Norman or Frankish

Historical Overview Section

923-1071 AD
The Normans were the descendants of Viking conquerors of northern France, intermingling with the native population of mostly Franks and Gallo-Romans. Their discrete Norman identity emerged initially in the first half of the tenth century, the name "Normans" deriving from from "Northmen" or "Norsemen", after the Vikings from Scandinavia who founded Normandy (Northmannia in its original Latin). Normandy itself came into being after various Danish, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo Danish (from the Danelaw) invasions of France in the 8th century leading to the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911 when Early Medieval French King Charles granted to Rollo, leader of the Vikings known as Northmen (or in Latin Normanni), a territory in which to stay. Charles hoped that by doing so he would end the Viking attacks that were plaguing France at the time. In exchange, they were expected to provide protection along the coast against future Viking invaders.

When in 1002 the Middle Anglo Saxon King of England Aethelred II married Emma, the daughter of the Duke of Normandy the seeds for the Norman invasion were sown. Despite having the country stolen by the Vikings, their son Edward the Confessor who had spent many years in exile in Normandy still ended up succeeding Harold to what was by then the Anglo Danish English throne in 1042. Edward drew heavily on Norman support, bringing in Norman courtiers, soldiers and clerics. When Edward died at the beginning of 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England.

Edward's immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocracy who was elected king and crowned by Archbishop Aldred. However Duke William of Normandy claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this. Viking Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Hardraada, also claimed the throne based on a supposed agreement between his predecessor Magnus I of Norway and the earlier Danish King of England Harthacanute, whereby if either died without heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway. With this context, it all kicked off big time shieldwall-stylie all over England.

After a lot of running about, the Anglo Danish Harald beat off the Vikings, but then lost the resulting midweek fixture against the Normans at Hastings in 1066 - and with it his kingdom.

The Norman army at Hastings was estimated to be around 8,400 strong and consisted of, at the most, 2,200 cavalry, 4,500 infantry and 1,700 missile troops (archers and crossbowmen). William's strategy relied on archers to soften the enemy, followed by a general advance of the infantry and then a cavalry charge. The Norman army was made up of nobles, mercenaries, and troops from France to as far as southern Italy. The army's power derived from its cavalry which were reckoned amongst the best in Europe. They were heavily armoured, and usually had a lance and a sword. As with all cavalry, they were generally at their most effective against troops whose formation had begun to break up. Apart from the missile troops, the Norman infantry were probably protected by chain mail and armed with spear, sword and shield, like their English counterparts.

The inclusion of large numbers of missile troops in William's army reflected the trend in other European armies for composite forces who combined on the battlefield. The bow was a relatively short weapon with a short draw, but was effective on the battlefield at this time. Hastings also marks the first known use of the crossbow in English history.

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
172 Norman USTT 2020
5 Milites Medium knight impetuous
1 Gascon Scouts Light cavalry javelin
1 Gascons Light infantry javelin
1 Bowmen Bowmen
5 Milites Medium knight impetuous
1 Gascon Scouts Light cavalry javelin
1 Gascons Light infantry javelin
5 Foot Milites Heavy spearmen armour
2 Levy Levy
1 Bowmen (Skirmishers) Light infantry bow

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