Conquered England: Kingship, Succession, and Tenure, 1066-1166

By George Garnett | Go to book overview

I
The Justification of the Conquest

The louder just law was talked about, the more unlawful things were done.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (E) s.a. 1086

When iniquity reigns, it most often veils its greed under the pretext of
avenging crime, condemning the innocent man to punishment in order to
confiscate his possessions.

William of Poitiers, Gesta Guillelmi1


MAKING A KING: FROM RECOGNITION TO
CONSECRATION

The author of the D manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was almost certainly a member of Archbishop Ealdred of York’s household.2 He was, therefore, probably at the centre of events during 1066, and his testimony deserves to be weighed very seriously. In the annal for that year he describes the submissions of many of the most important surviving members of the English nobility, beginning with Archbishop Ealdred, to Duke William of Normandy at Berkhamsted. These submissions, he reports, followed widespread ravaging by the invading army in the wake of the English defeat at Hastings, and the subsequent, doomed attempt, in which Archbishop Ealdred also appears to have taken a leading role, to make Eadgar ætheling, Edward the Confessor’s nephew, king. The chronicler laments their having taken so long to bow to the inevitable: ‘they submitted out of necessity, after most of the damage had been done—and it was a great folly that they had not done so earlier, since God would not make things better, because of our sins.’ Thereby he seems to imply that the devastation of the countryside could have been ended much sooner if only the English had submitted to the new ruler inflicted as a punishment by God. He continued: ‘they gave hostages and swore oaths to him, and he promised them that he would be a faithful lord (hold hlaford) to them; and yet in the meantime they harried all that they overran.’3 The

1GG158.

2 P. Wormald, How Do We Know So Much About Anglo-Saxon Deerhurst?, Deerhurst Lecture (1991).

3 Cf. JW ii. 606, which draws on a text very close to that of D. For a less emotive assessment, see F. Baring, ‘The Conquerors Footprints in Domesday’, EHR xiii (1898), 17–25.

-1-

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Conquered England: Kingship, Succession, and Tenure, 1066-1166
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • I - The Justification of the Conquest 1
  • II - The King as An Anomaly 45
  • III - The Problem of Interregnum 136
  • IV - The Problem Solved 262
  • Afterthoughts 353
  • Bibliography 360
  • Index 379
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