The Normans were descended from Viking warriors who settled in Normandy, northwest France, in AD 912. They conquered large areas of Europe, from England to southern Italy. Norman kings were strong rulers.
The Normans invaded England in 1066. They were led by the Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror, who became king of England. He removed English nobles, and gave their land to Normans. Norman nobles ran the government, and Norman priests led the Church. Norman rulers spoke French, and built castles. They imposed heavy taxes and harsh laws.
In 1060–1091, Sicily was conquered by Normans. The island’s new rulers were tolerant of its Muslim inhabitants, and after the conquest it flourished as a multicultural center of art and learning. Norman Sicilian kings encouraged the work of Arab geographers and scientists, and sponsored the translation of Greek classic texts into Latin.