The Bretons and Normans of England 1066-1154: the family, the fief and the feudal monarchy
Nottingham Mediaeval Studies, 36 (1992)
Of all the available studies of the Norman Conquest none has been more than tangentially concerned with the fact, acknowledged by all, that the regional origin of those who participated in or benefited from that conquest was not exclusively Norman. The non-Norman element has generally been regarded as too small to warrant more than isolated comment. No more than a handful of Angevins and Poitevins remained to hold land in England from the new English king; only slightly greater was the number of Flemish mercenaries, while the presence of Germans and Danes can be counted in ones and twos. More striking is the existence of the fief of the count of Boulogne in eastern England. But it is the size of the Breton contingent that is generally agreed to be the most significant. Stenton devoted several illuminating pages of his English Feudalism to the Bretons, suggesting for them an importance which he was uncertain how to define.1 To be sure, isolated studies of these minority groups have appeared, such as that of George Beech on the Poitevins, or those of J.H.Round and more recently Michael Jones on the Bretons.2 But, invaluable as such studies undoubtedly are, they tend to achieve no more for their subjects than the status of feudal curiosities, because they detach their subjects from the wider question of just what was the nature of the post-1066 ruling class of which they formed an integral part.