The Normans were a people from medieval north-western France, deriving to a large extent their aristocratic origins from Scandinavia (the name is adapted from the name "Northmen" or "Norsemen"). They played a major political, military and cultural role in the northern and the Mediterranean parts of medieval Europe and the Near East, eg. the conquering (and naming) of Normandy, the Norman Conquest of England and Ireland, the establishment of states in Sicily and southern Italy, and the crusades.
By the time of the invasion of England, many "Normans" were becoming assimilated with Bretons and Flemings, but their lords retained their Viking traditions. They invaded and began to occupy the northern area of France, which they renamed Normandy, in the latter half of the 10th century. In 911, Charles the Simple, King of France, granted the invaders the small lower Seine area, which expanded over time to become the Duchy of Normandy. The invaders were under the leadership of Rollo, who swore nominal fealty to Charles for his territories.
The Norman people adopted Christianity and, gradually, the French language (Norman-French) and created a new cultural identity separate from that of their Scandinavian forebears and French neighbours.