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Historical Background





L 4. Middle English Period in the History of the English Language. Middle English Written Records

1042-1066 – King Edward the Confessor:

brought up in France;

had lots of Norman advisors and favourites;

spoke French and wanted his court to speak it;

rumour had it that he appointed William, Duke of Normandy, his successor.

However, after the death of Edward in 1066 the government of the country was in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon feudal lords and they proposed their own king – Earl Harold Godwinson of Wessex.

1066 – Harold Godwinson became king of England. William was not satisfied with this fact. He gathered a big army, there happened the Battle of Hastings, William won it, became king and was called since then William the Conqueror.

After the Norman Conquest of the British Isles the Normans occupied important positions in church, government and army. William strengthened feudal system and royal power (vassals were not allowed to have big armies so they could not oppose the king; with the Oath of Salisbury each vassal promised direct loyalty to king and military help in return for land; Domesday Book provided William with information about all people and lands he possessed, he proclaimed himself the owner of all the lands in the country). This led to the centralizationof the country:

Wales – was the first to join England in the 13th – 16th c.;

Scotland – remained independent until Queen Elizabeth the 1st of England died and as far as she was childless the throne passed to James the 4th of Scotland who became James the 1st of England and unified Scotland and England. Finally, in 1707 Great Britain appeared as a country consisting of England, Wales and Scotland;

Ireland – the attempts to conquer Ireland were made in the 12th c. but they did not prove to be successful. In 1921, after a long fight, the UK managed to keep only a small part of Ireland – Northern Ireland.





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