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After embracing the faith of Christ, by degrees and, in process of time, in consequence of the peace which they enjoyed, they relegated arms to a secondary place and gave their whole attention to religion. The clergy, contented with a little confused learning, could scarcely stammer out the words of the sacraments; and a person who understood grammar was an object of wonder and astonishment.

The monks mocked the rule of their order by fine vestments and the use of every kind of food. The nobility, given up to luxury and wantonness, went not to church in the morning after the manner of Christians, but merely, in a careless manner, heard matins and masses from a hurrying priest in their chambers, amid the blandishments of their wives.


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The commonalty, left unprotected, became a prey to the most powerful, who amassed fortunes, either by seizing on their property or by selling their persons into foreign countries; although it is characteristic of this people to be more inclined to reveling than to the accumulation of wealth…. Drinking in parties was a universal practice, in which occupation they passed entire nights as well as days.

They consumed their whole substance in mean and despicable houses, unlike the Normans and French, who live frugally in noble and splendid mansions. The vices attendant on drunkenness, which enervate the human mind, followed; hence it came about that when they engaged William, with more rashness and precipitate fury than military skill, they doomed themselves and their country to slavery by a single, and [at] that an easy, victory. For nothing is less effective than rashness; and what begins with violence quickly ceases or is repelled.

Sacraments: Special religious ceremonies, such as taking Communion or exchanging wedding vows.

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Luxury and wantonness: A life filled with excessive eating, drinking, and other worldly pleasures. Mean and despicable houses: In other words, taverns or bars known for drunkenness and the loose practices of the people who went there. The Norman Conquest proved to be an event of enormous significance, with a vast impact on the law, culture, and especially the language of England. The Normans spoke French, and this added a Latin-based influence to the Germanic language of England.

Thus today English has at its disposal a huge array of words, many rooted in Latin and others in German. In the short run, the invasion led to the crowning of William the Conqueror as William I, king of England. Thus the English kings had their eye on France, just as the Normans had once had their eye on England, and this would lead to a series of conflicts between the English and the French. These tensions would explode in the Hundred Years' War — , and ill-will between Britain and France would continue into the modern era, until British forces defeated the French armies under Napoleon in English is the world's most widely spoken language, with million speakers at the end of the twentieth century.

Yet only million of those people are native English-speakers, a fact that testifies to the broad reach of the language: people all over the world, even in places where English is not the native language, use English to communicate. There are at least two reasons for this, one of which is the fact that Great Britain established a huge colonial empire during the s and s. The other reason behind the wide acceptance of English is its large vocabulary: the language includes more than , words, along with some , technical terms.

Though the average English-speaker only uses about 60, words, it is clear that English offers a wide variety of ways to say things.


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And if a word does not exist in English, one can simply be borrowed from another language and included in the English vocabulary. This tradition of borrowing words goes back to the Norman Conquest of Prior to that time, the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of Britain spoke what is now known as Old English , a language closely related to German.

But the invading Normans brought the French language with them, and this gave English a whole new range of words. Historians date the development of Middle English, with its much richer vocabulary, from the Norman Conquest. Some years later, the invention of the printing press brought about another great expansion in the language, as books and ideas were much more easily distributed; this in turn led to the development of English as it is spoken today.

May, Robin. William the Conqueror and the Normans. Illustrations by Gerry Wood. New York : Bookwright Press, Robinson, James Harvey, editor.

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Severy, Merle, editor. The Age of Chivalry. Washington, D.

Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. September 24, Retrieved September 24, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. William of Malmesbury ca. Of mixed Norman and English descent, William of Malmesbury was born in England between and At an early age he was admitted to Malmesbury Benedictine Abbey, where he became a monk and, later, librarian of the monastery.

His earliest major work was Gesta regum Anglorum Deeds of the Kings of England a compendium of English history in five books, first published in and later revised. Gesta regum is the finest historical work of 12th-century England, although it is less the product of original research than a skillful combination of sources featuring colorful anecdotes and placing special emphasis on the reigns and characters of the Anglo-Norman kings.

William wrote history for moral and didactic purposes, both pious and patriotic the latter imitative of classical Roman historiography.

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He reveals his hybrid attitude in this passage from the Historia novella: "What gives more aid to virtue, what is more conducive to justice, than to learn of God's indulgence toward good men and vengeance on traitors? What, moreover, is more pleasant than to record in literary writings the deeds of brave men, by whose example others may abandon cowardice and be armed to defend the fatherland?

The victory belongs to the godly Normans, the defeat results from English sinfulness; yet there are also laments, couched in classical rhetoric, for England's loss of liberty under the Norman yoke. The year after he finished the Gesta regum, William completed the Gesta pontificum ; Deeds of the Bishops , a compilation of the lives and deeds of English bishops. During the next few years he wrote the Vita sancti Wulfstani Life of Saint Wulfstan and De antiquitate Glastoniensis ecclesiae ; Concerning the Antiquity of Glastonbury , a history of that ancient and celebrated abbey.

William's last work, and the most valuable to modern historians, is the Historia novella New History a continuation to of the Gesta regum in three books, which includes eyewitness, though not impartial, testimony to the progress of the civil war in England between King Stephen and the house of Anjou. The comparative roughness of the style and the absence of a promised fourth book indicate that the Historia novella was unfinished, William apparently having died soon after he finished book 3 in He owes his considerable reputation today to his feeling for the sweep of history, the complexities of human character, and the rhetorical possibilities of Latin narration.

Biographical and critical material on William of Malmesbury appears in Reginald R. Darlington, Anglo-Norman Historians , and in the introduction to K. Potter, ed. See also the chapter on historical writing in Charles H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century ; repr. Thomson, Rodney M. Benedictine monk, scholar, and writer; b. William was of mixed Norman and Anglo-Saxon parentage and was educated and professed at malmesbury, where aldhelm had been abbot and dunstan had reestablished monastic life.

Because of the fine library there, and his own unremitting diligence and travel, William, though largely self-taught, achieved his ambition to become the most notable English historian since bede. His chief work, the Gesta regum, begun in , was a history of England from the anglo-saxon period till his own times. Its scale, perspective, and proportion raised it above most writings of the time; its vivid, but biting portraiture and elegant style make it enjoyable reading today.

Its companion volume, the Gesta pontificum, about the English bishops, sees, and monasteries of the same period, was completed in The Historia novella, describing the civil war of the reign of King Stephen of England, was unfinished at William's death.

Gesta Regum Anglorum

His devotional works included a commentary on Lamentations, lives of St. Dunstan and St. He searched for new primary sources including those produced in other countries and was able to read documents in several different languages. Malmesbury also used topography and buildings as evidence and was very interested in human character and motivation. William's willingness to look critically at primary sources and his interest in cause and effect, helped him become one of the most important historians of the medieval period. William of Malmesbury died in William Rufus had a red face, yellow hair, different coloured eyes The day before the king died he dreamt that he went to heaven.

He suddenly awoke. He commanded a light to be brought, and forbade his attendants to leave him. The next day he went into the forest He was attended by a few persons Walter Tirel remained with him, while the others, were on the chase.

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The sun was now declining, when the king, drawing his bow and letting fly an arrow, slightly wounded a stag which passed before him The stag was still running The king, followed it a long time with his eyes, holding up his hand to keep off the power of the sun's rays. At this instant Walter decided to kill another stag. Oh, gracious God! On receiving the wound the king uttered not a word; but breaking off the shaft of the arrow where it projected from his body This accelerated his death. Walter immediately ran up, but as he found him senseless, he leapt upon his horse, and escaped with the utmost speed.