Реферат "Viking and Norman Conquest.
The development of the English language"

The plan

I. History of England, Medieval Britain:
1) Viking Conquests from the sea
2) English war against Vikings
3) The English fleet and the ships of Vikings
4) King Alfred
5) The battle at Hastings
6) The complete of Norman Conquest
7) Industry of England in the Middle Ages
II. The development of the English language:
1) Middle English
2) The official language in the country and its dialects

Viking and Norman Conquest

For a long time the English people were at war with the Danes who came from Denmark and the Northmen who came from Scandinavia. They are often called as the Vikings. At first the Danes raided in small bands but later they came in larger numbers conquering one territory after another. The Northmen also landed on the north coast of Scotland, on the islands off the Scottish coast and on the north and west coasts of Ireland. These Northmen raiding parties completely destroyed all remnants of the Celtic Church. The Vikings attacked Britain's holy places, slaughtered its monks and carried away countless treasures. Well-designed boats and convenient winds helped the Vikings come and go as they pleased. Britain was devastated as the raiders divided the land amongst themselves. In 789, three Viking ships arrived on the Wessex shore. The local reeve had been sent to greet them but he was killed on the spot. At the beginning of the 9th century Wessex became the leading kingdom and united the rest of England in the fight against the Danes. Since 829 the greater part of the country was united under the name England.

Silver penny of Viking king of York

In 854 the Danes first settled in the Isle of Sheppey off the north coast of Kent where they spent the winter. In 866 the "Grand Army" of the Danes under the leadership of Guthrum landed on the coast of East Anglia. The "Grand Army" plundered the north and east of England. In 870 the Danes captured Edmund, King of East Anglia. The Danes tried to make Edmund renounce Christianity. Edmund refused and his captors killed him.
In 871 the Danes invaded Wessex, the most westerly, the largest and the most powerful of the Saxon kingdoms. In 871 the king of Wessex became Alfred (born in 849). He proved to be a talented strategist, brave warrior and a wise statesman. He united small kingdoms to fight against the invaders. He turned undefended villages into fortified towns. He won some important battles. As a result a treaty was signed between Alfred and the Danes in 886. According to this treaty England was divided into two parts: one part was under Danish rule and the other (Saxon England) remained under Alfred's rule.
Alfred saw that the best way to keep off the Danes was by fighting them at sea, and so he built ships bigger and faster than the Danish ships. King Alfred is considered to be the founder of the English fleet.
Viking ships were a great improvement on the rowing galleys that carried the English settlers to Britain. Each had a proper "keel" or "backbone" made of a single length of oak. This was strong enough to stand the strain of a mast and a large square sail. The "steer-board" or rudder, was shaped like the blade of an oar and fixed on the right-hand side of the hull, near the stern. This side of a ship is still called the starboard (from steer-board). It had a sail, but its main power came from sixteen oars on each side. The crossing only took 28 days. They set their course by the position on the sun, to the pole star after dark. If they met storms or fog they drifted aimlessly, but when the sky cleared they could correct their course.
Alfred assembled a large army to drive the Danes out of Wessex. He defeated the Danes at the Battle of Ethandun. Following the battle, the Danes and Alfred drew up the Treaty of Wedmore. According to the terms of the Treaty of Wedmore, the Danes promised to leave Wessex and to settle in parts of England to the north and east of Wtaling Street, the old Roman road.
King Alfred consolidated his army and a powerful fleet of ships with which to repulse attacks by any other groups of Northmen. For this reason, King Alfred of Wessex is often referred to as the "Father of the English Navy". Alfred, a fervently Christian king, also rebuilt monasteries, abbeys and churches in the south of England and welcomed scholars and learned men from all parts of the continent so that Wessex became a focus of international cultural activities. In 899 Alfred died. Alfred is the only English monarch to have been given the title "the Great".

