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History Notes > History of the British Isles II: 1042-1330 Notes

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Commentary 1042-1330 Introduction

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1016 - interruption of Wessex succession by Cnut
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1066 and Normans brought contested successions

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New cross-Channel aristocracy - importance of Normandy

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Ruling elite of about 2,000 men

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Kept many Anglo-Saxon systems -> continuity and absenteeism Conquest

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Continental issues - Anjou and Gascony

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1224 - Gascony was only remaining foreign land

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1259 - Treaty of Paris -> Henry III gave up claims to previous duchies and paid homage to Louis IX for Gascony

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'English' kingship

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1276-84 effort to gain control of north Wales
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1284 - Statute of Wales -> became 'part and parcel of the body of our crown and kingdom'

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New shires such as Caernarfon

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Introduction of English common law

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Edward I built ring of castles around Gwynedd

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1210-1394 no English king visited Ireland

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Ireland was asset-stripped - this and declining ability to extract led to revenue of 1318 being 1/3 of what it had been under Edward I ->
contraction of English rule to the Pale around Dublin

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Assertions of superior lordship -> 'auld alliance' between Scotland and France
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1314 success of Scots at Bannockburn Finance

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1277-1301 at least PS75k spent on castle-building in Wales

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Inflation -> increased costs while decreasing traditional revenues

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More important development of war - new taxation of personal property ->
need for consent
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New form of tax first used in 1166 - Holy Land

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1207 - thirteenth produced PS60k

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Richard FitzNeal, bishop of London and Treasurer of England said in The Dialogue of the Exchequer that 'the power of princes fluctuates according to the ebb and flow of their cash resources'

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John seemed to be at pinnacle of power until Bouvines

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Success of Anglo-Saxon administration and new financial exactions ->
bureaucratic developments
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Establishment of permanent royal treasury at Winchester by 1066
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1110 - earliest reference to exchequer
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Mid 1190s - first national customs system

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Gerald of Wales - king is 'a robber permanently on the prowl, always probing, always looking for the weak spot where there is something for him to steal'

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1258 - major complaint against Henry III's taxation

Parliament

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1259 Provisions of Westminster - one of the earliest references
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Reliable elected men meeting 3 times a year - not put in place

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1214 -> lack of warfare to justify taxation
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1250s - Commons given greater role

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Unprecedented taxation in 1290s
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Magnates only agreed 'insofar as they were entitled to'

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1297 - maltolt

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Redeployment of Magna Carta in 1297 and 1300 -> no further tax levied 'except by the common consent of all the realm and for the common profit of the said realm'

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1290-1330 crucial for development of parliament - new emphasis towards common consent
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Arguably longer struggle from 12th century - widespread resistance to arbitrary royal power

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1327 -> meetings of magnates and prelates were not referred to as parliaments

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Can argue for 'public sphere' from 12th century - came to fore in 14th
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Greater participation, regulation of royal power and diffusion of written word Writs

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Anglo-Saxon - 2,000 surviving writs and charters

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13th century - tens of thousand Clanchy - From Memory to Written Record => literate mentality of same importance as printing press

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1199 - chancery clerks began to systematically keep copies

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Domesday Book and Magna Carta - participation in literacy
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Control and expression with background of 12th century Renaissance

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Seals and charters - codification of traditional rights and customs
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Enserfed around 1/2 population - yet preserved customary rights

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Arguably defined feudal services - reinforced by castles Feudalism

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Important use of written word and royal seal - verifiable, repeatable and widespread

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Chancery writs began to take set form - 'unless you do this, my sheriffs shall have it done so that I hear no further complaint for lack of justice'

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Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - describes presentation of Domesday Book to William where 'all landholding men who were of any account over all England, whatsoever men they were' paid homage to him

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Late 12th century - undertenants gained the writs of rectum, praecipe and possessory assizes such as mort d'ancestor

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'Norman yoke' had multiple advantages for freemen

