The Normans (; ) were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Viking conquerors of the territory and the native Merovingian culture formed from Germanic Franks and the Roman Gauls (see Gallo-Roman culture). Their distinct identity emerged initially in the first half of the 10th century and gradually evolved over succeeding centuries. The Normans 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, becoming exponents of the religious orthodoxy into which they assimilated. They quickly adopted the Romance language of the land they settled, their dialect becoming known as Norman, Normand 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, to Scotland, England and Wales in Great Britain and to Ireland. Norman identity continues today through the Norman language and various cultural institutions.