1902 Encyclopedia > Normans

Normans




NORMANS is the softened form of the word " North-man," applied first to the people of Scandinavia in general, and afterwards specially to the people of Norway. In the form of '' Norman " (Northmannus, Normannus, Normand) it is the name of those colonists from Scandinavia who settled themselves in Gaul, who founded the Norman duchy, who ^adopted the French tongue and French manners, and who fiom their new home set forth on new errands of conquest, ochiefly in the British Islands and in southern Italy and Sicily. From one point of view the expeditions of the Normans may be looked on as continuations of the expedi-tions of the Northmen. As the name is etymologically the same, so the people are by descent the same, and they are still led by the old spirit of war and adventure. But in the view of general history Normans and Northmen must l>e carefully distinguished. The change in the name is the sign of a thorough change, if not in the people themselves, yet in their historical position. Their national character .remains largely the same; but they have adopted a new religion, a new language, a new system of law and society, new thoughts and feelings on all matters. Like as the Norman still is to the Northman, the effects of a settlement _of Normans are utterly different from the effects of a _settlement of Northmen. There can be no doubt that the _establishment of the Norman power in England was, like the establishment of the Danish power, greatly helped by the essential kindred of Normans, Danes, and English. But it was helped only silently. To all outward appearance the Norman conquest of England was an event of an altogether different character from the Danish conquest. The one was a conquest by a people whose tongue and institutions were still palpably akin to those of the English. The other was a conquest by a people whose tongue and institutions were palpably different from those of the English. The Norman settlers in England felt no com-munity with the earlier Danish settlers in England. In ofact the Normans met with the steadiest resistance in a part of England which was largely Danish. But the effect oof real, though unacknowledged, kindred had none the less an important practical effect. There can be no doubt that this hidden working of kindred between conquerors and conquered in England, as compared with the utter lack of all fellowship between conquerors and conquered in Sicily, was one cause out of several which made so wide _a difference between the Norman conquest of England and the Norman conquest of Sicily.

These two conquests, wrought in the great island of the Ocean and in the great island of the Mediterranean, were the main works of the Normans after they had fully put on the character of a Christian and French-speaking people, in other words, after they had changed from Northmen into Normans. The English and the Sicilian settlements form the main Norman history of the 11th century. The 10th century is the time of the settlement of the North-men in Gaul, and of the change in religion and language of which the softening of the name is the outward sign. By the end of it, any traces of heathen faith, and even of Scandinavian speech, must have been mere survivals. The new creed, the new speech, the new social system, had _taken such deep root that the descendants of the Scandi-navian settlers were better fitted to be the armed mission- o aries of all these things than the neighbours from whom they had borrowed their new possessions. With the zeal Character of new converts they set forth on their new errand very of the much in the spirit of their heathen forefathers. If Britain Normans-and Sicily were the greatest fields of their enterprise, they were very far from being the only fields. The same spirit of enterprise which brought the Northmen into Gaul seems to carry the Normans out of Gaul into every corner of the world. Their character is well painted by a contemporary historian of their exploits. He sets the Normans before us as a race specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greedi-ness—that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men, he adds, were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were moreover a race skilful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly clown by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war. Several of these features stand out very clearly in Norman history. The cunning of the Nor-mans is plain enough; so is their impatience of restraint, unless held down by a strong master. Love of imitation is also marked. Little of original invention can be traced to any strictly Norman source; but no people were ever more eager to adopt from other nations, to take into their service and friendship from any quarter men of learning and skill and eminence of every kind. To this quality is perhaps to be attributed the fact that a people who did so much, who settled and conquered in so large a part cf Europe, has practically vanished from the face of the earth. If Normans, as Normans, now exist anywhere, it is cer-tainly only in that insular fragment of the ancient duchy which still cleaves to the successor of its ancient dukes. Elsewhere, as the settlers in Gaul became French, the emi-grants from Gaul became English, Irish, Scottish, and what-ever we are to call the present inhabitants of Sicily and southern Italy. Everywhere they gradually lost themselves among the people whom they conquered ; they adopted the language and the national feelings of the lands in which they settled; but at the same time they often modified, often strengthened, the national usages and national life of the various nations in which they were finally merged.

