1066, The Norman Conquest Of England

959 words - 4 pages

England...'was a farming country, land was its absorbing interest; andoriginally plots of land had been owned outright by the men who settled andcleared them, and inherited by their children. But such independent farmershad no defense against the Viking raids, or resources to tide them over disasterslike cattle sickness, a series of bad harvests, fire or storm. In the course of time,almost every man in the country had attached himself by mutual promises tosomebody more powerful, who could help to protect him and his family in timesof stress. Small landowners had surrendered the nominal ownership of theirland to their protectors - who in turn held the land in duty to somebody higher.This evolution has often been called a loss of freedom, and so it was; butabsolute personal freedom had come to be, as perhaps it has always been, adangerous illusion. Its loss was really a gain; the acceptance of the duties andmutual support of a social system, the end of anarchy'(13-14).The first paragraph sums up the life of the commoners in England andalso very similar to Normandy. Both countries were very much alike but yetdistinct in their own subtle ways. In my essay I will discuss the similaritiesand differences between Anglo-Saxon England and Normandy including theirfeudal system. I will also compare and contrast Harold of England and Williamthe Conqueror as portrayed in 1066.England and Normandy had very similar feudal system. In both systems'everyone held his plot of land in duty to someone higher' (61). The English hadserfs and the Normans had peasants at the very bottom. They were the workers(slaves) that grew the crops and took care of the land for the upper class. TheNormans had lords and barons in the middle class and the English had thanesand earls. These people were responsible for collecting money andadministering their plots of land they controlled. In return the promised toprotect the people from Vikings, and other enemies. In England earls controlledlarge amounts of territory and paid tribute to the King of England. Normanshad the Duke who was in charge of the Dukedom.For two countries so similar they had many differences. England wasn'tvery fortified. Its main protection was against robbers and wild animals not forinvading armies; 'but in Normandy every...baron had his castle'(61-62) toprotect them from invasions from enemies. The English were a more democraticpeople while the Normans were more autocratic. In England the people believedthat everyone including the King was accountable to English Law, but it was thenot so in Normandy. England itself was a more peaceful place than Normandy.It was always being ravaged by wars from Barons who declared sovereigntyfrom the Duke. Normans craved fighting and were always looking for someplace to plunder for fun. They had knights in Normandy who were trained tofight wars. They had no loyalty to anyone just to money and plunder....

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