland went to swell the mass of the English of the Pale, others threw in their lot with the native Irish, and became, in the well-known saying, Hibernis ipsis Hiberniores (see e.g. the article Burgh).

There is yet one point in which we may profitably go back to our comparison between England and Sicily. Both countries are rich in works of architecture raised during the time of Norman rule. And the buildings of both lands throw an instructive architec- light on the Norman national character, as we have tune in described it. Few buildings, at least few buildings raised i n any reasonable style of architecture which makes use of the arched construction, can be less like one another Sicily. than the buildings of the Norman kings in England and the buildings of the Norman kings in Sicily. In Sicily the Normans found the two most outwardly civilized of the nations of Europe, the two which had as yet carried the arts to the highest pitch. The Greek had created the column; the Roman had developed it; the Roman Greek'or Greek Roman had taught the column to bear the cupola; the Saracen had taught it to bear arches of his own favourite pointed shape. Out of these elements the Saracens of Sicily had formed a noble and beautiful style, grand and simple in its construction, rich and graceful in its characteristic detail. With the Saracen and the Greek as his subjects, the Norman had really no need to innovate; he had simply to bid the men of the land to go on working for him instead of for any other. The palaces and churches. of the Norman kings at Palermo and Monreale and Cefalu and Messina are in style simply Saracenic; they were most likely the work of Saracen builders; they were beyond doubt built after Saracenic models. In these buildings, as in those of Aquitaine, the pointed arch is the surest sign of Saracenic influence; it must never be looked on as marking the approach of the Gothic of the North. With that form of art the pointed style of Sicily has nothing in common. A Sicilian church has nothing in common with a French or an English church; it is sometimes purely Oriental, sometimes a basilica with pointed arches. But, if the Saracen gave the lines of the building, the Greek gave the mosaic decorations of its walls. In such a case the ruling people, rather the ruling dynasty, had really nothing to add to what they found ready for them. They had simply to make Saracen and Greek work in partnership. In England, on the other hand, the Normans did really bring in a new style of their own, their own form of Romanesque, differing widely indeed from the Saracenic style of Sicily. This Norman form of Romanesque most likely had its origin in the Lombard buildings of northern Italy. But it took firm root on Norman soil; it made its way to England at an early stage of its growth, and from that time it went on developing and improving on both sides of the Channel till the artistic revolution came by which, throughout northern Europe, the Romanesque styles gave way to the Gothic. Thus the history of architecture in England during the 11th and 12th centuries is a very different story from the history of the art in Sicily during the same time. There were no Greeks or Saracens in England; there was no Greek or Saracen skill. England indeed had, possibly in a somewhat ruder form, the earlier style of Romanesque once common to England with Italy, Gaul and Germany. To this style it is no wonder that the Normans preferred their own, and that style therefore supplanted the older one. A comparison of Norman buildings in England and in Normandy will show that the Norman style in England really was affected by the earlier style of England; but the modification was very slight, and it in no way affected the general character of the style. Thus, while the institutions of England in the 12th century were English with very considerable Norman modifications, the architecture of England in that century was Norman with a very slight English modification. The difference then is plain. Where, as in Sicily, the Normans felt that they could not improve, they simply adopted the style of the country. Where, as in England, they felt that they could improve, they substituted for the style of the country their own style - that is, a style which they had not created but which they had adopted, which they had made thoroughly their own, and which they went on improving in England no less than in Normandy. That is, the discerning Norman, as ever, adapted himself, but adapted himself in an intelligent way, to the circumstances of each land in which he found himself. And this comes out the more clearly if we compare Norman work in England and in Sicily with Norman work in at least some parts of Apulia. At Bari, Trani and Bitonto we see a style in which Italian and strictly Norman elements are really mingled. The great churches of those cities are wholly unlike those of Sicily; but, while some features show us that we are in Italy, while some features even savour of the Saracen, others distinctly carry us away to Caen and Peterborough. It is plain that the Norman settlers in Apulia were not so deeply impressed with the local style as they were in Sicily, while they thought much more of it than they thought of the local style of England. In each of the three cases there is adaptation, but the amount of adaptation differs in each case according to local circumstances. In Normandy itself, after the separation from England, architecture becomes French, but it is French of a remarkably good type. The buildings of the latest French style keep a certain purity and sobriety in Normandy which they do not keep elsewhere. (E. A. F.) For a bibliography of the Normans and Northmen see Ulysse Chevalier, Repertoire des sources hist. du moyen-dge. Topobibliogr. (Montbeliard, 1903), ii. 2140; also, for sources for the Norman invasion of France, Molinier, Sources de l'hist. de France (Paris, 1901), i. 264. Many sources for the history of the Normans were collected by Andre Du Chesne in his Hist. Normannorum scriptores antiqui ... 838-1220, &c. (Paris, 1619). Of modern works may be mentioned H. Dondorff, Die Normannen and ihre Bedeutung fur das europdische Kulturleben im Mittelalter (Berlin, 1875); A. H. Johnson, The Normans in Europe (1877); E. A. Freeman, Hist. of the Norman Conquest (Oxford, 1867-1879) and Hist. of Sicily (1891-1894); O. Delarc, Les Normands en Italie, 859-1073 (Paris, 1883); J. W. Barlow, Short Hist. of the Normans in S. Europe (London, 1886); A. F. von Schack, Gesch. der Normannen in Sicilien (Stuttgart, 1889); L. von Heinemann, Gesch. der Normannen in Unteritalien and Sicilien (Leipzig, 1894); W. Vogel, Die Normannen and das frankische Reich, 799-911 (1906); F. Chalandon, La Dominion normande en Italie et Sicile, zoog-1194 (Paris, 1907); F. Lot, "La Grande Invasion normande, 856-862," in t. 69 of the Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Chartes (Paris, 1908).

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  1. Plural form of Norman.

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