Norman conquest of England
Overview
 
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy
Duke of Normandy
The Duke of Normandy is the title of the reigning monarch of the British Crown Dependancies of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey. The title traces its roots to the Duchy of Normandy . Whether the reigning sovereign is a male or female, they are always titled as the "Duke of...

. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

 on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

. Harold's army had been badly depleted in the English victory at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

 in Northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

 on 25 September 1066 over the army of King Harald III of Norway.
Encyclopedia
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy
Duke of Normandy
The Duke of Normandy is the title of the reigning monarch of the British Crown Dependancies of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey. The title traces its roots to the Duchy of Normandy . Whether the reigning sovereign is a male or female, they are always titled as the "Duke of...

. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

 on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

. Harold's army had been badly depleted in the English victory at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

 in Northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

 on 25 September 1066 over the army of King Harald III of Norway. By early 1071, William had secured control of most of England, although rebellions and resistance continued until approximately 1088.

The Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 conquest was a pivotal event in English history
History of England
The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

. It largely removed the native ruling class, replacing it with a foreign, French-speaking
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, and clerical hierarchy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

. This, in turn, brought about a transformation of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and the culture of England
Culture of England
The culture of England refers to the idiosyncratic cultural norms of England and the English people. Because of England's dominant position within the United Kingdom in terms of population, English culture is often difficult to differentiate from the culture of the United Kingdom as a whole...

 in a new era often referred to as Norman England
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

.

By bringing England under the control of rulers originating in France, the Norman conquest linked the country more closely with continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

, lessened Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n 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
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, paving the way for further Norman conquests in Wales
Norman invasion of Wales
The Norman invasion of Wales began shortly after the Norman conquest of England under William the Conqueror, who believed England to be his birthright...

 and Ireland
Norman Invasion of Ireland
The Norman invasion of Ireland was a two-stage process, which began on 1 May 1169 when a force of loosely associated Norman knights landed near Bannow, County Wexford...

, 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.

Origins

In 911, the French Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 ruler Charles the Simple
Charles the Simple
Charles III , called the Simple or the Straightforward , was the undisputed King of France from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919/23...

 allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo
Rollo of Normandy
Rollo , baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent and founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy...

 to settle in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against future Viking invaders. Their settlement proved successful, and the Vikings in the region became known as the "Northmen" from which "Normandy" is derived. The Normans quickly adapted to the indigenous culture, renouncing paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 and converting to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. They adopted the langue d'oïl of their new home and added features from their own Norse language, transforming it into the Norman language
Norman language
Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

. They further blended into the culture by intermarrying with the local population. They also used the territory granted them as a base to extend the frontiers of the duchy to the west, annexing territory including the Bessin
Bessin
The Bessin is an area in Normandy, France, corresponding to the territory of the Bajocasse tribe of Gaul who also gave their name to the city of Bayeux, central town of the Bessin.-History:The territory was annexed by the Duchy of Normandy in 924....

, the Cotentin Peninsula
Cotentin Peninsula
The Cotentin Peninsula, also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy, forming part of the north-western coast of France. It juts out north-westwards into the English Channel, towards Great Britain...

 and Avranches
Avranches
Avranches is a commune in the Manche department in the Basse-Normandie region in north-western France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. The inhabitants are called Avranchinais.-History:...

.

In 1002 King Æthelred II of England married Emma
Emma of Normandy
Emma , was a daughter of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy, by his second wife Gunnora. She was Queen consort of England twice, by successive marriages: first as second wife to Æthelred the Unready of England ; and then second wife to Cnut the Great of Denmark...

, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy
Richard II, Duke of Normandy
Richard II , called the Good , was the eldest son and heir of Richard I the Fearless and Gunnora.-Biography:...

. Their son Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

, who spent many years in exile in Normandy, succeeded to the English throne in 1042. This led to the establishment of a powerful Norman interest in English politics, as Edward drew heavily on his former hosts for support, bringing in Norman courtiers, soldiers, and clerics and appointing them to positions of power, particularly in the Church. Childless and embroiled in conflict with the formidable Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin of Wessex , was one of the most powerful lords in England under the Danish king Cnut the Great and his successors. Cnut made him the first Earl of Wessex...

 and his sons, Edward may also have encouraged Duke William of Normandy's ambitions for the English throne.

