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At what point did English armies become English?

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  • At what point did English armies become English?

    England was conquered by the Normans in 1066. The existing ruling class was virtually anhiliated in that all their lands were given to William's followers. These foreign followers formed the manpower of the early Anglo Norman armies. However by the 100 years war the English armies were clearly English with most of the troops being archers.
    So at what point between 1066 and the Battle of Crecy did it become normal for English armies to be English, as in of native origin rather than being simply consisting of the descendants of William's henchmen.?


    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

  • #2
    When they started to divert material for bowstrings instead of dental floss?

    Weren't they still speaking French at the time of Battle of Crecy?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Surrey View Post
      England was conquered by the Normans in 1066. The existing ruling class was virtually anhiliated in that all their lands were given to William's followers. These foreign followers formed the manpower of the early Anglo Norman armies. However by the 100 years war the English armies were clearly English with most of the troops being archers.
      So at what point between 1066 and the Battle of Crecy did it become normal for English armies to be English, as in of native origin rather than being simply consisting of the descendants of William's henchmen.?

      Quite a lot of those Archers were Welsh and contrary to perceived wisdom the majority of the army was not archers. Indeed even in William the Bastard's time only a thin skin of the army were Norman followers so your question is based on false premises
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MarkV View Post

        Quite a lot of those Archers were Welsh and contrary to perceived wisdom the majority of the army was not archers. Indeed even in William the Bastard's time only a thin skin of the army were Norman followers so your question is based on false premises
        I included all of those who came with William as 'Normans' even those who were Flemish or from Brittany. But in any event they weren't English.
        "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Salinator View Post
          When they started to divert material for bowstrings instead of dental floss?

          Weren't they still speaking French at the time of Battle of Crecy?
          Edward III spoke English, though his first language was probably French. However most of the army were English with only 2500 men at arms out of 7000 to 15000 and some of the men at arms may have been of English as opposed to Anglo Norman by that time.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle...y#English_army
          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Surrey View Post

            I included all of those who came with William as 'Normans' even those who were Flemish or from Brittany. But in any event they weren't English.
            Weren't his Bretons still considered- British, - kinda sorta /?
            The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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            • #7
              Originally posted by marktwain View Post

              Weren't his Bretons still considered- British, - kinda sorta /?
              They hadn’t been ‘British’ for 600 years. And anyway still not English.

              And by Norman I include all who followed William over the Channel.
              "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Surrey View Post

                They hadn’t been ‘British’ for 600 years. And anyway still not English.

                And by Norman I include all who followed William over the Channel.
                point taken.
                William was from a family of recent adventurers, the grandson of Rollo the Viking IIRC,, and what he bought over was a crew of, while not actually outcasts, land hungry unscrupulous younger sons without prospects.
                Some of the Anglo Saxon thane families actually survived as nobles by changing (Frenchising) their names,- the Nevilles , for example.

                MOSTLY, he broke every deal he made with the former elite- and burnt out the resistance.

                After Robert Curthose took over Normandy, the English process accelerated- but since most of them weren't wanted back home, it was- rather easy

                The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                • #9
                  make that Great great grandson of Rollo….
                  The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                    make that Great great grandson of Rollo….
                    There were a lot of Anglo Saxon Quislings - One of the largest landowners in the country was Turchil son of Alwyne Earl of Warwick who almost instantly swore allegiance to William and changed his name to Turchillus de Eardene - didn't help in the long run as once he was established William (not called the bastard for nothing) despoiled him of 60 of the 62 manors he held. However the point is that whenever the new lords of the manor went to war the PBI were still taken from the same old peasantry who had been in place under the previous Saxon thanes
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                      There were a lot of Anglo Saxon Quislings - One of the largest landowners in the country was Turchil son of Alwyne Earl of Warwick who almost instantly swore allegiance to William and changed his name to Turchillus de Eardene - didn't help in the long run as once he was established William (not called the bastard for nothing) despoiled him of 60 of the 62 manors he held. However the point is that whenever the new lords of the manor went to war the PBI were still taken from the same old peasantry who had been in place under the previous Saxon thanes
                      There were in fact,Norman strongholds established in England prior to 1066 at the invitation of King Edward (The Confessor )
                      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                      Samuel Johnson.

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                      • #12
                        Possibly they only became "English" armies retro-actively when the English nation state had formed and it went looking for its (military) history.

                        At the time most likely they were the King's army, the Duke' s army, the garrison(s) of Anjou (Angevin army) etc..

                        Should be easily tracked through the historical sources, when is the first contemporary mention of an English army ?

                        May well be Scots, Welsh or the Irish perceived "English" armies before anyone else did…..
                        Last edited by Snowygerry; 09 Sep 19, 09:48.
                        High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                          There were a lot of Anglo Saxon Quislings . . . .
                          That's some serious metaphor-mixin' there, pardner.
                          I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Surrey View Post

                            They hadn’t been ‘British’ for 600 years. And anyway still not English.

                            And by Norman I include all who followed William over the Channel.
                            Point well taken again

                            The new aristocracy were quick to point out that they weren't really conquerors, they were the sons of the exiles from ol' Britain come to free the mothership from the 'perfidious Anglo Saxon occupation.'

                            Links to Breton partial heritage, sometimes embellished by the lack of written records, were flaunted, as well as the embellishment of the Arthurian sagas.

                            La Mort D'Authur' was a PERENNIAL copyists favorite during the high Middle \ages.

                            \depends, I suppose, who's Ox gets gored....
                            Last edited by marktwain; 09 Sep 19, 12:24.
                            The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                              The new aristocracy were quick to point out that they weren't really conquerors,
                              They were distinctly "French" though, dukes of Normandy (and other French holdings) that just happened to also be Kings of England.

                              Don't know when that changed exactly, John Gillingham in his "The Angevin Empire" puts it this way :

                              Thereafter, although the Plantagenets continued to rule both England and Gascony, as well as some other territories - Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands - the structure of their lands was very different from what it had been in the second half of the twelfth century. Then the political centre of gravity had been in France; the Angevins were French princes who numbered England amongst their possessions. But from the 1220s onwards the centre of gravity was clearly in England; the Plantagenets had become kings of England who occasionally visited Gascony.
                              Seen in this light, they became "English" armies when the King of England had lost most of his "French" possessions

                              He also points out this little bit of (absence of) evidence that seems to support my point above, these people didn't consider their lands as "nation states" like we do :

                              Although for some 50 years (1154-1204) the Angevin Empire was the dominant polity in Western Europe, there was, so far as we know, no contemporary name for this assemblage of territories.

                              When anyone wanted to refer to them there were only clumsy circumlocutions available - for example, the 'our kingdom and everything subject to our rule wherever it may be' used by Henry II, or one of his chancery clerks, in a letter to Frederick Barbarossa in 1157.
                              Last edited by Snowygerry; 10 Sep 19, 04:23.
                              High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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