Monday 4 October 2010

Tolkien and the Norman Conquest

From The JRR Tolkien Companion and Guide by C Scull & WG Hammond, page 251:

"Tolkien's antagonism to France, the French and the French language was due, in large part, to his regret that English culture was dislocated and nearly destroyed following the conquest of England by French-speaking Normans in 1066."



I feel pretty much the same about 1066 as does Tolkien - the worst of the axe blows at the spiritual roots of England.

Probably the second worst was the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry XIII - I didn't really appreciate the gravity of this until I reas EK Chambers ( biography of Thomas More.

(And this was a book I read about in the above cited Tolkien Companion and Guide - Chambers was a friend of Tolkien's, and a fellow Roman Catholic).

The Cromwell revolution was another axe blow to England's spirit; and the 1914-18 and 1939-45 world wars were two more - mainly because of the huge kill-off and destruction of the cream of young men (especially in the 14-18 war).


I watched the first episode of a recent BBC TV programme about the Normans, which programme was very well done, but which I found almost painful to contemplate.

My conclusion? The Normans'... (ahem)... efficiency, was certainly very impressive. They were great (and fortunate) conquerers and highly effective at ruling.

And on the aesthetic side, they built my favourite building in the world - Durham cathedral.

And yet, and yet...


dearieme said...

The Anglo-Saxons took hundreds of years to conquer England, and lost it in an afternoon. Must have been God's will.

Justin said...

Have you researched the Lollards, and especially Walter Tylers rebellion? I have not done detailed research myself, but I am left with the impression that they represent a continuation and survival of the native Anglo-Saxon religious spirit. Would you say is an accurate assessment?

Bruce Charlton said...
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Bruce Charlton said...
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Bruce Charlton said...

@Justin - sorry, I don't know anything about this.

But this mini-book, which I just read *today*, has some interesting evidence about Anglo-Saxons who fled Norman England (something like one percent of the English population, it says) -

For example, probably thousands of English (including nobles) went to Constantinople, and from there apparently set up a 'New England' colony in Eastern Europe.

4 October 2010 18:58