But Geoffrey hardly did justice to the Normans if he Their meant to imply that they were simple imitators of others, facoltyof Their position was very like that of the Saracens. Hasty j-^pta" o writers who forget the existence of the eastern Rome are ' apt to claim for the Saracens of Baghdad, or more commonly for those of Cordova, a monopoly of science and art at some time not very clearly defined by dates. In so doing they slur over the real position and the real merit of the Saracens with regard to science and art. In neither de-partment did any Saracen, strictly speaking, invent any-thing j but they learned much both from Constantinople and from Persia, and what they learned they largely deve-loped and improved. The Normans did just the same. They adopted the French tongue, and were presently among the first to practise and spread abroad its literature. They adopted the growing feudal doctrines of France, and worked them, both in Normandy and in England, into a harmoni-ous system. From northern Italy, as it would seem, they adopted a style of architecture which grew in their hands, both in Normandy and in England, into a marked and liv-ing form of art. Settled in Gaul, the Scandinavian from a seafaring man became a landsman. Even in land-warfare he east aside the weapons of his forefathers; but he soon learned to handle the weapons of his new land with greater prowess than they had ever been handled before. He welcomed the lore of every stranger. Lanfranc brought law and discipline; Anselm brought theology and philosophy. The gifts of each were adopted and bore fruit on both sides of the Channel. And no people ever better knew how to be all things to all men. The Norman power in England was founded on full and speedy union with the one nation among whom they found themselves. The Norman power in Sicily was founded on a strong distinction between the ruling people and the many nations which they kept in peace and prosperity by not throwing in their lot with any one among them. Enter- The quality which Geoffrey Malaterra expresses by the prise, word " effrenatissima " is also clearly marked in Norman history. It is, in fact, the groundwork of the historic Norman character. It takes in one case the form of cease-less enterprise, in another the form of that lawlessness which ever broke out, both in Normandy and in every other country settled by Normans, when the hand of a strong ruler was wanting. But it was balanced by another quality which Geoffrey does not speak of, one which is not really inconsistent with the other, one which is very promi-nent in the Norman character, and which is, no less than the other, a direct heritage from their Scandinavian fore-Litigious- fathers. This is the excessive litigiousness, the fondness ness, for iaWj iegal forms, legal processes, which has ever been characteristic of the people. If the Norman was a born soldier, he was also a born lawyer. Bandolf Flambard, working together the detached feudal usages of earlier times into a compact and logical system of feudal law, was as characteristic a type of the people as any warrior in the Conqueror's following. He was the organizer of an endless official army, of an elaborate technical system of adminis-tration, which had nothing like it in England before, but which grew up to perfection under Norman rulers. But nothing so well illustrates this formal side of the Norman character as the whole position of the Conqueror himself. His claim to the crown of England is something without earlier precedent, something as far as possible removed from the open violence of aggressors who have no pretexts with which to disguise their aggression. It rested on a mass of legal assumptions and subtleties, fallacious indeed, but ingenious, and, as the result proved, effective. His whole system of government, his confiscations, his grants, all that he did, was a logical deduction from one or two legal principles, arbitrary certainly in their conception, but strictly carried out to their results. Even Norman law-lessness in some sort took a legal shape. In the worst days of anarchy, in the minority of William or under the no-reign of Robert, the robber-baron could commonly give elaborate reasons for every act of wrong that he did.

