I normanni (Conquest of the Normans; Attack of the Normans) (1962)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:     Cameron Mitchell (Wilfred, Duke of Saxony),  GeneviŤve Grad (Svetania),  Ettore Manni (Olivier D'Anglon),  Philippe Hersent (James),  Piero Lulli (Barton),  Paul Muller (Thomas),  Franca Bettoia (Queen Patricia).   

Viking settlers in England fight against an English Duke trying to take the place of the English King at beginning of the 9th century

 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

"At the beginning of the 9th century, some of the Norman tribes put an end to their piracy of the seas of Northern Europe. With this move they gave up their past of violence and bloodshed, and began settling on British soil.  Among the first of the Normans to do this was the tribe of Olaf, which found hospitality on the feudal lands of Olivier, Cout d'Anglon, a faithful supporter of Dagoberto, King of one of the seven states in which England was divided at that time."

A Viking ship clashes with an English ship.  The Vikings board the English ship. 

England.  The Duke of Saxony, Wilfred,  swords fight with a young lad named William.  The Duke is said to be the best swordsman in England.  Nobody else in the palace wants to challenge him.

The Queen comes in reminding Wilfred that His Majesty is coming home tonight.  The King is uncle to Wilfred.  Wilfred is just enchanted by the Queen. 

The King and his men are riding/walking home.  The Vikings have set up an ambush for them.  The Norsemen capture the King. 

It turns out that the Vikings aren't really Vikings, but rival Englishmen.  The King demands to know who is behind this attack.  The two men in charge tell the King that he will soon be told.  In fact, the men were sent out by Wilfred. 

An English Count, Olivier D'Anglon, comes to visit a Viking settlement.  The daughter of the leader of the village, Olaf, throws a knife at the Count as sort of a joke.  The leaders tells the Count that his daughter was only fooling  The count seems to really like the pretty daughter.  The leader and the Count get on their horses and leave. 

A Viking man really gets fresh with the daughter and she struggles to stop his advances.  A really big Viking comes over and knocks the abusive Viking down to the ground.  While on the ground, the jerk tries to grab a weapon but the daughter warns her protector.  He starts strangling the smaller man, but the daughter begs him not to kill him.  The big man, Thor, tells the jerk to leave the settlement and don't come back. 

The two leaders, James and Barton, come to see the Count.  They tell the Count that the Queen has called a meeting of the Council early tomorrow.  They say the meeting may be dealing with the homecoming for the King.  Now the two men leave. 

The Queen listens to a report about the ambush of the King's escort.  It came as a complete surprise to the English.  The Norsemen captured the King.  The Count tells the Council not to jump to any conclusions.  The Norsemen have come to settle peacefully on English soil.  It wouldn't be fair to condemn them for the attack without first listening to their side of the story.  The Queen, however, is certain that his was al the doing of Olivier.  She says they found royal coins in a pouch hidden in a good hiding place in the Count's castle.  She says the Count is a traitor.  She orders that he be imprisoned.  Later he will be put on trial. 

Now Wilfred tells his right hand man to attack the Normans and get credit for routing out the trouble-makers. 

The attack begins.  The village buildings are set on fire.  The villagers, along with many of the Norsemen soldiers, have to flee into the forest for their own protection.  Everyone is very upset about what happened.  The leader's daughter says that she can't belief what just happened to them. 

A message comes in that the King was attacked and the English believe that the Norsemen ambushed the English escort.  They have said that the Count is the one who organized the ambush and tomorrow morning he is to die.  Olaf's daughter says it's clear that someone wants to harm the Norse people.  She begs her father to save the Count from an unjust death. 

The Duke of Saxony, tries to comfort Queen Patricia concerning the King.  The Duke says the only thing they can do now is attack and kill all the Norse settlers in England. 

The rope on the gallows is being prepared for the hanging.  They bring the condemned man to the gallows and they hang him.  The Queen is by the hanging. 

It turns out that the Norsemen captured the two real executioners and tied them up.  They then grabbed the jailer and put him on the gallows.  They fixed it so the jailer did not die from the hanging.  Now they tie him up and drop him off by the tied up executioners. 

There is a big banquet dinner.  It is held in the Count's old castle that the Duke has taken over from the Count.  Queen Patricia leaves the banquet early, accompanied by the Duke.  He tries to convince her that her King is dead and she should start looking for a new king for the country.  Patricia says that she will not remarry until she finds the King alive or dead.  The Duke kisses her on the lips and wants more but the Queen tells him it's better that he leave now.

