Norman Conquest
- Three contenders for English throne in 1066 
        Harold Godwinson
        William, Duke of Normany
- Harold declared king by Witan
- William and 5000 Norman vassals invaded England.
- Harold's brother, allied with King of Norway, invaded England
- Harold's troops defeated Norwegians, marched 250 miles south, and faced Normans
- Harold killed at Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066)
- William accepted by Witan and crowned King of English

Norman Innovations
Nobles lived in castles
    - protected owners against A-S and other Norman nobles
    - built first of wood, then of stone in motte and bailey design
        keep or fortified tower built on motte (main defensive bastion)
        moat often encircled castle 
        bailey was walled courtyard containing stables, stores, workshops, housing

Normans employed armored knights on horseback (the tank of the Middle Ages)
    - knight’s equipment: iron helmet, chain mail, lance, shield, sword, mace
    - rode on charger, horse equipped with special saddle, iron horseshoes, stirrups

- was social organization designed to support cavalry
    Normans paid for castles and knights with income from land worked by serfs
    Land called fief or feudum
- after Conquest William granted fiefs (baronies) to c. 170 knights (barons) who became his vassals (tenants-in-chief)
    vassals expected to provide military service and to pay feudal dues.
    pledged submission and loyalty to lord (homage and fealty)
    lord promised to protect and support vassal
- tenants-in-chief raised required contingent of knights by subinfeudation
    settled others on lands in return for military service
    land that could support single knight known as knight's fee  (by the 12th c.
    estate earning £20 annually)
- economic complement was manorialism: land farmed by serfs who provided labor service in return for protection from lord of manor
    Norman Conquest brought fundamental change in nature of land holdings
        in A-S England, folk determined who owned land
        under feudalism, no one owned land except king (liege lord);
        everyone else possessed it
- lord's manor became a political and judicial unit
    at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide king kept court with tenants-in--chief
    tenants-in-chief were William’s main royal administrators
    feudal estates or honors became new unit of government
    tenant-in-chief expected his vassals to attend his honorial court

Norman Yoke?
- Normans blamed for reducing A-S peasants to serfs (villeins)
- Opponents of “Norman Yoke” theory argue slavery died out
- Both increase of serfdom and decrease of slavery stretched back to A-S period
- Life probably changed very little for most peasants

Taxation was higher under Normans
    needed funds to build castles and raise armies
    turned large areas into royal forests
William Rufus (1087-1100) taxed nobles and church as well as peasants
    left church offices vacant and pocketed revenues
    extracted large gifts from bishops and abbots
    got a bad press from the monastic chroniclers; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
    claims he was “hated by almost all his people and was odious to God”

Henry I (1100-1135) was even more efficient/rapacious
    established Court of Exchequer (Europe’s first royal accounting office)
    became wealthiest monarch in Northern Europe
    judged positively by chroniclers: “He did justice and kept the peace.”
Taxes increased under Norman kings, but so too did national wealth
    economic boom lasted through 12th c.
    kings encouraged trade
    peasants benefited from order
Civil War
- Broke out in 1135 following death of Henry I
        only son drowned
        throne promised to daughter Matilda
        throne seized by nephew Stephen
- Stephen amiableand easygoing fellow; reign was disaster
- Nobles took advantage of weakness to seize land and wealth from other nobles and the church and to oppress the peasants.
- Stephen’s reign marked by “Anarchy”
        Chroniclers wrote, “He did no justice.”
Lesson: Nice kings finish last