The Norman Conquest and its impact

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  • The Norman Conquest and its impact
    • 1066 was a year of turmoil
      • Edward the Confessor died without an heir and supposedly promised the throne to two people - Harold Godwinson and William of Normandy
      • Harold was crowned by the Witan as they wanted a strong leader to defend the country
      • William claimed that Edward had promised him the throne in 1051, and that Harold had agreed to uphold that in 1064. So when Harold was crowned, William began to plan his invasion
      • Another claimant, Harold Hardrada, attacked the north of England, and Harold Godwinson went north and defeated him at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
      • William landed in the south unopposed. Harold came back south and was defeated at the Battle of Hastings
      • William was crowned on 25th December 1066 after defeating another claimant, Edgar Atheling
    • The Norman Conquest brought a lot of change
      • Although there were some fortified houses and enclosures in Anglo-Saxon England, castles did not exist before the Conquest
      • Feudalism - William distributed land to his followers, who then divided the land to reward their followers
      • Between 4000 and 5000 Anglo-Saxon thegns lost their land
      • A lot of Anglo-Saxon sheriffs, officials, bishops and abbots were replaced by Normans
      • The Normans enacted a huge church reconstruction project so the architecture resembled that of Normandy
      • William compiled the Domesday Book so that he could organise more efficient systems of taxation
    • Norman consolidation of power was swift
      • There were many rebellions against Norman rule between 1067 and 1075
      • Most of the rebellions were easy to subdue as they lacked co-ordination and strong leadership
      • William's treatment of rebels became harsher over time - at first he accepted surrender with harsh repercussions, then later he devastated parts of the country and killed rebels (Harrying of the North, 1069)
      • The Normans built castles to show that they were a permanent presence. Later, castles were painted white so they were visible for miles
      • Castles were garrisoned (stationed with troops) and used to control the surrounding area
      • William rewarded loyalty with land taken from English thegns
    • Things that did not change (continuity)
      • The church was still important to the king. After 1075 while William was fighting in France, England was supervised by barons and a group of churchmen
      • William utilized efficient systems of Anglo-Saxon administration(tax collection, writs, the gathering of armies)
      • The number of serfs (people owned by their lord) rose after the Conquest, but there had been many slaves in Anglo-Saxon England


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