Year of Conquest-A book about some great dramas

Year of Conquest

Introduction

As the name suggests, the book is about some great dramas that evoke excitement and pleasures associated with some of the encounters of various activities outlined. The author goes to the extent of digging out characters and 1066 people to try to understand some of the actions that these people took and the reasons that forced them into doing so. An example of the latter can be why William, from the people of Normandy, contemplated England’s invasion. This paper will look at Howarth and the various forces at work associated with it. Consequently, it will discuss Anglo-Saxon resistance in-depth and the earlier Viking invasion.

During that time, people lived in villages where they had to labour to satisfy their wants and counter the dangers and alarms caused by ravages of armies. In as much as the English people were poor, crops continued to flourish, and cattle throve. Peace was felt in many localities and reduction of taxes allowed every person to be prosperous. There was a sense of community as a member of one village knew almost everyone around which was an evidence of hospitality in the region. The residents defended their peace by all means and therefore, causes like rumormongering were not tolerated among the people. Battles were only conducted when an act seemed to come against the stable tenor that held the village together. England was a country that was held together by the mutual kindness of the people and the fact that it was a farming region. Men had the dominion of owning large plots of land where they settled and gave their children for inheritance.

However, the independent farmers had to seek protection against the raids from the Vikings or things to do with bad harvests, storms, fires and cattle sicknesses. The loss of freedom came into being when the landowners had to give out their pieces of land to the protectors who would, in turn, give surrender them to people in higher ranks (Howarth& Barbour,1977). They did that with a mindset that they were getting protection in times of distress but little did they know that they were slowly losing it in as much as there was gain. In 1066, the system could be considered as stable and elaborate with certain social strata. There were the slaves also known as serfs, cottagers, villeins, thanes, earls who ruled earldoms covering the country, and then the King. There was no one in that sort of hierarchy that could claim that he or she was the absolute owner of those lands as possession was surrendered from one rank to the other.

The Vikings invaded England and Normandy where the enmities and alliances were always changing, and their allegiance that was meant to be observed for the King of France became broken. The social setting in the Normandy was the same as that of England and Horstede. The aristocracy found in the Normans could not allow any lord to survive not unless he was much wiling and ready to fight other lords that were deemed, predators. The region was known for war as not many of the authorities refused to be under the law. England had no cause for war, and that was evident with the unfortified cities around the country except for the fortifications and significant houses that were built to keep robbers and animals away.

Duke William’s defeat over King Harold caused him to be termed as a weak military commander. The Norwegians, English and the Normans had similar policies when it came to army and weapons recruitment. What made them different was the tactics and strategies that they used and relied on when handing battles against their enemies. The Normans held a stable point in the implementation of cavalry and castles. Norwegians used ships in their mobility strategies. Anglo-Saxons were not only formatives of England but Europe too. They were a kind of a society that was inspired by what can be termed as a warrior world which made England be one of Europe’s country to have its affairs conducted in its language. The King of England made an army with two kinds of men. Some regular soldiers were professional house-carls. The earls and Kings had their house-carls, but Harold had double of that since he was considered the Earl of Wessex. The men were pretty ignorant of the chivalry techniques and fought using foot which they learnt from the Danish Vikings. They carried with them bloodthirsty and massive swords and axes that were two-handed. During that time, to get a professional soldier was quite tricky and expensive, and that is why they used house-carls that were equivalent to two soldiers.

There was the fyrd which was deemed more substantial and amateur and was the army in which Ulfer was obliged to serve two months in a year by the tenure of his land. The latter was not as armed as the house-carls and therefore had faults as they were considered as the part-time army and the fact that they lacked practical experience. In instances when the battle became imminent, the corps could get fringes from the peasants that were neighbouring and use them together with hunting knives and spears and clubs that were home-made. There was a problem when it came to raising a team of navy, and most of the kings like Harold ended up almost inheriting nothing. Some Kings like Edward in as much as they owned fourteen ships, paid the vessel off and used the tax in support of them (Poss,2010). The Viking ships design were built mainly for war and consisted of slower and broader ones that could carry cargo. The Vikings were the only group that used to fight at the seas but only among themselves and the islands and fjords of the homelands.

The English were unable to stop the attacker that is the Vikings from coming ashore. That made the attackers gain the freedom of invading every place that they felt like and in the weird hours of the night. During ‘The Nativity of St Mary,’ the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ stated that the provisions of men had gone and that they were finally permitted to go back to their homesteads. That meant that was difficulty in feeding the army on the island, which was a problem that had developed for some weeks (Schriber,1999). The author suggests that in as much the blame for going back home too soon and against the wish of King Harold lay on the fyrd, it might have been the owners or the crews that had come up with the suggestion.

It was a very remarkable achievement for Harold having raised a navy and an army that was considered more significant than all those kings than were there before him. Another aspect is the fact that he kept the army intact for more than three years, even if there was nothing to be done. That being said, it is true that the fyrd in as much as they were considered to be having less technical skills were not to be blamed for going back home early (Hindley,2013). That is because they went to the extent of extending the feudal duties by staying six more weeks without any complaint. Most of the chartered ships perished even before they reached the destination may be following the same storm that once broke the fleet belonging to William as stated by the Chronicle.

Conclusively, Viking invasion and the Anglo-Saxon resistance are associated with various forces at work, including the fact that landowners were forced to surrender their properties to other people in higher ranks. They do this to get protection when faced with attacks and when crises like animal diseases arise. The strata that exist in the system means that no one has the absolute right the properties as they move from one hierarchy from another. England is known as a farming country and where people live in solidarity and kindness. The residents here are ready to fight any enemy that comes in between to cause division and chaos among them as that is not their norm. King Harold becomes one of the most successful leaders as he manages to raise a strong army and bigger navy even when there is nothing assigned to them.

References

Hindley, G. (2013). A brief history of the Anglo-Saxons. Hachette UK.

Howarth, D. A., & Barbour, T. (1977). 1066: the Year of the Conquest (p. 106). Collins.

Poss, J. (2010). Behind the shield-wall: The experience of combat in late Anglo-Saxon England.

Schriber, C. P. (1999). HIST 103-01, Introduction to Historical Investigation: The Impact of the Norman Conquest, Spring 1999.

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