It is perhaps less wonderful that this characteristic should have been left out in a picture of the Normans in Apulia and Sicily than if it had been left out in a picture of the Normans in Normandy and England. The circumstances of their Apulian and Sicilian conquests certainly did not tend to bring out this feature of their character so strongly as it was brought out by the circumstances of their Eng-lish conquest. Possibly the same cause may have kept the chronicler from enlarging on their religious charac-ter ; yet in Sicily at least they might pass for crusaders. Crusaders in fact they were before crusades were preached. Norman warriors had long before helped the Christians of Spain in their warfare with the Saracens of the Peninsula, and in Sicily it was from the same enemy that they won the great Mediterranean island. Others had done a kin-dred work in a more distant field as helpers of the Eastern emperors against the Turks of Asia. All these might pass for religious wars, and they might really be so; it needed greater ingenuity to set forth the invasion of England as a missionary enterprise designed for the spiritual good of the benighted islanders. The Norman, a strict observer Observ-of forms in all matters, attended to the forms of religion ancf ot with special care. No people were more bountiful to p*^sous ecclesiastical bodies on both sides of the Channel; the foundation of a Benedictine monastery in the 11th cen-tury, of a Cistercian monastery in the 12th, seemed almost a matter of course on the part of a Norman baron. The Conqueror beyond doubt sincerely aimed at being a reli-gious reformer both in his duchy and in his kingdom, while it is needless to say that his immediate successor was exceptionally ungodly, whether among Normans or among other men. But among their countrymen generally strict attendance to religious observances, a wide bounty to religious foundations, may be set down as national characteristics. On the other hand, none were less in-clined to submit to encroachments on the part of the ecclesiastical power, the Conqueror himself least of all.





We thus see in the Scandinavian settlers in Gaul, after they had put on the outward garb of their adopted country, a people restless and enterprising above all others, adopt-ing and spreading abroad all that they could make their own in their new land and everywhere else,—a people in many ways highly gifted, greatly affecting and modifying at the time every land in which they settled, but, wherever they settled, gradually losing themselves among the people of the land. The Norman, as a visible element in the country, has vanished from England, and he has vanished from Sicily. The circumstances of his settlement in his The Con-two great fields of conquest were widely different; his quest of position when he was fully established in his two insular ^J'1*^ realms was widely different; but the end has been the of gjcjiy same in both cases. Neither island has for ages been in com-any sense a Norman land, and the tongue which the pared. Norman brought with him into both has not for ages been spoken in either. Norman influence has been far stronger in England than in Sicily, and signs of Norman presence are far more easily recognized. But the Norman, as a distinct people, is as little to be seen in the one island as in the other. His disappearance in both cases is an illus-tration of one of the features which we have spoken of in the Norman character, the tendency which in fact made Normans out of Northmen, the tendency to adopt the language and manners of the people among whom they found themselves. But, as far as outward circumstances are concerned, we may say that the same effect has been brought about by different and almost opposite causes. The whole circumstances of the conquest of England con-strained the conquerors to become Englishmen in order to establish themselves in the conquered land. In William's theory, the forcible conquest of England by strangers was an untoward accident. The lawful heir of the English crown was driven against his will to win his rights by force from outside. But he none the less held his crown as an English king succeeding according to English law. Moreover every Norman to whom he granted lands and offices held them by English law in a much truer sense than the king held his; he was deemed to step into the «xact position of his English predecessor, whatever that might be. This legal theory worked together with other ocauses to wipe out all practical distinction between the oconquerors and the conquered in a wonderfully short time. By the end of the 12th century the Normans in England might fairly pass as Englishmen, and they had largely adopted the use of the English language. The fashion-able use of French for nearly two centuries longer was far more a French fashion than a Norman tradition. When the tradition of speaking French had all but died out, the practice was revived by fashion. Still the tradition had its effect. The fashion could hardly have taken root except in a land where the tradition had gone before it.

