Ch 02 The Growth of Feudalism

Ch.2 THE GROWTH OF FEUDALISM

Hits: 1993

CHAPTER II: THE GROWTH OF FEUDALISM

SECTION 1: THE ENGLISH CONQUEST

 200 YEARS OF BLANK HISTORY, WELL, ALMOST -  BETWEEN CONSTANTINE LEAVING IN 407 AD AND AUGUSTINE LANDING IN KENT IN 597 AD, BRINGING NOT ONLY CHRISTIANITY, BUT EUROPEAN CONTACT.

 

ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE IS SLIGHT BECAUSE THE INVADERS LEFT FEW TRACES, APART FROM THE MEAGRE CONTENTS OF THEIR BURIAL PLACES.

 

THE INVADERS CAME FROM THE MOST BACKWARD AND PRIMITIVE OF GERMAN TRIBES. THEY LIVED ON THE COAST, FROM THE ELBE TO DENMARK.

 

THESE PEOPLE WERE CLOSELY RELATED TO ANGLES AND SAXONS. ANOTHER GROUP COMPRISED THE JUTES, WHO CAME FROM THE LOWER RHINELANDS. IT WAS FROM THESE TRIBES THAT THE ROMANS HAD ENLISTED AUXILIARY TROOPS.

 

THE JUTES SETTLED IN KENT AND THE ISLE OF WIGHT. WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE KENT HAS A HISTORY DISTINCT FROM THE REST OF ENGLAND.

 

ALTHOUGH AGRICULTURAL, RATHER THAN A PASTORAL PEOPLE, THEY SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY AND BY THE 4TH CENTURY HAD ESTABLISHED KINSHIP SETTLEMENTS RESEMBLING THOSE OF THE CELTS.

 

THERE LATER EMERGED A CLASS OF PROFESSIONAL WARRIORS, DISTINCT FROM AND HIGHER RANKING THAN THE PEASANTS.

 

THE PEASANTS WANTED TO TILL THE SOIL IN A PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE. HOWEVER, IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR ESTABLISHED KINSHIPS, AS RAIDERS FORMED AROUND A CHIEF AND BECAME BOUND TO HIM BY PERSON RATHER THAN TO VILLAGE SOCIETY.

 

WEALTH WAS BEING FOUGHT FOR, AND, BY THE 5TH CENTURY, RAIDS WERE LESS IMPORTANT THAN MIGRATIONS THAT WERE TAKING PLACE ALONG THE COAST AND DANISH INVASION.

 

THE DANES HAD ALL BUT CONQUERED ENGLAND BY 871 AD AND BROUGHT WITH THEM NOT ONLY THEIR WOMAN AND CHILDREN, BUT NEW TECHNIQUES AND SUPERIOR EQUIPMENT FOR WARRIORS AND CULTIVATORS.

 

SETTLEMENTS WERE THEN FORMED INTO THREE GROUPS: WARRIORS, CULTIVATORS AND A NUMBER OF BRITONS WHO WERE FORCED TO BECOME SLAVES.

 

WE SEE THE DEVELOPMENT OF CLASSES AND KINGS’ AUTHORITY.

 

MUCH OF THIS PERIOD OF HISTORY HAS BEEN LOST. ROMAN LEGACY HAS BEEN BLOTTED OUT AS HAS THE STORY OF THE BRITONS WHO PRECEDED THE ANGLES, SAXONS AND DANES.

 

WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT BRITONS WERE LEFT IN THE MOUNTAINOUS REGIONS OF DEVON AND CORNWALL AND WALES AND CUMBERLAND (STRATHCLYDE). THIS AREA WAS REDUCED FURTHER, BUT NOT UNTIL THE MIDDLE AGES.

 

BY THE TIME THE ENGLISH HAD SETTLED INTO SMALL KINGDOMS WHOSE BOUNDARIES ADVANCED AND RECEDED WITH THE FORTUNES OF NEVER ENDING WARS, WE ENDED UP WITH THE ENGLISH SHIRES AS WE KNOW THEM TODAY.

 

THERE WAS YORKSHIRE, THE TEES TO THE FORTH AND EAST ANGLIA, CONSISTING OF NORFOLK, SUFFOLK AND PART OF CAMBRIDGESHIRE.

 

ESSEX, KENT AND SUSSEX REMAIN AS TODAY.

 

WESSEX LAY TO THE SOUTH OF THE THAMES AND WEST OF SUSSEX WITH BORDERS PUSHED INTO SOMERSET.

 

MERCIA OCCUPIED THE MIDLAND SHIRES WITH THE COTSWOLDS HOTLY CONTESTED WITH WESSEX.

 

HISTORIANS DIFFER, BUT SOME DEGREE OF CONSENSUS IS THAT MOST OF THE TOWNS WERE DESTROYED AND THE BRITONS WERE ALL BUT EXTERMINATED. NOT ONLY THAT, THE WHOLE POPULATION FELL DRAMATICALLY.

 

LONDON STILL EXISTED. ROADS TO IT REMAINED AS TRADE ROUTES.

 

MOST OF THE FOREST LAND CLEARED BY THE ROMANS WAS ABANDONED.

 

THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONQUEROR PREVAILED. IN ENGLAND, ALTHOUGH CELTIC WORDS AND PLACE NAMES ARE FEW IN THE WEST, THERE IS NO REASON TO SUPPOSE THAT THE BRITONS WERE COMPLETELY WIPED OUT.

 

EARLY ENGLISH LAWS MAKE PROVISIONS FOR WELSHMEN LIVING ALONGSIDE THEIR CONQUERORS.

 

IN SUFFOLK, AFTER 2,000 YEARS AND VARIOUS ROMAN, DANISH AND NORMAN INVASIONS, THE SHEPHERD STILL USES THE WELSH WORD FOR HIS SHEEP TO “COME HERE.”

 

ENGLISH WOMEN WERE CONSIDERABLY FEWER THAN ENGLISH MEN, AND MUCH INTER ‘MARRIAGE’ MUST HAVE TAKEN PLACE.

 

PERHAPS IT IS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THE BULK OF THE POPULATION WERE ENSLAVED ENGLISH - THE FURTHER WEST, THE GREATER THE NUMBERS?

 

HOWEVER, THEY TENDED TO COMPRISE THE LOWER CLASSES AND VILLAGERS, RATHER THAN TOWN DWELLERS. BUT WESSEX LAW DID ALLOW FOR THE EXISTENCE OF WELSH LANDOWNERS, WHO HAD THEIR PLACE IN SOCIETY AND A ‘WERGILD’ (A VALUE PLACED ON EVERY PERSON AND EVERY PIECE OF PROPERTY) HALF THAT OF THEIR ENGLISH COUNTERPARTS.THEY WERE THE LEAST ROMANISED, AND THERE WAS ANYHOW THE NARROWEST OF CULTURAL GAPS BETWEEN THEM AND THE ENGLISH.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site