Were the Normans "French"?

Apr 2015
519
United States
#1
I've seen a lot of debate regarding this question so I've opened a thread to hear various peoples' viewpoints and see if we can arrive at a conclusion.

EDIT:To clarify, I mean the Normans during the time of William the Conqueror
 
Last edited:
Oct 2011
7,654
MARE PACIFICVM
#2
Well, first you should talk about which Normans you mean. There is still a Normandy in France now, and thus still Normans.

But I will assume that you were referring to the Normans who invaded England in 1066.

My short answer would be: Yes, as French as anybody was in 1066. The concept of "France" as we know it was non-existent at that time. But, if we wish to look back and classify people using modern national labels, then yes, the Normans were French.
 

BenSt

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,565
Canada, originally Clwyd, N.Wales
#3
The Normans were not Franks, but they became 'French'. Personally, I think it's a misnomer to say what people were specifically because as we now the Normans arrived in the area and their leadership, atleast were originally vikings. But, you see the normans were a strange bunch in the history of Europe... they intermarried and quickly became what they conquered. We see this in the Kingdom of England, within a few generations it became increasingkly difficult to know who was a Norman and who was a saxon, until they practically became extinct through intermarriage. The Normans became anglo, became Sicilian, became French.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,845
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#4
The Normans were not Franks, but they became 'French'. Personally, I think it's a misnomer to say what people were specifically because as we now the Normans arrived in the area and their leadership, atleast were originally vikings. But, you see the normans were a strange bunch in the history of Europe... they intermarried and quickly became what they conquered. We see this in the Kingdom of England, within a few generations it became increasingkly difficult to know who was a Norman and who was a saxon, until they practically became extinct through intermarriage. The Normans became anglo, became Sicilian, became French.
Yes, they became "French", they were not "French".

For accuracy Normans were Germanic as for origin [they came from Scandinavia, a land of Germanic peoples].

Having a remarkable component with a great attitude for travels and conquest, they became part of numerous European "nations".

Normans became:

French
Italian
English
Scottish
Irish
Spanish
Welsh
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
#5
Yes.

Culturally and linguistically the Normans were French. By the time of Hastings or the Norman conquest of southern Italy they were also partially French by ethnicity. There was a lot of intermarriage with both French nobles and commoners, not to mention illegitimate children, starting with the first generation of Norse settlers. William the Conqueror for example, in addition to being descended from Rollo, also had French ancestry from a couple different ancestors who had married French noblewomen.
 
Jan 2014
2,576
Westmorland
#8
If a person identifies himself as French then he is French. His ethnicity is irrelevant.
Not true, in my view at least. Ethnic identity requires group acceptance as well as individual choice. Just because I choose to identify as French doesn't mean that the French - or indeed anyone else - are obliged to accept or respect my choice.

Regards,

Peter
 
May 2008
1,299
Bangkok
#10
I haven't seen the etymology being mentioned yet and so won't assume OP has knowledge of it: Norman is a French rendering of Norseman.

I'm not sure how many generations removed they were from the vikings who took the place, but I would imagine that they were as French as could an Italian be considered American whose family had resided there for several generations. Surely more American than Italian, but depending on how sequestered that family or culture was, some may disagree.
 

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