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Gramática Histórica de la Lengua Inglesa


Unit 1. Socio-historical introduction to the Middle
English period: The Norman Conquest and its influence
on language development.
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a
region in northern France. They were descended from Viking
conquerors of the territory and the native population of mostly
Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock. Their identity emerged initially in
the first half of the 10th century, and gradually evolved over
succeeding centuries. The name "Normans" derives from Nortmanni
(Northmen), after the Vikings who founded Normandy.

[The  Norman  Conquest]   1  

Norman influence spread from these new centres to the Crusader States in the Near East. The Normans are famed both for their culture. Norman adventurers established a kingdom in Sicily and southern Italy by conquest. The Duchy of Normandy. 2   [The  Norman  Conquest]   . their dialect becoming known as Norman. and to Ireland. which they formed by treaty with the French crown. to Scotland and Wales in Great Britain. such as their unique Romanesque architecture. was one of the great large fiefs of medieval France. and a Norman expedition on behalf of their duke led to the Norman Conquest of England. an important literary language.They quickly adopted the Romance language of the land they settled off. and their musical traditions. as well as for their military accomplishments and innovations.

who became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. [The  Norman  Conquest]   3   .Gramática Histórica de la Lengua Inglesa Theory The Conquest of England The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William. Harold's army was badly depleted in the English victory at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Northern England on 25 September 1066 over the army of King Harald III of Norway. By early 1071. William had secured control of most of England. Duke of Normandy. defeating the then king Harold II of England. although rebellions and resistance continued to approximately 1088.

and clerical hierarchy. and clerics and 4   [The  Norman  Conquest]   . succeeded to the English throne in 1042. the Norman conquest linked the country more closely with continental Europe. It also had important consequences for the rest of the British Isles. and the extensive penetration of the aristocracy of Scotland by Norman and other French-speaking families. bringing in Norman courtiers. Frenchspeaking monarchy.wikipedia. This. as Edward drew heavily on his former hosts for support. lessened Scandinavian influence. aristocracy. Duke of Normandy. replacing it with a foreign. Their son Edward the Confessor. brought about a transformation of the English language and the culture of England in a new era often referred to as Norman England (from http://en. with the accompanying spread of continental institutions and cultural influences. in turn. This led to the establishment of a powerful Norman interest in English politics. the sister of Richard II. and also set the stage for a rivalry with France that would continue intermittently for many By bringing England under the control of rulers originating in France. It largely removed the native ruling class.The Norman conquest was a pivotal event in English history. soldiers. Precedents to the Conquest In 1002 King Æthelred II of England married Emma. who spent many years in exile in Normandy. paving the way for further Norman conquests in Wales and Ireland.

Consequences of the Conquest Elite replacement A direct consequence of the invasion was the near-total elimination of the old English aristocracy and the loss of English control over the Catholic Church in England. who was elected king by the Witenagemot of England and crowned by Archbishop Ealdred of York. William systematically dispossessed English landowners and conferred their property on his continental [The  Norman  Conquest]   5   . whereby if either died without heir. also contested the succession. However. His claim to the throne was based on a supposed agreement between his predecessor Magnus I of Norway. Earl of Wessex and his sons. Harold Godwinson (King Harold II). commonly known as Harald Hardrada. Edward's immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex. the richest and most powerful of the English aristocracy. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this. Both William and Harald at once set about assembling troops and ships for an invasion. the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England. the other would inherit both England and Norway. and the earlier Danish King of England Harthacanute. particularly in the Church. Edward may also have encouraged Duke William of Normandy's ambitions for the English throne. he was at once challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Harald III of Norway.Gramática Histórica de la Lengua Inglesa Theory appointing them to positions of power. When King Edward died at the beginning of 1066. Childless and embroiled in conflict with the formidable Godwin.

