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University of Oxford Final Examinations HISTORY OF THE BRITISH ISLES II, 1042-1330 REVISION NOTES: CONTENTS Topic 1: The Norman Contest Page 1 Topic 2: Gender Topic 3: National Identity Page 24 Topic 4: Literature and the Arts Page 38 Topic 5: Religion Topic 6: Angevin queenship Page 44 Topic 7: Plantagenet kingship Page 48
Colour coding: Blue = Historiography Orange = key facts/evidence Topic 1: The Norman Conquest.
1. Why was the Norman Conquest a success?
? England had a long history of invasion:
? Emphasised by E John: "Eng was a polit community whose structure had been greatly impaired by the stresses and strains of 300 yrs of Viking raids". o Edmund Ironside, brother of EtC and son of Aethelred nicknamed 'Unraed' ('ill-counselled') - lost Eng to Viking invasions 1016 (Canute). These invasions "in certain respects, foreshadowed the NC" (Thomas).
? Cross-over with Normandy: o Aethelred's marriage to Emma, from Normandy, 1002.
? EtC grew up in Normandy. o Then when Aethelred died, Canute married Emma - she was still on the scene. o Clash between Godwines and Normans: dispute in Dover in 1051 - clash between Normans and locals.
? Godwine ordered by king to lay waste to Dover, but refused.
? Godwines temporarily exiled. o "No-one could afford to ignore Normandy" (E John). o The Normans obv did not have to deal with this problem.
? England was a rewarding country to invade: o Domesday showed richness
e.g. tens of thousands of herrings paid in rent every year to landlords who owned coastal fisheries; 10s of thousands of eels from inland fisheries.
? Also non-agricultural: >6000 water mills. Winchester had streets named for butchers, goldsmiths, shoemakers, shield makers, wood sellers, tanners.
? Wills show wealth of nobility - weapons with precious metals, jewelry, gold crucifixes, cloth died purple.
? Eng "a tempting target" (Hugh Thomas). of clear succession: Emphasised by E John: "chronic dynastic instability". Canute's death, 1035, caused confusion for 7 years.
? Exacerbated noble tensions.
? Harold I was the illegit son of Canute. After Canute's death, he tried to take power.
? Emma opposed Harold, along with Godwine - they both supported Harthacanute (Emma and Canute's son).
? Eventually Harold I won and made peace with Godwine - ruled until 1040.
? 1040: Harthacanute challenges Harold with Danish fleet. However, Harold dies from illness just before his arrival.
? Harthacanute rules for 2 years, bringing mother Emma and her son Edward the Confessor (EtC) over.
? Harthacanute dies 1042 - EtC succeeded peacefully. Edward the Confessor's death, 1066, without issue.
? Had two grandnephews - Edgar Atheling, and Harold. Both were children.
? Had nominated - apparently - both Harold Godwineson and William of Normandy.
? "succession to EtC was wide open upon his death" (Hugh Thomas).
? Led to Godwineson dominance:
? Godwinesons "dominated England" (E John).
? Harold Godwineson took throne on EtC's death.
? Harold's father Godwine was a favourite of king Canute - earl with responsibility for Wessex.
? When Harold I succeeded, Godwine had helped him, selling out his original favourite (Harthacanute).? Lacko
When Harthacanute arrived, Godwine claimed he had only acted previously under force. Gifted him a great warship with 80 warriors.
? When EtC succeeded, Godwine presented him with a huge ship with purple sails and arranged his marriage to his daughter Edith.
? Godwine's two sons Swein (rubbish) and Harold (good) became earls.
? Robert Fleming emphasises wealth - estimated that if Godwine's children could collect all of their estates' rents, they would have had >2 mill silver pennies per year. 3 tonnes of silver.
? Strengths of William the Conqueror (WtC): o Important followers: Half-brothers Robert count of Mortain and Odo bishop of Bayeux; Roger of Montgomery. o Grant given by EtC?
