Friday, July 28, 2006

Good evening, this is Michael Anthony, and you’re listening to British History 101. This episode will wrap up our Battle of Hastings series, giving us a brief overview of the aftermath of the Norman Conquest. To begin with, I feel the need to apologize for the comparative brevity of the history in this installment – due to both a lack of time this week and my desire to put in a bit of an editorial, the historical aspect of this episode won’t be quite as long as parts 1 and 2 of the series on Hastings. Nonetheless, I assure you what we do explore today will still be interesting and informative – otherwise, this wouldn’t be British History 101, now would it?
William of Normandy, though victorious in battle, was feeling the effects of war – at least one fourth of his army had been eliminated in the fighting with Harold. In addition to that, a violent epidemic of dysentery swept through the Normans in late October, causing further non-combat casualties. However, the biggest problem that William faced was building a stable power base in England – after all, he was the leader of a minority invading force, and he wasn’t dumb enough to expect all of England to bow down before him. With his battle-hardened demeanor, William decided the best way to gain the loyalty of the English was by show of force – he cut a path of destruction towards London, pillaging towns as he went and making it crystal clear that he was the dominant force on the island. One town that refused to do him homage paid the ultimate price – William simply slaughtered the entire town. When he started getting closer to London, William successfully decided that he couldn’t march directly on the capital – the city was far too strong for him to assault directly. Knowing this, William decided to circle the city and take the surrounding towns – a sort of long-distance siege tactic. This indeed proved to do the trick, and William was soon making his way through the streets of London. Edgar Atheling, whom Edward the Confessor had technically nominated as Heir Apparent in 1057, was proclaimed King after Harold died at Hastings but was never crowned – William came along too soon and too strongly for that. William arrived in London, and Edgar and most of England’s top nobility came to submit to their new overlord. Duke William of Normandy was crowned King William I of England on Christmas Day, 1066, in Westminster Abbey. This actually brought about some of the resentment the native English felt towards the Normans. William had placed guards outside the abbey itself in order to make sure the crowds outside were properly excited and jubilant at the coronation of their new king. However, when those inside the abbey proclaimed “Vivat Rex!” or “Long live the King!” the guards mistook this shouting as an assault on the king, and promptly burned everything in sight in retribution, destroying buildings in a wide circle around the abbey. This, understandably, enraged the English, and so began a series of small riots and revolts against the new Norman king. This, in turn, brought about the Tower of London, which William began constructing to handle rabble rousers.
Although he had a difficult time bringing the country under his total control, William eventually brought Norman influence over the whole of England. The Normans introduced the system of land tenure based on military service, as William was much more concerned with raising a loyal army from his knights and the men they owed him than granting land to the nobles who had participated in the Conquest. Bringing in this entirely new system to the English caused some amount of unrest – here was a foreigner installing a system completely alien to the common man. The newly rich Norman land owners also squabbled amongst themselves as to who should have this piece of land or that particular manor. This confusion gave birth to the 1086 survey we now know as Domesday Book, which listed in excruciating detail the exact holdings of the king and nobles throughout the land.
Domesday Book is excellent evidence as to the nature of the Norman invaders – they were administrators and lawyers, rather than legislators. This job they left to the native Saxon system. The old Saxon financial and secretarial methods were left intact, along with the system of counties, sheriffs, courts, and – of course – taxes and dues. In this way, we see a hybridization of Norman and Saxon government – old meets new, and it worked out rather well for William and his descendants.
And so there we have it. The invaders from across the Channel achieved their goal – total domination of England. William got what he finally thought he deserved, and the Norman influence that Edward had introduced was magnified exponentially. The course of England was forever changed, and the events that happened after that eventful year will be covered in future episodes of this podcast.
Now then – on to the non-historical segment of this episode. With the few episodes of British History 101 that I’ve actually produced, I’ve become very excited about each installment, and it’s something I take great pleasure it working on. The community – both listeners and fellow podcasters – is simply amazing, and this podcast would certainly not still be in production if not for the incredible support offered by other members of the podcast movement. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Mr. Matt Dattilo of the Matt’s Today in History podcast, whom without I never would have started my own. He’s both an excellent podcaster and a great guy, whether he’s coming through your speakers or talking to you in real life. I heartily encourage you to check out his podcast and show your support there, as well.
In my admittedly limited interaction with other podcasters, I’ve found nothing but friendliness and a sense of camaraderie – everyone who has a hobby in podcasting is glad to share their experience and knowledge with everyone else, and it’s comforting to find that when you start a project that you know nothing about. One such example is Ms. Lara Eakins of Tudor Cast, a fellow British history podcast that has a bit more focused scope than mine. I’d describe it to you myself, but I think Lara could do a much better job of it.
All in all, podcasting has become a true joy in my life, and sharing centuries of history and learning with those who listen is a very human experience.
If you’d like to review the history heard in this episode, please check out my blog at for a transcript of this and every other episode. Send suggestions, questions, comments, rants, and raves to Our music tonight is Handel’s “Oxford Water Music Suite in D Major: Part I, Minuet," performed by the Brook Street Band and available on Magnatune is an independent online record label that equally shares all revenue from album sales with their hand-selected artists while allowing them to retain full rights to their works. Visit for great music at low prices and support the many wonderful artists hosted there. Until next week, my best to you all, and as always, thanks for listening. If you like what you heard tonight, please subscribe to British History 101 and catch every episode fresh each week. Also, I’d like to ask you to vote for British History 101 at, and show your support for the preservation of history, whether it be British or any other nationality. Thank you again for learning with me tonight, and we’ll talk again next week. Have a great evening.

MP3 File


Post a Comment

<< Home