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The Norman Conquest And Feudalism

On Christmas Day 1066 William I the Conqueror was crowed in Westminster Abbey. He had conquered the south east, but it took (ci sono voluti) five more years to subjugate (sottomettere) the rest of England. First, William created a new aristocracy. All (tutte) the conquered lands were his. He kept (teneva) the best lands, the towns and forests. He distributed the rest to his Normans followers (seguaci) and to a few (alcuni) trusted (fidati) Saxons. The feudal system was established (stabilito): the barons obtained (ottenuta) their land by becoming the King's tenants (diventavano inquilini del re) and they paid their "rent" (affitto) in military services to the King. Tenants pledged (promettevano) their loyalty (lealtà) to their Lord on their knees (in ginocchio). These tenants built (costruivano) castles to demonstrate and keep (mantenevano) their power. The chain (catena) of agreements (accordi) of the feudal system enabled (permetteva) a minority to dominate a majority. The tenants were able (capaci) to sub let (subaffittare) their lands to lesser (minori) tenants - knights - in return for their services. William was an efficient ruler (capo): twenty years after the conquest he sent (manda) his men throughout (in tutta) England to examine the land and to make (fare) a complete survey (indagine) of the economic life of the country. The survey, which was written down in the Doomsdays Book, had two objectives: first to provide (fornire) the necessary information for collecting (raccolta) the "geld" or property tax (imposta fondiaria), and second, to give the King a detailed (dettagliata) knowledge (conoscenza) of the extent (portata) and distribution of the wealth (ricchezza) of his tenants. The Pope had given his blessing (benedizione) to the Norman invasion of England and after his victory William continued to pay the annual tax to Rome know as "Peter's Pence". During the reigns of William's sons (figli), William II and Henry I, the gap (lacuna) between the conquered Anglo-Saxon nobility and the conquering Normans slowly (lentamente) decreased (diminuiti). Henry I had wanted (aveva voluta) his daughter (figlia), Matilda, to be Queen after his death. Some (alcuni) barons supported (sostenevano) her, but others preferred her cousin, Stephen. There was a civil war, which only ended (che si è conclusa solo) when it was agreed (concordato) that Stephen would rule (sarebbe stato) until he died and then Matilda's son, Henry, should become the next King.

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