The Norman Yoke

The Norman Yoke

A yoke is a traditional wooden device that is used to connect a farm animal to the plough they are pulling. The term Norman Yoke was based on this idea, representing the belief that England was a free country until the Norman conquest in 1066. After these events - including the Battle of Hastings where Harold was defeated by William the Conqueror - took place, many people felt the power structure in England had been irreparably changed, having a lasting effect on a country once filled with self-governing institutions.

The term Norman Yoke first emerged in the 12th Century, but it wasn’t until the English Revolution in the 17th Century - where it was used to highlight the lack of liberty England had endured since the conquest - when it became well established.

Bayeux Tapestry
Bayeux Tapestry

Popularised by revisionists, the term symbolised the tyranny they felt had been imposed on the once Saxon country. However, many historians argue that the term is now used far too broadly for the events in 1066 to be held fully responsible.

In fact, the Norman Yoke has been used to argue on an almost endless number of topics throughout history as it refers to what is considered by many to have been a freer time. These topics have included the controversial reign of Charles I during the English Civil War and the anti-Catholics argument that papal influence over England had been too great since the invasion of the Normans.

Although many argue that so many issues cannot be directly attributed to the Norman conquest, the fact that the Norman Yoke remains such an important concept highlights how significant the events of 1066 have been on the country’s development and identity.

"Norman saw on English oak.
On English neck a Norman yoke;
Norman spoon to English dish,
And England ruled as Normans wish;
Blithe world in England never will be more,
Till England's rid of all the four."
―Walter Scott

See also: The Legacy of the Norman Conquest

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Norman Yoke". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.