How Normans changed the English language forever

In 1066, William the Conqueror invaded England. Since then, Norman names, such as William, Henry and Alice, have dominated Brittish naming preferences, and it is in the language where they may have left their greatest mark.

"If you ask where did the Normans come from and what was their impact, most people run out of steam pretty quickly," says historian Robert Bartlett of the University of St Andrews. In the two centuries after the invasion, the English language changed almost beyond recognition. "Just think of pre-Norman texts such as Beowulf or Anglo-Saxon laws - you must study Old English to be able to read these, said Bartlett. "But by the time of Chaucer or Shakespeare, it's a lot more familiar."