By 1096 no bishopric was held by any Englishman. ultimately found Norman domination 6   [The  Norman  Conquest]   . Even this tiny residue was further diminished in the decades that followed. revealing that by 1086 only about 5% of land in England south of the Tees was left in English hands. while English abbots became uncommon. English emigration Large numbers of English people. After 1075 all earldoms were held by Normans. while Englishmen were only occasionally appointed as sheriffs. the elimination of native landholding being most complete in southern parts of the country. The Domesday Book meticulously documents the impact of this colossal programme of expropriation. especially in the larger monasteries. Likewise in the Church senior English office-holders were either expelled from their positions or kept in place for their lifetimes but replaced by foreigners when they died. especially from the dispossessed former landowning class. Natives were also soon purged from high governmental and ecclesiastical office.followers.

The English developed permanent physical locations of government. England had a permanent treasury at Winchester. holding court wherever the weather and food or other matters were best at the moment. from which a permanent government bureaucracy and document archive began to grow. Scandinavia and perhaps as far afield as Russia and the coasts of the Black Sea. The shires tended to be somewhat autonomous and lacked coordinated control. The Domesday survey exemplifies the practical codification that enabled Norman assimilation of conquered [The  Norman  Conquest]   7   . The Normans centralised the autonomous shire system. All of England was divided into administrative units called shires (shares) of roughly uniform size and shape. Most medieval governments were always on the move. Anglo-Saxon England had one of the most sophisticated governmental systems in Western Europe. Scotland and the Byzantine Empire were particularly popular destinations. Governmental systems Before the Normans arrived. sons of Harold Godwinson). while others settled in Ireland (as did Godwine and Magnus. English government made heavy use of written documentation. This practice limited the potential size and sophistication of a government body to whatever could be packed on a horse and cart.Gramática Histórica de la Lengua Inglesa Theory unbearable and emigrated. which were run by officials known as "shire reeve" or "sheriff". This sophisticated medieval form of government was handed over to the Normans and grew stronger. including the treasury and library. which was unusual for kingdoms in Western Europe and made for more efficient governance than word of mouth.

Considerable hostility had already developed between William and his Capetian overlords before the invasion of England. and just a block from HM Treasury at 1 Horse Guards Road. A government accounting office called the Exchequer was established by Henry I. The tradition continues to the present day. relations between the Anglo-Norman monarchy and the French crown became increasingly fractious. and enabled more efficient taxation of the Normans' new realm. In the 1150s. Relations with France After the conquest. In 1150. It was the first kingdomwide census taken in Europe since the time of the Romans. As Dukes of Normandy. adjacent to number 10. the Exchequer was established at the Palace of Westminster. who fought a series of wars against his father and later against his brothers. but as Kings of England they were his equals. Systems of accounting grew in sophistication. with the creation of the Angevin Empire. with the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at nearby 11 Downing Street. The contradictions inherent in this situation became more problematic as the French monarchy grew stronger and increasingly assertive in the rights it 8   [The  Norman  Conquest]   . William and his descendants were still vassals of the King of France. dwarfing the power of the Capetians. some years after Henry's death.territories through central control of a census. the office of the First Lord of the Treasury who in modern times is also the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. and this was soon exacerbated by Capetian support for his son Robert Curthose. the Plantagenet successors of the Norman kings controlled half of France and all of England.

which effectively severed the connection established in 1066. In the fourteenth century. A crisis came in 1204 when Philip II of France seized all Norman and Angevin holdings in France except Gascony. the intermittent warfare over the continental territories of the Kings of England.Gramática Histórica de la Lengua Inglesa Theory claimed over its vassals. displacing Old English. These conflicts gave rise to a deep-rooted and durable tradition of AngloFrench rivalry and antagonism. This predominance was further reinforced and complicated in the mid-twelfth century by an influx of followers of the Angevin dynasty. Thus. By this time. This struggle ended only with the final collapse of the Plantagenet position in France in 1453. as the language of the ruling classes in England. English had itself been profoundly transformed. prompted by the efforts of Edward III to regain his ancestors' lands in France and to extend the sovereignty he enjoyed in England to his French possessions. Language One of the most obvious changes was the introduction of AngloNorman. while the use of French at court continued into the fifteenth century. Not until the fourteenth century would English regain its former primacy. escalated into the Hundred Years War. a northern dialect of Old French. [The  Norman  Conquest]   9   . cutting the ties of vassalage binding him to the French crown. speaking a more mainstream dialect of French. the entanglement of the English kingdom with the continental possessions and interests of the French magnates who had seized the throne embroiled England in almost four centuries of recurrent warfare against the Kings of France. which had continued since William's time.

