specialized vocabulary by rrrkakushi


									                                             THE NORMAN CONQUEST

     In 1066, as every school child knows, England was invaded
and conquered by William, Duke of Normandy, commonly called
"the Bastard." He used as pretext a doubtful claim to the English
crown after the death of Edward the Confessor, "last of the
Saxon Kings." The army attendant upon William was chiefly
composed of Normans, men speaking a provincial dialect of
French but related by blood to the Danes. Their forefathers, most
of them, had migrated from Scandinavia and conquered the land
of Normandy even as they themselves were now proposing to
conquer England. Their success meant more than a mere change
in dynastic rule for the inhabitants of Britain. The old local
kingdoms and tribal organizations were swept away—such as
had survived the period of unified Danish rule. In their stead the
whole of England, excluding Scotland and Wales, was placed
under a single complex feudal system of administration.

                                                                        ISM IN

■B Feudalism of course was a highly stratified organization of society. In France
there were already many ranks or orders of men, from the lowly unfree serf, up through

free traders and workers, landless knights, landowning knights, little barons, big barons,

and recognized kings. Military service and other obligations were the basis of land
ownership. Rights and prerogatives were at times vague or conflicting, and hence gave

rise to fierce combats. Feudal France was divided into great duchies, each with a

hereditary overlord at his head. Roughly speaking the dialects of medieval French

corresponded to these feudal divisions. Within the confines of each duchy there was not

a great deal of difference between the language of the lower and the higher orders,

except insofar as differences of interest and preoccupation tended to mark off the stores

of words used. The husbandman talked about agricultural matters, using more or less

simple sentences studded with the technical terms of his job; the knight employed a

more aristocratic vocabulary referring to tournaments, etiquette, literature, and art

(within l i m i t s ! ) , terms of inheritance, and the techniques of warfare; but in general

they spoke the same dialect within the same region. The regional dialect divisions were

probably much more noticeable than class divisions, apart from limited items of

specialized vocabulary.

To top