Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Norman Invasion

RE Sharon Doubiago's email (below) stating that "The Norman Invasion," was not an invasion from Norway.

NB It's hard to pinpoint race (racism) as reason for behaviour—take the Normans and the Northmen meeting on common ground—England—they were all related by blood and ancestry or country of origin. The larger story is a bit more complex that what seems on the surface.

Technically what Sharon wrote is true, but the Normans really were the NORSE men—Viking invaders from Norway (not modern day Norway—it included all of Scandinavia & Iceland) who raided Frankish Gaul in the 9th c and then the pirates settled in Normandy, or Northmannia— and eventually mingled with their cousins, the Frankish (Ostro- & Visigoths), and the surviving "Romanized" Gaulish Celts.

The North men, led by Rollo, were bought off, and settled there by Charles the Simple—to the detriment of the natives—so that they would leave the rest of France alone. They became paid mercenaries of the Frankish Crown.

It was just another very large raiding party except now the Vikings spoke Scandinavian-French!

What they were unable to do during the British Viking invasions—take over the entire island of England (though their Anglo-Saxon kin did get a good toe-hold), etc, they were able to so at the Battle of Hastings. England, lacking a clear successor, was already ravaged by the original opportunist Norsemen from Norway. King Harald. Canute.

Though technically, King Edward the Confessor was Norman already. He died in 1066 with no heir. So it was a free-for-all with Norway and Normandy both vying for the British crown.

(In reality—it was Norwegian brother literally fighting against brother for England. Norwegian King Harald & Tostig were estranged. Harald was supposed to rule for a term, then turn the throne over to Tostig but he bogarted. England was their battleground. They nearly slaughtered each other but kissed and made up then joined forces to snag the abandoned crown rolling across the castle floor but then they were killed at the Battle of Stamford...)

Edward's kin, William of Normandy jumped in to pluck the crown—but tho he was crowned 3 months later, he was met with English resistance and there was continuous civil war for five years.

William the Conqueror (Wales) & Edgar used Wales and Scotland as refuges and staging grounds.The whole of the west of Britain from Devon & Cornwall to Scotland was in turmoil (mostly what was left of the Celtic tribes—I might add). BTW, meanwhile, the opportunist Danes [more Norsemen!] invaded too.)

(NB The idea of one united kingdom is a red herring here—there was no one uber king of all of Britain. It was five years of pure and total carnage, and then some. But the history books tend not to play it out that way. Neater PR package.)

"Many of the Norman sources which survive today were written in order to JUSTIFY their actions, in response to Papal concern about the treatment of the native English by their Norman conquerors during this period."


A Nigerian poet once told me, "When two elephants fight, it's the grass that loses." England was the grass. Only there was a whole herd of Norsemen fighting each other.

Skirmishes continued in England and France with the Norman Plantagenets coming to power in 1150, a crisis in 1204 escalated into the Hundred Years War (1337-1453!)

So how was the Battle of Hastings a good thing? Predecessors to the Hatfield-McCoy with battles played out on a continental scale for nearly 400 years!

The Normans who came to Ireland had conscripted Welsh troops who settled (as THEIR land was taken by the Normans!)—so that becomes a little more complicated as it also refers to the Brythonic Celtic speaking Welsh under Strongbow.

William seized all of Britain and paid his nobles (some 5000-8000 total) in titles and someone else's land. First England, then Ireland. New tactic. Self perpetuating Norman Conquests. Some English lords were able to buy back their lands but William forced Norman marriages to English nobles, changed inheritance laws—and he displaced native aristocracy.

"William systematically dispossessed English landowners and conferred their property on his continental followers. The Domesday Book meticulously documents the impact of this colossal programme of expropriation, revealing that by 1086 only about 5% of land in England south of the Tees was left in English hands. Even this tiny residue was further diminished in the decades that followed, the elimination of native landholding being most complete in southern parts of the country.[32]

Natives were also soon purged from high governmental and ecclesiastical office. After 1075 all earldoms were held by Normans, while Englishmen were only occasionally appointed as sheriffs." ibid

Norman rule was so atrocious, most English aristocracy fled to Scotland, Scandinavia, Byzantium, Russia—the Black Sea.

Dubh = black (Irish) or dark, Iago = James. Your name, Sharon!

My Bantry family name, Walsh, refers to the Welsh. Whether it predated Strongbow's invasion, I don't know but I think it does because the Laws of Breffney predate the invasion. Brethach—Brannagh (as in Kenneth) all are the Gaeilc form of Walsh.



Sharon Doubiago's email written to Maryna in response to John Bennet's piece on Norwegians & Their Long Boats Pillaging the Coastline of our Hearts

Last night (early this morning) I read Wikipaedia's accounts of both the Battle of Hastings, 1066, and Mary Queen of Scots. Can you believe I have never known either of these, tho both names were uttered as in daily prayer in my childhood. Suddenly, and finally, the history coalezes, fits. (I just hated Queens when I was a girl. And I so loved knowing something about the English, a major river (root) I was a part of).

How ignorant, how stupid and blind one can be all the way. Only last night (this morning) did I understand "The Norman Invasion," the term so often uttered by my grandmother, Lura Maude Chitwood Edens, was NOT an invasion from Norway!

And that Mary Queen of Scots (raised in France--Normandy? --was the Catholic mother of King James, his Bible. holy fuck!

There's a funny little sentence: about how the Norman invasion (William the Conquerer!) meant, wonderfully, phew!, that England was Europeanized, saved from being Scandanavian.
Are we being racist?

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