The Norman conquest and settlement marks the start of a new age for England for several reasons that will bring linguistic and economic consequences which will also affect the landscape.
During the Norman Age three languages were spoken by the population:
• Norman French was spoken by the court and the King/ aristocracy
• Anglo Saxon language was spoken by the subject population, lower classes, the majority
• Latin language was spoken by the Church, even the Domesday Book is written in Latin.
These languages remained separate for many years. Over the centuries the mix of French, Latin and Anglo Saxon language led to the change of the language spoken by the common people, It led to the rise of middle English and later modern English (mix of French, German and a little Latin). The Normans contributed to the rise of modern English. They spoke French language so they introduced a great Latin inheritance in modern English (structure, words). The Normans are responsible for the presence of Latin in modern English more than the Romans themselves.
For several years and even centuries the population spoke a different language from the one spoken by the court.
William (1066- 1087) and his court contributed to the birth of the English language. He had brought with him all his court which was composed of knights, barons, relatives (tied to the King by familiar links), nobles. Although at first there were no more than a dozen of Norman families, it was immediately clear that the Anglo Saxons were the conquered population (the mass) while the Normans were the rulers.
Anglo Saxons went on speaking their own language for over two centuries which was similar to German (a German root language, it was called Old English and it has something in common with Celtic language, for example the overabundance of consonants).
Over 100 years had to pass before there was any real kind of fusion, integration between these two languages and cultures. Modern English language and culture were born from this fusion.
These 2 communities were distinct not only from the point of view of language but also in a different way of living. The conquerors were the aristocracy (upper classes) the rest of the population were the working classes, the lower classes.
Many years had to pass before such a social-economic-linguistic-cultural gap started decreasing. Even during William's reign the gap started decreasing and the fusion began but a first concrete sign of such a fusion was represented by an historical event, a reconciliation between these populations: the marriage between Henry 1st who became king in 1100 and Edith, an Anglo Saxons princess, the offspring of the King of Wessex. Those two different cultures and languages mixed over the centuries so as to give life to modern British culture and language.