Who Was Norman?

Who Was Norman

Back in the days of black and white television I was taught about the Norman Conquest.

Nowadays, that simple Norman Conquest narrative has morphed into a dual invasion.

Twin invasions
When Edward the Confessor died in 1066, he left a disputed succession.

The throne was seized by his leading aristocrat, Harold Godwinson, who was rapidly crowned.

Almost immediately, Harold faced two invasions – one from the king of Norway, Harald Hardrada, who was supported by Harold Godwinson’s brother Tostig, and the other from William, Duke of Normandy.

Overview: The Normans, 1066 – 1154 – Professor John Hudson – 2011

The invasion of England by the King of Norway [Harald Hardrada] began in September 1066.

The Norwegian king Harald Hardrada invaded northern England in September 1066, and was victorious at the Battle of Fulford, but Harold defeated and killed him at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066.


Harald Hardrada is a curious figure because he “had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary” and is commonly held to be “the last great Viking.”

Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harðráði, roughly translated as “stern counsel” or “hard ruler”) in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066.

In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066.

Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus’ and in the Byzantine Empire.

Modern historians have often considered Harald’s death at Stamford Bridge, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age.

Harald is also commonly held to have been the last great Viking king, or even the last great Viking.


The invasion of England by the Duke of Normandy began in October 1066.

Within days, William landed in southern England.

Harold marched south to confront him, leaving a significant portion of his army in the north.

Harold’s army confronted William’s invaders on 14 October at the Battle of Hastings; William’s force defeated Harold, who was killed in the engagement.


Back in the days of black and white television I was left with the impression that the Norman sobriquet was really a politically correct euphemism for French.

Nowadays, the Norman Conquest of England was achieved by “Norman, Breton, and French soldiers” led by Duke William II of Normandy.

The Norman conquest of England was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy, later William the Conqueror.


The curious thing about Duke William II of Normandy is that he was a Viking.

William I (Old Norman: Williame I; c. 1028 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.

The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 under the style William II.

After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

And the curious thing about Normandy is that it takes its name from “Viking invaders who were called Normanni, which means ‘men of the North’.”

The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France.


The French region of Normandy takes its name from the Viking invaders who were called Normanni, which means ‘men of the North’.


Consequently, the Norman Conquest of England was actually a co-ordinated Viking Invasion of England.

However, because Harald Hardrada [the King of Norway] “had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary” the logical question to ask is whether the Duke of Normandy was also a mercenary.

This is more than likely because “by 1066 Normandy had been exporting fighting horsemen for more than a generation.”

The Normans thereafter adopted the growing feudal doctrines of the rest of northern France and worked them into a functional hierarchical system in Normandy and in England.

The emerging Norman warrior class was new and ethnically and culturally distinct from the old French aristocracy, most of whom could trace their families back to the Franks of the Carolingian dynasty.

Most knights remained poor and land-hungry, and by 1066 Normandy had been exporting fighting horsemen for more than a generation.

Knighthood before the Crusades provided little social status, simply indicating a professional warrior wealthy enough to own a war horse.

Many Normans of France and Britain would eventually serve as avid Crusaders.


Robert Guiscard (c. 1015 – 17 July 1085) was a Norman adventurer conspicuous in the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily.

Robert was born into the Hauteville family in Normandy, went on to become Count of Apulia and Calabria (1057–1059), and then Duke of Apulia and Calabria and Duke of Sicily (1059–1085).

From 999 to 1042 the Normans in Italy, coming first as pilgrims, were mainly mercenaries serving at various times the Byzantines and a number of Lombard nobles


William I of Hauteville (before 1010 – 1046), known as William Iron Arm, was a Norman adventurer who was the founder of the fortunes of the Hauteville family.

One of twelve sons of Tancred of Hauteville, he journeyed to the Mezzogiorno with his younger brother Drogo in the first half of the eleventh century (c.1035), in response to requests for help made by fellow Normans under Rainulf Drengot, count of Aversa.

Between 1038 and 1040, he and other Normans fought in Sicily along with the Lombards as mercenaries for the Byzantine Empire against the Saracens.

It was there that he won his nickname “Iron Arm” by single-handedly killing the emir of Syracuse during a sally at the siege of Syracuse.


Rainulf Drengot (also Ranulph, Ranulf, or Rannulf;) was a Norman adventurer and mercenary in southern Italy.

In 1030 he became the first count of Aversa.


The legendary religious zeal of the Normans was exercised in religious wars long before the First Crusade carved out a Norman principality in Antioch.

They were major foreign participants in the Reconquista in Iberia.

In 1018, Roger de Tosny travelled to the Iberian Peninsula to carve out a state for himself from Moorish lands, but failed.

In 1064, during the War of Barbastro, William of Montreuil led the papal army and took a huge booty.


