Myth and history
All cultures make their myths from their history. This is one way of telling stories about the past, which all humans love to do. But it is also a way ifor rulers to create a sense of a shared past, and is one of the ingredients of national allegiance, to a culture as well as to rulers. For all societies use their past to define themselves in the present. Even if it is not the literal past, but an image of that past, often as highly structured as a myth.
The creation of a group identity is one of the important ways by which a state fosters a sense of unity in its people. A sense of a shared past is probably crucial in this. With this in mind, it is easy to see why, in Tudor times following the break with Rome, it was very important to rediscover the essential Englishness of pre-Conquest England - it was part of asserting a national identity.
'For me the Norman Yoke represents a real folk memory of what happened in the 11th century ...'
One could argue that the myth of the Norman Yoke is purely the product of these 16th- and 17th-century antiquarian controversies, but our sources and our common sense tell against that idea. I have the feeling, after working in other cultures, that great events like 1066 leave a real mark on the national psyche, whose memory can be transmitted over many centuries with no problem at all.
For me, the Norman Yoke represents a real folk memory of what happened in the 11th century. The myth was part of the process by which English identity was kept alive in the 12th and 13th centuries to emerge with the full glory of English vernacular in the age of Chaucer in the 14th century.
If that sounds unlikely to you, all I can say is that I've recently worked on a series of films in South America about the Spanish Conquest of the 16th century, and everywhere we travelled people talked about that cataclysm as if it had happened yesterday - which of course, in historical terms, it did.