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English attitude to William I.

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Forum Name: Medieval Europe 476 AD - 1492 AD
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Printed Date: 02 Dec 2021 at 08:22
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Topic: English attitude to William I.
Posted By: 4ZZZ
Subject: English attitude to William I.
Date Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 00:03
I have been reading a 2006 book called A Brief History Of The Normans by Francois Neveux with translation by Howard Curtis. An interesting brief history that has taken my knowledge a little bit further than 1066 and all that. As with all these brief history books they tend to whet the appetite for further information. I have found the translation to be good but being French the author is a definite supporter of the right of William to conquer England.

I was intrigued by a passage that he wrote about English attitude to Norman conquest and I quote:- "And yet, although William The Conqueror is glorified in Normandy, he has left a bad reputation behind him in England. Of course many English historians agree in recognising the fundamental contribution of the Normans to English civilisation. But most English people today identify more easily with the conquered Anglo Saxons than with the Norman conquerors, even though the later are are also their ancestors." The author states William is not seen as a great hero but that the opposite can be said of southern Italy towards it's principle Norman conqueror in Robert Guiscard.

I an open to ideas as to why Neveux sees this attitude in modern England. I am not a resident of the UK but did attend 3 years of high school in the early 70's in England and have little memory of their being a poor attitude per se towards William and the Normans. That is not to say that there wasn't or is not now.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 00:51
There are still traces of tribalism in English society that affect this issue. As a rule of thumb, even now, if your name is Devereaux or Cavendish you're more likely to side with William than if your name is Perkis or Attwood. In the same way in a trade union/management dispute it would be surprising to find Devereaux or Cavendish on the union side and Attwood and Purkis representing the management.
Even on the Anglo-Saxon side though I think the issue had pretty well faded out by around the time of Henry III, when the concept of 'English' had replaced the comcepts of Saxon and Norman for comtemporary affairs, as symbolised in the myth of Robn Hood.

Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.

Posted By: Guest
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2016 at 00:04
Within 40 years of the Norman take over of England there was hardly a single new born being baptized with an Anglo Saxon name. Norman names dominated. I think this demonstrates the English attitude to the Normans at that time.

Posted By: caldrail
Date Posted: 26 Jul 2016 at 23:40
Nonetheless it has been noticed that Norman children invariably had Anglo-Saxon teachers and nannies, who were in a position to make certain ideas known to the children of their conquerors.


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