Thus, 1066 is a very strange juncture in the mainstream narrative where the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 was a co-ordinated Viking Mercenary Invasion of England that would restore the Viking Conquest of England that began in 947.

When William, Duke of Normandy defeated Harold Godwinson on the field of Hastings, he was conquering a nation of collaborators.

The story of the Norman Conquest does not start in 1066, but 50 years earlier, with another invasion and another group of Norsemen.

In 1016, Cnut, King of Denmark, seized the kingdom of England by exploiting the bitter rivalries between king Aethelred Unraed (without counsel), his son Edmund Ironside and his closest advisors.

Background to the Conquest – Dr Mike Ibeji – 2011

Cnut the Great's domains

Cnut the Great (Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 985 or 995 – 12 November 1035), more commonly known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden, together often referred to as the Anglo-Scandinavian or North Sea Empire.

As a Prince of Denmark, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe.

Hardly anything is known for sure of Cnut’s life until the year he was part of a Scandinavian force under his father, King Sweyn, in his invasion of England in summer 1013.

It was the climax to a succession of Viking raids spread over a number of decades.

In the summer of 1015, Cnut’s fleet set sail for England with a Danish army of perhaps 10,000 in 200 longships.

Cnut was at the head of an array of Vikings from all over Scandinavia.


In 1013 King Sveinn Hákonarson of Denmark invaded England with a large army, and Æthelred fled to Normandy, leading Sveinn to take the English throne.

Sveinn died within a year however, and so Æthelred returned, but in 1016 another Norse army invaded, this time under the control of the Danish King Cnut.


A new wave of Vikings appeared in England in 947, when Erik Bloodaxe captured York.

The Viking presence continued through the reign of Cnut the Great (1016–1035), after which a series of inheritance arguments weakened the hold on power of Cnut’s heirs.


The 947 date [when “a new wave of Vikings appeared in England”] is another strange juncture in history because this is approximately at the end of Gunnar Heinsohn’s 700 year gap in the 1st millennium stratigraphy.

How could Scandinavian and Baltic peoples of Antiquity and Late Antiquity fail to adopt sails, ports and breakwaters when there were countless experts from Europe who could teach them, and even low-value Roman coins spread throughout their territories?

How could these peoples, after 700 CE, become the world‘s uncontested master seafarers when – after the lethal and irreversible fall of Roman civilization – there was nobody left to teach them?

Sail Boats

How could they understand classical Latin and create items of Antiquity and Late Antiquity – which they imitated perfectly, right down to the chemical fingerprints of Roman paints and glass pastes – when they did not even have ancient strata beneath their habitats from which they could dig up and copy the material culture of Rome?

How could Arabs of Antiquity and Late Antiquity, the Vikings‘ trading partners, fail, for some 700 years, to write texts or issue coins when there were countless experts all over the Mediterranean who could teach them such basics?

How, after 700 CE, could the Arabs become uncontested masters of these cultural techniques when Roman civilization had been crushed, and there were no specialists left to teach them these skills?

How is it possible that sites devastated in the 3rd c. exhibit the same architecture and crafts as early medieval sites devastated in the 10th c. CE?

How can one explain that sites dated to Antiquity (1st-3rd c.) are as stratigraphically close to the High Middle Ages (10th/11th c.) as Early Medieval sites if they are not contemporary?

Gunnar Heinsohn’s latest: How did so many Roman elements (1st-3rd cent. AD) make into the Viking age (8th-10th cent AD)?


Heinsohn’s latest presentation can be accessed via the above Q-Mag.org link.

In France the arrival of the Vikings is placed at 911 i.e. 36 years before they captured York.

In 911 the French Carolingian ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo to settle in Normandy as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte.

In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against further Viking invaders.

Their settlement proved successful, and the Vikings in the region became known as the “Northmen” from which “Normandy” and “Normans” are derived.

The Normans quickly adopted the indigenous culture, renouncing paganism and converting to Christianity.

They adopted the langue d’oïl of their new home and added features from their own Norse language, transforming it into the Norman language.

They intermarried with the local population and used the territory granted them as a base to extend the frontiers of the duchy westward, annexing territory including the Bessin, the Cotentin Peninsula and Avranches.


If we assume these two events are almost contemporaneous then their mid-point at 929 CE is within 5 years of the 234 CE date identified by Ewald Ernst as the beginning of Gunnar Heinsohn’s 700 year gap in the 1st millennium i.e. a gap running from 234 CE to 934 CE.

In reality, the destruction of the aqueducts happened swiftly, and with a power no humans had at their disposal.

This happened, in 234 CE, only eight years after the last system had been completed under Alexander Severus in 226 CE.

At the same time, Rome’s population was reduced from nearly one million to no more than 50,000.

