Throughout my essay I am going the explore the reasons in which the Vikings and Normans invaded England; and if there reasons were comparable. I will then investigate the Bayeux Tapestry and the techniques used to invade England. Then to conclude come to a conclusion wither the Vikings and Normans invaded England for the same/different reasons and the reasoning for my answer.
From researching lots of sources I have established that the Normans came to invade England, where as the Vikings came to steal goods. On the surface it would emerge that the Normans invaded for political reasons whereas the Vikings invaded for social reasons. William Duke of Normandy thought he was the rightful heir to the throne of England, after King Edward died; however, Harold Earl of Wessex became King to William’s dismay and this lead to the invasion of the Norman army in 1066, other-wise known as the Battle of Hastings, which brought an end to Anglo-Saxon England.
On the other-hand, the Vikings invaded for land and better quality of life, their homeland was sandy hilly, and not as fertile as Britain. However there was more to it than just to own more and land and possess more money and not forgetting having that honorable prestige status that comes with being wealthy. Denmark, Norway and Sweden, (we now refer to these areas as Scandinavia) was also over populated which added to the pressure of survival as food became scare and land to farm became even more rare, Britain became very appealing to Vikings whom simply wanted a better lifestyle, and would do anything to live the fantasy lifestyle of the British.
Social and political reasons are a simplified view, and throughout my essay I am going to look deeper into the political, social and economic climate of this era. The Vikings and Normans also invaded for similar reasons.
In the early 10th century, before the Norman invasion the Vikings also invaded for political reasons. This invasion begun when King Svien’s (Viking king of Denmark) sister was murdered for being outside the Dane law, her death sparked great vengeance for the King of Denmark. Following his sister’s death King Svien invaded Britain with intensions of taking over. Although he took control of some areas he died in 1014. The following year Cnut, Svein’s son, returned with an even greater defense force, and because King Edmund had died Cnut became king of all England.
The Normans invasion was for social reasons, which was also quiet similar to the Vikings, the two army’s main aspirations were to have land, and live a better quality of life, and both would do this by any means necessary, but in a battle of two there is only one conqueror. In this case the Normans were the winners. This can be proven from looking at many different sources.” King Harold was killed’’– The D version of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle.”But the Normans, suddenly wheeling their horses, surrounded them and cut down their pursuers so that not one was left alive.Twice was this tactic employed with the greatest success” – William of Poitiers
After the invasion, William recognized the principle that “all land belongs to the king” William squeezed this principle for every individual word. Numerous amounts of Norman archbishops’, earls, bishops, abbots and nobles were given land in exchange for soldiers when required for battle, land for a potential life that seems less than a fair exchange. Norman soldiers were also given land in which they too rented out to peasants. However this system seemed more economical (to gain wealth) rather than social.
William and his family made a significant amount of money from this system, he done this by making sure everybody paid taxes, “He sent his men all over England….and has them find out…what or how much everybody had who was occupying land in England in or cattle and how much money it was worth”– Domesday as reported in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Unquestionably it would seem that wealth was a huge motivating factor.
However it was also made apparent that money was a motivating factor for the Vikings too. Taking into consideration that the Vikings were traders and raiders and had been raiding England for years before they invaded, it is obvious that they knew that England was not well safeguarded and had good resources. They used this disadvantage to their advantage; Vikings were experienced traders and built up a good trading industry after settlement in England. Therefore, although we know they needed land, due to their homeland being over-populated and infertile, they most likely choose England, as opposed to somewhere else, for economic (wealth) reasons
In conclusion one main difference in their reasons for invading England is that the Normans explaination for their invastion was justified on religious grounds, whereas the Vikings had no such motivations for invading England. It therefore would appear after investigating more closely at the politics, social, economic and religious climate that the Vikings and Normans had more in common for invading England than it first appears.
The Bayeux tapestry is a very controversial topic, as it is the only piece of physical evidence we have to rely on relating back to the battle of Hastings, but did the battle of hasting ever take place, did the Normans ever invade England, could it just be a myth?
After thorough research regarding the tapestry you learn that not only is the way in which Harold died questionable, the person who commissioned the tapestry is too. The individual who commissioned the Tapestry was Bishop Dodo, who was the half brother of William the Conqueror. When this fact was made apparent the tapestry’s genuineness became even more debatable.
The controversy surrounding the tapestry’s means the embroidery can never be used as fact, because we do not know if it is fact or fiction. It’s a part of history that one has to have there own perspective on, although we do tend to use the tapestry as evidence of the battle of Hastings.
There are three sections to the tapestry, section one of Bayeux tapestry scenes demonstrate the events leading to the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings The second section of Bayeux tapestry scenes show the preparations and the Norman Invasion fleet. The third section of Bayeux tapestry scenes illustrates the events of the Battle of Hastings. Normans are shown killing King Harold who is first shot with an arrow in his eye and then hacked to death by Norman armed forces, however further examination of the embroidery shows many possible ways in which Harold could have died. However many historians choose to believe that Harold was shot in his eye with an arrow
We have seen from our examination of the Bayeux Tapestry how problematic sources can be. History is often like this. What evidence of the past we have, has survived by chance or because it is valued and kept. Now and again historians simply don’t have enough substantial evidence to be certain about what happened, and must fall back on educated estimation. Even so, to be a good historian, whatever account they come up with must fit with what evidence there is, which the Bayeux Tapestry is. However questionable the Tapestry may be it is often used to explain the battle of Hastings
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