The Norman Conquest
William I The Conqueror was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066. After he became king, he kept about a quarter of the conquered lands while he distributed the others to his Norman nobles but being careful not to concentrate to many close by lands in the hands of the most powerful ones. King William introduced the feudal system in England. In each “shire” or “county” the king ruled by means of a “sheriff” and thanks to this division of the land, his power was always greater than that of his barons. The barons were allowed to built castles and some of which are still standing today.
Under King William a survey on the landlords was taken and written in the “Domesday Book”. This book contained all records regarding the property, lands and animals, and the people living in each shire and in each manor. From this, the king decided what could be taxed and identified the individuals who where richer and more powerful. The form of taxation was still connected to the Danish “danegeld” of the Viking invasions period. Since the Pope had given his blessing to the Norman conquest of England, William continued to pay the “Peter’s pence”, an annual tax to the Church. However, King William reduced the power of the clergy thus allowing for the English common law to improve with less meddling from the ecclesiastical system.
King William was succeeded by his sons, William II in 1087 and Henry I in 1100. During their reign the distance between the subjugated Anglo-Saxons and the Normans slowly decreased and Henry I married Edith, daughter of the Wessex Kings. The last Norman King was Stephen, Henry’s nephew, who was succeeded in 1154 by the first Plantagenet King, Henry II.