When King Edward died at the beginning of 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England. Edward's immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex
Earl of Wessex
The title Earl of Wessex has been created twice in British history, once in the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon nobility of England and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom...

, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocracy, who was elected king by the Witenagemot
Witenagemot
The Witenagemot , also known as the Witan was a political institution in Anglo-Saxon England which operated from before the 7th century until the 11th century.The Witenagemot was an assembly of the ruling class whose primary function was to advise the king and whose membership was...

 of England and crowned by the Archbishop of York
Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England as well as the Isle of Man...

, Ealdred, although Norman propaganda claimed the ceremony was performed by Stigand
Stigand
Stigand was an English churchman in pre-Norman Conquest England. Although his birthdate is unknown, by 1020, he was serving as a royal chaplain and advisor. He was named Bishop of Elmham in 1043, and then later Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury...

, the uncanonically elected Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

. However, Harold was at once challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this. Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Hardrada, also contested the succession. His claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor Magnus I of Norway
Magnus I of Norway
Magnus I , known as the Good or the Noble, was the King of Norway from 1035 to 1047 and the King of Denmark from 1042 to 1047. He was an illegitimate son of king Olaf II of Norway, but fled with his mother in 1028 when his father was dethroned. In 1035 he returned to Norway and was crowned king at...

, and the earlier King of England Harthacanute
Harthacanute
Harthacnut was King of Denmark from 1035 to 1042 and King of England from 1040 to 1042.He was the son of King Cnut the Great, who ruled Denmark, Norway, and England, and Emma of Normandy. When Cnut died in 1035, Harthacnut struggled to retain his father's possessions...

, whereby if either died without heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway. Both William and Harald at once set about assembling troops and ships for an invasion.

Tostig's raids and the Norwegian invasion

In early 1066, Harold's estranged and exiled brother Tostig Godwinson
Tostig Godwinson
Tostig Godwinson was an Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northumbria and brother of King Harold Godwinson, the last crowned english King of England.-Early life:...

 raided southeastern England with a fleet he had recruited in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, later joined by other ships from Orkney. Threatened by Harold's fleet, Tostig moved north and raided in East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

 and Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

, but he was driven back to his ships by the brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia
Edwin, Earl of Mercia
Edwin was the elder brother of Morcar, Earl of Northumbria, son of Ælfgār, Earl of Mercia and grandson of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. He succeeded to his father's title and responsibilities on Ælfgār's death in 1062...

, and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria
Morcar of Northumbria
Morcar was the son of Ælfgār and brother of Ēadwine. He was himself the earl of Northumbria from 1065 to 1066, when he was replaced by William the Conqueror with Copsi....

. Deserted by most of his followers, he withdrew to Scotland, where he spent the summer recruiting fresh forces.

King Harald III of Norway invaded northern England in early September, leading a fleet of over 300 ships carrying perhaps 15,000 men. Harald's army was further augmented by the forces of Tostig, who threw his support behind the Norwegian king's bid for the throne. Advancing on York, the Norwegians occupied the city after defeating a northern English army under Edwin and Morcar on 20 September at the Battle of Fulford
Battle of Fulford
The Battle of Fulford took place at the village of Fulford, near York in England on 20 September 1066, when King Harald III of Norway - also known as Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson, his English ally, fought and defeated the Northern Earls Edwin and Morcar. Tostig was Harold Godwinson's...

.

Harold had spent the summer on the south coast with a large army and fleet waiting for William to invade, but the bulk of his forces were fyrdmen (militia) that needed to harvest their crops, so on 8 September Harold dismissed them. Learning of the Norwegian invasion, he rushed north, gathering forces as he went, and took the Norwegians by surprise, defeating them in the exceptionally bloody Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

 on 25 September. Harald of Norway and Tostig were killed, and the Norwegians suffered such horrific losses that only 24 of the original 300 ships were required to carry away the survivors. The English victory came at great cost, however, as Harold's army was left in a battered and weakened state. The English forces were at least two weeks march from Duke William's invasion force as well.

