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French language, court life, immigration


Following the Conquest of England in 1066, the Norman dialect oof French was in use as both a spoken and a literary language of England. Immigration continued sporadically for over two centuries, facilitated by the fact that the kings of England were also dukes of Normandy. Indeed, when Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, the whole of western France form Normandy to the Pyrenees was for a time under the sway of the English kings. Although John Lackland lost many French possessions in 1204, migration may actually have intensified as he encouraged the many Frenchmen whoo disliked conditions in France to make their home in England. Henry III married Eleanor of Provence and lavished favour on her compatriots; it was during their reign that the Bishop of Winchester, Peter des Roches, provided lucrative offices for many Poitevins and Bretons. The court was French speaking; the highest positions in court and the Church, in law and education were during much of this period held by followers of William the Conqueror and his decendants or by subsequent immigrants.