The Anglo-Norman Language

Anglo-Norman is the now dead language of the Norman conquerers of England. It was spoken by the nobility and shared a role with Latin as the language of priviledge in England from 1066 into the Fifteenth Century.

Anglo-Norman survives in a number of literary manuscripts as well as a wealth of governmental and commercial records. Some of the earliest surviving literature in French was written in Anglo-Norman in England.


1 Origins and History

2 Trilingualism in Medievil England

3 Influence on Middle English

4 References

Origins and History

William the Conquerer of Normandy, a region in northern France, conquered the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of England in 1066. The campaign was undertaken in an effort to expand his holdings under the French crown because Normandy was one of the less desirable regions within France. The King of England was also the ruler of Normandy, which was geographicly and politically insignificant in comparison, until it was lost in 1206. William brought with him his native Norman French, a dialect of Langue d'oïl. The Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of England retained their language (Old English), but the language of governance was that of the Norman conquerers. Anglo-Norman persisted as a language in government well into the 15th Century.

Trilingualism in Medievil England

Much of the earliest recorded French is in fact Anglo-Norman. In France, almost nothing was being recorded in the vernacular because Latin was the language of the nobility, education, commerce, and the Church and was thus used for the purpose of records. Latin did not disappear in medievil England, it was certainly still in use by the Church. Anglo-Norman became the language of record in England and also the language of legal proceedings. Latin remained in use for particularly formal documentation, especially documents which would have to be read on the continent, as well as Church records. The vernacular throughout this period remained English, and as time went on, English replaced Anglo-Norman as the native tounge of the nobles. By the middle of the 13th Century, Anglo-Norman took on the role of a second language learned by nobles and the urban elite alike for the purpose of official transactions.

Anglo-Norman Influence on Middle English

Since Anglo-Norman became the language of record, there is hardly any writing done in English for the first two hundred years of Norman rule. All modern linguistic scholarship is dependent on surviving texts, so there is no availible knowledge of the progression of the English language during this period. However, we do know that when English begins to resurface in literature and record (now known as Middle English) it has undergone significant changes since the Old English recorded by the Anglo-Saxons. Grammaticly, English remained unchanged by Anglo-Norman. Lexicologicly, however, Anglo-Norman roots are pervasive throughout Middle English.


The Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub. Aberystwyth University and Swansea University. <> 19 Mar 2009. Crane, Susan. “Anglo-Norman Cultures in England, 1066-1460.” The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.


The paper gave a very through and accurate account of the history of Anglo-Norman Culture. However, the author should proofread the work, such as grammatical mistakes and spelling. Grade: A-

Very informative, but the language is too informal. I realize Wikipedia is an informal source of information, but the tone of the article should not be. Also, numbers under one hundred should be spelt out. Overall, a great source of information, just fix it up a bit. Grade: B+

Very well-researched article. Student did an exceptional job of carefully researching Anglo-Norman culture/language, and showing how it contributed to modern English as we know it. Well done, except for occasional spelling errors. A-

This is a good, well-written article for the most part. However, after I read it I'm still a little confused. I don't quite understand the difference between Anglo-Norman and Middle English as you describe it, because I thought Middle English was the product of the Normans invading the Angles and Saxons and their languages combining, not Anglo-Norman. Maybe this is just my own confusion, but perhaps look into making the distinctions clearer, perhaps dates would help. Grade: A-

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