The Duke goes back to the banquet and tells the guests that Her Majesty has just agreed to marry him in the near future. A man comes in and shoots an arrow with a message on it into the Queen's chair. The Duke tells the men to get that man. The message just contains three names: James, Barton and Wilfred, along with a drawing of a skull and crossed bones.

The archer was the Count. He escapes from his pursuers.

The Duke says that the message means that the Count is still alive. He tells James and Barton to go to Scotland to get some more mercenaries.

The Duke now goes into the dungeon where the King is held as a prisoner. He tells the King that he is going to talk. The Duke wants to know where is the crown treasure. The King tells the usurper to find it himself. The Duke says he will give the King a little time to think about telling him where the gold is. He leaves.

The Vikings prepare for war with the forces of the Duke. They are planning to attack the main castle. The Count knows all the ins and out of the castle and will be a big help to the Vikings.

The leader's daughter leaves the meeting. The Count comes to talk to her. He asks her what's wrong and she asks why do they need to attack the castle anyway? The Count says he needs to capture the Duke to get a confession from him. It's the only way the Count can prove that he didn't kidnap and kill the King.

She's says she's too afraid to take a chance on losing the Count. She loves him. The Count says he loves her too. They hug and kiss.  The two people are ecstatic to know that each of them loves the other. They go to tell her father. The father says now's the time to inform Svetania about the truth. He is not her biological father.

When the Vikings captured an English ship, Svetania was a lone survivor. So the leader of the Vikings decided to save her. He brought her up as his own daughter. She is really English and of high birth.  He shows Svetania and the Count the dress the little girl was wearing.  The Count recognizes the insignia on the dress.  It's the insignia of the King when he was just the Duke of Wessex.  The Count says he knows now that Svetania is the daughter of the King. 

The Viking who tried to take Svetania by force has been listening to their talk. 

The Duke's men and the mercenaries are out searching for the Norsemen.  The men are caught in a Viking ambush.  The Duke's men are slaughtered.

The Duke finds out about the slaughter and now he is getting desperate.  He says they must find the place where the Vikings are living.  It won't be easy, but they have to try. 

The Duke goes to see the Queen.  He tells her she must return to her palace.  He adds that it's too dangerous for her at the Count's old castle.  The Queen says she wants to stay until they find out about the King, but the Duke insists that she must leave.

The Count and the leader now decide to use fear to get Barton to talk about the Duke's dastardly deeds.  The Count tells the leader that when the axmen throw their axes at the ropes holding Barton down, they must not cut the ropes off or the ropes will come loose and Barton will fall onto the many buried spear heads in the ground just below him.  The leader says the ax throwers are the best throwers he has.   They won't completely cut the ropes through.  The first two men throw their axes at the ropes just enough to lower Barton closer to the spear heads.  But then the Viking jerk and traitor comes up to throw his ax.  Barton knows the Viking and immediately becomes very frightened and now says he will tell the Vikings anything he knows.  The traitor quickly throws his ax, cutting the rope in a vital place and Barton falls onto the spear heads.  The Viking leader slaps the traitor down to the ground.

Now the traitor goes to see the Duke with his valuable information.  He shows the Duke the dress with the insignia on it.  He says that Svetania is the daughter of the English King.  

The Vikings captured the Queen on her way to the palace.  Now the Count comes to speak to her.  He says he is still looking for those who really kidnapped the King.  She is free to go.  So the Queen walks out. 

Now the traitor captures Svetania after knocking out Thor.  He is going to take her to the Duke of Saxony. 

The Viking finds the knocked out Thor, who tells them that the traitor took Svetania to the Duke.  The Count says he is the only one who knows the secret passageway in his castle.  They will use it to sneak up on the guards and knock them out.  Then they will get Svetania back. 

The Duke threatens to kill the King's daughter right in the presence of the King.  The King says his daughter is dead.  So the Duke says then the King won't mind him killing the girl.  The King says it will just be one more mark on the Duke's conscience.  The Duke says he will have her killed slowly.  What he wants from the King is for him to tell him where's the crown treasure.  He will give the King until tomorrow to tell him where the treasure is.  If in the morning, he still won't talk, then both the daughter and father will be killed. 

The Duke now kills the Viking traitor. 

The King tells his daughter that he knows that she is his daughter.  She tells her father to tell the Duke where the treasure is.  The King says the minute the Duke is told where the treasure is, the Duke will have to kill the King.  Now he gives his royal ring to his daughter in case she needs to use it. 

