The Norman Yoke
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.