St Clements History Department Does 1066
14th October 2016 to many, was an ordinary day; we got up, came to school, had our lessons and went home safe in the knowledge that it was Friday and we could have a lie in tomorrow! However, 14th October 2016 wasn’t an ordinary day, it was an anniversary, and not just any anniversary; 14th October 2016 was the anniversary of ‘arguably’ the biggest turning point in the history of our island, of our culture, of our language and of our characters! 950 years ago today was the Battle of Hastings. You may be thinking why was that so important? It wasn’t anything that big, like Henry VIII’s creation of the English Church of England, or Elizabeth I’s defeat of the mighty Spanish Armada, or even as big as the chopping off of King Charles I’s head leading to people power in the short lived Republic of England (thankfully it was short lived in my opinion). It was bigger than all of those events for one significant reason, it was the end of the tribal Anglo Saxon England and the beginning of the hierarchical, monarchy driven, “modern” England. 14th October 1066 was the last time England was ever successfully and fully conquered by a foreign power. 1066 saw the Norman / French Duke, William of Normandy defeat the Anglo Saxon ruler Harold Godwinson on the south coast around Hastings, that we all know, but what was the real impact of this?
Some of our year 7’s re-enacting the Battle of Hastings. We’ve gone bigger and better this year to celebrate this special anniversary.
William brought ‘culture’ with him, he brought ‘society’ with him and he brought the rule of law with him, often through the shedding of blood. England was no longer part of an island split into territories and tribes left in the doldrums of a ‘survival existence’ following the departure of the Romans. King Arthur had been and gone (allegedly) and crucially England was now out of the ‘Dark Ages’. Many of the laws we have today can be traced right back to 1066, including punishment for crimes, theft, murder. The idea of justice (although primitive in our minds) was established in the early modern world post 1066. Trade was a key feature of this new Norman England both domestically and abroad. Many of the foods we eat today are here thanks to the influence of our Norman conqueror. Above all though, the biggest gift given to us by William was our language. You may not be aware of this little fact but many of our everyday words have their origins in the conquest of England in 1066…
… here are just a few… Beef, Pork, Veal, Venison, Poultry, Mutton, Soldier, Military, Science, Property, Favourite, Liberty, Colour, Poor, Permission, Noble, Purchase, Blonde, Pigeon, Royal, Enquire, Carry, Phantom, Support, Odour, Flower, Assist, Age, Faith, Ponder, Identity, Reason, Cause, Cry, Attorney, Judge, Consider, Pants, Reply, Response, Prince, Autumn, Hour, Utility, Use, Boil, Chase, Letter, Strange, Rude, Voice, People, Valuable, Famine, Desire, Distance, Somersault, Beverage, Amount, Fragile, Difficult, Incredible, Savage, Omnipotent, Nostalgia, Mountain, Beautiful, Peace, Regretful, Forest, Honest, Tomb, Arm, Tavern, Enemy, Lethal, Mortal and well many many more – you get the idea.
William’s culture also saw the setting up of a society, putting people in their places starting at the bottom (and the majority) as peasants, climbing up to the top of society (getting smaller) ending with the king. Everyone in this hierarchy knew their place and their roles in life and after an initial few years of protest and inevitable death as a punishment, Norman England was established. Our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II does follow the lineage of monarchs all the way back to 1066 ensuring a royal family line lasting 950 years (although at various points in history, this line became very tenuous indeed). As Norman England became, well, England, our inevitable xenophobic attitudes of the early Norman conquest years seemed to forget the fact upon each next accession of king that they were all in fact from the Norman / French line.
It’s clear that the Norman Conquest of 14th October 1066 changed our islands destiny and future and in many ways for the better. Our food, language, laws and self-determination, ironically, was spawned from this period. Without the conquest, perhaps we’d have remained a farming island content on getting by and dancing around giant stones with charms and chants, blaming the spirits and stars for things that went wrong, perhaps we’d never have had a society, or a government that told the people how to live, maybe we’d not have any consequences for crimes against each other and worst of all, we might never have monarchy. Think about our history without the castles of William, without Henry VIII, without the battles with Scotland and France, without the Tower of London, without Queen Victoria and her industrial revolution. I think in summary, we have to really appreciate, if not agree with my views, that 950 years ago, this battle on a hill in the south of England changed England forever!
Thanks for reading and to see more of our 1066 celebrations visit www.stchistory.com and click the gallery for videos & pictures. Well done Year 7 for your efforts and enthusiasm!