The Normans (in French: Normands ; in Latin Nortmanni) were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock. Their identity emerged initially in the first half of the 10th century, and gradually evolved over succeeding centuries.
They displayed an extreme restlessness and recklessness, a love of fighting accompanied by almost foolhardy courage, and a craftiness and cunning that went hand in hand with outrageous treachery. In their expansion into other parts of Europe, the Normans compiled a record of astonishingly daring exploits in which often a mere handful of men would vanquish an enemy many times as numerous. An unequaled capacity for rapid movement across land and sea, the use of brutal violence and a precocious sense of the use and value of money were all traits that characterized the Normans.
They played a major political, military, and cultural role in medieval Europe and even the Near East. They were famed for their martial spirit and eventually for their Christian piety. They quickly adopted the Romance language of the land they settled, their dialect becoming known as Norman or Norman-French, an important literary language. The Duchy of Normandy, which they formed by treaty with the French crown, was one of the great fiefs of medieval France. The Normans are famed both for their culture, such as their unique Romanesque architecture, and their musical traditions, as well as for their military accomplishments and innovations. Norman adventurers established a kingdom in Sicily and southern Italy by conquest, and a Norman expedition on behalf of their duke, William the Conqueror, led to the Norman Conquest of England. Norman influence spread from these new centres to the Crusader States in the Near East when Bohemond I established the Principality of Antioch in the First Crusade, and also to Scotland and Wales in Great Britain, and to Ireland.