Dr Marc Morris, historian and broadcaster, is an expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, and has written extensively on the Middle Ages. It was thus a real pleasure to have him speak at the first Senior History Society lecture of the year.
Outlining the importance of the Norman Conquest in 1066, he pointed out that the Normans, unlike the Danes, came to England to establish a permanent presence, and in so doing, drastically changed the order of ruling elites. Among the most significant social changes introduced by the invasion of William the Conqueror were architecture (there were no castles in Britain prior to 1066), serfdom and chivalry.
All of these, he argued, influenced the development of an English identity distinct from the so-called “Savage Celts” of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, who continued to practise slavery and use older means of warfare.
However, he emphasised that we should not romanticise the Conquest, which also had a detrimental effect on written English, metalwork and other elements of Anglo-Saxon culture which fell victim to the invading forces along with thousands of local people.
The lecture was an informative and entertaining exposition about the significance of the Norman Conquest.
Danila Mikhaylov (C)