Today is the anniversary of a day when the darned Normans (French of viking origins) defeated the Anglo Saxon’s (English of German and Danish origins). The English were led by the recently elected (Witenagemot, Witan) Danish Saxon king of England, Harold Godwinson, the nick-namesake of one of our current princes, just outside a holiday resort called Hastings on the English south coast.
The invading Norman team were lead by William the bastard who had allegedly been promised the English throne by King Edward the confessor (Saxon). King Harry’s team had just hiked from York (241 miles, 386 kilometres) in a remarkable 4 – 7 days after fending-off an invasion by the Norwegian King Harald the hard who may have been promised the English throne by a Danish King Canute the hardy.
The basic plot is that William the bastards’ team kills most of Harry Godwinson’s team.
William the bastard, Duke of Normandy, became William I of England, namesake of the current heir to the English throne, 2nd in line. Most histories subsequently refer to William the bastard fellow as ‘William the Conqueror’ or ‘Guillaume le ConquÃ©rant’ . Apparantly Londoners don’t acknowledge or use the ‘conqueror’ part of his rather convincing political spin, they politely refer to him as William Duke of Normandy.
William’s arrival appears to have marked the end of the system of elected monarchy in England, though the Witan remained in name their role changed to that of the Norman feudally based system where membership was based on gifts of land originating from the King, effectively a King’s court, this system later evolved into the current Parliment.
On a linguistic note, according to Jonathan Stern:
Anglo-Saxon and Norman French wouldn’t agree what gender some noun or other was… so they’d just forget about it and call it “it”.This has created a very flexible language (once referred to as “a lot of foreign words mispronounced”) which often has two subtly different words for things (e.g. compare our “come” and “arrive” with the German “kommen” and the French “arriver” – remember Anglo-Saxon would have been very like German; Norman French was closely related to Parisian French).
The small and yet pleasingly formed Reading Museum within the versataile town hall has its very own hand embroidered 1885 copy of the 70 metre long Bayeux Tapestry.