Year 11 Mock - Anglo-Saxon and Norman England

  • Created by: TessBlyth
  • Created on: 28-11-18 16:58

Features of Anglo-Saxon government

Feature 1

The Witan was a council that advised the King on governmental issues. It was made up of the most powerful aristocrats in society including Earls and Archbishops. It discussed possible threats from foreign powers, religious affairs and land disputes. They also had an important role in appointing a new King. The King appointed the members of the Witan and when they were meet.

Feature 2

The shire reeves or sheriffs were the King's local government officials and they worked within earldoms to look after the King's interests and carry out his duties. These duties included collecting revenue, collecting geld tax, enforcing the law and providing men for the fyrd. The King issues his orders to the shire reeves through writs. These were written instructions with a seal stamped by the King. 

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The role of castles in Norman England

  • They were built in strategic locations for example, at river crossings. The Marcher Earls built castles along the border with Wales to prevent attack.
  • They were symbolic of Norman power and dominated cities.
  • They were an important way for William to establish control of England.
  • They were used to dominate newly-built territory under Norman control by being built in towns. They overlooked the civillians which made them feel inferior and threatened.
  • They differed from fortified burhs and shires within Anglo-Saxon society.
  • They were used to control people dealing with trouble or for retreating into if attacked.
  • They provided the Normans with defences and a place to launch attack on opposition.
  • Castles enabled the Normans to look after their warhorses more effectively. Their horses were a crucial part of their equipment and without them, they'd be at a significant disadvantage.
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The Marcher Earldoms

Wales had been a threat to Edward the Confessor's rule and William wanted to ensure the border between England and Wales was secure. William did this by establishing 3 new earldoms centred on Hereford, Shrewsbury and Chester which became known as the Marcher Earldoms.

These establishments were a way for William to reward his most trusted supporters. Hugh D'Avranches became Earl of Chester - his father had contributed 60 ships to WIlliam's invasion fleet. William FitzOsbern became Earl of Hereford - he was William's right-hand man in the invasion. Roger de Montgomery became Earl of Shrewsbrury - William had trusted him so much that he let him govern Normany while he was away.

The Marcher Earldoms gave these Earls new rights and powers. They did not have to pay tax to the King on their lands within the Earldoms. This was a way of encouraging the earls to spend money on new settlements and defences. The sheriffs worked for the Earls which have them almost complete power over the legal system. In this way, the Earls became central figures of the law so they could respond quickly and firmly to any unrest. The Marcher Earldoms gave the Earls the right to create boroughs, markets and churches. these rights helped attract people from Normandy to come and settle in the frontier regions - this was called colonisation.

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Role of the Church in Norman England

Social & Governmental Roles:

  • The Church was responsible for providing land for knights and ensuring they were available to serve the King when requested.
  • The Church built up collections of laws and legal documents. They were able to interpret laws and say what had happened before in similar cases. Bishops and abbots acted as judges in shire courts.
  • Bishops were the heads of cathedrals with each cathedral having control over all churches in a big area called diocese: this was part of William's mechanism for controlling English society. They ensured local churches gave people the right messages about their King.
  • A major landholder manage many estates and was closely involved in the economy. Church tenants owed the Church land service and the Church collected taxes to pay the King. Church administrators kept careful written careful, written records of what was owed.
  • The most senior Church leaders sometimes acted as the King's representative in negotiations. Archbishop Lanfranc was William's regend while he was away in Normandy. 
  • Bishops often had the role of developing laws for the King and advising him on legal matters.
  • Because Bishops and abbots were well-educated, they were highly valued advisers of the King.
  • Church clerks issued the King's writs and kept charge of the royal seal. Many bishops started their careers as clerks for the King and he rewarded this service.
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Normanisation of the Church

  • William controlled communications between Church leaders and the Pope in Rome. He wouldn't permit any attempt by the Pope to convince the Norman church leaders that they should obey the Pope instead of him. 
  • When a bishops died, the King appointed his successor. He also received revenues from the Church land until the new bishop was appointed.
  • New bishops did homage to the King. He oversaw Church councils and his approval was needed for key decisions. Church leaders who failed their oblligations could forfeit their land.
  • Norman bishops and archedeacons influenced the messages people received about their King, their new lords and how God favoured the Normans.
  • After Stigand was removed, only one Anglo-Saxon bishop (Wulfstan) remained in the clergy.
  • Lanfranc's reforms extended the Norman's control of the countryside as Parish priests came under stricter Norman control and were made to follow Church procedures and customs. 
  • The Church was a major landholder in England. Installing loyal Normans as bishops and archbishops secured these lands against possible Anglo-Saxon rebellions.
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Lanfranc's reforms

  • He promoted monastic values - dedication to spiritual life, study and prayer and the rooting out of corruption. 
  • He introduced changes to church ritual and brought with him legal documents which provided guidelines for understanding laws and making new ones.
  • A church council of 1076 passed Lanfranc's reform that court cases involving the clergy shouldn't be tried in hundred courts but be heard in special church-only bishop's courts. Trial by ordeal came under church control since it involved God's judgement.
  • Lanfranc believed Stigand and other Anglo-Saxon leaders weren't spiritual enough. He wanted Priests to be set apart from society, living spiritual lives. He banned marriage for the clergy and made celibacy compulsory. 
  • Anglo-Saxon cathedrals in isoltaed rural locations were knocked down and rebuilt in strategic, important market towns so the bishop was installed in a more secure location with an overview of his area of control.
  • Lanfranc increased the number of monasteries and monks within them. He also believed it was important for Monks to be well-educated so they could influence and educate those who weren't churchmen. 
  • Lanfranc encouraged the rebuilding of cathedrals. Norman churches were much bigger and more powerful - symbolising Norman power.
  • Archdeacons became common. They were below bishops in the Church but above parish priests. Each took part of the bishop's diocese and enforced Church discipline within it. They presided over the Church courts and amde it easier for the Church to gain control over all parish priests in the diocese.
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