Norman invasion

Meanwhile William assembled a large invasion fleet and an army gathered not only from Normandy but from all over France, including large contingents from Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 and Flanders. He mustered his forces at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme
Saint-Valery-sur-Somme
Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is a commune in the Somme department. The village is a popular tourist destination because of its medieval character and ramparts, Gothic church and long waterside boardwalk.-Geography:...

. The army was ready to cross by about 12 August. However, the crossing was delayed, either because of unfavourable weather or because of the desire to avoid being intercepted by the powerful English fleet. The Normans did not in fact cross to England until a few days after Harold's victory over the Norwegians, following the dispersal of Harold's naval force. They landed at Pevensey
Pevensey
Pevensey is a village and civil parish in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. The main village is located 5 miles north-east of Eastbourne, one mile inland from Pevensey Bay. The settlement of Pevensey Bay forms part of the parish.-Geography:The village of Pevensey is located on...

 in Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 on 28 September and erected a wooden castle at Hastings
Hastings
Hastings is a town and borough in the county of East Sussex on the south coast of England. The town is located east of the county town of Lewes and south east of London, and has an estimated population of 86,900....

, from which they raided the surrounding area.

Marching south at the news of William's landing, Harold paused briefly at London to gather more troops, then advanced to meet William. They fought at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October. The English army, drawn up in a shieldwall on top of Senlac Hill
Senlac Hill
Senlac Hill , was the ridge on which Harold Godwinson deployed his army for the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. The high ground the hill offered gave the English a great advantage over the Normans, who made repeated charges up the hill but to no avail. Only when the Normans feigned retreat...

, withstood a series of Norman attacks for several hours but was depleted by the losses suffered when troops on foot pursuing retreating Norman cavalry were repeatedly caught out in the open by counter-attacks. In the evening the defence finally collapsed and Harold was killed, along with his brothers Earl Gyrth
Gyrth Godwinson
Gyrth Godwinson was the fourth son of Earl Godwin, and thus a younger brother of Harold II of England. He went with his eldest brother Swegen into exile to Flanders in 1051, but unlike Swegen he was able to return with the rest of the clan the following year...

 and Earl Leofwine
Leofwine Godwinson
Leofwine Godwinson was a younger brother of Harold II of England, the fifth son of Earl Godwin.When the Godwin family was exiled from England in 1051 he went with Harold to Ireland...

.

After his victory at Hastings, William expected to receive the submission of the surviving English leaders, but instead Edgar Atheling was proclaimed king by the Witenagemot, with the support of Earls Edwin and Morcar, Stigand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ealdred, the Archbishop of York. William therefore advanced, marching around the coast of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 to London. He defeated an English force that attacked him at Southwark
Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

, but he was unable to storm London Bridge
London Bridge
London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London. Situated between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge, it forms the western end of the Pool of London...

 and therefore sought to reach the capital by a more circuitous route.

He moved up the Thames valley to cross the river at Wallingford, Berkshire; while there, he received the submission of Stigand. William then travelled northeast along the Chilterns, before advancing towards London from the northwest, fighting further engagements against forces from the city. Having failed to muster an effective military response, Edgar's leading supporters lost their nerve, and the English leaders surrendered to William at Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted
-Climate:Berkhamsted experiences an oceanic climate similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.-Castle:...

, Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

. William was acclaimed King of England and crowned by Ealdred on 25 December 1066, in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

.

English resistance

Despite this submission, local resistance continued to erupt for several years. In 1067 rebels in Kent launched an abortive attack on Dover Castle in combination with Eustace II of Boulogne
Eustace II of Boulogne
Eustace II, , also known as Eustace aux Gernons was count of Boulogne from 1049–1087, fought on the Norman side at the Battle of Hastings, and afterwards received a large honour in England. He is one of the few proven Companions of William the Conqueror.He was the son of Eustace I...

. In the same year the Shropshire
Shropshire
Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. It borders Wales to the west...

 landowner Eadric the Wild
Eadric the Wild
Eadric the Wild , also known as Eadric Cild, was an Anglo-Saxon magnate of the West Midlands who led English resistance to the Norman Conquest, active in 1068-70.-Background:...