The Normans in England therefore became Englishmen, because there was an English nation into which they could be absorbed. The Normans in Sicily could hardly be said to become Sicilians, for there assuredly was no Sicilian nation for them to be absorbed into. While the Normans in England were lost among the people of the land, the Normans in Sicily were lost among their fellow-settlers in the land. The Normans who came into Sicily must have ibeen much less purely Norman than the Normans who came into England. The army of Duke William was un-doubtedly very far from being wholly made up of Normans, but it was a Norman army; the element which was not Norman, though considerable, was exceptional. But we .may doubt whether the Norman invaders of Sicily were Norman in much more than being commanded by Norman leaders. They were almost as little entitled to be called jpure Scandinavians as the Saracens whom they found in the island were entitled to be called pure Arabs. The conquest oof England was made directly from Normandy, by the reign-ing duke, in a comparatively short time, while the conquest oof Sicily grew out of the earlier and far more gradual con-quest of Apulia and Calabria by private men. The Norman settlements at Aversa and Capua were the work of adven-turers, making their own fortunes, and gathering round them followers from all quarters. They fought simply for their own hands, and took what they could by the right of the stronger. They started with no such claim as Duke William put forth to justify his invasion of England ; their only show of legal right was the papal grant of conquests that wrere already made. The conquest of Apulia, won hit by bit in many years of what we can only call free-booting, was not a national Norman enterprise like the conquest of England, and the settlement to which it led -could not be a national Norman settlement in the same osense. The Sicilian enterprise had in some respects .another character. By the time it began the freebooters had grown into princes. Sicily was won by a duke of Apulia and a count of Sicily. Still there was a wide dif-ference between the duke of the Normans and the duke oof Apulia, between an hereditary prince of a hundred and "fifty years' standing and an adventurer who had carved out his duchy for himself. And, besides this, warfare in Sicily brought in higher motives and objects. Though crusades had not yet been preached, the strife with the Mussulman at once brought in the crusading element; to the Christian people of the island they were in many cases real deliverers; still, the actual process by which Sicily was won was not so very different from that by which Apulia had been won. Duke William was undisputed master of England at the oend of five years ; it took Count Roger thirty years to make himself undisputed master of Sicily. The one claimed an oexisting kingdom, and obtained full possession of it in a comparatively short time ; the other formed for himself a dominion bit by bit, which rose to the rank of a kingdom in the next generation. When Count Roger at last found himself lord of the whole island, he found himself lord of men of various creeds and tongues, of whom his own Nor-man followers were but one class out of several. And the circumstances of his conquest were such that the true Nor-mans among his following could not possibly lose them-selves among the existing inhabitants of the island, while everything tended to make them lose themselves among their fellow-adventurers of other races, among whom, by the time the conquest was ended, they could hardly have been even a dominant element.

