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The Effect of the Norman Conquest

Though being opposed by Anglo-Saxon, the Norman Conquest brought certain progress into their lives. The Normans strengthened and organised the feudal system of Anglo-Saxon society. As England was conquered within a few years and the political institutions were imposed by the conquerors, the system reached high regularity and completeness.

The state organisation was built around the power of the King, who owned the land and was stronger than any baron. Private wars between nobles were prohibited, private armies and the Crown watched castles. These peculiarities of feudalism contributed to the development of state, which began to make early progress.

Norman Conquest greatly changed the life of English people. Though a great number of towns appeared in the country, most people lived in villages. In villages village communities developed into the feudal manor.

Free peasants — yeomen and unfreeze peasants-villeins were obliged to pay various duties to the lord. Villeins could not leave the manor, even if the manor was given or sold to another lord.

The open field system was still practised, but villains had to pay large dues to the landlord. Villeins had to perform week-work or corvee-work on lord's fields. Villeins had no right to cut their own corn until the lord's harvest was reaped. Church became the centre of the village life. It held religious services and sometimes was even used as a storehouse or a prison. In times of danger church, as the strongest building of the village, was used as a fortress.



The largest dwelling in the village belonged to the lord and was called the manor house. In the hall of the manor house the lord's court was held once a fortnight, there all disputes and quarrels were settled. In the lord's absence his manager, or Stewart, looked after the estate and acted as judge. Villeins and freeholders were subject to trial by the lord's court.

The other class of peasants made cottars, some of them were free, others were serfs. Cottars possessed very small huts called cottages and worked as herdsmen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and so on.

Task 4.Speak about the changes in the life of the Anglo-Saxons using the picture. Compare it to the life before the Norman invasion.

Task 5. Answer the following questions.

1.Why did William, the Duke of Normandy decided to get the English crown?

2.Why did European warriors agree to support William's crusade?

3.Why did William scatter the lands of his vassals?

4 What institutions were preserved in England after the Norman Conquest?

5.What institution replaced the Witenagemot? What fiinctions did it perform?

6.What was Doomsday Book devised for?

7.How did Henry I give England peace and unity?

8.What was the effect of the Norman Conquest?

9.How did English feudalism, established by the Normans, differ from European feudalism?


Task 6. Historical consequences. The Norman Conquest. Match two statements from columns A and B into a compound sentence with a conjunction "so".


1. Edward the Confessor was brought up in Normandy a) a strong state machine was created
2. William as the King of England and Duke of Normandy, preserved his lands in France b) the monks and counsellors brought with the King prepared ground for the Norman conquest
3. The Norman kings established strong centralised state in England c) none of the barons was so strong as to fight with the King
4. The barons' lands were scattered throughout the country d) the development of the English state was unique in Europe as the state power was greater than the power of feudal nobility
5. The Norman conquerors tried to defend their privileges e) the rivalry between English and French kings lasted for more than 400 years

Task 7. Vocabulary development. Discus the meanings of derivatives and complete the sentences.

1) feud (fee), feudal, feudalism

a)__ system was based on the system of tenancy — the King granted

his vassals_ of land.

b)__ is an estate in land.

c)__ in England was marked by strong king's power.

2) villein (villain), villeinage, villein-socage

a)_____ Any had to work on the lord's land four of five days a week,

__ could vary in different places.

b)___________ The peasants in couldn't leave the village even if it was sold

or given to another lord.

3) tenant, tenancy, tenantry

a) The land in__________ can't be taken away from the till the end

of the established terms.

b)___________________ The tenant land is often called .

4) vassal, vassalage

a)King granted land to the barons, who became King's .

b)The barons, who held land in , had to protect the King from

his foes.

Crusade, crusader

a)____________ William gathered from all over Europe to punish the oath


b)Richard the Lionhearted spent more time in than in his home


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