The Normans

The Normans in Britain

by Mandy Barrow

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William Duke Of Normandy,
King of England

William the Conqueror

Who became the next King of England?

When William won the Battle of Hastings, he earned himself the title 'Conqueror'. He marched to London and was crowned King in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.

In 1067, William started building the Tower of London, the great fortress which demonstrated his power and dominated the city of London.


The Tower of London

The Normans were great builders. Norman lords lived in strong stone castles.

See our Bayeux Tapestry pages for more information on the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings

What happened next?

The Norman victory changed the way in which England was ruled.

Under the Saxons, the earls were often as important as the king, but now the king was firmly in control. He governed the whole country, and his rule was law.

William was used to running a country using the “Feudal System” which involved the King owning everything (land, animals and buildings) and everybody else renting it from him. In practise this meant he rented everything to his Barons in return for them providing him with an army when required. In turn the Barons leased out the land given to them (leased from the King) to local farmers and millers etc

Having conquered England, William wanted to make sure he remained in control of it.

After winning the Battle of Hastings, William set about building a string of castles in strategic areas across the country. Two of his best known being the Tower of London (originally of wood for speed of erection) and Windsor Castle.

Originally the castles th Normans built were wooden towers on earthen 'mottes' (mounds) with a bailey (defensive area) surrounded by earth ramparts, but many were later rebuilt in stone. By the end of William's reign over 80 castles had been built throughout his kingdom, as a permanent reminder of the new Norman feudal order.

Having conquered England, William wanted to know just how much it was worth.

In 1086 he ordered a detailed description to be made. In the words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ' so very thoroughly did he have the enquiry carried out that not even one ox or one cow or one pig escaped notice.' All this information was written down in the Domesday Book.

The Domesday Book was, in effect, the first national census.

doomsday book
The Domesday Book

Thanks to the Domesday Book we know much about England in the eleventh century. It shows, for example, that by 1086, twenty years after the Battle of Hastings, there were hardly any rich landowners of English birth left in England. It was a land ruled by Frenchmen, especially William's favourite Normans.

William the Conquereor died a year later in 1087. Normandy went to his eldest son Robert, and England to his second son William, who became William II, but was known as William Rufus because of his red hair.

The following pages take you on a journey through the Bayeux Tapestry

Contents

The Norman Invasion of England - introduction

Meet the four claimants to the English throne (includes family tree)

The battle of Stamford Bridge

Who was the leader of the Normans?

Who were the Normans? Houses, clothes, food

Where did William fight Harold for the English Throne?
The Battle of Hastings

What happened at the Battle of Hastings?

Who died with an arrow in his eye?

William becomes King - plus Domesday Book info

The Bayeux Tapestry - introduction

What is the Bayeux Tapestry about?

Questions and answers about the Bayeux Tapestry Part one

Questions and answers about the Bayeux Tapestry Part two

Horses | Armour | Shields | Helmets | Weapons

Other websites


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©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.