As far then as concerned the lands in which the settlements were made, the difference lay in this, that, as has been already said, while there was an English nation, there was no Sicilian nation. The characteristic point of Norman rule Elements in Sicily is that it is the rule of princes who were foreign to all the inhabitants of the island, but who were not more foreign to the inhabitants of the island than different classes of them were to one another. The Norman conqueror found in Sicily a Christian and Greek-speaking people and a Mussulman and Arabic-speaking people. The relations between the two differed widely in different parts of the island, according to the way in which the Saracens had become possessed of different towns and districts. In one place the Christians were in utter bondage, in another they were simply tributary ; still, everywhere the Mussul-man Saracen formed the ruling class, the Christian Greek formed the subject class. We speak of the Saracen very much as we speak of the Norman; for of the Mussulman masters of Sicily very many must have been only artificial Arabs, Africans who had adopted the creed, language, and manners of Arabia.- In each case the Arab or the Norman was the kernel, the centre round which all other elements gathered and which gave its character to the whole. Besides these two main races, Greek and Saracen, others came in through the Norman invasion itself. There were the conquerors themselves; there were the Italians, in Sicily known as Lombards, who followed in their wake ; there were also the Jews, whom they may have found in the island, or who may have followed the Norman into Sicily, as they certainly followed him into England. The special character of Norman rule in Sicily was that all these various races flourished, each in its own fashion, each keeping its own creed, tongue, and manners, under the protection of a common sovereign, who belonged to none of them, but who did impartial justice to all. Such a state of things might seem degradation to the Mussulman, but it was deliver-ance to the native Christian, while to settlers of every kind from outside it was an opening such as they could hardly find elsewhere. But the growth of a united Sicilian nation was impossible; the usual style to express the inhabitants of the island is "omnes" or "universi Siciliae populi." In the end something like a Sicilian nation did arise; but it arose rather by the dying out of several of the elements in the country, the Norman element among them, than by any such fusion as took place in England. That is, as has been already said, the Norman as such has vanished in two different ways. In England the Nor-man duke came in as a foreign intruder, without a native supporter to establish his rule over a single nation in its own land. He could not profess to be, as the count of Sicily could honestly profess to be, a deliverer to a large part of the people of the land. But, coming in by a title which professed to be founded on English law, establish-ing his followers by grants which professed no less to be founded on English law, he planted a dynasty, and estab-lished a dominant order, which could not fail to become English. The Normans in England did not die out; they were merged in the existing nation. The Normans in Sicily, so far as they did not die out, were merged, not in a Sicilian nation, for that did not exist, but in the common mass of settlers of Latin speech and rite, as distinguished from the older inhabitants, Greek and Saracen. The Norman conquest of England was at the moment a curse; the Norman conquest of Sicily was at the moment a blessing. But the gradual and indirect results of the Norman conquest of England are easily to be seen to this day, and they have been largely, though indirectly, results for good. Its chief result has been, not so much to create anything new as at once to modify and to strengthen what was old, to call up older institutions to a new life under other forms. But whatever it has done it has done silently ; there has not been at any time any violent change of one set of institutions for another. In Sicily and southern Italy there is hardly any visible Norman influence, except the great historic fact which we may call the creation of Sicily and southern Italy in their modern sense. The coming of the Norman ruled that these lands should be neither Saracen nor Greek, nor yet Italian in the same sense as northern Italy, but that they should politically belong to the same group of states as the kingdoms and principalities of feudal Europe. William assuredly did not create the kingdom of England; Roger assuredly did create the kingdom of Sicily. And yet, notwithstanding all this, and partly because of all this, real and distinct Norman influence has been far more extensive and far more abiding in England than it has been in Sicily.





