John Gillingham
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‘Slaves of the Normans’?
Gerald de Barri and regnal solidarity in early thirteenth–century England
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In his Invectives Gerald de Barri declared the English to be of all peoples under heaven the most worthless; for they have been subdued by the Normans and reduced by the law of war to perpetual slavery. Gerald's description of the English as 'slaves of the Normans' was an expression of 'regnal solidarity against the king', though in his mind a pretty feeble sort of solidarity. Moreover it is noticeable that when Gerald was at his least English, it was his Frenchness rather than his Normanness that he emphasised. His view of his own time was that all the people of the kingdom of England, whether of Old English, Norman or mixed descent, were oppressed by tyrannical Norman kings. Gerald's attitude to the Norman kings of England was one thing; his attitude to the Normans of Normandy in his own day another.

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