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Magna Carta cap. 39 - 'no free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land'
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Already the case for vassals who could in theory appeal to king's court - yet may not happen -> need for this clause

Common Law

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Cnut's law codes

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Legal development of Henry II's reign - with administrative centralisation and documentation

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Treatises - Glanvill and Bracton

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Abandonment of compensatory system

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Glanvill - 'no one is bound to answer in his lord's court for any free tenement of his without an order from the king or his chief justiciar'

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2nd principle was that in criminal cases the king had jurisdiction over everybody

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King claimed inheritance to whole land - important for descent of property, law enforcement and legal position of women

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Primogeniture
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Division for female heirs - overall reduced rights

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Constitutions of Clarendon 1164 - beginning of law reform
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Criminous clerks and removal of compurgation for many felonies

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1166 - emergence of the general eyre
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Formalised Norman ad hoc commissions - could judge omnia placita
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Eventually replaced in 1294 => trailbaston commissions Religion

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Under papal banner

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William of Malmesbury - 'by their arrival in England they revived the observance of religion which had grown lifeless. Everywhere you see churches in villages and monasteries in towns and cities, erected in a new style of architecture'

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Parish churches dated from Anglo-Saxon times but were reinvigorated

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Sharper delineation between secular lords and clergy - yet were interconnected
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Lanfranc and Anselm initiated a programme of Gregorian Reform ->
arguably led to immense conflict

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Archbishops of Canterbury - clerical celibacy and libertas ecclesiae

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1107 - Concordat of London
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Henry I partially acceded to Anselm and lay investiture

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Issue of homage and jurisdiction would continue until after 1170 Monasteries

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1066 - 50 houses

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1216 - approximately 700

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Prayed for community or particular patrons and were sites of relics

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More vernacular writings than Norman 'aliens'

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Patronage and conspicuous consumption

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1208-13 lack of major protest at papal interdict
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Atheism or reliance on the saints?

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Amulets, springs and pilgrimages Economy

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Underdeveloped in comparison to later developments

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William's chaplain - a land 'fertile by virtue of its own fecundity, the wealth of which merchants have increased by bringing in riches. Treasures have been amassed there which are remarkable for their number, their quality and their workmanship' Population - 2 million to nearly 5 million by the end of the 13th century Peasants raised area under cultivation by an estimated 1 million acres by 1300
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Moderated 2 field systems - 'inhocs' or a 3 field system Population growth and severe famine at end of the period -> inflation
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Yet for some was a period of 'high farming' -> profits Move towards a commercial economy and urbanisation - England and to a lesser extent Ireland Late 11th century - more than 100 towns
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Only about 20 over 2k 1300 - 700 towns
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Around 50 had populations over 2k
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Yet others had less than 2,000 Urban population proportion rose from 1/10 to 1/5
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Urbanisation Gillingham v. Britnell Was a tripling of the population yet still important developments in trade and communications

Culture

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Further connected to the Continent - away from Scandinavia

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Chivalry - clemency, generosity and loyalty -> less executions and deaths
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Very few nobles were killed - not below this group

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Henry I refused to imprison the child, William Clito

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Chivalry and self-interest - Ranulf, Earl of Chester and Robert, Earl of Leicester made a 'treaty' to minimise disruption -> showed cooperation

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Chivalry brought gendered views of women for upper class
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Others may have had more freedom than in 15th and 16th centuries
- treated the same as men in work

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Urban - ale production, trade and guilds

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Coverture - legal rights passed to husbands and independence required patrimonial consent

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Defamation - Coventry legislated that no single woman was to be allowed to live alone

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Greatest freedom for women in lowest group of society - economic considerations outweighed societal values Nationalism

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Chivalry, romanesque architecture and nationalism

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Ending of cross-Channel connections at start of John's reign

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13th century political force - rebel barons wanted castles in hands of 'faithful men, natives of the kingdom of England'
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Ladies should not be married 'to men who are not of the nation of the kingdom of England'

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Song of Lewes celebrates barons' victory in 1264 - says king intended to supplant the viros naturales with aliens

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1296 -English official said that 'the Welsh are Welsh'

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1350s - Irish petition states that 'since the conquest there have been 2 kinds of people in Ireland and there still are, the English and the Irish' Growth of ideas of the 'English' and imperialism

'Merely the replacement of one ruling elite by another'. Does this seriously underestimate the effects of the Norman Conquest?