The cataclysm had struck with such force that more than half a millennium passed before Europeans could begin to slowly regain the technological competence of imperial Rome.

Toppling of Rome’s Obelisks and Aqueducts – Ewald Ernst – August 2014

Click to access ewald-ernst-on-trevor-obelisks-aqueaducts-01-08-2014.pdf

Furthermore, when we examine the legacy of the 1066 Viking Mercenary Invasion of England we find two very striking artefacts.

Firstly, the Normans “are famed” for their Roman Architecture.

The Normans are famed both for their culture, such as their unique Romanesque architecture, and their musical traditions, as well as for their significant military accomplishments and innovations.

The Duchy of Normandy, which began in 911 as a fiefdom, was established by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III of West Francia and the Viking ruler Rollo, and was situated in the former Frankish kingdom of Neustria.

The territory was roughly equivalent to the old province of Rouen, and reproduced the Roman administrative structure of Gallia Lugdunensis II (part of the former Gallia Lugdunensis).

Norman architecture typically stands out as a new stage in the architectural history of the regions they subdued.

They spread a unique Romanesque idiom to England and Italy, and the encastellation of these regions with keeps in their north French style fundamentally altered the military landscape.

Their style was characterised by rounded arches, particularly over windows and doorways, and massive proportions.

In Italy, the Normans incorporated elements of the Islamic, Lombard, and Byzantine architecture into their own, initiating a style known as Sicilian Romanesque.


Romanesque Architecture

Secondly, the Normans were also famed for their Roman Catholic piety.

The Normans played a major political, military, and cultural role in medieval Europe and even the Near East.

They were famed for their martial spirit and eventually for their Christian piety, becoming exponents of the religious orthodoxy into which they assimilated.


Ecclesiastical offices continued to be held by the same bishops as before the invasion, including the uncanonical Stigand.

By March, William was secure enough to return to Normandy, but he took with him Stigand, Morcar, Edwin, Edgar, and Waltheof.

He left his half-brother Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, in charge of England along with another influential supporter, William fitzOsbern, the son of his former guardian.


Odo, Earl of Kent (early 1030 – 1097) and Bishop of Bayeux, was the half-brother of William the Conqueror, and was, for a time, second in power after the King of England.

Although he was an ordained Christian cleric, he is best known as a warrior and statesman.


Robert Guiscard, another Norman adventurer previously elevated to the dignity of count of Apulia as the result of his military successes, ultimately drove the Byzantines out of southern Italy.

Having obtained the consent of pope Gregory VII and acting as his vassal, Robert continued his campaign conquering the Balkan peninsula as a foothold for western feudal lords and the Catholic Church.


The legendary religious zeal of the Normans was exercised in religious wars long before the First Crusade carved out a Norman principality in Antioch.

In 1064, during the War of Barbastro, William of Montreuil led the papal army and took a huge booty.


The War of Barbastro (also known as the Siege of Barbastro) was an international expedition, sanctioned by Pope Alexander II, to take the Spanish city of Barbastro from the Moors.


The Principality of Antioch was much smaller than the County of Edessa or the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

It extended around the northeastern edge of the Mediterranean, bordering the County of Tripoli to the south, Edessa to the east, and the Byzantine Empire or the Kingdom of Armenia to the northwest, depending on the date.

It had roughly 20,000 inhabitants in the 12th century, most of whom were Armenians and Greek Orthodox Christians, with a few Muslims outside the city itself.

Most of the crusaders who settled there were of Norman origin, notably from the Norman Kingdom of southern Italy, as were the first rulers of the principality, who surrounded themselves with their own loyal subjects.

Few of the inhabitants apart from the Crusaders were Roman Catholic even though the city was turned into a Latin Patriarchate in 1100.


Therefore, the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 was primarily a co-ordinated Viking Mercenary Invasion on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church and thus probably qualifies as the Second Roman Invasion of England.

Furthermore, reviewing the full scope of the other Norman Conquests it becomes apparent that the Normans were instrumental in establishing the Second Roman Empire.

Norman expansion by 1130

Besides the Norman conquest of England and the subsequent conquests of Wales and Ireland, the Normans expanded into other areas.

Norman families, such as that of Tancred of Hauteville, Rainulf Drengot and Guimond de Moulins played important parts in the Norman conquest of southern Italy and Crusades.

Drengot lineage and Tancred’s sons William Iron Arm, Drogo of Hauteville, Humphrey of Hauteville, Robert Guiscard and Roger the Great Count progressively conquered territories in Southern Italy until founding the Kingdom of Sicily in 1130.

They also carved out a place for themselves and their descendants in the Crusader states of Asia Minor and the Holy Land.

The 14th century Norman explorer Jean de Béthencourt established a kingdom in the Canary Islands.