? No source records, but AS Chronicle records WtC coming to Eng while Godwine was in exile. o Weak enemies:
? King of France weak - Henry I had died 1060, leaving a young son.
? Just had success in Brittany. o Had rep as strong lord and warrior. Thomas emph's his personal impact on persuading people to undertake conq. o Had many ships built. o Huge army gathered from August. Seem quite wellorganised: didn't do significant damage to duchy in this time.
? Note logistical challenge of feeding and cleaning - emph'd by Bernard Bachrach. o Harold didn't know when WtC would strike - stationed forces along south coast, but had to disband on 8th Sept
1066. o One of the first things WtC did was build a motte-andbailey castle at Hastings. o Still, invasion was risky - "a breathtaking gamble" (Thomas).
? Many leading men claimed Norman resources weren't strong enough.
? Other threats to Harold: o Some threats from brother Tosti:
? Then went to Norway and allied with Harald Hadrada. 20 Sept: fought Edwin and Morcar in the north. Harold went to meet, at Stamford Bridge on
25th Sept - success in travelling v quickly (although many killed). o Harold travelled so quickly from Stamford Bridge that some sources say he would have gathered more forces going slower. Even some historians agree e.g. R Allen Brown.
? Thomas disagrees.
? Lands were being ravished - had to act quickly to prevent this and maintain English support.
? Could have wanted to take by surprise.
? Note difficulty of determining accurate numbers.
? Historians originally said about 10000 each, based on ability to feed.
? William's biographer said 60,000.
? Michael K Lawson reassessed. o Said gov'ts were better than we thought at looking after. o Partly based on Bayeux Tapestry.
? Battle tactics: o Harold takes high ground, packs troops densely - meant Norman cavalry inept, allowed English to use long axes. o Thomas argues this encouraged Normans to fight better. o William had initiative on when to attack. o Norman archers could continue fight while soldiers rested. o "the battle was a long, hard-fought, and v even struggle" (Thomas). o At one point, rumour spread that WtC was dead - army started to flee. Tapestry shows Odo of Bayeux rallying them back; also WtC raising helmet to show he was alive. o When Norman cavalry fled in fear, some of Harold's troops pursued them. They could then turn back and kill them. William's men started pretending to flee. o Eventually, Harold was killed.
? William's post-battle tactics were strong. o Still felt insecure: note at coronation on 25th Dec 1066, some lords swore oaths to W in English, and guards outside thought they were rebelling and set fire to houses. o Killed some of Harold's supporters nearby. o Went to Canterbury - religious importance. o Then Dover - key port. o W's troops then laid waste to West and North London - trying to intimidate gov't. "the trickle of surrenders turned into a flood" (Thomas).
? How big were the threats to William, post-Conquest?
o Lack of powerful Enlishg lords:
? Many killed at Hastings, as well as followers.
? All heirs to greatest families = young.
? Edgar Aethling didn't really have a personal power base. o Many revolts were minor and easily put down:
? 1068 in Exeter - soon made terms.
? Eadric the Wild and Welsh alliance caused probs on that border. o Bigger prob = north.
? Made Edgar Atheling leader - his sister was married to the king Malcolm of Scot.
? Destroyed Norman detachments at Durham and York.
? Had Danish alliance. o 1071: Edwin and Morcar rebelled. Edwin betrayed by followers, but Morcar escaped to Ely and joined Hereward the Wake. W did manage to capture. o William largely acted so quickly that he nipped these in the bud. o Also v ruthless - frequently devastated countryside e.g. harrying of the north 1069-70. o William's shift away from AS nobility was v slow and savvy. o "Norman rule was basically secure by 1071" (Thomas).
? Common inheritance of English and French:
? A Williams' point.
? See areas like language, architecture.
? Eased assimilation through things like intermarriage (William of Malmesbury saw as common).
? Hard to see: few remaining sources as many marriages unlikely to be recorded.