In Sicily then the circumstances of the conquest led the Norman settlers to I emain far more distinct from the older races of the land tnan they did in England, and in the end to lose themselves, not in those older races of the land, but in the settlers of other races who accompanied and followed them. So far as there ever was a Sicilian nation at all, it might be said to be called into being by the emperor-king Frederick II. In his day a Latin element finally triumphed; but it was not a Norman or French-speaking element of any kind. The speech of the Lom-bards at last got the better of Greek, Arabic, and French ; how far its ascendency can have been built on any survival of an earlier Latin speech which had lived on alongside of Greek and Arabic this is not the place to inquire. Use of The use of language and nomenclature during the time Lan- of Norman rule in the two countries forms a remarkable guages in contrast, and illustrates the circumstances of the two as and in" they have just been sketched. The chroniclers of the Sicily, conquest of Apulia and Sicily use the Norman name in every page as the name of the followers of the conquerors from Hauteville. It was the natural name for a body of men who must, by the time the conquest of Sicily was over, have been very mixed, but whose kernel was Nor-man, whose strength and feelings and traditions all came from a Norman source. But if we turn to Hugo Falcandus, the historian of Sicily in the 12th century, the Norman name is hardly found, unless when it is used historically to point out (as in Muratori, vii. 260) that the royal house of Sicily was of Norman descent. Of the various " Sicilia? populi," we hear of Greeks, Saracens, Lombards, sometimes of Franci, for by that time there were many French-speaking settlers in Sicily who were not of Norman descent. There is a distinction between Christians and Saracens; among Christians there seems to be again a distinction between Greeks and Latins, though perhaps without any distinct use of the Latin name; there is again a further distinction between "Lombardi" and "Franci"; but Nor-mans, as a separate class, do not appear. In England there is no room for such subtleties. The narratives of the con-quest of England use both the Norman and the French names to express the followers of William. In the English chronicles " French " is the only name used. It appears also in the Bayeux Tapestry, and it is the only word used when any legal distinction had to be drawn between classes of men in the English kingdom. " Franci " and " Angli" are often opposed in Domesday and other documents, and the formula went on in charters long after all real distinction had passed away. That is to say, there were several purposes for which it was convenient to distinguish " English " and "French"—the last name taking in all the followers of the Conqueror; there were no purposes for which there was any need to distinguish Normans as such, either from the general mass of the people or from others who spoke the French tongue. We can see also that, though several languages were in use in England during the time of Nor-man rule, yet England was not a land of many languages in the same sense in which Sicily was. In the 12th cen-tury three languages were certainly spoken in London; yet London could not call itself the " city of threefold speech," as Palermo did. English, French, Latin, were all in use in England ; but the distinction was rather that they were used for three different purposes than that they were used by three distinct races or even classes. No doubt there was a class that knew only English; there may have been a much smaller class that knew only French ; any man who pretended to high cultivation would speak all as a matter of course; Bishop Gilbert Foliot, for instance, was eloquent in all three. But in Sicily we see the quite different phenomenon of three, four, five classes of men living side by side, each keeping its own nationality and speaking its own tongue. If a man.of one people knew the speech of any of the others, he knew it strictly as a foreign language. Before the Norman Conquest England had two official tongues ; documents were drawn up sometimes in English, sometimes in Latin, now and then in both. And the same usage went on after the Conquest; the use of English becomes gradually rarer, and dies out under the first Angevins, but it is in favour of Latin that it dies out. French, the language which the Normans brought with them, did not become an official language in England till after strictly Norman rule had passed away. French documents are unknown till the days of French fashion had come in, that is, till deep in the 13th century. So it was in Sicily also; of all the tongues of Sicily French was the most needful in the king's court ("Francorum lingua qua? maxime necessaria esset in curia, "says Hugo Falcandus, 321); but it was not an official tongue. The three tongues of Palermo are Greek, Arabic, and Latin. King Roger's clock is commemorated in all three. Documents were drawn up in such and so many of these tongues as was convenient for the parties con-cerned ; not a few private documents add a fourth tongue, and are drawn up in Greek, Arabic, Latin, and Hebrew-. In neither case is the actual speech of the conquerors one of the tongues in formal use. French, as a separate tongue from Latin, already existed as a literary speech, and no people had done more than the Normans to spread it as a literary speech, in both prose and verse. But neither in England nor in Sicily did official formalism acknow-ledge even French, much less Italian, as a fit tongue for solemn documents. In England, English, French, Latin, were the three tongues of a single nation; they were its vulgar, its courtly, and its learned speeches, of which three the courtly was fast giving way to the vulgar. In Sicily, Greek, Arabic, Latin and its children, were the tongues of distinct nations; French might be the politest speech, but neither Greek nor Arabic could be set down as a vulgar tongue, Arabic even less than Greek.

The different positions then which the conquering Nor- Normans man took in his two great conquests of England and of Sicilyin Scot> amply illustrate the way in which he could adapt himself lan<*» to any circumstances in which he found himself, the way in which he could adopt whatever suited his purpose in the institutions of any other people, the way in which he commonly lost his national being in that of some other people. From England moreover he spread into Scotland.

