England under the Normans and Angevins, 1066-1272

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

PREFACE

THE period of English history which is covered by the present volume possesses a distinctive character and unity. With the Norman Conquest the nation passes at one bound from the Dark into the Middle Age; the death of Henry III. marks the moment of transition from the first to the second stage of our medieval history, from the inventive and experimental era to that of consolidation and completion. The years 1066-1272 witnessed the beginning and the end of some remarkable developments; the creation of English Feudalism, the rejuvenation of the English Church, the decisive conflicts of Church and Feudalism with the State. They also witnessed the trial and failure of autocracy at home, and in foreign policy of a premature imperialism. The common law and the royal courts of justice were created; the principle of representative government gained general recognition. Behind all these developments we can trace the progress of another and a wider movement in which they are but episodes. It is not, as Thierry asks us to believe, a duel between two races. It is much rather a struggle of native against foreign ambitions and ideas; a struggle of which the influence

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