In reading "The Plantagenets" I noticed the names of many of the barons had a name like "so-and-so De so-and-so". It's the "De" that caught my attention as not sounding very British or Anglo. Instead they sounded "French" to my amateur ear. Is it fair to assume those names come from the Norman Conquerers?


The "Normans" who invaded and conquered Britain in 1066 under William the Conqueror were from the western coast of France and the language they spoke was a form of French. Although some of these men were truly "northmen" having coming originally from Scandinavia, they adopted French names. The word "de" means 'from' or 'of' indicating the lands the person held in France. For example, the Grandmesnils, one of the families that came with William the Conqueror were from Grandmesnil which is in Calvados in Normandy, hence "Hugo de Grandmesnils", etc.

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    Thanks! I get the whole concept of french names the the fact that the Normans were decedents of the vikings...etc. I just found it very interesting that they were, essentially, Norman families fighting over control of England. It speaks to why the Barons were comfortable inviting the French king to depose King John. They were, in essence, just trading one French king for another. Especially interesting to me was, according to the book, that most of the baronial resistance came from the North. I would have thought those would have the weakest association with France. – dwstein Mar 2 '15 at 19:50
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    @dwstein After the Normans invaded they divided up the country among themselves and enslaved the locals to build castles at strategic locations they used to control the country. The Normans who received baronies in the north had the advantage that they were farther away from John's base in London, so more untouchable. Also, John had several London-centric policies that were economically harmful to the north, hence they were more pissed off than barons in the south. – Tyler Durden Mar 2 '15 at 20:04

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