The Norman Invasion is probably the single most influential event in English history. In 1066 AD at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conquerer, a French Norman king, won the throne of England. With him he brought the French language, or at least the Normans' version of it, to England. For centuries thereafter, English was the language of the commonfolk, with French being the language of nobility. English, which heretofore had been a completely Teutonic language (with limited Latin borrowings), acquired thousands upon thousands of French and Latin words, making up the bulk of the vocabulary in use today. Almost no sentence can be written without French/Latin influence. It was only about the 16th century that English regained its proper place in England. The influence of the Normans is still evidenced in the fact that Queen Elizabeth II (and thus her descendants) are *direct* descendants of William the Conqueror.

History of the English Language
Norman French
Medieval England
Old English
Middle English
English Royalty