Wales, and Ireland, and in each land his settlement put on a somewhat different character, according to the circumstances of the land. In Scotland he was not a conqueror, but a mere visitor, and oddly enough he came as a visitor along with those wholn he had himself overcome in England. Both Normans and English came to Scotland in crowds in the days of Margaret, Edgar, and David, and Scottish national feeling sometimes rose up against them. In Scot-land again the Norman settlers were lost in the mixed nationality of the country, but not till they had modified many things in the same way in which they modified things in England. They gave Scotland nobles and even kings; Bruce and Balliol were both of the truest Norman descent; the true Norman descent of Comyn might be doubted, but he was of the stock of the Francigenae of Wales, the Conquest. In Wales the Norman came as a conqueror, more strictly a conqueror than in England; he could not claim Welsh crowns or Welsh estates under any fiction of Welsh law. The Norman settler in Wales therefore did not to any perceptible extent become a Welshman; the existing relations of England and Wales were such that he in the end became an Englishman, but he seems not un-naturally to have been somewhat slower in so doing in Wales than he was in England. At least Giraldus Cam-brensis, the Norman Welshman or Welsh Norman, was certainly more alive to the distinction between Normans and English than any other of his contemporaries. In reland. Ireland the Norman was more purely a conqueror than anywhere else; but in Ireland his power of adaptation caused him to sink in a way in which he sank nowhere else. While some of the Norman settlers in Ireland went to swell the mass of the English of the Pale, others threw in their lot with the native Irish, and became, in the well-known saying, Hibernis ipsis Hibemiores. Gorman There is yet one point in which we may profitably go irchitee- back to our comparison between England and Sicily. BnVnd Both countries are rich in works of architecture raised and in during the time of Norman rule. And the buildings of Sicily, both lands throw an instructive light on the Norman national character, as wre have described it. Eew buildings, at least few buildings raised in any reasonable style of architecture which makes use of the arched construction, can be less like one another than the buildings of the Nor-man kings in England and the buildings of the Norman kings in Sicily. In Sicily the Normans found the two most outwardly civilized of the nations of Europe, the two which had as yet carried the arts to the highest pitch. The Greek had created the column ; the Roman had developed it; the Roman Greek or Greek Roman had taught the column to bear the cupola; the Saracen had taught it to bear arches of his own favourite pointed shape. Out of these elements the Saracens of Sicily had formed a noble and beautiful style, grand and simple in its construction, rich and graceful in its characteristic detail. With the Saracen and the Greek to his subjects, the Norman had really no need to innovate; he had simply to bid the men of the land to go on working for him instead of for any other. The palaces and churches of the Norman kings at Palermo and Monreale and Cefalu and Messina are in style simply Saracenic; they were most likely the work of Saracen builders; they were beyond doubt built after Saracenic models. In these buildings, as in those of Aquitaine, the pointed arch is the surest sign of Saracenic influence; it must never be looked on as marking the approach of the Gothic of the North. With that form of art the pointed style of Sicily has nothing in common. A Sicilian church has nothing in common with a French or an English church ; it is sometimes purely Oriental, sometimes a basilica with pointed arches. But, if the Saracen gave the lines of the building, the Greek gave the mosaic decorations of its walls. In such a case the ruling people, rather the ruling dynasty, had really nothing to add to what they found ready for them. They had simply to make Saracen and Greek work in partnership. In England, on the other hand, the Normans did really.bring in a new style of their own, their own form of Romanesque, differing widely indeed from the Saracenic style of Sicily. This Norman form of Romanesque most likely had its origin in the Lombard buildings of northern Italy. But it took firm root on Norman soil; it made its way to England at an early stage of its growth, and from that time it went on developing. and improving on both sides of the Channel till the artistic revolution came by which, throughout northern Europe, the Romanesque styles gave way to the Gothic. Thus the history of architecture in England dur-ing the 11th and 12th centuries is a very different story from the history of the art in Sicily during the same time. There were no Greeks or Saracens in England; there was no Greek or Saracen skill. England indeed had, possibly in a somewhat ruder form, the earlier style of Romanesque once common to England with Italy, Gaul, and Germany. To this style it is no wonder that the Normans preferred their own, and that style therefore supplanted the older one. A comparison of Norman buildings in England and in Normandy will show that the Norman style in England really was affected by the earlier style of England; but the modification was very slight, and it in no way affected the general character of the style. Thus, while the institutions of England in the 12th century were English with very con-siderable Norman modifications, the architecture of England in that century was Norman with a very slight English modi-fication. The difference then is plain. Where, as in Sicily, the Normans felt that they could not improve, they simply adopted the style of the country. Where, as in England, they felt that they could improve, they substituted for the style of the country their own style,—that is, a style which they had not created but which they had adopted, which they had made thoroughly their own, and which they went on improving in England no less than in Normandy. That is, the discerning Norman, as ever, adapted himself, but adapted himself in an intelligent way, to the circumstances of each land in which he found himself. And this comes out the more clearly if we compare Norman work in England and in Sicily with Norman work in at least some parts of Apulia. At Bari, Trani, and Bitonto we see a style in which Italian and strictly Norman elements are really mingled. The great churches of those cities are wholly unlike those of Sicily; but, while some features show us that we are in Italy, while some features even savour of the Saracen, others distinctly carry us away to Caen and Peterborough. It is plain that the Norman settlers in Apulia were not so deeply impressed with the local style as they were in Sicily, while they thought much more of it than they thought of the local style of England. In each of the three cases there is adaptation, but the amount of adapta-tion differs in each case according to local circumstances. In Normandy itself, after the separation from England, architecture becomes French, but it is French of a remark-ably good type. The buildings of the latest French style keep a certain purity and sobriety in Normandy which they do not keep elsewhere.

