The Normans were a people recognized for their piety, military prowess, and elegancy. Probably best known for their invasion of England in 1066, Normandy (the area from which the Normans came from) became one of the most sought-after fiefs in all of the French kingdom.
The Normans were the descendants of Vikings. The Viking Age was already under way when Normandy became a fiefdom in 911 A.D., and the Vikings had settled along the coastline, creating a country for themselves there. The Dutchy of Normandy was established in 911 A.D. through a treaty between King Charles III of West Francia and Rollo, the Viking Ruler. The treaty guaranteed lands for Rollo and his people in exchange for protection from further Viking attacks.
The area quickly adopted Christianity, replacing the Norse religion, and they began speaking the French language of the land. Normandy became an area of importance. It was quick to adopt the feudal doctrine practiced throughout the rest of northern France, but worked it into its own hierarchical system in both Normandy and England.
However, it was the Norman warrior who became the most well noticed. Even before the Invasion of England in 1066, the Normans had been developing a warrior class apart from the French knights. These knights were wealthy enough to own a war horse, but mostly they remained poor. When the Crusades came around, many Norman knights joined the cause.
Normandy had ties to England from an early starting point, but it was the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. that really turned things. Duke William II of Normandy conquered England, killing King Harold II. The Normans replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England. Because of the Dutchy of Normandy, many Norman kings had land on both sides of the English Channel, as well as holding allegiance to the King of France. England was considered the most important of the two holdings, as the title was “king”.
The Normans didn't stop in England, though. Their conquests included Italy, Byzantium, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands. They were also incredibly active in the Crusades. Norman knights were known for their religious zeal before the Crusades even began, but during the long wars, their spirituality became legendary.
Norman architecture also made a lasting impression. The military landscape of their settled regions changed drastically; their keeps were characterized with rounded arches, something unheard of before. The perfect example of a Norman castle is the White Tower in London. Another famous example is Trim Castle in Ireland, made famous from its scene in the movie Braveheart.
Norman art was heavily influenced by the neighboring cultures, leading to a unique blend of the two. The most famous piece of Norman art is probably the Bayeux Tapestry, commissioned in England in the 1070’s. It depicts the Norman Conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings. Very little original Norman art survived in France between the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution, but Italo-Norman art is plentiful. It shows a strong influence from the Greeks, Lombards, and Arabs. In Britain, most Norman art survives in the forms of stonework or metalwork. Their unique artwork is also seen in the manuscripts they left behind, their attention to detail and color astonishing.
Acknowledging this rich history, we strive to create the best examples of Norman belt fittings, brooches, buckles, and pendants.