The Count and the Vikings use the secret passageway.  They kill the two guards on duty.  Then they rescue the King and Svetania. 

The escape is discovered and the Duke and his men catch up with the escapees.  Thor and the Count fight hard to get away from their pursuers and they manage to get away.  Svetania has gone ahead of them to get help from her adoptive father.  Thor, the Count and the King escape into a barn and blockade the door. 

Svetania reaches her father.  She tells her father that they must attack now to save the King and the others.  The Viking men are called together.  The men will divide into two groups to attack the castle. 

Meanwhile, Svetania gets in to see the Queen at the palace.  She tells Queen Patricia all about what happened.  Now the Queen tells her men that their only real enemy is the Duke of Saxony. 

The Duke fires flaming arrows through a window in the barn to set the whole place on fire.  Thor busily tries to put the flames out.

News arrives that the Norsemen are on the move toward the castle. The Duke's archers run up onto the parapet.  The fighting begins. 

The Duke's men finally get the barn door open.  They rush in and Thor throws a huge log onto the lot of them.  Then he starts sword fighting with the Duke's men.   

Meanwhile, the Vikings get onto the parapets.  They overwhelm the archers. 

In the barn, Thor and the Count are finishing off the last of their attackers.  The Duke's right hand man, Thomas, throws a knife at the King, but Thor jumps in front of the King and the knife hits Thor instead.  Thomas runs away.  Thor passes out. 

Now the Count catches up with Wilfred. They start to sword fight.  Now the Queen's men arrive to help the Vikings.  Svetania is with them.  She finds the Count fighting off the Duke.  Thomas comes to help the Duke, but Svetania throws her hatchet into the man's chest.  The Duke rushes at the Count and runs right into his sword.  The Duke dies. 

Now the Vikings rush in, followed by the King and Queen.  The King tells Svetania that Thor gave his life to save the King.  He gives her Thor's medallion from around his throat.  She cherishes the memento.  The King announces that from now on the Vikings will have all the rights and privileges of Englishmen.  The Norsemen are happy about that for sure. 

The Count and Svetania hug and kiss each other.

 

What a weird title for the film.  The word Normans is used to describe the inhabitants of Normandy, France.  The Normans conquered England in 1066.  But in this movie, the Normans are really the Vikings that settled in England.  Usually, the words used for these people are Norsemen, and not Normans.  I originally put the the film in the table of contents section dealing with the conquests of the real Normans, 1066.  But now I know the film was set at the beginning of the 9th century when England was divided into seven main kingdoms. 

The story itself is okay, but there's not that much history per se.  There were three Viking settlements in England: Danelaw, York and Cumbria.  There were 6 Viking settlements in Ireland and 7 in Scotland. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

England was progressively settled by Germanic groups, the "Anglo-Saxons", Angles and Saxons from what is now the Danish/German border area and Jutes from the Jutland peninsula.

577  --  the Battle of Deorham establishes Anglo-Saxon rule.

England was divided into seven kingdoms. 

In the South east: Sussex, Kent and Essex.

In the Midlands:  Mercia and East Anglia.

In the North:  Northumbria which unified two earlier kingdoms, Bernicia and Deira.

7th century  --  kingdoms of  Northumbria and Mercia dominate England.

8th century  --  Mercia dominates England.

by the eighth century --  some kind of England had emerged.

794  --  the first Viking attack on Iona

796  --  death of Offa. 

9th century  --  Wessex dominates England.

From Offa's death in 796 the supremacy of Wessex was established under Egbert who extended his control west into Cornwall.

825  --  Egbert defeats the Mercians at the Battle of Ellendun.

829  --  Egbert receives submission and tribute from the Northumbrian king, Eanred.

867 --  Northumbria fell to the Danes.

869  --  East Anglia fell.

871  --  Wessex managed to contain the Vikings by defeating them at Ashdown.  At much the same time, ∆thelred, king of Wessex, died.  Succeeded by his younger brother Alfred. Alfred was immediately confronted with the task of defending Wessex against the Danes. He spent the first five years of his reign paying the invaders off.

878  --  Alfred's forces were overwhelmed at Chippenham in a surprise attack.

878 (May)  --  King Alfred led a force that defeated the Danes at Edington. The victory was so complete that the Danish leader, Guthrum, was forced to accept Christian baptism and withdrew from Mercia.

 

 

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