, in alliance with the Welsh rulers of Gwynedd
Gwynedd
Gwynedd is a county in north-west Wales, named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. Although the second biggest in terms of geographical area, it is also one of the most sparsely populated...

 and Powys
Powys
Powys is a local-government county and preserved county in Wales.-Geography:Powys covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire , and a small part of Denbighshire — an area of 5,179 km², making it the largest county in Wales by land area.It is...

, raised a revolt in western Mercia
Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

, fighting Norman forces based in Hereford
Hereford
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

. In 1068 William besieged rebels in Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

, including Harold's mother Gytha
Gytha Thorkelsdóttir
Gytha Thorkelsdottir , also called Githa, was the daughter of Thorgil Sprakling . She married the Anglo-Saxon nobleman Godwin of Wessex....

; after suffering heavy losses William managed to negotiate the town's surrender.

Later in the year Edwin and Morcar raised a revolt in Mercia with Welsh assistance, while Earl Gospatric
Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria
Gospatric or Cospatric , , was Earl of Northumbria, or of Bernicia, and later lord of sizable estates around Dunbar...

 led a rising in Northumbria, which had not yet been occupied by the Normans. These rebellions rapidly collapsed as William moved against them, building castles and installing garrisons as he had already done in the south. Edwin and Morcar again submitted, while Gospatric fled to Scotland, as did Edgar the Atheling and his family, who may have been involved in these revolts. Meanwhile Harold's sons, who had taken refuge in Ireland, raided Somerset
Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 and Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 from the sea.

Early in 1069 the newly installed Norman Earl of Northumbria Robert de Comines
Robert Comine
Robert Comine was very briefly earl of Northumbria. His name suggests that he originally came from Comines, then in the County of Flanders, and entered the following of William the Conqueror. He was sent to the north as earl from 1068 to 1069 after the deposition of Gospatric...

 and several hundred soldiers accompanying him were massacred at Durham; the Northumbrian rebellion was joined by Edgar, Gospatric, Siward Barn
Siward Barn
Siward Barn was an 11th century English thegn and landowner-warrior. He appears in the extant sources in the period following the Norman Conquest of England, joining the northern resistance to William the Conqueror by the end of the 1060s. Siward's resistance continued until his capture on the...

 and other rebels who had taken refuge in Scotland. The castellan of York, Robert fitzRichard, was defeated and killed, and the rebels besieged the Norman castle at York. William hurried with an army from the south, defeated the rebels outside York and pursued them into the city, massacring the inhabitants and bringing the revolt to an end. He built a second castle at York, strengthened Norman forces in Northumbria and then returned to the south. A subsequent local uprising was crushed by the garrison of York. Harold's sons launched a second raid from Ireland but were defeated in Devon by Norman forces under Count Brian, a son of Eudes, Count of Penthièvre
Eudes, Count of Penthievre
Odo of Rennes , Count of Penthièvre, was the youngest son of Duke Geoffrey I of Brittany and Hawise of Normandy, daughter of Richard I of Normandy. Following the death of his brother Duke Alan III, Eudes ruled as regent of Brittany in the name of his nephew Conan II, between 1040 and 1062...

.

In the late summer of 1069 a large fleet sent by Sweyn II of Denmark
Sweyn II of Denmark
Sweyn II Estridsson Ulfsson was the King of Denmark from 1047 to 1074. He was the son of Ulf Jarl and Estrid Svendsdatter. He was married three times, and fathered 20 children or more, including the five future kings Harald III Hen, Canute IV the Saint, Oluf I Hunger, Eric I Evergood and Niels...

 arrived off the coast of England, sparking a new wave of rebellions across the country. After abortive attempted raids in the south, the Danes joined forces with a new Northumbrian uprising, which was also joined by Edgar, Gospatric and the other exiles from Scotland as well as Earl Waltheof. The combined Danish and English forces defeated the Norman garrison at York, seized the castles and took control of Northumbria, although a raid into Lincolnshire led by Edgar was defeated by the Norman garrison of Lincoln
Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Lincoln is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England.The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln has a population of 85,595; the 2001 census gave the entire area of Lincoln a population of 120,779....

.