The Viking attacks

In the end of the 10th century the Danish invasions renewed. The invaders forced the English people to pay a huge tribute. The Danes wanted to rule over the country and after many battles took the crown from the English. They were able to hold it for a short period of time (1017-1042).
Now the Normans began to attack the coasts of England from Normandy (France)а. It was a great danger from the sea for the Vikings. In 1066 Edward the Confessor, the Vikings' king, died and then Harold II was crowned king. Tostig and Harold Hardraada of Norway invaded England. Harold defeated them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, killing both. In 1066 19 days after battle of Stamford Bridge the decisive battle took place at Hastings.
Harold took a position on some low hills and the Normans attacked that position. It was a hard fought battle that lasted the entire day, neither side able to get the better of the other.
In the battle both leaders distinguished themselves by their bravery. Harold, not content with the functions of a general and with exhorting others, eagerly assumed himself the duties of a common soldier. He was constantly striking down the enemy at close quarters, so that no one could approach him with impunity, for straightway both horse and rider would be felled by a single blow.
William, too, was equally ready to encourage his soldiers by his voice and by his presence, and to be the first to rush forward to attack the thickest of the foe. He was everywhere fierce and furious; he lost three choice horses, which were that day killed under him. The dauntless spirit and vigor of the intrepid general, however, still held out. Though often called back by the kind remonstrance of his bodyguard, he still persisted until approaching night crowned him with complete victory. And no doubt the hand of God so protected him that the enemy should draw no blood from his person, though they aimed so many javelins at him.
As the day wore on, however, superior Norman discipline began to tell. Some of the Saxon forces began to melt away. Toward evening, Harold himself was killed by an arrow, but by the time he died the battle was clearly lost.
The story of the Battle of Hastings, and the events surrounding it, are told in the remarkable Bayeux Tapestry. Norman knights pursued Saxons well into the night, and by the next day there was no one to stand against the invader. William called his men back and set about securing his position. He had won a great battle, but he had not yet won England, and he needed to keep his army together.
William sent out news of his victory and invited the Saxon lords to recognize him as the legitimate king. He waited for five days and none did. Instead, they withdrew to their own lands, to defend their own interests.
By the end of November William controlled most of the old lands of Wessex. In December he took London. More and more lords now submitted to him, yielding to events. He was crowned king on Christmas Day, 1066.
One of his first acts was to build a fortress in London, a tactic he used in several towns. This one became famous though: the Tower of London, the Norman core of which still stands.
Now that he was a crowned king, William set about imposing his rule on England. He spent five years quelling rebellions and establishing Norman authority, building many castles and stocking them with men brought from Normandy. Those who fought with him at Hastings did very well, receiving lands all over England as fiefs.
William would go on to be most famous as William 'the Conqueror' and founder of the Norman dynasty of English kings. There had developed close associations between the Normans in France and the rulers of Anglo-Saxon England. William was a cousin to Edward 'the Confessor', king of England who was childless. Edward spent considerable time in Normandy as a guest of duke William, who had been led to believe that he migh be heir to the English throne. When another Anglo-Saxon cousin, Harold of Wessex was shipwrecked on the Norman shore, William was credited as saving Harold and claimed to have extracted from Harold William's claim to succeed Edward's English crown.
Upon Edward's death in 1066, Harold claimed the English crown. William of Normandy led an invasion and defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066). Overcoming what little resistance remained in southeast England, William led his army to London, and was crowned king on Christmas Day. Although William immediately began to build and garrison castles around the country, he apparently hoped to maintain continuity of rule; many of the English nobility had fallen at Hastings, but most of those who survived were permitted to keep their lands for the time being. The English, however, did not so readily accept him as their king, and the Normans treated the conquest much like an occupation.

A detail of the famous 'Bayeux Tapestry' [held by the Museum of Bayeux, France, which depicts the Norman conquest of England. The work was comisioned by the duchess Matilda for her uncle, Odo, bishop of Bayeux. Contrary to legend, Matilda [William the Conqueror's wife] did not work on making the tapestry, which was likely made in England

The victory of William I 'the Conqueror', now king of England (1066-1087) did not give him complete control of England. A series of rebellions broke out, and William suppressed them harshly, ravaging great sections of the country. Titles to the lands of the now decimated native nobility were called in and redistributed to the king's Norman followers. Castles were built by the Normans from France to control the English country (including a fortress at Windsor, and the White Tower at the Tower of London). The lands of defeated Saxon nobles were given to William's followers in return for military service by a certain number of knights, so that the tenants' foremost obligation was allegiance to the King. This firmly established the feudal system as practiced in France. By 1072 the adherents of Edgar Atheling and their Scottish and Danish allies had been defeated and the military part of the Norman Conquest virtually completed.
The Normans strengthened and organized the feudal system of Saxon society. Trade was increasing. The towns grew rapidly in size, importance and wealth, and became centers of handicraft production of all kinds. The whole economic development of the country from the 11th to the 14th century illustrates the increasing degree of exploitation of the peasant by the feudal lords and by the church.
By the end of the 13th century Wales became fully subdued by England. Attempts were made to conquer Scotland but it managed to maintain its independence for the next tree centuries.
In the middle of the 14th century the bubonic plague (Black Death) swept over England, carrying death and destruction. After the plague, there was a shortage of workers in the towns and in the country-side. The disaster made worse poor living conditions of the peasants. The common people began to demand higher pay and better treatment from their lords. In 1381 peasants rebelled against their low wages, unfair treatments in the law courts, and new taxes. The rising had failed but it played a most important role in breaking down the feudal relations of productions. It was the first great English rebellion of peasant labour against the feudal landlords.

The Norman Conquest and Middle English (1100-1500)

The Middle Ages brought the development of the English language.
William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England and the Anglo-Saxons in 1066 AD. The new overlords spoke a dialect of Old French known as Anglo-Norman. The Normans were also of Germanic stock ("Norman" comes from "Norseman") and Anglo-Norman was a French dialect that had considerable Germanic influences in addition to the basic Latin roots.
The Norman-French language became the official language in the country. It was the language of the ruling class and the court. However, it could not become the means of communication between the various layers of the society because the common people continued to speak English. And gradually English became the main language in speech and writing though it had many dialects.
In 1204 AD, King John lost the province of Normandy to the King of France. This began a process where the Norman nobles of England became increasingly estranged from their French cousins. England became the chief concern of the nobility, rather than their estates in France, and consequently the nobility adopted a modified English as their native tongue. About 150 years later, the Black Death (1349-50) killed about one third of the English population. The laboring and merchant classes grew in economic and social importance and along with them English increased in importance compared to Anglo-Norman.
In the 14th century the dialect of London and the South - East Midlands was accepted as the language standard. This mixture of the two languages came to be known as Middle English. The most famous example of Middle English is Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Unlike Old English, modern English-speaking people can read Middle English, albeit with difficulty. By 1362, the linguistic division between the nobility and the commoners was largely over. In that year, the Statute of Pleading was adopted, which made English the language of the courts and it began to be used in Parliament. The Middle English period came to a close around 1500 AD with the rise of Modern English.

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