An Investigation of the Norman Conquest and Parallels in the Earlier Anglo-saxon Invasion of England

Open Access
Johnson, Jay
Area of Honors:
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Kathryn Elizabeth Salzer, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Michael James Milligan, Honors Advisor
  • History
  • Norman
  • Conquest
  • Anglo-Saxon
  • Invasion
  • England
  • Medieval
  • Jay
  • Johnson
Considered by most historians as one of the pivotal moments in western European history, the Norman conquest of England from 1066 to 1071 greatly impacted the political, social, and cultural atmosphere of the British Isles and European continent in the decades and centuries that followed. This invasion uprooted, battled, and assimilated the native population, which had been inhabited and influenced by the previous invaders, the Anglo-Saxons, for close to six centuries. My thesis will examine the Norman conquest of England and identify its parallels in the earlier sixth-century Anglo-Saxon invasion while seeking to identify the successful elements of each conquest. I have identified four definitive phases of conquest. Each phase was present in both the Norman and Anglo-Saxon invasions and was essential to its success. Namely, the first phase encompasses establishing military supremacy; the second, occurring after the principal fighting has subsided, is that of fortification; the third requires the establishment of political and economic stability; and, finally, the fourth and longest phase is that of cultural assimilation. These long-term phases are numbered chronologically, but they transpired naturally and often overlapped as the victors responded to the immediate situation at hand. Both the sixth-century Anglo-Saxon invasion and the eleventh-century Norman conquest of England met these principles, thus leading to their success, and the use of this definition of conquest allows for comparative analysis of these two events.