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William, King of England, circa 1070 A.D.
Transcript of William, King of England, circa 1070 A.D.
-Feudalism was introduced in England in 1066 shortly after the Norman conquest
-Feudalism was introduced by king William the conquer himself, also agreed with by the Normans
-Introduced directly in England
William, King of England, circa 1070 A.D.
Main Features of Legal System
Who is King William?
Born around 1028, William was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of Normandy, and Herleve (also known as Arlette), daughter of a tanner in Falaise. Known as 'William the Bastard' to his contemporaries, his illegitimacy shaped his career when he was young.
On his father's death in 1035, William was recognised by his family as the heir - an exception to the general rule that illegitimacy barred succession. His great uncle looked after the Duchy during William's minority, and his overlord, King Henry I of France, knighted him at the age of 15.
From 1047 onwards, William successfully dealt with rebellion inside Normandy involving his kinsmen and threats from neighbouring nobles, including attempted invasions by his former ally King Henry I of France in 1054 (the French forces were defeated at the Battle of Mortemer) and 1057.
- Feudalism in England was established by William the Conqueror and the Normans following the defeat of the English Anglo Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The system and structure of feudalism had been well established in Europe for some time and the Normans imposed feudalism in England.
- Feudalism was based on the exchange of land for military service. King William the Conqueror used the concept of feudalism to reward his Norman supporters for their help in the conquest of England. Life lived under the Medieval Feudal System, or Feudalism, demanded that everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior.
Impact on Canada
The seigneurial system in New France was based on feudalism and similar to the system set by King William, but the habitant had slightly more freedom than the serf because he was not tied to one landlord for life.
Examples of Laws set by King William
1. Only one God will be worshipped throughout the whole of England and there will be only one faith. This will preserve peace between the English and the Normans.
2. All freemen will swear an oath that they will be loyal to the king. All freemen will swear to defend William against all of his enemies.
3. All those men who came to England with William in 1066 and after, shall be guaranteed their safety. If any of these men are killed, his murderer must be caught within five days if possible. His lord is responsible for this. If that lord fails to do this, that lord must pay me 46 marks of silver. If he cannot afford to pay this fine, those who live under his control must pay up to a total of 46 marks of silver.
4. All Frenchmen who shared in the customs of the English when Edward the Confessor was king shall pay what is called "scot and lot".
5. No live cattle can be sold outside of cities. When cattle is sold in cities, there must be three witnesses to the sale. If this law is ignored, the person responsible shall be fined the same sum of money as was made in the sale.
6. If a Frenchman accuses an Englishman of murder, theft or perjury, that Englishman shall be allowed to defend himself either by ordeal through combat or by ordeal by hot iron. If that Englishman is too ill to do this, he will find another Englishman to do this in his place. If an Englishman accuses a Frenchman of a crime, and is unwilling to prove his case against the Frenchman by ordeal of combat or hot iron, the Frenchman will be acquitted if he swears an oath of innocence.
7. All the laws regarding land ownership introduced under Edward the Confessor, shall be kept alongside those land laws William has introduced.
8. Anybody who wants to considered a freeman must swear an oath of loyalty. This oath must be guaranteed by others. If this man who has sworn an oath, breaks the law, those who have guaranteed his oath must pay any fine that is set against this man. Any problems should be sorted out in a court of law. If anybody who is summoned to court refuses to attend, he shall receive one warning; if he refuses to attend a second time, he shall have one ox taken from him. If he fails to attend a third time, he shall have another ox taken from him. If he fails to attend a fourth time, he shall pay a fine to the king and shall have taken from him goods to the value of the original charge against the accused.
9. No man is allowed to sell another man. Anyone breaking this law will pay a fine to the king.
10. No one shall be executed for crimes they have committed; but if they are guilty of a crime, they will be blinded and castrated. This law is not to be challenged.
William's brutal clampdown on any opponents only occurred after the failed rebellion in the north of England which centred on an attack on York Castle. It was only after the English had seemingly betrayed William and his 'generosity' that he embarked on the "Harrying of the North" and the rule imposed on England became more brutal.
Influence still felt Today
The basic law of Britain (except Scotland) is English common law, an unwritten law based on custom and usage, Emerging from the European Medieval era was English common law, influenced by King William the conqueror England's great gift to America and its other colonies. English common law was a necessary comcomitant of capitalism which allowed the West to create the modern world. France had nothing like English common law as a result of royal absolutism.
"The Middle Ages: Feudal Life." The Middle Ages: Feudal Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. <http://www.learner.org/interactives/middleages/feudal.html>.
"William the Conqueror." and the Norman conquest of England. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <http://www.britainexpress.com/History/William_the_Conqueror.htm>.
"William the Conqueror Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. <http://www.biography.com/people/william-the-conqueror-9542227>.