The Norman Yoke

Listen in pop-out player

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ‘the Norman Yoke’ – the idea that the Battle of Hastings sparked years of cruel oppression for the Anglo Saxons by a Norman ruling class. ‘Norman saw on English oak,On English neck a Norman yoke;Norman spoon in English dish,And England ruled as Normans wish.’Taken from Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Ivanhoe’, these words encapsulate the idea of ‘the Norman Yoke’ – that the Battle of Hastings sparked the cruel oppression of Anglo-Saxon liberties by a foreign ruling class. Certainly, William the Conqueror proclaimed his power in great castles and cathedrals, turned the church upside down and even changed the colour of scribal ink. But was it really such a terrible time for the Anglo Saxons or was the idea of beastly Norman oppressors and noble Saxon sufferers invented later to shore up the idea of Englishness? With Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford; Richard Gameson, Professor in the Department of History at Durham University; Matthew Strickland, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Glasgow.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 10 Apr 2008 21:30

Featured in...

Quiz: The musical influences of William Blake


How much do you know about the poet's influence on music?

The In Our Time Quiz

Melvyn Bragg

Have you been listening? Test yourself with our quiz of 2015.

A new way to find programmes

Free Will

We've created a new way to search through the programmes and would like your help.

In Our Time Downloads


Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Watch animations from A History of Ideas

The Libet Experiment

Explore some big questions about how we live today.