William I: Threats to Power

- Which individuals and groups posed as a threat to William's power?

- How serious were the challenges they presented?

- Why did William adopts such methods to deal with challenges to his authority?

- How effective were these methods?

  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 26-11-14 18:07

Problems Facing William

  • cross-channel empire
    • position in Normandy not fully secure
    • needed to establish himself in England
  • discontented Anglo-Saxon earls
    • provide rallying point for popular discontent
  • Scandinavian ambitions still evident
  • Scottish kings and Welsh princes
    • wanted to preserve existing degrees of independence from English crown
    • take advantage of chaos surrounding Conquest
  • Normans needed to be kept loyal 
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Initial Co-operation

William intended to conciliate Anglo-Saxon subjects at start of reign :

  • allowed surviving Anglo-Saxon earls to keep lands and titles (after they submitted)
    • Edwin of Mercia, Morcar of Northumbria and Waltheof of Northamptonshire
  • Waltheof married William's niece, Judith
  • Edgar aetheling was given lands
  • marriage between Edwin and William's daughter discussed
  • Archbishop Stigand kept position
  • royal writs written in Anglo-Saxon

Faced little overt opposition:

  • returned to Normandy in March 1067
    • took Archbishop Stigand, Edgar aetheling and Edwin, Morcar and Waltheof
    • left Odo of Bayeux and William fitzOsbern in charge

But, policy of co-operation failed:

  • occupation of England became military enterprise involving disposessing Anglo-Saxon rulers and granting lands to loyal foreigners 
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William's Policy: Installation of Norman Barons

  • Large redistribution of land after Hastings because,
    • deaths of Anglo-Saxon nobility in 1066
    • William's followers expected reward for service 
  • Not enough land to satisfy conquerors AND surviving aristocracy
  • Contemporary chroniclers suggest Anglo-Saxon rebellions came as result of baronial, rather than royal, oppression
  • Orderic Vitalis blames William fitzOsbern and Odo of Bayeux 
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Rebellions:1067 (Eadric the Wild)

  • Eadric the Wild, powerful West Country thegn and local lord
  • Lands seized by Normans
  • Raised revolt in Herefordshire with help of two Welsh princes 
  • Did a lot of damage 
  • Primarily interested in booty
  • Failed to take control of shire
  • Led another attack in 1069
  • Surrendered in 1070
  • Made peace with William
  • Went on Scottish campaign in 1072 
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Rebellions:1067 (Kent)

  • Eustace of Bologne, former ally of William, fought at Hastings
  • Rebelled over land allocation
  • May have wanted to claim the throne for himself
  • Wanted Kent, established trade links with Bologne
  • William granted Kent to Odo of Bayeux
  • Allied himself with discontented people of Dover
  • Unsuccessful attack on Dover Castle
  • Fled home in disgrace
  • William still in Normandy at the time, returned in December 1067
  • Eventually reconciled to William in 1070s, became major landowner

While these threats were serious they were mainly confined to south-west England and leading Anglo-Saxons were superficially loyal to William.

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Rebellions:1068 (Exeter)

  • Exeter refused to accept William as King
  • Inflamed by presence of Gytha (Harold's mother) in the city
  • Probably to do with increase in taxes
  • Might have been attempt at coordinated attack with Harold's sons in Ireland
  • William marched army to besiege city in early 1068
  • First time WIlliam called out fyrd to fight for him
  • After 18 day siege the town surrendered
  • Gytha fled to Flanders
  • William treated city with leniency
  • Built a castle within city walls 
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Rebellions:1068 (Harold's sons)

  • 3 of Harold's illegitimate sons launched a raid from Ireland
  • Led by Godwin Haroldson
  • Landed in south-west England
  • Possible coordination with Exeter
  • Part of the force went to Bristol, did not open gates to invaders
  • In Somerset they were defeated by Eadnoth the Staller (Edward the Confessor's steward)
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Rebellions:1068 (Edwin and Morcar)

