How The Norman Conquest changed England and Western Europe

The Norman Conquest changed the face of England and Western Europe forever:

  • The Norman Conquest broke England's links with Denmark and Norway, and connected the country to Normandy and Europe.
  • William got rid of all the Saxon nobles and imposed the feudal system on England.
  • The new Norman landowners built castles to defend themselves against the Saxons they had conquered. This gave them great power, and enabled some of them to rebel against William in the late 1070s.
  • William reorganised the church in England. He brought men from France to be bishops and abbots. Great cathedrals and huge monasteries were built.
  • The status of women in the Anglo-Saxon period had been relatively high, with the opportunity for rights in land ownership, for instance. The Feudal system introduced by the Normans reversed these changes.
  • Norman-French and Anglo-Saxon words make up the English language we use today. For example, royal, law and pork come from Norman-French words, but king, rules and pig come from Saxon ones.
Durham Cathedral, built in Norman times.
Durham Cathedral, originally built in Norman times

Tensions between the English and their new French rulers lasted for at least three centuries.