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The Norman Conquests of England: Effect of Norman Conquest on the Development of English Prose




The Norman Conquests of England: Effect of Norman Conquest on the Development of English Prose


Who were The Normans? Who led the Norman conquest of England?

The Normans were originally a hardy race of sea robbers inhabiting Scandinavia. In the 10th century, they conquered a part of Northern France which is called Normandy and rapidly adopted the French culture and language. Their conquest of Anglo-Saxon England under William who was the Duke of Normandy began with the battle of Hastings in 1066 (Norman Conquest of 1066). The literature which they brought to England after the conquest is remarkable for its bright romantic tales of love and adventure and it was in contrast with the strength and somberness of Anglo-Saxon poetry.


How did the Normans changed England and English Literature?

The conquest of England by the Norman seaman at first to crush the English people to destroy their literature and to threaten their speech but this expectation was wrong as the conqueror was conquered by the enemies. Within three centuries of their contact with the Saxon, the Norman became English man and left the French tongue so that he might speak and write in English. The Englishmen absorbed the Normans in three fold and adopted the French elements which the Normans brought with them. The Normans were the first to bring practical ideals of French civilization to England. They also brought with them the wealth of new language and literature which the English gradually absorbed. Thus, we can say that it was a welding of Saxon and French into one speech that produced the wealth of modern period.




Normans Conquest English Language

During these three centuries, after the Norman conquest of England, English was not used for literary purpose. It was handicapped by the disdain in which it was held. The Anglo-Saxon community continued to employ only the English language in their literature and learning. French was the language of nobility, the court and the seats of learning. It is a small wonder that we find little English prose or poetry recorded before the year 1350. The literature which was in demand was either in French or in Latin. Thus, beneath the two fold oppression of French and Latin writings, English lay prone for nearly three centuries after the Norman Conquest.

 
English Literature during Norman Conquests

The most important prose work in English after the Norman Conquest is the “English Chronicle”. The Winchester Annals ceased to be written in English in the year 1070. A leech book was made out of the older books of the same kind and with it we close the prose work except the Homilies, The Hatton, Gospels and the Role of Saint Benedict.


The Andrene Ruite is the most important prose work of the 12th century England. It was written for three noble ladies to guide them in their life. These remarks of prose prove that after 1066 and during the 12th century, English, is spite of the tyranny of the French tongue continued its struggle for the victory which is finally won. Thus, we can say that English language fought a great battle for its survival after the Norman Conquest and at last it seceded by establishing its identity after three centuries in the form of Middle English.

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