Here’s a collection of facts that you may or may not already know about a fascinating bunch of people known as the Normans.
- William the Conqueror was also known as ‘William the Bastard’, as he was the illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy.
- The Normans were of Viking descent; the word ‘Norman’ means ‘Norsemen’ or Vikings. The Vikings landed and invaded the region in the 10th century.
- The Normans introduced castles to England – they were used to enforce their authority over their newly acquired kingdom as symbols of power and authority.
- The English language we have today is a derivative from an amalgamation of both old English and French.
- William the Conqueror died at St Gervais priory, close to Rouen. Upon his death, his body was abandoned by the nobility who immediately went to secure their lands. His attendants looted his belongings, including his fine clothing, leaving him practically naked on the cold floor.
- The Normans generally did not have beards or moustaches – when they came to England, the Anglo-Saxons (who found facial hair fashionable) found it odd that their invaders did not sport beards as they did.
- Prior to the Norman Conquest of England, as much as 30% of the population were slaves. William sought to destroy this barbaric practice banning it after he became king.
- The Normans did not only conquer England, they also took Sicily. The Normans were also some of the most influential participants of the First Crusade and ruled a principality in the Holy Land named Antioch.
- 1068-1070 William the Conqueror was responsible for the deaths of up to 100,000 people as a result of his ‘Harrying of the North’. He destroyed all crops, animals and food sources in Yorkshire and surrounding areas following a rebellion of the people.
- 1,000 castles had been built in England by 1106.