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Lecture 6

Week 6 Late Saxon England and Norman Conquest.docx

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History 2405E
Kim Luton

Late Anglo-Saxon England P. 84-124 - Introduction: - At Alfreds deat in 899, Wessex was passed to his son Edward the Elder who pursued military campaign against the Danelaw, founding new settlements in the midlands to consolidate their conquests - By 918 all the Danish settlers south of the Humber had submitted to him/death of Ethelfleda lead to the unification of Wessex/Mercia - In 937 a skilled military man named Athelstan, leading a combined military army from wessex/mercia beat out Norse Vikings from Ireland - This helped him to control Yorkshire and reinforced control over Wales. When he died in 939 nearly all of England was under his control - It seems as if an Anglo Saxon kingdom had been born - The Consequences of Political Unification: - The West Saxon Kings were new to north/east England, therefore divisions remained between Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia and the south west - West Saxon emerged as the standard kind of English, but the Danish/Norwegian settlers were still linguistically/culturally separate - Peace/prosperty were brought to England by King Edgar, who made this possible by regaining the northern/eastern England from the Vikings - Edgar organized well trained fleets to guard the coast from potential Viking invasions and was confident enough in his security to allow Danish subjects to live by there own distinct customs - The Monastic Reform Movement: - Viking looters tended to concentrate on destroying monastic foundations, which were wealthy and poorly defended - Patrons would even use the monestary to extract favors in return for protection and kings even tampered with it - A great deal of monastic property fell into the hands of ‘lay’ families - Edgar saw the proper route back to monastic life was getting rid of the laymen/kings influence over monastic life - Old nunneries/monasteries were reformed with traditional Benedictine rule over them - Edgar restored a great amount of property in southern England to monasteries but local noble families took back most of it - As well, through establishing rich monasteries governed by royally appointed officials, this took away local jurisdiction and turned many peasnts into serfs - Administrative Strength of the Late- Anglo Saxon State: - Some of Edgars authority rested upon him being accepted by the citizens as a royal/religious Christian kingship - He employed himself as ‘Christus Domini’-> The Lord’s anointed one - He developed the shire system of Alfred into the hundred which was a territorial/jurisdictional entity centering on a hundred court - Hundred court met more frequently, had a more active role in the everyday lives of citizens - Within each hundred, every estate/village had to pay a portion of the hundreds total hidage assement - Hide-> Standardized unit of value upon which the Anglo Saxon monarchy based taxation - Law and Justice: - Edgar put an emphasis on peace and justice within Anglo-Saxon society - He had a network of shire/hundred courts headed by royal officials who were responsible for peace and justice within relegated territories - Private enforcement was essential, in that this was the only way a person could be forced to court (no police system) - There was private warfare throughout the region but the Anglo saxon towns which were poorly fortified seemed to hold simply through the King’s judiciual authority - Important legal decisions were made by the Witan (council) and King but it was clearly mostly the King’s decision - Finance, Coinage, Towns, and Taxation: - Kings estates provided most of annual income-> In wheat/grain/honey and then later in cash with the economy monetarized - Country had strong agriculture-> Rich in silver, tin and lead - Wool was the most valuable since it was used to trade for silver, creating silver pennies that would eventually come to stand as a currency and circulate in the millions - Eventually no other coins were permitted, they imprinted Edgar’s face and were used as a subtle method of propaganda - From 973 everyone lived within 20 miles of a mint, and where a mint was a market was established right beside so everyone ended up living comfortably - Changes on the Land: - Anglo Saxon peasantry survived through impoverished and extremely hard times - Slaves existed (10% of pop), slave trade existed between Scotland/Ireland/Southern shore of England/Wales - Serfs were bound to labout work, but were protected from being bought and sold with the land they were cultivating th - From 9 century on, lords began to organize peasants into houses set close together along a road, surrounded by large fields where they all work communally - These became much more common and lords were more easily able to control/explot workers - Late-Anglo-Saxon Art: - Late anglo saxon art hinted to a maturing and urbanizing civilization - Descriptions by contemporary writers talk about the existence of spacious, well designed cathedrals in places such as Canterbury and Winchester - Westminister abbey-> Last great church of pre conquest England, it apparen
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