Of all the points here insisted on that which it is most necessary to bear in mind is the Norman power of adapta-tion to circumstances, the gift which in the end destroyed the race as a separate race. English history is utterly misconceived if it is thought that an acknowledged dis-tinction between Normans and English went on, perhaps into the 14th century, perhaps into the 17th. Long before the earlier of those dates the Norman in England had done his work; he had unwittingly done much to preserve and strengthen the national life of a really kindred people, and, that work done, he had lost himself in the greater mass of that kindred people. In Sicily his work, far more brilliant, far more beneficent at the time, could not be so lasting. The Norman princes made Sicily a kingdom; they ruled it for a season better than any other kingdom was ruled ; but they could not make it a Norman kingdom, nor could they themselves become national Sicilian kings. The kingdom that they founded has now vanished from among the kingdoms of the earth, because it was only a kingdom and not a nation. In every other way the Norman has vanished from Sicily as though he had never been. His very works of building are hardly witnesses to his presence, because, without external evidence, we should never have taken them to be his. In Sicily, in short, he gave a few generations of unusual peace and prosperity to several nations living side by side, and then he, so to speak, went his way from a land in which he had a work to do, but in which he never was really at home. In England he made himself, though by rougher means, more truly at home among unacknowledged kinsmen. When in outward show he seemed to work the unmaking of a nation he was in truth giving no small help towards its second making. (E. A. F.)


Footnotes

Geoffrey Malaterra, i. 3—" Est quippe gens astutissiraa, injuriarum ultrix, spe alias plus lucrandi, patrios agios vilipendens, qusestus et dominationis avida, cujuslibet rei simulatrix, inter largitatem et avari-tiam quoddam medium haheus. Principes vero delectatioue bonse famse largissimi, gens adulari sciens, eloquentiis in studiis inserviens in tantum, ut etiam ipsos pueros quasi rhetores attendas, quse quidem, nisi jugo jnstitiajpreniatur, effrenatissima est; laboris, inedise, algoris, ubi fortuna expedit, patiens, venationi accipitrum exercitio inserviens. Equorum, c;eterorumque militias instrumentorum, et vestium luxuria delectatur. Ex nomine itaque suo terra nomen indiderunt. North quippe Anglica lingua aquilonaris plaga dicitur. Et quia ipsi ab aquilone venerant terram ipsam etiam Nornianniam appellaruut."



The above article was written by: E. A. Freeman.



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