Just how French were the Normans who conquered Italy and Sicily?

Jul 2013
1,003
America
#1
I'm wondering as to how 'Viking' the Normans were ethnically and culturally. One book I read said that many of Roger's compatriots were actually speaking in Norse to one another, yet conversed in French with 'Gallic' Norman and French adventurers.

So what percentage descended from the Vikings and what percentage were Gallo-Roman?
 
May 2016
811
Vatican occupied America
#2
Unknowable question. There were no censuses nor were parish records kept until the 13th century. My ancestor was of Scandinavian ancestry, we had been in France for generations before moving to England. My First "French" ancestor got the same deal Rollo got in the Vikings show. Protect us from other Vikings and we'll make you a count ;) We invaded England with William the bastard and were a baron under him with 100 knights according to Domesday. One really can't tell whether the Normans were of French or Scandinavian origin. Of course there are a lot of Historum member who may know what their lineages were in France and maybe you could get a roll call of them.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,592
#4
The Norse didn't displace the local French population of Normandy when they settled the region, and intermarried with the natives right from the start. By the time the Normans started venturing far afield on military adventures the "Norse" had long since been been assimilated and had disappeared as an ethnic group distinct from the Franks in Normandy. Culturally the Normans of the 11th Century and beyond were much more French than Scandinavian.

The Normans that invaded England and were active Sicily and Italy predominantly spoke a dialect of French and referred to themselves as Franks (French) in the Bayeux Tapestry. The Sicilian dialect of Italian even had a few loan words that originated in the Norman dialect of French and was introduced during that period.

As for how "Viking" were the Normans...

Not at all, but then most of the Norse that settled Normandy weren't Vikings either. The word Viking often gets used in pop culture as if is the name of an ethnic group and refers to every Dark Age or early Medieval Scandinavian. The TV show Vikings does this, for instance. Vikings however weren't an ethnic group at all. Viking was a "job" and the Old Norse word it is derived from (víkingr) basically meant a sea raider. Essentially it means pirate, and as such calling every Scandinavian of the period a Viking is a bit like calling every 17th Century Englishman or Frenchmen, even if they've never seen the sea, a buccaneer.
 
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Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#5
Or did the Normans not makes some coastal raidings themselves? Those of them operating in southern Italy and Sicily appears as some adventurous(not necessarily operating by whatever societal "rules" existing, except the "rule of arms") types.
 
Apr 2017
707
Lemuria
#6
I'm wondering as to how 'Viking' the Normans were ethnically and culturally. One book I read said that many of Roger's compatriots were actually speaking in Norse to one another, yet conversed in French with 'Gallic' Norman and French adventurers.

So what percentage descended from the Vikings and what percentage were Gallo-Roman?
So many threads about this already. We were just discussing the Tapestry of Bayeux recently. Look it up. Latin is not a hard language to read at a basic level as well.
 
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Jul 2013
1,003
America
#7
The Norse didn't displace the local French population of Normandy when they settled the region, and intermarried with the natives right from the start. By the time the Normans started venturing far afield on military adventures the "Norse" had long since been been assimilated and had disappeared as an ethnic group distinct from the Franks in Normandy. Culturally the Normans of the 11th Century and beyond were much more French than Scandinavian.

The Normans that invaded England and were active Sicily and Italy predominantly spoke a dialect of French and referred to themselves as Franks (French) in the Bayeux Tapestry. The Sicilian dialect of Italian even had a few loan words that originated in the Norman dialect of French and was introduced during that period.

As for how "Viking" were the Normans...

Not at all, but then most of the Norse that settled Normandy weren't Vikings either. The word Viking often gets used in pop culture as if is the name of an ethnic group and refers to every Dark Age or early Medieval Scandinavian. The TV show Vikings does this, for instance. Vikings however weren't an ethnic group at all. Viking was a "job" and the Old Norse word it is derived from (víkingr) basically meant a sea raider. Essentially it means pirate, and as such calling every Scandinavian of the period a Viking is a bit like calling every 17th Century Englishman or Frenchmen, even if they've never seen the sea, a buccaneer.
Just asking, how many ethnically French adventurers followed in the Norman's wake?

I guess what I'm saying is, what percentage of the 'Norman-Viking' knights of Southern Italy were just ethnically French and sought opportunity among the Hautevilles?

And any good books on this subject? I'd love to read about them.
 
Jul 2013
1,003
America
#8
By William's time, they had intermarried with local French, so culturally there was much overlap. I think though Old Norse was spoken at court somewhat, but by 1066 there was little actual Norse culture.
Well we're all of the Hauteville's sons Knights the product of Danish settlers (men) and Gallo-Roman (French women)? Because what I read is that the Contentin province from where the Hautevilles came from was very much Scandinavian, so much so the most common language spoken there was Old Norse - the Hauteville brothers spoke to eachother in old Norse when on campaign in Southern Italy.

Or were most entirely Gallo-Roman ethnically and culturally? And more importantly, how would they get on with a Norman from the Contentin province?
 
Jun 2015
5,723
UK
#9
Well we're all of the Hauteville's sons Knights the product of Danish settlers (men) and Gallo-Roman (French women)? Because what I read is that the Contentin province from where the Hautevilles came from was very much Scandinavian, so much so the most common language spoken there was Old Norse - the Hauteville brothers spoke to eachother in old Norse when on campaign in Southern Italy.

Or were most entirely Gallo-Roman ethnically and culturally? And more importantly, how would they get on with a Norman from the Contentin province?
William and his family spoke French, and were not at all culturally Norse. But by then, most Norse were Christians too. Some communities may have still spoken Old Norse, like in England in the old Danelaw areas. I'd imagine even by 1066 or the late 11th century, there were bilingual people in both England and Normandy who spoke Old English/Old Norse, or Old French/Old Norse.