Béthencourt received the title King of the Canary Islands but recognised as his overlord Henry III of Castile, who had provided aid during the conquest.


However, this Second Roman Empire was controlled by the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Innocent III

When the Archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, died on 13 July 1205, John became involved in a dispute with Pope Innocent III that would lead to the king’s excommunication.

The Norman and Angevin kings had traditionally exercised a great deal of power over the church within their territories.

From the 1040s onwards, however, successive popes had put forward a reforming message that emphasised the importance of the church being “governed more coherently and more hierarchically from the centre” and established “its own sphere of authority and jurisdiction, separate from and independent of that of the lay ruler”, in the words of historian Richard Huscroft.

After the 1140s, these principles had been largely accepted within the English church, albeit with an element of concern about centralising authority in Rome.

These changes brought the customary rights of lay rulers such as John over ecclesiastical appointments into question.

Pope Innocent was, according to historian Ralph Turner, an “ambitious and aggressive” religious leader, insistent on his rights and responsibilities within the church.


The First Roman Empire extracted tributes whilst the Second Roman Empire was funded by extracting a tithe.

A tribute (from Latin tributum, contribution) is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance.

Various ancient states exacted tribute from the rulers of land which the state conquered or otherwise threatened to conquer.

The empires of Assyria, Babylon, Carthage and Rome exacted tribute from their provinces and subject kingdoms.

Raiders, like Vikings and Celtic tribes, could also exact tribute instead of raiding the place if the potential targets agreed to pay an agreed amount of valuables; the Danegeld is a famous and large-scale example.

Tribute was not always money, but also valuables, effectively making the payers hostages kept unpillaged in exchange for good behaviour.

Various medieval lords required tribute from their vassals or peasants, nominally in exchange for protection to incur the costs of raising armies, or paying for free-lance mercenaries against a hostile neighbouring state.

That system evolved into medieval taxation and co-existed as a secular approximation of the churchly tithe levied on production.


A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government.

The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855.

The Saladin tithe was a royal tax, but assessed using ecclesiastical boundaries, in 1188.

The legal validity of the tithe system was affirmed under the Statute of Westminster of 1285.


Strangely enough, the European Union [which was founded by the Treaty of Rome] insists that all member states extract a tithe [that currently ranges between 15% and 27%] in addition to any tribute [e.g. taxes, duties, levies, fees, fines, charges, surcharges etc.] demanded by the member states from their surfs.

The European Union value added tax (or EU VAT) is a value added tax on goods and services within the European Union (EU).

The EU’s institutions do not collect the tax, but EU member states are each required to adopt a value added tax that complies with the EU VAT code.

Different rates of VAT apply in different EU member states, ranging from 15 to 27%.

Some of the VAT collected by member states is used to fund the European Union as part of the system of “own resources”.




The Treaty of Rome, officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (TEEC), is an international agreement that led to the founding of the European Economic Community (EEC) on 1 January 1958.

It was signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.

The word Economic was deleted from the treaty’s name by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, and the treaty was repackaged as the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union on the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009.


Nothing really changes – except the names…

Gallery | This entry was posted in British History, Heinsohn Horizon, History. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Who Was Norman?

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  4. Jörg Schaper says:

    so, all in all, Normans / Vikings conquered / settled the following areas:
    England, Normandy, Canary Islands, Sicily, South Italy, coasts of Tunesia & Lybia, Antiochia;
    also, assuming that “Rus” is another name for the above: parts of the Baltics & Russia.
    this prompts the following questions:
    1) how many people were needed to conquer / settle these areas ?
    2) could all these people really have come from Scandinavia?
    3) if so: how many people were left in Scandinavia afterwards ?
    4) are Vikings, Normans, Rus really the “same” people(s) ?

    • malagabay says:

      There is a fifth question:
      5) Were the Viking invasions a “duplicated” story written into the history books?
      See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/deja-vu-vikings/

      • Jörg Schaper says:

        that might work for the a r e a s if

        areas attacked & conquered by Sea Peoples:

        could be considered equal to

        areas attacked & conquered by Vikings, Normans, Crusaders:

      • Jörg Schaper says:

        if question 5) were confirmed the following questions still remain unanswered:

        1) how many people were needed to conquer / settle these areas?
        2) could all these people really have come from Scandinavia?
        3) if so: how many people were left in Scandinavia afterwards?

        plus the following:

        6) which story is original and which is a copy?

      • malagabay says:

        I have no idea about how many people… I would guess the Viking version is the most likely copy.

        I have often wondered where the Vikings got all their energy from for all this pillaging after a long, hard row across the North Sea/Bay of Biscay/Mediterranean Sea/…

  5. Wouldn’t your other article (s?) suggesting flooding of northern Europe need to be synthesized into this?

    By the way, love your work.

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