Term Paper: Norman Conquest on England the Achievements

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¶ … Norman Conquest on England; the achievements and contributions of William the Conqueror and the Norman kings

The battle of Hastings is so compelling to retell, yet characteristic in the historical development of England. Before the battle of Hasting, there were other battles fought by different groups that were trying to invade and conquer the native England. However, while some of the battles led to the initial introduction of the Normans and their presence in England, none managed to establish the force to get them to the throne of England. Therefore, in this quest to have a Norman descendant become king, the Normans engaged in various planning and conspiracies to get the throne. While this was happening, William the Conqueror, the son of Robert I Duke of Normandy, was in his side planning his rise to the throne. The Death of Edward, the king of England, marked another beginning as Earl of Wessex become king. This infuriated William, who claimed that in 1051, King Edward, who was a distant cousin, promised him the throne and that Herald supported the claim. Hence, William landed in England in September 1066 and established a camp near Hastings (Lacey 45). The army of Harold and William's met in October of the matching year, and a battle ensued; which saw Harold killed, and his army collapsing in a battle that lasted the whole day. The victorious William then becomes King and on the Christmas day of 1066, he took the throne at Westminster Abbey. This marked the beginning of Norman aristocracy governing class in England.

William spent the first years on the throne crushing resistance, in addition to securing his borders. He did this with ruthless efficiency. Since William was the first Norman King, and he defeated the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings, he started to establish Norman culture and reign in the country (Warren et al., p 56). It is in his reign that many these changed in England. Among his contributions in England after the conquest was the acquiring of large pieces of land, which he easily gave to his close friends, acquaintances and family members. The rich Normans moved into England and established themselves, helping in the growing of the country. For instance, he granted some compact grouping of lands that the native Englishmen held to his Norman followers to allow the consolidation of the lands surrounding the strategically placed castles. The medieval William additionally, seized and depopulated many miles of lands in the Royal Forest region, to support his enthusiasm in enjoying hunting. In consideration for his love for hunting, William introduced the Forest Law in England, in most parts of the country, which regulated who could hunt and what they could hunt.

Another contribution of William as king England is in the development of his administration. The administrative power of William came with the seal made after his conquest, which had six impressions. He did not unify his realm; hence, England remained independent from Normandy and thus, his agreement with France over Normandy did not bind England. He continued with the assortment of land tax in the country. William also maintained the English system of divisions in the country, as the shires or counties and wapentakes remained (Lacey 178). Additionally, through his various battles, William managed to secure England from the revolts and invasions by those who wanted to take over the country. Therefore, to his death, he secured England accordingly, leaving the country well established and thriving in peace, and he left the country in the care of his son, William Rufus. These are the contributions and achievements of William as King of England.

The consequences of the Norman Conquest on England are still visible to date. The introduction of the rule of the William, the first Norman king of England, much as he contributed in the country through his achievements, brought several consequential actions. The Norman invasion marked an almost entire elimination of the initial England aristocracy. When William became the King, most of the elite in the society got a replacement from their positions of leadership. For instance, the English lost control over the Catholic Church in England as the priests were replaced. William also systematically took the lands of the English landowners and their properties and conferred them to his class of followers. The elite of the initial English people replaced with people of the Norman origin. The natives also lost their positions in the high government and ecclesiastical offices. By the year 1075, the entire earldoms belonged to the Normans, with the English receiving occasional appointments as sheriffs.

Additionally, the conquest marked the beginning of an emigration of multitudes of the natives. Many Anglo-Saxons fled the country, including the nobles and elite. Some of them took refuge in Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia. For instance, the largest of all emigrations occurred in the 1070's, when a fleet of 235 ships ferrying the Anglo-Saxons set sail for the Byzantine Empire (Lacey 98). Another impact the invasion had on England is the structure and development of the language. The conquest led to the introduction of the Anglo-Norman language, which was a dialect of Old French. This language became the language of the ruling class in England; hence, displacing the Old English. There was an introduction of French words into the English language, the most common and visible being, and usage of French names rather than English ones. For instance, names such as Richard, William and Robert among others become popular. However, the invasion did not have a notable impact on the names of places. The English invaders did not learn much English, but the demands in the trade sector contributed to their interest in English.

Moreover, a notable number of Normans and other continentals migrated into England. This was from the successful conquest, and the leaving of the native English people. Therefore, in the wake of the lands and other activities in the country, several Norman people migrated into England. Consequently, as they came into England, they intermarried with the native English people. However, the extent of the intermarriages is unclear as most Normans still opted to contract marry with their own people. In the societal aspect, the invasion brought to a seizure the practice of slavery in the country. However, the practice was not outlawed, but rather it just declined due to other factors, such as the calls by the Catholic Church and the costs of maintaining them, as it was the responsibility of owners to maintain the slaves. Therefore, the invasion of the Norman people into the country had its share of negative effects and positive assertions.

England before and after the Anglo-Saxon Conquest

England, before the arrival of the Saxons, consisted of the Britons, who thought themselves as a pure tribe rather than a race and the Romans with whom they intermarried. By the time the Romans left England, the ruling class of the country looked more Romanized. Nonetheless, the coming of the Anglo-Saxons into England marked another beginning of a development that led to the establishment of the English that suffered the conquest by the Normans. Before the conquest by the Normans, England consisted of largely the Anglo-Saxons and their rule was the recognized government and leadership in the country. When the Anglo-Saxon people conquered England, they brought several changes into the country. In their initial reign, in the country, the Anglo-Saxons destroyed and terminated the Roman civilization in England, changing most of the fundamental features of a rule. These included the language, religion and other customs in the country. Additionally, they drove most of the Britons and Celtic people who occupied the country to other regions such as Wales and Brittany. The Anglo-Saxon settled in England in the 613 after they completed the conquest of the central region of Britain. The Anglo-Saxons also divided England into small kingdoms and gave themselves to settle and rule, with a central form of organized government existing in the country. Although the Anglo-Saxons looked much advanced than the Britons, they were predominantly rural people. They settled in forms of small villages that scattered around the country. They also used farming as their main economic activity, with some regularly practicing hunting. Therefore, the initial settlement of Anglo-Saxon people in England had little central organization as such.

Additionally, the Anglo-Saxons also had wrangles among themselves; hence, England did not have a unified system. They warred among themselves, also against the Britons in Wales and the Danish and Vikings. In the course of these internal wrangles, in England, the larger and powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdoms conquered and absorbed their neighbors who were weak. From the seven kingdoms that emerged as major, they developed three dominant states, Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex (Warren et al., p 111). The states had their individual rules but strived to maintain unity. This culminated in the eventual acknowledgement of Alfred's supremacy; thus, the first step to the unification of all Englishmen. The country continued under this unification resulting in the development of several aspects in the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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