Today’s history post is short and sweet. I offer you a drawing and a few quick facts about Norman culture.
Norman Culture circa 1066 A.D.
- The Normans descended from Vikings that settled in northern France. The term “Norman” came from “Northman”
- Probably due to their Viking heritage, Norman culture revolved heavily around fighting and combat. They had strong military values that permeated their culture
- Their favorite pastimes including hunting and sparring
- In a trial to decide someone’s guilt or innocence, it was more common for the verdict to depend on a round of combat (each concerned party would offer a champion to fight for them) than the trials of ordeal seen so often in Anglo-Saxon culture
- The Normans dearly loved their horses. Unlike the Anglo-Saxons, however, the Normans did not hesitate to send their horses into combat. Their ruthless use of cavalry and the intensive training of their horses helped give them the upper hand in the Battle of Hastings. Normans trained their horses to kick and trample their enemies, and even break their shields. The Anglo-Saxons are famous for their sturdy shield-walls in battle. The Normans are more well-known for their fierce charge into combat on horseback, and the hoof-heavy stampede could send the Saxon shield-wall shattering
- Normans usually shaved their faces and kept their hair cut very short, unlike the Saxons, who generally preferred beards, mustaches, and long hair. Once when William the Conqueror brought some Saxon nobility to Normandy, he is said to have paraded them like women because of their long hair. The famous Norman haircut consisted of a small swatch of hair on top of the head to the ears, while the back of the skull was closely shaven. This haircut probably developed due to their tendency to wear chainmail coifs over their heads, which would tangle painfully with long hair
- The Norman weapon of choice was the sword, whereas the Saxons still loved their spears and axes
- The Normans are generally described as very ambitious folk. Their devotion to power and greatness also gave them an admirable streak of discipline. Say what you will about their conceit or greed, such characteristics are what drove them to design great castles and revolutionize warfare.