The Norman Conquest

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Makayla Lemelin
Honors English IV
14 March 2013

The Norman Conquest
The Norman conquest of England was a military invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. King Harold, with his Saxon army, and Duke William fought at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. King Harold was killed in the battle and his army left. On December 25 1066 William was crowned the new King of England. On December 25 1066 William was crowned the new King of England( The History of the Norman Conquest). William was a Duke who ruled Normandy, now a region in France. He invaded England after the death of King Edward the Confessor because he believed he had the most right to be King of England. Due to the invasion of England, The Norman Conquest was a pivotal event in English history. It largely removed the native ruling class, replacing it with a foreign, French-speaking monarchy, aristocracy, and clerical hierarchy. This, in turn, brought about a transformation of the English language and the culture of England in a new era often referred to as Norman England(The History of the Norman Conquest). William decided to invade England and enforce his claim by his and only his direct orders. After gathering an army of some valiant sized men, he landed at Penvensey, England in September of 1066. The rebut over the conquest started almost as soon as the event itself. Ironically, William the conqueror was also the Duke of Normandy in France. So this put William in an awkward position of ruling one country while still serving as a vassal of another country ruler. By bringing England under the control of rulers originating in France, the Norman conquest linked the country more closely with continental Europe, lessened Scandinavian influence, and also set the stage for a rivalry with France that would continue intermittently for many centuries. It also had important consequences for the rest of the British Isles, paving the way for further Norman conquests in Wales and Ireland, and the extensive penetration of the aristocracy of Scotland by Norman and other French-speaking families, with the accompanying spread of continental institutions and cultural influences. Once England had been conquered, the Normans faced many challenges in maintaining control. The Normans were few in number compared to the native English population. Historians estimate the number of Norman settlers at around 8,000, but Norman in this instance includes not just natives of Normandy, but settlers from other parts of France. One consequence of the invasion was that William's followers expected and received lands and titles in return for their service in the invasion. However, William claimed ultimate possession of virtually all the land in England over which his armies had given him de facto control, and asserted the right to dispose of it as he saw fit. Henceforth, all land was "held" from the King. The distribution of land was normally in a piecemeal fashion spread out over the entire kingdom, rather than in contiguous blocks. A Norman lord typically had properties located all throughout England and Normandy, and not in a single geographic block. To find the lands to compensate his Norman followers, William initially confiscated the lands of all the English lords who had fought and died with Harold and redistributed part of these lands. These confiscations led to revolts, which resulted in more confiscations, in a cycle that continued virtually unbroken for five years after the Battle of Hastings. To put down and prevent further rebellions the Normans constructed castles and fortifications in unprecedented numbers, initially mostly on the motte-and-bailey pattern. Historian Robert Liddiard remarks that "to glance at the urban landscape of Norwich, Durham or Lincoln is to be forcibly reminded of the impact of the Norman invasion"(The Norman Conquest). William and his barons also exercised tighter control over inheritance of property by widows and daughters, often...
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