The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216

By Frank Barlow | Go to book overview

7
SOCIAL CHANGES IN ENGLAND

I

A NEW era seems to begin with the reign of Henry II. The recuperation and rapid growth of the royal institutions, the development of the kingdom as a coherent unit within a mighty assembly of fiefs and honours, the renaissance of historical writing and the beginning of systematic records, and the greater sophistication of society, which appear under the Angevins, all dazzle after the 'nineteen long winters' of Stephen's rule. But this turbulent reign should not be denied its share of the glory. The civil disorder had in part been due to, and certainly had greatly encouraged, a vigorous sectional and local growth, which, when here pruned and there forced, transformed the texture of medieval life.

The reigns of Henry I and Stephen are often seen merely as in contrast. But it is also possible to regard them as forming a wholeas a bridge between the old world and the new. Few leading characters overlap, and fewer have the same influence on either side. Moreover, most of the notables have the contradictory attributes of men conscious of change: Anselm, the monkish theologian disturbed by new attitudes of mind: the Cluniac Henry of Winchester, a prince-bishop of the old school, but a passionate defender of clerical freedom: Theobald, the last archbishop taken from le Bec, yet collecting round him students of the modern philosophy and jurisprudence: Robert of Gloucester, a conservative feudal magnate but also a patron of the arts. For the church it was an age of intellectual and emotional disturbance, an age of strain. For the baronage it was the hey-day of chivalry. For the merchants it was a period of expansion, of new hopes, new ambitions. For the English people as a

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The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introductory Note v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Maps and Charts xii
  • I - England in the Reign of Edward the Confessor 1
  • 2 - The Reign of Edward the Confessor 55
  • 3 - The Norman Conquest of England 77
  • 4 - The Anglo-Norman Kingdom 100
  • 5 England and Normandy, 1066-1100 137
  • 6 - The Zenith and the Nadir of Norman Rule, 1100-1154 171
  • 7 - Social Changes in England 235
  • 8 - The Re-Establishment of the Monarchy Under Henry II 283
  • 9 - The Angevin Empire 331
  • 10 - The Angevin Despotism 375
  • Epilogue 436
  • Note on Books 442
  • Index 445
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