Similarities and differences between Anglo-Saxon and Norman England

  • Created by: Dene3
  • Created on: 30-05-18 18:47

Similarities and differences between Anglo-Saxon and Norman England


  • The king and the Church owned MOST of the land
  • Thegns + knights both promised to offer military service
  • The king would offer land and also grant offices such as sherrifdoms
  • Under both rules, land would be passed down to SONS
  • Orders were issued in a short document which gave notifications + orders to be sent around the country
  • A sheriff was in charge of a shire and each shire had an effective capital + tax payment was organised
  • The role of a sheriff was retained + collecting taxes
  • Constables arrested people. Watchmen made sure people kept to the curfew.
  • The 'hue and cry' operated and tithings (10-12 freemen) still existed
  • Trial by cold water- holy water repelled sinners and so if you floated, you were a sinner
  • Trial by hot iron- red hot iron was held, 3 paces were walked and the wound was wrapped. If after 3 days it was infected, they were considered guilty


  • After 1066, barons could not dominate huge areas of land + swore fealty to the king
  • Under the Normans, knight made an oath to provide military service- it was now a "religious duty"
  • The Chancery (a group of lords) provided administration
  • Anglo Saxon: Land was split amongst sons/ Normans: All property was passed intact to the eldest son
  • Normans issued far more orders. In Anglo-Saxon times, earls had a great deal of power but William wanted more centralisation (power under the king)
  • The roles of castellans were created- they looked after royal forests and castles
  • Normans: created the honourial court of the local lord that handled tenant-lord crimes and disputes, supervised property transactions and made announcements of new laws from the king
  • 'Murdrum Fine' was set up- if a person was murdered and the suspect was not caught the whole community would have to pay a fine
  • Trial by battle- the accused vs the accuser or others can fight for them

Overall comparison

William kept some of the systems that had been in place under the Anglo-Saxons partly because he wanted to convince the English that he was the rightful heir to the throne. Keeping some aspects of the Anglo-Saxon government would help him to achieve this continuity. But, in addition, many of those systems were effective and so there was little need for change. 


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