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How Accurate Is It to Describe the Years 1066 – 1075 as a Period of Growing Oppression of the English by the Normans?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By savannahcandy
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Straight after the conquest of England in 1066 William of Normandy was keen to consolidate his power over his new kingdom and display his authority to his English subjects. Norman oppression can be judged by castles, law/taxes and the means by which William dealt with the English rebellions which arose. However, were the years 11066 -1075 a period of growing oppression for the English or was William merely taking action appropriate to the situations he found himself in?
Oppression is keeping people of a kingdom suppressed and powerless against their rulers. When the Normans arrived in 1066, they decided to take a geopolitical approach to their new kingdom. Before The Battle of Hastings began, the Normans had already built two castles and after William became King he started having these castles built across England, especially the White Tower. Even after the rebellions during the years of 1067 to 1071, castles became a common sight through England. This proves that the geopolitical form of oppression did indeed grow over time. Castles were built in precaution to make the rebellious kingdom more stable, to intimidate the locals and to protect the Norman soldiers. These castles were also placed for strategy purposes and they were used to protect borders, trade and communication.
The Normans used these castles to display their authority to the English people as they destroyed hundreds of homes in order to make way for construction, the Normans even got the local people to build the castles for them which shows that they were in charge and not the English. This was a way of keeping the English suppressed which made the rebellions less likely. Castles were a big sign of growing oppression which made England a very militarised country following the rebellions.
Murdrum tax was also brought in by the Normans. This was when if someone died then the village would have to prove that they were English, otherwise the whole town would have to pay a fine. This shows that the Normans were in charge because the English would only have to prove that they were English, but this did not happen for the Normans. This shows oppression because the Normans were able to take money off the English people and it also Williams French supporters from getting murdered, it also shows that they can get away with anything that they want to.
The Normans also had the power to change the language, and brought in some new words. These new Norman words would be used for nice things that people enjoyed and liked, but English words were used for undesirable things. Another thing that the Normans did was take the credit for the meat that the animal produced, so the animal was English but the meat was Norman. This was done because the Normans did not want the English to take the praise for the meat. This showed oppression by saying that everything good that was produced was made from the Normans and took all of the thanks for it. Although, the English started to use Norman names like William which doesn't show a sign of oppression because they took the names of people who treated them badly.
William left England under the care of two of his most trusted lords: his cousin William fitzOsbern and his half brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. Although, this period of peace was short lived as rebellions broke out all over England; William subdued them with brutal, forceful and decisive. One rebellion that did break out was when the City of Exeter refused to accept Williams rule. The way in which William dealt with this is was with an 18 day siege and they then surrendered and not much trouble was caused. There was also the rebellion in the north. This was when the Vikings invaded and William was scared that the northern people would support the Viking so he killed northern people so that the Vikings had no support whatsoever. William dealt with these two rebellions very differently, in the one situation he was calm and not much trouble happened but compared to how he dealt with the North was very different, because he killed many people and a lot of trouble was caused.
In conclusion, the period of 1066-1075 was a period of growing oppression. This is because the Normans had such a strong hold over the English and had so much power over them. The turning point in this period was the Harrying of the North, this was because it was a big threat to William. The rebellions also meant that William could not trust the English Earls, so William got rid of them quickly and built more castles in order to keep the English in check. William also wanted conciliate with the English and their ruling class but the rebellions made him lose his trust with the English.

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