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  • In the year 1066,

  • 7000 Norman infantry and knights sailed in warships across the English Channel.

  • Their target: England, home to more than a million people.

  • Theirs was a short voyage with massive consequences.

  • And around the same period of time,

  • other groups of Normans were setting forth all across Europe,

  • going on adventures that would reverberate throughout that continent's history.

  • So who were these warriors

  • and how did they leave their mark so far and wide?

  • Our story begins over 200 years earlier,

  • when Vikings began to settle on the shores of northern France

  • as part of a great Scandinavian exodus across northern Europe.

  • The French locals called these invaders Normans,

  • named for the direction they came from.

  • Eventually, Charles, the king of the Franks,

  • negotiated peace with the Viking leader Rollo in 911,

  • granting him a stretch of land along France's northern coast

  • that came to be known as Normandy.

  • The Normans proved adaptable to their newly settled life.

  • They married Frankish women,

  • adopted the French language,

  • and soon started converting from Norse paganism to Christianity.

  • But though they adapted,

  • they maintained the warrior tradition

  • and conquering spirit of their Viking forebears.

  • Before long, ambitious Norman knights were looking for new challenges.

  • The Normans' best-known achievement was their conquest of England.

  • In 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy,

  • disputed the claim of the new English king, Harold Godwinson.

  • Soon after landing in England,

  • William and his knights met Harold's army near the town of Hastings.

  • The climactic moment in the battle

  • is immortalized in the 70-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry,

  • where an arrow striking Harold in the eye seals the Norman victory.

  • William consolidated his gains with a huge castle-building campaign

  • and a reorganization of English society.

  • He lived up to his nickname "William the Conqueror"

  • through a massive survey known as the Domesday Book,

  • which recorded the population and ownership

  • of every piece of land in England.

  • Norman French became the language of the new royal court,

  • while commoners continued to speak Anglo-Saxon.

  • Over time, the two merged to give us the English we know today,

  • though the divide between lords and peasants can still be felt

  • in synonym pairs such as cow and beef.

  • By the end of the 12th century,

  • the Normans had further expanded into Wales,

  • Scotland,

  • and Ireland.

  • Meanwhile, independent groups of Norman knights

  • traveled to the Mediterranean,

  • inspired by tales of pilgrims returning from Jerusalem.

  • There, they threw themselves into a tangled mass of conflicts

  • among the established powers all over that region.

  • They became highly prized mercenaries,

  • and during one of these battles,

  • they made the first recorded heavy cavalry charge with couched lances,

  • a devastating tactic that soon became standard in medieval warfare.

  • The Normans were also central to the First Crusade of 1095-99,

  • a bloody conflict that re-established Christian control

  • in certain parts of the Middle East.

  • But the Normans did more than just fight.

  • As a result of their victories,

  • leaders like William Iron-Arm and Robert the Crafty

  • secured lands throughout Southern Italy,

  • eventually merging them to form the Kingdom of Sicily in 1130.

  • Under Roger II,

  • the kingdom became a beacon of multicultural tolerance

  • in a world torn apart by religious and civil wars.

  • Muslim Arab poets and scholars served in the royal court

  • alongside Byzantine Greek sailors and architects.

  • Arabic remained an official language along with Latin, Greek, and Norman French.

  • The world's geographical knowledge was compiled in The Book of Roger,

  • whose maps of the known world

  • would remain the most accurate available for 300 years.

  • And the churches built in Palermo combined Latin-style architecture,

  • Arab ceilings,

  • and Byzantine domes,

  • all decorated with exquisite golden mosaics.

  • So if the Normans were so successful, why aren't they still around?

  • In fact, this was a key part of their success:

  • not just ruling the societies they conquered,

  • but becoming part of them.

  • Although the Normans eventually disappeared as a distinct group,

  • their contributions remained.

  • And today, from the castles and cathedrals that dot Europe's landscape

  • to wherever the English language is spoken,

  • the Norman legacy lives on.

In the year 1066,

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B2 US TED-Ed norman william harold england europe

How the Normans changed the history of Europe - Mark Robinson

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    詹士緯 posted on 2018/08/12
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