Political History of England Under the Normans

The Norman Conquest www.bl.uk In 1066, the Normans invaded England. It was an event that was to transform the English language forever.

The Norman Conquest
In 1066, the Normans invaded England. It was an event that was to transform the English language forever.

The French influence upon England and its culture lasted some 300 years, creating changes in the political, social and cultural realms. 

Politically, England saw an acceleration of a “united” England and a spirit of nationalism. The acceptance of a centralized language and literature style sped up this process. The period also saw closer association with the Continent, a manipulation of England’s legal and governmental systems to reflect more localized control, and a great influence in the king’s power and the feudal system. 

Socially and cultural, a code of chivalry developed. There was an exaltation of women and a sense of religious ardor, bordering on mysticism. Normans introduced a different style of architecture and the control of literary English.

Essential Norman Conquest - An interactive day-by-day retelling of ... www.essentialnormanconquest.com

Essential Norman Conquest – An interactive day-by-day retelling of …

William of Normandy’s two sons followed his time on the throne. With the death of the second of those sons (Henry I), the country fell into a period of civil war and anarchy, which did not end until the accession of the Angevin Henry II in 1154. 

William and his wife Matilda of Flanders had at least nine children. The birth order of the boys is clear, but no source gives the relative order of birth of the daughters.

**Robert was born between 1051 and 1054, died 10 February 1134. Duke of Normandy, married Sybil of Conversano, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversano.
**Richard was born before 1056, died around 1075.
**William was born between 1056 and 1060, died 2 August 1100. King of England, killed in the New Forest.
**Henry was born in late 1068, died 1 December 1135. King of England, married Edith of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. His second wife was Adeliza of Louvain.
**Adeliza (or Adelida, Adelaide) died before 1113, reportedly betrothed to Harold II of England, probably a nun of Saint Léger at Préaux.
**Cecilia (or Cecily) was born before 1066, died 1127, Abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen.
**Matilda was born around 1061, died perhaps about 1086. Mentioned in Domesday Book as a daughter of William.
**Constance died 1090, married Alan IV Fergent, Duke of Brittany.
**Adela died 1137, married Stephen, Count of Blois.
**(Possibly) Agatha, the betrothed of Alfonso VI of León and Castile. (Wikipedia)

Of the two sons who followed William I to the throne, William II was named his father’s heir in place of Robert (the eldest son), who received the Duchy of Normandy. William II accedes to the throne in 1087. He successfully squashed a baronial rebellion in Normandy (led by his uncle, Odo of Byeux, who supported Robert’s claim to the throne) in 1088 and withstood two invasion attempts (1091 and again in 1093) by Malcolm III of Scotland. During his reign, the Normans capture Carlisle from Scotland and Cumberland is annexed. William II suppressed a revolt in Northumbria in 1095 and a Welsh rebellion in 1098. He was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest in 1100, although many suggest his brother Henry had William murdered. 

Henry I came to the throne with William II’s death. He ruled for 35 years. During his reign, England saw many important reforms. The King’s Council to settle disputes between the Crown and its tenants came into use. Upon coming to the throne, Henry issued a Charter of Liberties, which was a pledge of good governance. In 1101, he defeats his brother Robert’s attempt to steal the throne, forcing Robert to sign the Treaty of Alton. Even with the treaty, Henry must again face his brother in 1106. Robert was defeated at the Battle of Tinchebrai. Henry has his brother imprisoned in Cardiff Castle and assumes control of Normandy. With the death of his son and heir, William, Henry persuades the barons to accept his daughter Matilda as the successor. He died of food poisoning in 1135. 

On Henry I’s death, Stephen usurped the throne from Matilda, and a period of civil war ensued. This unrest continued until Henry of Anjou convinced the barons to recognize his claim to the throne in 1153.

“The towns of England commended their phenomenal growth, which was abetted by the financial needs of Richard I (1189-99) in going on the Third Crusade. Under John (1199-1216), a weak and vicious king, the long-drawn conflict between nobles and King reached a high pitch. The victory of the nobles bore fruit in the most noted of English constitutional documents, the Magna Carta (1215). This marked a striking step forward in the development of Parliament, which was to grow steadily in power. The baronial wars continued under Henry III (1216-1272), with a great popular leader rising in Simon de Montfort. 

“The conquest of Ireland was attempted by Richard de Clare. Attempts to force English control upon Scotland and Wales began in Saxon times, but conquest was not systematically attempted until Edward I (1271-1307) mdd a determined but unsuccessful attempt. This king is known as the English Justinian because of his expansion and reform of England’s courts and laws.” (History of English Literature: Part I – Early Saxon Through Milton, Hymarx Outline Series, Boston, MA)

During the Anglo-Norman era, the English people saw: (1) internal quarrels diminish: (2) an increase in taxes; (3) a well-organized government; (4) a stronger tie to the Continent and its culture; (5) a sense of nationalism; (6) a feudal system in which the lords of the land supplied the King his army [These lords met three times a year to advise the King in the implementation of new laws.]; (7) the use of Latin in written laws and records, while French was the language of the court; (8) the rise of chivalry; and (9) the rise of new monastic orders

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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7 Responses to Political History of England Under the Normans

  1. I recall years ago there was a school of thought that King John by default did much more good for England the Richard. Richard bled the country dry to pursue his crusades, John by losing the continental lands brought the focus more fair and squarely on England as the premier home not France Normandy Anjou.

    I personally have always had a dislike of Richard and a bit of a soft spot for John

    • I am always interested in your perspective, Mr. Smith. (BTW, glad you are in better health) I recall your mentioning your dislike for Richard previously. With this posts, I am attempting to revisit much of what I learned in my advanced degrees and renewing my love for British history.

      • Am I in the dog house Jeffers? Mister S? 😦

        There’s not much that can be said about Richard that is good; Hitler would surely have approved of him, as do movie producers and directors and of course Robin Hood. 🙄

      • Never in the proverbial dog house, Smith. Just being polite and welcoming you “formally” back to the world of the semi-healthy… (Gotta love old age!)

  2. By the bye I must admit that this period in ENGLISH history is my favourite,

    The Plantagenets were a bloodthirsty lot but there is no doubt to my mind that they set England on the right path to become the greatest nation this world has ever seen or is likely to see.

    And such a tiny country at that!

    Says he bowing his head in shame.

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