Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/36

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



A new epoch begins with the coming of the Northmen in the early tenth century, as a result of which Normandy was differentiated from the rest of France and carried into the broader currents of European history. At first an outpost of the Scandinavian north, its relations soon shifted as it bred the conquerors of England and Sicily. The Normans of the eleventh century, Henry Adams maintains, stood more fully in the centre of the world's history than their English descendants ever did. They "were a part, and a great part, of the Church, of France, and of Europe." The Popes leaned on them, at times heavily. By the conquest of England the "Norman dukes cast the kings of France into the shade....Normans were everywhere in 1066, and everywhere in the lead of their age."[1] A century later Normans ruled half of Italy, two thirds of France, and the whole of England; and they had made a beginning on Ireland and Scotland. No one can write of European affairs throughout this whole period without giving a large place to the Normans and their doings; while events like the conquests of England and Ireland changed the course of history.

Normandy has also its place in the history of European institutions, for the Normans were organizers as well as conquerors, and their political creations were the most efficient states of their time. Masterful, yet legally minded and businesslike, with a sense for detail

  1. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, p. 4.