David Howarth's, "1066: The Year Of The Conquest"
Harold of England and William of Normandy were both rulers of great countries, so it stands to reason that they had some similarities in common. They both new how to lead, and they both knew how to survive in a feudal system. That is about where their similarities end.
Like their leaders, England and Normandy both had similarities due to the time, and how people lived. They both operated on a feudal system, and they were both prosperous and happy before the Battle of Hastings changed everything. The feudal system of the time operated on the premise of peasants or serfs, and thanes, or lords. The lords owned the land, and the peasants worked on it. In turn, they received the protection of the lord in hard times. The countries were at peace, and even though the people worked hard, they were happy and prosperous. “…but the labour was rewarded: there was plenty to eat and drink, and plenty of space, and plenty of virgin land for ambitious people to clear and cultivate” (Howarth 11). Before the Conquest, the small English village of Horstede that the author talks about was worth about one hundred shillings. After the Conquest, the worth of the village fell by 50 per cent, to only fifty shillings, and the people were starving, because there were not enough men left to work in the harvest. “…one in five of the native population, were killed in William’s ravages or starved by the seizure of their farm stock and their land” (Howarth 198). Even twenty years after the battle, the worth of the village only stood at sixty shillings. The village got a new thane, someone from France who William had promised land. He could not speak the language, and his only desire was to get as much as he could out of the village. “This upstart foreigner, lording it over a tiny place like Horstede, is the measure of England’s degradation” (Howarth 201). In Normandy, there were differences to the system, however, because the Normans were...
Cited: Howarth, David. 1066: The Year of the Conquest. New York: The Viking Press. 1977.
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