Linguistic Consequencies on the Language To many people the Norman Conquest symbolises the submersion of the English language under the influx of French. French writing systems were introduced: <ch>. <ou> (ME long u). 1. were spoken in England. This is partly because a large number of French loan-words entered English in the period 1066 to 1500. The view that French completely changed the nature of English after the Conquest is not sustainable. etc. English and French.developing into the starkly different Middle English. <sh>. although the relationship. <wh>. The majority of the population was monolingual and only used English. it is doubtful whether it ever became a truly bilingual country. 2. In fact the majority of these loans date from the latter half of that period and most of them are of a more technical and literary nature than contact between languages at a spoken level would promote. Where French was important was in writing. between this transformation and the marginalisation of English resulting from the conquest is uncertain. French books were imported and reproduced. which formed the basis for the modern language. if any. During the centuries of French linguistic dominance. Although two languages. leading to the present hybrid tongue in which an English core vocabulary is combined with a largely French abstract and technical vocabulary. The grammatical structures of the language had also changed dramatically. a large proportion of the words in the English language had disappeared and been replaced by French words. 10   [The  Norman  Conquest]   .

In so far as bilingualism existed it was only in writing . which was spoken by those on the periphery of the country. some of which were probably difficult for speakers of other dialects to understand. Chaucer.Gramática Histórica de la Lengua Inglesa Theory 3. in his description of the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales. because French and Latin were now supported by the monarchy. Apart from Celtic. had hardly begun. and Latin as essentially only a written language. It soon became antiquated and was not the primary language for official business. but merely signifying that her French was of the sort found in England. At the spoken level English consisted of numerous dialects. At the written level there was the surviving Old English standard. They all spoke their own local variety of French. for to be educated involved not only learning Latin but also becoming familiar with French. It is also important to understand that the men who accompanied William included not only Normans. mentions that she ‘spoke the French of STRATFORDATTE-BOWE rather than that of Paris. French [The  Norman  Conquest]   1 1   . which was gradually becoming outdated because it not longer reflected the speech of most English people. for at this time the standardisation of French based round the Ile de France. but also Frenchmen from other parts of France. three languages were used in England: English and French in both speech and writing. it is that variety which we know as Anglo-Norman.’ He was not necessarily poking fun at her. The French spoken in England was not the French that ultimately spread from there to the rest of the country. And the law and other documents were written in French or Latin. It was also no longer the prestige written language. which is today known as FRANCIEN. Because of the use of Anglo-Norman in England.

warrant/guarantee and wardrobe/garderobe (where the latter is now used in descriptions of castles and suchlike buildings).loan-words borrowed before the thirteenth century often show the phonological characteristics of Anglo-Norman rather than those of Central French. whereas in Central French it progressed through /gw/ to /g/. In many cases English borrowed a word in both its Anglo-Norman and its Central French form. 12   [The  Norman  Conquest]   . This has led to the following pairs in English from each of these respective dialects: wage/gage. with the second being the later loan. Latin initial /k/ remained in Anglo-Norman as /k/. but in Central French it developed the palatal form /t∫/. This difference led to the English pair CATTLE from Anglo-Norman and CHATTEL from Central French. Similarly the initial /w/ of Old French was retained in Anglo-Norman.