At the same time resistance flared up again in western Mercia, where the forces of Eadric the Wild, together with his Welsh allies and further rebel forces from Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

 and Shropshire, attacked the castle at Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

. In the south-west rebels from Devon and Cornwall attacked the Norman garrison at Exeter, but were repulsed by the defenders and scattered by a Norman relief force under Count Brian. Other rebels from Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

, Somerset and neighbouring areas besieged Montacute
Montacute
Montacute is a small village and civil parish in Somerset, England, west of Yeovil. The village has a population of 680 . The name Montacute is thought by some to derive from the Latin "Mons Acutus", referring to the small but still quite acute hill dominating the village to the west.The village...

 Castle but were defeated by a Norman army gathered from London, Winchester
Winchester
Winchester is a historic cathedral city and former capital city of England. It is the county town of Hampshire, in South East England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, and is located at the western end of the South Downs, along the course of...

 and Salisbury under Geoffrey of Coutances
Geoffrey de Montbray
Geoffrey de Montbray , bishop of Coutances , a right-hand man of William the Conqueror, was a type of the great feudal prelate, warrior and administrator at need....

.

Meanwhile William attacked the Danes, who had moored for the winter south of the Humber in Lincolnshire and drove them back to the north bank. Leaving Robert of Mortain in charge in Lincolnshire, he turned west and defeated the Mercian rebels in battle at Stafford
Stafford
Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands region of England. It lies approximately north of Wolverhampton and south of Stoke-on-Trent, adjacent to the M6 motorway Junction 13 to Junction 14...

. When the Danes again crossed to Lincolnshire the Norman forces there again drove them back across the Humber. William advanced into Northumbria, defeating an attempt to block his crossing of the swollen River Aire
River Aire
The River Aire is a major river in Yorkshire, England of length . Part of the river is canalised, and is known as the Aire and Calder Navigation....

 at Pontefract
Pontefract
Pontefract is an historic market town in West Yorkshire, England. Traditionally in the West Riding, near the A1 , the M62 motorway and Castleford. It is one of the five towns in the metropolitan borough of the City of Wakefield and has a population of 28,250...

. The Danes again fled at his approach, and he occupied York. He bought off the Danes, who agreed to leave England in the spring, and through the winter of 1069–70 his forces systematically devastated Northumbria in the Harrying of the North
Harrying of the North
The Harrying of the North was a series of campaigns waged by William the Conqueror in the winter of 1069–1070 to subjugate Northern England, and is part of the Norman conquest of England...

, subduing all resistance.

In the spring of 1070, having secured the submission of Waltheof and Gospatric, and driven Edgar and his remaining supporters back to Scotland, William returned to Mercia, where he based himself at Chester and crushed all remaining resistance in the area before returning to the south. Sweyn II of Denmark arrived in person to take command of his fleet and renounced the earlier agreement to withdraw, sending troops into the Fens
The Fens
The Fens, also known as the , are a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the fens were drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region....

 to join forces with English rebels led by Hereward
Hereward the Wake
Hereward the Wake , known in his own times as Hereward the Outlaw or Hereward the Exile, was an 11th-century leader of local resistance to the Norman conquest of England....

, who were based on the Isle of Ely
Isle of Ely
The Isle of Ely is a historic region around the city of Ely now in Cambridgeshire, England but previously a county in its own right.-Etymology:...

. Soon, however, Sweyn accepted a further payment of Danegeld
Danegeld
The Danegeld was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. It was called the geld or gafol in eleventh-century sources; the term Danegeld did not appear until the early twelfth century...

 from William and returned home.

After the departure of the Danes the Fenland rebels remained at large, protected by the marshes, and early in 1071 there was a final outbreak of rebel activity in the area. Edwin and Morcar again turned against William, and while Edwin was soon betrayed and killed, Morcar reached Ely
Ely, Cambridgeshire
Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, 14 miles north-northeast of Cambridge and about by road from London. It is built on a Lower Greensand island, which at a maximum elevation of is the highest land in the Fens...

, where he and Hereward were joined by exiled rebels who had sailed from Scotland. William arrived with an army and a fleet to finish off this last pocket of resistance. After some costly failures the Normans managed to construct a pontoon to reach the Isle of Ely, defeated the rebels at the bridgehead and stormed the island, marking the effective end of English resistance.

