What was the impact of the Norman Conquest?
With the Norman Conquest there certainly came change, impacting certain areas of government and society, some clear and some more superficial, yet despite this there was underlying continuity from the Anglo Saxon era in other areas. There was clear change in areas such as the military, geopolitics, land tenure and social life under the Normans took on a different pattern. The underlying continuity can be seen in the administration system, justice and religion. Indeed it could be argued that this underlying continuity ensured that the potentially revolutionary change remained evolutionary.
The social life of the vast majority of the ...view middle of the document...
The crime for not paying was vicious mutilation, blinding and even death. Evidently this was very unpopular with the English population, and it led to the emergence of Robin Hood stories of men who defied the king and his forest laws. As well as this the sporadic rebellions which occurred throughout the country and the development of stories of heroes such as “Hereward the Wake” who defeated the Norman aristocracy were practical manifestations of this increased unpopularity for the King.
These social changes were a direct result of William’s personality and policies, so it can be safe to say that it is unlikely that these changes would have emerged without a conquest. Of course some changes in other areas would have emerged had the conquest come about or not, as Anglo-Saxon England was already shaping itself in a continental fashion before the arrival of the Norman. This is shown in areas such as the administration system with the emergence of the exchequer and the abacus, which were Chinese exports. However this social change does seem to be a direct cause of the conquest and it could be said that the conquest significantly altered the path of English social evolution.
Another important change which was initiated by the Normans rather than already developing in the Anglo-Saxon era was that of geopolitics. With the Normans the North of England became less insular and more integrated into the rest of the nation than in Anglo-Saxon times. Indeed the Harrying of the North would have played a key role in this Northern integration. As well as this there was a movement away from Scandinavia in military and economic importance. Scandinavia did still pose a threat militarily but less so than in Anglo-Saxon times, with the introduction of castles, warding off potential invaders. England became more involved in French conflicts rather than Scandinavian ones. Economically vast swathes of trade would have been received from Scandinavia pre conquest in materials such as blubber. However this trade focus turned to France in the hundreds of years after the conquest. Without these Norman connections, which came with the conquest, facilitating trade, it is fair to say that the development of French trade connections, although it could have possibly emerged independent from any Norman influence would have occurred much more slowly.
The Normans brought two major changes to military life, the most important being the development of castles. As many castles dotted up throughout the country after the Norman’s invaded, they fulfilled some important roles. One of these was to ward off any potential invasions. An invader would now have to split up his troops to deal with these castles, which could withhold sieges facing up to one thousand men, when they themselves only had one hundred men inside the castle. The invader would have to send off thousands of troops to deal with the castle, so that by the time the forces reached the open battle stage, the...