2. How strong was the English government before the Conquest?
? Wealth: See above.
? English gov't was quite sophisticated pre-Conquest: o Local reps - earls; shire reeves (Eng divided into shires/counties; then into hundreds/wapentakes); estate managers; bishops/church officials. o Control of church brought power and service - in return had to protect and support. o Key development = hides - specific units of military org. Normally 120 acres - each could be expected to do something, like every 5 hides prod a fully armoured warrior.
o Note danegeld = reg tax by end of AS period. Was a levy on the hides. o One advantage = used spoken language. o Debate: how sophisticated?
? Not much evidence - esp because most records discarded as they were in Old Eng.
? Contrast with pipe rolls of C12th.
? Coinage, hide system "suggests a sophisticated system of written bureaucracy" (Hugh Thomas).
? Odd docs have survived, e.g. list of men for coast watch, lists of payments of danegeld - probably were more once.
? Normans may well have used existing structures when carrying out Domesday.
? Normans did adapt some AS docs e.g. the writ.
? AS kings were v wealthy and powerful - must have worked to an extent.
? Wilfrid Lewis Warren in 'The Myth of Norman Admin Efficiency' argues that the Norman gov't didn't match that of the AS.
? Note fact that gov had to move around inevitably ltd it.
? One method of control = laying waste to kingdom
- does suggest lack of more sophisticated ways.
3. What was the impact of the Norman conquest?
? Landholding o "The Norman Conquest brought a revolution in landholding" (H Thomas). o Biggest change = king becomes biggest landholder. Before, EtC had been wealthiest INDIVIDUAL, but Godwinesons' lands outstripped his, Church also held about 1/4.
? King's share doubled to 17% revenues collected in Domesday. No chief followers approached Godwine or Harold's levels of wealth.
? Wasn't permanent:
? By 1300 royal lands were 2% landed income.
? Management of these lands didn't really change: Idea of devolving responsibility for management of royal lands to sheriff = "inherited from the AS kings" (Huscroft). o More compact estates (not scattered around country), akin to Normandy. E.g. whole county of Cheshire ? one lord (sensitive). Studied by Robin Fleming (spare territories lumped together under one lord). o Shifts in the teneurial system:
George Garnett's key argument: "the most potent and neglected consequence of the Conquest".
? "The Norman Conquest... gave rise to the unique role of the king in England" (Emma Mason).
? New system centred on William's claim to be the direct inheritor of EtC.
? Other tenures based on this relationship.
? Undermined longstanding agreements based on inheritance.
? Rights of lords also changed - e.g. if a tenant died leaving an underage son, lord gained wardship.
? Emphasised dependency on king.
? 'Everything, divine and human alike, waited on his nod' (Eadmer).
? Before the Conquest, men would often swear oaths of loyalty that didn't depend on land holding. DID THE NORMANS BRING FEUDALISM TO ENGLAND?
o Thomas highlights the controversy over what exactly constitutes feudalism.
? Term came from early modern lawyers' description of certain types of land tenure.
? Some, like Adam Smith and Karl Marx, apply it to the relation between lords and peasants.
? Some use it to describe relations among the upper classes (e.g. holding land from king in return for military service).
? Richardson and Sayles described feudal and feudalism as one of 'the most regrettable coinages ever put into circulation to debase the language of historians'. o Norman military changes did contribute to a more feudal system.
? R Allen Brown emphasises this.
? More connection between military service and landholding - because so much land had been seized from the English; also most new lords settled with their military followers.
? Samuel Thorne and S F C Milson also emphasise importance of service: say was like tenure at a university (based on life holding as long as you do job).
? More systematic king-lord-tenant pyramid, because of destruction of old aristocracy.
? Quota system/Honors - lands held directly by a noble. Each honor had a quota of knights, which would be owed to the king. Also non-military functions - lords would hold courts held by the vassals in their honor.?
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