Many of the Norman sources that survive today were written in order to justify their actions, in response to Papal concern about the treatment of the native English by their Norman conquerors during this period.

Control of England

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. The Normans overcame this numerical deficit by adopting innovative methods of control.

First, unlike Cnut the Great, who had rewarded his followers with money rather than displacing native landholders, 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. Initially, William confiscated the lands of all English lords who had fought and died with Harold and redistributed most of them to his Norman supporters (though some families were able to "buy back" their property and titles by petitioning William). These initial 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
Motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey is a form of castle, with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade...

 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".

Even after active resistance to his rule had died down, William and his barons continued to use their positions to extend and consolidate Norman control of the country. For example, if an English landholder died without heirs, the king (or in the case of lower-level landholders, one of his barons) could designate the heir, and often chose a successor from Normandy. William and his barons also exercised tighter control over inheritance of property by widows and daughters, often forcing marriages to Normans.

A measure of William's success in taking control is that, from 1072 until the Capetian conquest
Battle of Bouvines
The Battle of Bouvines, 27 July 1214, was a conclusive medieval battle ending the twelve year old Angevin-Flanders War that was important to the early development of both the French state by confirming the French crown's sovereignty over the Angevin lands of Brittany and Normandy.Philip Augustus of...

 of Normandy in 1204, William and his successors were largely absentee rulers. For example, after 1072, William spent more than 75% of his time in France rather than in England. While he needed to be personally present in Normandy to defend the realm from foreign invasion and put down internal revolts, he was able to set up royal administrative structures that enabled him to rule England from a distance, by "writ".

Keeping the Norman lords together and loyal as a group was just as important, since any friction could give the native English a chance to oust their minority Anglo-French-speaking lords. One way William accomplished this cohesion was by giving out land in a piecemeal fashion and punishing unauthorised holdings. A Norman lord typically had property spread out all over England and Normandy, and not in a single geographic block.

Elite replacement

A direct consequence of the invasion was the near-total elimination of the old English aristocracy and the loss of English control over the Catholic Church in England. William systematically dispossessed English landowners and conferred their property on his continental followers. The Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

meticulously documents the impact of this colossal programme of expropriation, revealing that by 1086 only about 5% of land in England south of the Tees was left in English hands. Even this tiny residue was further diminished in the decades that followed, the elimination of native landholding being most complete in southern parts of the country.

Natives were also soon purged from high governmental and ecclesiastical office. After 1075 all earldoms were held by Normans, while Englishmen were only occasionally appointed as sheriffs. Likewise in the Church senior English office-holders were either expelled from their positions or kept in place for their lifetimes but replaced by foreigners when they died. By 1096 no bishopric was held by any Englishman, while English abbots became uncommon, especially in the larger monasteries.

English emigration

Following the conquest, large numbers of Anglo-Saxons, including groups of nobles, fled the country. Many chose to flee to Scotland, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, and Scandinavia. Members of King Harold Godwinson's family sought refuge at Royal courts in Ireland and Denmark and from there plotted unsuccessful invasions of England. The largest single exodus occurred in the 1070s when a group of Anglo-Saxons in a fleet of 235 ships sailed for the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. The empire became a popular destination for many English nobles and soldiers as it would have been known that the Byzantines were in need of mercenaries. The English became the predominant element in the elite Varangian Guard
Varangian Guard
The Varangian Guard was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army in 10th to the 14th centuries, whose members served as personal bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors....

, hitherto a largely Scandinavian unit, from which the emperor's bodyguard was drawn and continued to serve the empire until the early 15th century. Some of the English migrants were settled in Byzantine frontier regions on the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 coast and established towns with names such as "New London" and "New York".

Women's rights

Women had some rights before the Norman Conquest that were not present in England by circa 1100. The Germanic practice of the Fore-mother was brought by the Anglo-Saxons. Women would begin to lose some rights after the Danish invasion of the early eleventh century, in particular, through King Cnut's revision of laws. Women may have lost the right to consent to marriage, for example, and widows lost the right to remarry. The Norman Conquest gradually influenced the legal position of women in England. The Norman kings distinguished between aristocrats and commoners, and a woman's place in her life-cycle, in general, brought changes in opportunities. Widows were able to remarry and, in general, control property in ways that married women and maidens could not. The greatest rights were generally available to women having access to land.

