Anglo-Saxons deserve reparations for the Norman Conquest

Anglo-Saxons deserve reparations for the Norman Conquest, by Sahil Mahtani.

If these wrongs are not righted through compensation they will live on in our collective shame and the descendants of the victims will continue to suffer….

One glaring example is the great evil visited on the Anglo-Saxon population by the Norman Conquest of 1066. By any standard, the effect on indigenous English society was enduring devastation. Through war, invasion and genocide, the Anglo-Saxon ruling class was almost entirely replaced, control of the church and state surrendered to foreign adversaries, English replaced by Norman French as the language of government, and England’s entire political, social and cultural orientation shifted from Northern Europe to the continent for the next thousand years.

This matters because, just as the pain of colonialism continues to be endured by its descendants, the Conquest continues to have lasting effects. In his study of surnames and social mobility, economic historian Gregory Clark concluded that Norman surnames continue to be 25 per cent overrepresented at Oxbridge to this day relative to other indigenous English surnames. As Clark put it: ‘The fact that Norman surnames had not been completely average in their social distribution by 1300, by 1600, or even by 1900 implies astonishingly slow rates of social mobility during every epoch of English history.’ Not for nothing did Nonconformists and Whigs loudly oppose ‘the Norman yoke’ during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Cambridge University, which still drips with Norman money and influence, should now consider to what extent it needs to compensate its Anglo-Saxon victims. The Sutton Trust estimates that Oxbridge graduates earn £400,000 more during their lifetimes than graduates from other UK universities. These figures imply that descendants of the rapacious Norman invader class could be earning tens of thousands of pounds more than other graduates — an undeserved lifetime premium that has survived 31 generations. So, reparations must certainly be made. But who shall pay, and who shall receive? …

We are learning every day just how deep our roots in the past lie. The more we learn, the more necessary it is to see the past in terms of the attitudes of the present, and to rectify regrettable aspects. Eventually these may encompass events as old as the Indo-Aryan invasions of 1500 bc, which produced the Hindu caste system, as well as more unheralded travesties such as the American conquest of the Philippines, which introduced junk food, soap operas and general bad taste. Ultimately, only by demarcating a special class of victims and making grievance inheritable can we address the sins of the past and promote harmony in our own world. …

Once the Anglo-Saxon population has been compensated, surviving descendants of the ancient Britons will understandably want to seek redress from the Anglo-Saxons themselves for crimes committed during that earlier settlement. Justice must be served, even if it means even more public money disappearing over the Severn Bridge into Wales. But hopefully it will be made up for by the billions we are owed by present-day Scandinavians in compensation for all that rape and pillage by the Vikings.

Etc. etc.