England under the Normans and Angevins, 1066-1272

By H. W. C. Davis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
THE REORGANISATION OF ENGLAND

WITH the year 1072 we enter upon the second stage of William's reign. The next fifteen years were, for England, comparatively peaceful; the events which mark them are for the most part events on a foreign soil, the results of a continental policy which, although Norman in its origin and objects, depended upon the resources of England for success and had the effect of making England a member of the European system. These events, small in themselves, but prophetic of the future and eloquent of the change in England's relations with the surrounding world, must be noticed in their place. But first it will be well to describe the steps by which, in the course of these fifteen years, the State, the Church, and the relations of the two, were transformed to suit the ideas of William and his councillors; and to give some idea of the new order of things which ensued from the grafting of Norman ideals upon English traditions, of feudal upon Anglo-Saxon law. William was no legislator. The law-book known as the Lois de Guillaume is a late and unauthorised compilation of customs collected from all kinds of sources.1 The authentic Leges, when stripped of later accretions, are neither numerous nor important except as indications of a larger policy. The most significant of them was a statement of the King's conservative intentions in respect of private law: "I command that all men have and hold the law of Eadward with those additions which I have ordained for the advantage of the English people".2 Beyond these we have only an ordinance separating the spiritual from the secular law-courts,3

Character of Williams Measures

____________________
1
Matzke Lois de Guillaume, p. lii.
2
Select Charters, p. 84. This version of the Leges, from the Textus Roffensis, is more authentic than the longer version which is printed in the Foedera from the Red Book of the Exchequer.
3
Select Charters, p. 85. Probably of the year 1076 ( Böhmer, Kirche und Staat, p. 92).

-30-

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