The Normans were the original liberal metropolitan elite Remainers #Hastings

Today is the anniversary of Hastings, when those baddies the Normans conquered England. But were they baddies?

The economy also grew hugely in the late 11th and 12th century, and there was a big increase in trade with continental Europe, especially the export of wool, although this may also have happened anyway. There was also a rise in the number of monasteries, which were the main centres of learning before universities began to spring up; and teaching at Oxford first began in 1096, although it would be another century or so before continental-based orders such as the Dominicans and Franciscans turned it into the intellectual powerhouse it would become. Without all this England would have been freer, but also perhaps poorer, both economically and culturally.

So yes, what I’m saying basically is that the Normans were the cosmopolitan liberal elite of their day, the Remainers.

Coincidentally, remain is one of the thousands of words that have come to us  from French, with between a quarter and half of all English words originating with our neighbours (although most came after the end of Norman rule, in the 13th and 14th centuries). Leave is good old Anglo-Saxon, just like the battle cry used on October 14, 1066 – ‘Uit!’ (out!).

But who can deny that our language has been enriched by French, thanks in part to William the Conqueror? Because of the Normans we have both friendship and amity, brotherhood and fraternity, motherhood and maternity, rise and ascend, cheer and cherish, cave and cavern, stand and stay, cow and beef, think and pensive, smell and odour, help and aid, weep and cry, weird and strange, harbour and port, worthy and valuable, and knowledge and science.  If it wasn’t for the Normans we’d all be speaking German.

Read it all there.

Incidentally, I’m working on a series of short-ish books about English history out next year. Book 2 will be about the Battle of Hastings, while Book 1 covers Alfred the Great and the Vikings.

What do you think?

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