Norman Cheshire

  • The year 1066 is one of the most pivotal dates in English history. In that year, William the Bastard invaded from Normandy, seized the crown and became the first Norman king of England. Unlike the Viking invasions that had preceded it the Norman Conquest brought lasting changes in government, culture and language, shaping the way we think and our attitudes right up to the present day. England now entered Europe at centre stage.

    The Conquest was recorded in an amazing piece of pictorial history, the Bayeux Tapestry, which has come down to us as a unique reminder of the events of 1066. Only by standing at one end of this amazing work can one really appreciate it. Gazing down its length is remarkable enough yet when one reaches the end of the room in which it is displayed, the Tapestry curves round and continues up the other side. Historians still argue over its content, its meaning, where it was made and who made it. In this book I hope to highlight some of the many problems in its interpretation.It is a rare document and must be used with caution.

    The Norman Conquest was the last successful invasion of England by a foreign claimant. Others have tried – such as the Spanish, the French, the Germans – and failed. We can therefore look back on the Norman Conquest as helping to shape the England of the present. The importance of 1066 is seen in the permanence of those changes.

    What this meant to Cheshire

  • The last notable political change was the post 1066 Conquest military occupation of Cheshire by the mercenaries and regular soldiers of Hugh d’Avranches, Hugh Lupus (“The Wolf” – which gives you an idea what sort of man he was). These soldiers were drawn primarily from Normandy and Northern Brittany, but the invasion attracted mercenaries from all over Western Europe, who saw the potential rewards. The Normans were themselves descended from third generation Danish Vikings, who settled in that area and married into the local families.

    They took over the power bases – legal and political power passed to them, though it must be recognised that there were comparatively few of them and they didn’t set about annihilating everyone in Cheshire. There were certainly casualties in the ‘Harrying of the North’, but the current received scholarly understanding is that this was not as brutal as previously thought in Cheshire. The ordinary people stayed where they were, even if their lives were made nasty, controlled by unwelcome overlords who spoke an alien language.

    During this thousand year span, the merchants of Chester were happily engaged in trading with the whole of the Roman Empire, with all the potential that this had for adding to that melting pot.

    Whoever these ancient male progenitors were, they married local girls. That old Cheshire maxim “Best wed over the mixen than over the moor” may have resulted in some interestingly close relationships in small villages. Our lines may very well be related by marriage, even if that male strain is different. - (Susie Stockton Link - 2006)