- In 1066, the anglo Saxon king Edward died without an heir.
- His death triggered a power struggle that changed the course of English history.
- A council of nobles chose Edwards brother in law Harold to rule.
- But Duke William of Normandy, a tough, ruthless descendant of the vikings, also claimed the english throne.
- The answer to the rival claims lay on the battlefield.
- Duke William raised an army and won the backing of the pope.
- He then sailed across the English Channel.
- At the battle of Hastings, William and his Norman knights triumphed over Harold.
- On christmas day 1066, William the conqueror, as he was now called, assumed the crown of England.
- William takes control
- Once in power, William exerted firm control over his new lands.
- Like other feudal monarchs, he granted fiefs to the Church and his Norman lords, or barons, but he kept a large amount of land to himself.
- He monitored who built castles and where.
- He required every vassal to swear first allegiance to him rather than to any other feudal lord.
- Even though William listened to the advise of his chief nobles, he always has the last word.
- To learn about the kingdom, William had a complete census taken in 1086.
- The result was the Domesday Book, which listed every castle, field, and pigpen in England.
- The Domesday Book was believed to be Gods final day of judgment that no one could escape.
- Information in the Domesday Book helped William and his successors build an efficient system of tax collecting.
- Although Williams French speaking nobles dominated England, the country Anglo Saxon population survived.
- Over the next 300 years, a gradual blending occurred of Norman French and Anglo Saxon customs, languages, and traditions.
- Increasing royal authority
- Williams successor strengthened two key areas in government: finance and law.
- They created the royal exchequer, or treasury, to collect taxes.
- Into the exchequer flowed fees, fines, and other dues.
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