The Norman Conquest

Hello, Year 8!

This short unit will give you an insight into how people in eleventh-century Europe thought, dealt with disputes and fought for power. The class presentation can be downloaded HERE (high-quality version) or HERE (smaller version). You can also view it directly below.

Our topic is the victorious Normans who, after a short, bloody battle and a long campaign of ruthless oppression, wrested England from its Anglo-Saxon rulers and established a Norman monarchy and aristocracy. Of course, the Anglo-Saxon peasants continued to work the land and speak an early form of English to their own children and to the children of the Norman nobility. Consequently, somewhat against expectation, it was the English language that eventually won the day — but only after a significant influx of Norman French words. It is no coincidence that many of the English words for power, law and government are derived from Old French. 

The Normans were to have a significant impact on the history of medieval Europe. Their name gives us a hint as to their identity: originally “Northmen” from Scandinavia, they settled in what is now France, where they were granted a duchy, married Frankish women, learned to speak medieval French and continued their quest for the acquisition of new land. They were warlike, feisty and ambitious people. Their duchy was called “Normandy”. This is also the part of France where the Allies landed on June 6, 1944, in order to liberate continental Europe from Nazi control.

The story of the Norman conquest of England illustrates just how common wars and battles were in the Middle Ages. One reason for this was that resolving a dispute through discussion and diplomacy was a foreign concept for the ruling classes. Since many of them belonged to an elite warrior class who had spent their childhood and their teenage years learning how to fight, they expected to go to war. After all, this was what they had been trained to do. Battles represented an opportunity for them to show their valour, further their reputation and, most importantly, gain land, the supreme symbol of medieval wealth.

In this period of history, land ownership was a sign of prestige and a proof of the king’s favour. Whoever possessed and dominated the land, often by building intimidating and impregnable castles, controlled the people. Kings gave out land to show their favour; lords and knights, in turn, doled out land to the peasants in return for their labour.

The presentation below will reveal many other aspects of the Norman Conquest and medieval life. You can also try some other activities that will allow you to learn and revise the details and discover more about how a ruthless conqueror operated in the Middle Ages.

Kind regards from Ms Green

Quick Knowledge Check (based on the text above)

Vocabulary Handout: Vocabulary Exercises based on Presentation

Other Online Activities

1 Quick flashcards –> Play the matching game. Then play BINGO

2 Primary Sources on the Norman Conquest

3 Crossword on the Norman Conquest 

4 Quick Quiz: The Battle of Hastings

5 Edupuzzle: The Animated Bayeux Tapestry

6 Kahoot on the Norman Conquest: Class Mode | Preview Mode

7 Recommended Links

8 Recommended Videos

The Vikings begin to carve their place in history

Vikings01 phillipmartin

Clipart kindly provided by www.phillipmartinclipart.com

In the late 700s AD the Vikings of Scandinavia began to attack settlements all over Europe, including England, which explains their lasting impact on our language. They did not simply attack and leave with booty; they often immigrated to and settled in the lands they attacked. For a period of time the northern part of England, for instance, was under the control of Vikings; this was called the “Danelaw”. Vikings also set up colonies in France; the word “Normans” actually comes from “northmen”. They were farmers and craftspeople as well as raiders.

The Vikings did not call themselves by that name. They called themselves Danes; the word Viking comes from their expression, “to go a-Viking” – voyaging for trade or to raid vulnerable settlements.

Futhark phillipmartin

Clipart kindly provided by www.phillipmartinclipart.com

Initially the Vikings wrote with runes. The name of this system was futhark from the order of the first six runes. They followed their own religion and had many gods; some had the same names as the Anglo-Saxon gods or were clearly similar. Eventually, however, the Vikings were converted to Christianity and began to use the Latin script with which we write today (or its archaic equivalent).

Odin was their most powerful god and corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon god Wodin (who gave us the name “Wednesday” if you recall).

Odin phillipmartin

Picture of Odin kindly provided by www.phillipmartinclipart.com

The Vikings’ influence on English was very important. They even gave us some of our pronouns (“they” and “them”, for instance), which is unusual because most of the building blocks of English come from the Anglo-Saxons.

First activity: Go to Act 2 of the Ages of English timeline from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/launch_tl_ages_english.shtml

Answer these questions:

1. What place-name endings come from the Vikings? Can you think of any place names in Australia with these endings?

2. Write down 6 common words that were given to us by this group of people.

3. What is the total number of words believed to have come from Old Norse (as a dictionary would call it)?

4. What is a “kenning”? Write down a Viking example and a modern example of a kenning. Make up some witty or poetic kennings of your own and add them in a comment at the bottom of this post.

5. Which English king managed to confine the Vikings to the Danelaw (a prescribed area in the north of England)? Amos will be able to tell you all about this particular King.

6. Visit this page to find out about the rights of Viking women, which were generally better than women in the rest of Europe. List their rights. What impact do you think conversion to Christianity might have had?

(clipart of Viking longship kindly provided by www.clker.com – in the public domain)

Viking longship from wwwclkercom pd

Second activity: Now discover what it might have been like to go a-Viking by tackling the Viking Quest from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/launch_gms_viking_quest.shtml

Viking Victories

Vikings01 phillipmartin

Clipart kindly provided by www.phillipmartinclipart.com

In the late 700s AD the Vikings of Scandinavia began to attack settlements all over Europe, including England, which explains their lasting impact on our language. They did not simply attack and leave with booty; they often immigrated to and settled in the lands they attacked.  For a period of time the northern part of England, for instance, was under the control of Vikings; this was called the “Danelaw”. Vikings also set up colonies in France; the word “Normans” actually comes from “northmen”. They were farmers and craftspeople as well as raiders.

The Vikings did not call themselves by that name. They called themselves Danes; the word Viking comes from their expression, “to go a-Viking” –  voyaging for trade or to raid vulnerable settlements.

Futhark phillipmartin

Clipart kindly provided by www.phillipmartinclipart.com

Initially the Vikings wrote with runes (the name of this system was futhark from the order of the first six runes). They followed their own religion and had many gods; some had the same names as the Anglo-Saxon gods or were clearly similar. Eventually, however, the Vikings were converted to Christianity and began to use the Latin script with which we write today (or its archaic equivalent).

Odin was their most powerful god and corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon god Wodin (who gave us the name “Wednesday” if you recall).

Odin phillipmartin

Picture of Odin kindly provided by www.phillipmartinclipart.com

The Vikings’ influence on English was very important. They even gave us some of our pronouns (“they” and “them”, for instance), which is unusual because most of the building blocks of English come from the Anglo-Saxons.

First activity: Go to Act 2 of the Ages of English timeline from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/launch_tl_ages_english.shtml

Answer these questions:

1. What place-name endings come from the Vikings? Can you think of any place names in Australia with these endings?

2. Write down 6 common words that were given to us by this group of people.

3. What is the total number of words believed to have come from Old Norse (as a dictionary would call it)?

4. What is a “kenning”? Write down a Viking example and a modern example of a kenning. Make up some witty or poetic kennings of your own and add them in  a comment at the bottom of this post.

5. Which English king managed to confine the Vikings to the Danelaw (a prescribed area in the north of England)?

6. Visit this page to find out about the rights of Viking women, which were generally better than women in the rest of Europe. List their rights. What impact do you think conversion to Christianity might have had?

 

(clipart of Viking longship kindly provided by www.clker.com – in the public domain)

Viking longship from wwwclkercom pd

 

Second activity: Now discover what it might have been like to go a-Viking by tackling the Viking Quest from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/launch_gms_viking_quest.shtml