Saturday, 16 October 2010

Northerners and Normans

This is from the chronicle of the twelfth-century monk Orderic Vitalis, who was born in England but lived in Normandy and provides one of the best sources for early post-Conquest history. Describing the situation in the north of England after the Conquest, when rebellion against William was at its height, he says:

"Many men lived in tents, disdaining to sleep in houses lest they should become soft; so that the Normans called them 'wild men'" (silvatici).

Hmmm. Meanwhile, in Normandy:

"At this time certain Norman women, consumed by fierce lust, sent message after message to their husbands urging them to return [from England] at once, and adding that unless they did so with all speed they would take other husbands for themselves. For they dared not join their men themselves, being unaccustomed to the sea-crossing and afraid of seeking them out in England... [The men] returned to Normandy to oblige their wanton wives; but neither they nor their heirs were ever able to recover the fiefs which they had held and chosen to abandon."

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