Governmental systems

Before the Normans arrived, Anglo-Saxon England was more sophisticated than the government in Normandy. All of England was divided into administrative units called shire
Shire
A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom and in Australia. In parts of Australia, a shire is an administrative unit, but it is not synonymous with "county" there, which is a land registration unit. Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland and in the far...

s with subdivisions, the royal court was the centre of government and royal courts existed which worked to secure the rights of free men. Shires were run by officials known as "shire reeve
Reeve (England)
Originally in Anglo-Saxon England the reeve was a senior official with local responsibilities under the Crown e.g. as the chief magistrate of a town or district...

" or "sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

". The shires tended to be somewhat autonomous and lacked coordinated control. English government made heavy use of written documentation, which was unusual for kingdoms in Western Europe and made for more efficient governance than word of mouth.

The English developed permanent physical locations of government. Most medieval governments were always on the move, holding court wherever the weather and food or other matters were best at the moment. This practice limited the potential size and sophistication of a government body to whatever could be packed on a horse and cart, including the treasury and library. England had a permanent treasury at Winchester, from which a permanent government bureaucracy and document archive began to grow. One major reason for the strength of the English monarchy was the wealth of the kingdom which was built on the English system of taxation, which included a land tax, or the geld. English coinage was also superior to most of the other currency in use in northwestern Europe, and the ability to mint coins was a royal monopoly.

This sophisticated medieval form of government was handed over to the Normans and was the foundation of further developments. Although they kept the framework of the government, they did make changes in the personnel, although at first the new king attempted to keep some natives in the government. By end of William's reign, most of the officials of government and the royal household were Normans, not English. The language of official documents also changed, from Old English to Latin. One innovation was the introduction of the forest laws and the setting aside of large sections of England as royal forest subject to the newly introduced forest law. The Normans centralised the autonomous shire system. The Domesday survey exemplifies the practical codification that enabled Norman assimilation of conquered territories through central control of a census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

. It was the first kingdom-wide census taken in Europe since the time of the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, and enabled more efficient taxation of the Normans' new realm. Systems of accounting grew in sophistication. A government accounting office called the Exchequer
Exchequer
The Exchequer is a government department of the United Kingdom responsible for the management and collection of taxation and other government revenues. The historical Exchequer developed judicial roles...

 was established by Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

. In 1150, some years after Henry's death, the Exchequer was established at the Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

.

Language

One of the most obvious changes was the introduction of Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman language
Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

, a northern dialect of Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

, as the language of the ruling classes in England, displacing Old English. French words entered the English language, and a further sign of the shift was the usage of French names instead of English ones. Male names changed first, with names such as William, Robert, Richard, becoming common quickly. Female names changed more slowly. One area where the Norman invasion did not change naming practices was in placenames, which unlike the earlier invasions by the Vikings and Cnut, did not change much after the Norman Conquest. This predominance was further reinforced and complicated in the mid-twelfth century by an influx of followers of the Angevin
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

 dynasty, speaking a more mainstream dialect of French. Not until the fourteenth century would English regain its former primacy, while the use of French at court continued into the fifteenth century.

By this time, English had itself been profoundly transformed, developing into the starkly different Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

, which formed the basis for the modern language. During the centuries when the elite spoke French, a large proportion of the words in the English language had disappeared and been replaced by French words, leading to the present hybrid tongue in which an English core vocabulary is combined with a largely French abstract and technical vocabulary. The grammatical structures of the language had also changed dramatically, although the relationship, if any, between this transformation and the neglect of English by the elite resulting from the conquest is uncertain.

Legacy

Within a century after the invasion, intermarriage between the native English and the Norman immigrants became common. By the early 1160s, Ailred of Rievaulx
Ailred of Rievaulx
Aelred , also Aelred, Ælred, Æthelred, etc., was an English writer, abbot of Rievaulx , and saint.-Life:...

was writing that intermarriage was common among all levels of society.

The Norman conquest is viewed as the last successful conquest of England.

External links



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