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Norman Conquest

William I (1028—1087) king of England and duke of Normandy

Henry I (1068—1135) king of England and lord of Normandy

Stephen (c. 1097—1154) king of England


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The reigns of the first four post-Conquest kings were dominated by the establishment of their dynasty and by the succession question, complicated by the connection between England and Normandy. The characteristic of Norman rule has often been identified as firmness, but there was little alternative for a small group of military adventurers, unsupported by mass immigration, and in the midst of a resentful populace. Highly significant was William I's promulgation of ‘Englishry’: that if a murdered man could not be proved to be English, it would be presumed that he was a Norman, and the hundred fined accordingly. A more lasting consequence of the Conquest was the impetus given to expansion within the British isles, into southern Scotland, south Wales, and the east of Ireland. Welsh chroniclers, inclined at first to welcome the newcomers as an alternative to the hated Saxons, soon came to realize that ‘the French’ were, if anything, more ruthless and disagreeable.

Subjects: British History.

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