  • Mercia and Northumbria in revolt
  • Edwin and Morcar realised they might lose lands
  • Edwin might have rebelled after promised marriage to William's daughter was called off
  • More serious threat than Harold's sons
  • Roger of Montgomery appointed as Earl of Shrewsbury, undermining Edwin's position
  • Earls had Welsh support
  • William made Gospatric new Earl of Northumbria
  • William marched through Mercia, built a castle in Warwick
    • cut Edwin and Morcar's Anglo-Welsh force off from rebels
  • They recapitulated in Nottingham, where William built another castle
  • William placed Normans in positions of power
    • William Malet, Sheriff of Yorkshire
    • Robert fitz Richard, Castellan of York
    • Robert de Commines, Earl of Northumbria

Marked a change in end of initial policy of how to govern the North. Brought an end William's idea of genuine Anglo-Norman kingdom. 

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Rebellions:1069 (Harold's sons)

  • Launched a raid from Ireland
  • 60 ships
  • Ravaged Devon
  • Joined by supporters in Devon and Cornwall
  • Exeter remained loyal, held out against siege
  • Dorset and Somerset rose against Robert of Mortain who built a castle in the area
  • Force from London relieved the siege
  • Harold's sons fled back to Ireland 

 William survived these first attacks in the south-west by:

  • building and garrisoning of castles in vulnerable places
  • Harold's family failed to win universal support
  • there was no coherent strategy of resistance

William also installed Norman barons in strategically important areas:

  • South coast, blocks of land called Sussex rapes to guard the English channel
  • Welsh Marches
  • Robert Commines, Earl of Northumbria, responsible for North as a whole
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Northern Rebellion - 1069

  • January 1069, Robert de Commines and large force of knights killed in Durham
  • Rebels marched to York
  • Killed Castellan of York 
  • Besieged William Malet in York Castle
  • William built another castle, left William fitzOsbern in charge
  • Anti-Norman coalition included:
    • Edwin and Morcar
    • Gospatric, William's nominee for Earl of Northumbria
    • Malcoln Canmore, King of Scotland
    • Edgar aetheling, had taken refuge with Malcolm
    • King Sweyn Estrithsson of Denmark with a fleet of 240-300 ships
    • Various Welsh princes
    • Waltheof, son of Earl Siward of Northumbria
  • Initial success of rebels encouraged further revolts in Dorset,Somerset,Staffordshire and Cheshire
  • Sweyn Estrithsson and his sons landed at Dover, moved up the east coast, their arrival marking a general uprising in Yorkshire
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Harrying of the North

  • William made peace with Danes by paying them off
  • Re-crossed Pennines, occupied York and proceeded with harrying of the north
  • Harrying was a typical Norman strategy, involving:
    • hostage taking
    • mass deportation
    • burning (making land uninhabitable and creating conditions for famine)
    • looting
    • transference of land to king's supporters
  • William divided his army into small units
  • Ravaged an area of about 100 miles
  • Peasants and animals killed, crops built, tools and buildings destroyed
  • Domesday Book described 1/3 of Yorkshire as 'waste'
  • Wholesale reallocation of land took place
    • helps to explain further rebellions of Edwin and Morcar 
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Hereward the Wake 1070-1071

  • Hereward, Lincolnshire thegn, origins and motives obscure
  • Death of Abbot Brand of Peterborough in November 1069 triggered the revolt
    • replaced by Norman Turold
  • Situation heightened by involvement of Danish fleet
  • Focus of revolt was abbeys of Peterborough and Ely
  • Peterborough had supported Edgar aetheling, had strong connections with the north
  • Danes arrived in spring of 1070, made alliance with local people
  • Hereward and Danes launched raid from abbey of Ely
  • Danes made arrangement with William, who allowed them to return home with their loot in June 1070
  • Rebels and Hereward remained at Ely 
  • Rebels reinforced by arrival of new troops in 1071, including Morcar and Bishop Aethelwine Durham
  • Edwin killed by own men rallying support in the north
  • William gained surrender by combined assault from land and sea
  • Aethelwine sent into custody
  • Morcar captured and imprisoned for life
  • Hereward made peace, given back lands
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Earl's Revolt 1075-1076 (1)

