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Causes Of Frontier Disputes During William The Conqueror's Reign

1565 words - 7 pages

To what extent were family disputes within William the Conqueror’s family the main cause of frontier disputes from 1066-1100?

Frontier disputes were an occurrence that plagued the Norman rule of England throughout both William the First and his son William the Second’s reign. With the forces of Malcolm III, King of Scots encroaching upon Northumbria in the north eastern border and Cumbria in the west, and with Norman authority collapsing in Normandy, we see a pair of English Kings run ragged, marching up and down the country, over the English Channel and back again in a desperate attempt to consolidate their rule and affirm superiority in a cross channel government. But with twice the ...view middle of the document...

Firstly however, see how through divisions in the royal family, in multiple generations, led to disputes on the Norman frontiers. In 1056, William the Conqueror rode out to conquer Maine, in which he was successful, passing lordship of the land onto his son Robert. Robert received homage from the barons of France, and was widely recognised as William’s successor. However, Robert’s ambition and zeal for power made his father wary, as William was not prepared to hand off so much influence to his son. This drove Robert to distance himself from his brothers; William, Richard and Henry, and during a campaign in France, Robert left with his own force and began to associate himself with the King of France, Philip I, who armed Robert and put it upon him to harass the lands of Eastern Normandy. The domestic unrest therefore leads Robert himself to join with the French rebels, whom his father was fighting to keep at bay, increasing the profile of the rebel’s movements and attracting more potential followers. These troubles were rested after a clash of Robert and his father’s forces in 1079, but it proved in the long term to raise the rebel’s reputation in France. However, it should be remembered that only in France were these effects seen, so the familial friction did only seem to present minor, and isolated cases of insurrection. Moving on, discord within the family again raises issues of dispute on the frontiers as is seen after William II’s rise to throne. William Rufus and Robert begin a back and forth of truce making and discontent. One of the main problems this leads on to is that it allows Malcolm III, King of Scots to raid as far down south as Chester le-Street, while Robert and Rufus are busy coming to terms of agreement and disagreement with each other all the way over in Normandy. We see again in 1094-1095, when Rufus crosses the channel to fight once again with Robert in Normandy, how the Welsh clans fight and work to slowly take back the lands the Normans had established, undoing the in-roads they had made into native independent Welsh land, leading to further clashes on the Norman fronts. The clashes between the two brothers were reversing all the work they had put in to consolidating their lands and boundaries. See how this leads to disputes on the Norman frontiers. However, the long distance geographical factor plays well in to this situation as well. Had the two brothers both been rooted in the English capital throughout these troubles rather than chasing after each other, they could of dealt with the problem more efficiently and not allowed the forces of the welsh or Scottish to take advantage. Again, the main reason for frontier disputes comes back to William Rufus struggling frantically to maintain a cross channel government. While indeed the foundations of the family were not solid, the point of geographic displacement due to William’s willingness to maintain the cross channel government must be factored in to have a complete...

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