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Introduction

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Change in dynasty and aristocracy - similar to Cnut in 1018

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Aim of continuity and stability as legitimate heir - continued patronage to Edgar aetheling and earls Edwin and Morcar

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1068-70 rebellions -> elimination of the Old English aristocracy
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More than 4k thegns replaced by less than 200 barons +
~100 religious foundations holding 3/4 land + wealth in upper society

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'Tenurial revolution' and 'growth of feudalism' - can obscure continuity

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Could look at effect on Normandy - law from England?

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Not mere replacement - were socio-political reforms

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Few major colonial changes to law, finance, provincial control and religion Pragmatic use of English structures -> limited change Powicke and Golding - continuity

Castles

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Motte and bailey

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Several in time of Edward the Confessor

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By 1087 there were as many as 500 - difficult to find evidence

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1067 - Norwich

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1068 - Exeter

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Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1066 - Odo of Bayeux and William Fitz Osbern 'built castles far and wide throughout the land, oppressing the wretched people and things went continually from bad to worse'

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Orderic Vitalis - 'petty lords who were guarding the castles oppressed all the native inhabitants'

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Colonised through castles - not centralised royal power but local lords

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Tenure and homage

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Designated heir - only in writings of Normans such as William of Poitiers

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William - at death called England an acquisition

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Bequeathed like a chattel or piece of land - most land in Normandy was allodial -> not held from the Duke

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England was now terra regis - unlike Anglo-Saxon thegns, all magnates now held from the king -> were granted fiefs
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George Garnett - revolutionary change in nature of tenure and lordship => landholders rather than landowners
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George Garnett - no longer landowners but landholders

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Long term importance - subject to exploitation and fines

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Gradual development of force of lordship in the 12th century Personal and tenurial lordship became one consequences throughout society => exploitation

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Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - even those English lords who had owned land now had to redeem it and pay homage to the king
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Domesday Book - invasores and terrae occupatae Also laid claim to ecclesiastical land
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Eadmer - no one could become a bishop or an abbot 'without first becoming the king's man' Ceremonial presentation of Domesday Survey to William on 1 August 1086
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Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - 'all landholding men who were of any account over all England, whatsoever men they were' paid homage to him -> most important ceremony apart from the liturgy

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Did it determine politics?

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'Feudalism'

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Importation from Normandy? - innovation or Anglo-Saxon continuity?

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'Norman yoke' - myth of feudalism

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Lord's dependants were tenants and paid rent in many forms long before 1066 - dependency

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Georges Duby - autonomous private lords + fragmentation of state in Maconnais region of Burgundy
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No particular hierarchy - control over areas of land
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Yet pre-Conquest England is not like this system - shire courts
+ royally appointed officials

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Lack of possibility of private lordships and armed power Stephen Baxter - unlike Duby, matters a great deal who the king is
=> source of patronage, offices + land

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Frank Stenton - importance of tightening of bonds of lordship=>
explicit obligations, hierarchy + land law
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Different from Duby
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Importance of terra regis - linked with George Garnett's work
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Aspects of Norman innovation + AS continuity

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Cannot argue for more precise definition - lack of evidence and entities such as the Anglo-Saxon knight and the 'thegn' or retainer were existent in 1066 Not Norman customs but king's assertion of overlordship over people and land that was important - tenurial revolution and social change were concomitant with replacement of ruling elites Important ties of fealty, homage and investiture
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Bound whole social hierarchy together

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