By 1072 William's hold on England was more secure but Normandy was challenging. Spent the bulk of the rest of his reign in Normandy (130 out of 170 months)

  • Leaders of the rebellion were:
    • Ralph de Gael, Earl of East Anglia or Norfolk. Breton mother and English father. Leading landowner in Breton MArches. Father fought at Hastings.
    • Roger, Earl of Hereford. Second son of William fitzOsbern. Powerful Welsh marcher lord.Linked to Ralph through marriage. Fought with William at Hastings. Resented imposition of royal sheriffs and not having same power as his father.
    • Earl Waltheof. Restored to power after Hastings, granted earldom of Huntingdon and married William's niece, Judith. Became the Earl of Northumbria when Gospatric was deposed. Last of the old Anglo-Danish aristocracy to hold office. Many believe he was innocent.
    • Denmark sent fleet of 200 ships led by Canute, Sweyn's son, and Earl Harkon
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Earl's Revolt 1075-1076 (2)

  • Motives remain obscure but uniting Norman, Breton and English content posed serious threat
  • Revolt had potential to Welsh border to North Sea and Ralph could threaten Norman border
  • Plot formulated at Ralph's wedding feast in autumn of 1074
  • William forbade marriage, would have united two powerful landowners 
  • Rebels gained support, claiming William was a tyrant, followers poorly rewarded, opponents in Brittany poisoned
  • William in Normandy when rebellion began, defences organised by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Ralph tried to gain support in East Anglia but failed, after a long siege of Norwich castle, escpaed to Denmark to press rebels' cause
  • Wife continued to defend castle but eventually forced to surrender by William de Warenne, Richard fitzGilbert, Geoffrey of Coutances and Odo of Bayeux
  • Roger raised force in the west, but attempt to break out of Herefordshire was foiled by Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester, Abbot Aethelwig of Evesham and Walter de Lacy 
  • Roger refused to surrender, retreated to Wales
  • Waltheof fled to Normandy, attempted to bribe way out of trouble with William
  • William returned to England to deal with expected Danish invasion
  • When Danish fleet arrived, rebellion had already failed
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Outcome of the Earls' Revolt

  • Ralph made it back to Breton holdings, wife joined him, they continued fight against Normans. He lost all right to his English lands. His Breton followers were exiled.
  • Earl Roger was disinherited, captured and spent life in prison.
  • Earl Waltheof charged with treason and beheaded in May 1076.
    • shocked the English and many Normans. Miracles reported at his tomb, became a place of pilgrimage 

The Earls' Revolt marks a watershed in the Conquest. Last rising in which English had a major active interest. After 1075, Anglo-Saxon survivors realised that cooperation with the new regime was the only way forward. 

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William's Policy: Castles

  • castles became the symbol of Norman strength and rule, William used them for:
    • defence against the local population
    • offence
  • chief instruments of Norman colonisation in Britain
  • Domesday Book records 50 castles built, only small fraction of total
  • Most of the castles were motte and bailey 
  • Most of them were originally royal, except:
    • Chepstow - William fitzOsbern
    • Richmond - Count Alan the Red
    • Ludlow - Richard de Lacy
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  • Danish kings took part in various rebellions, trying to take advantage of the political turmoil to gain more plunder. Involved in:
    • The Northern Rebellion
    • Hereward the Wake's Rebellion
    • Earls' Revolt
  • After 1075 still a threat from Denmark
  • When Canute IV became King of Denmark, invasion seemed imminent as naval coalition was built up with Norway and Flanders
  • By 1084 it seemed that the Danes would launch another invasion led by Canute and his uncle Count Robert of Flanders
  • William amassed largest army ever seen on English soil
  • Forces remained on standby during latter part of 1085 and first hald of 1086
  • Canute held back by disputes and munities
  • Canute assassinated in 1086, invasion fleet never sailed
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