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Re: William the Conqueror


Guthric,

A promise to the Conqueror that he would have the right to rule in Angleland was made by the Confessor either directly or via Robert de Jumieges. The Confessor’s wife Emma of Normandy was the Conqueror’s grand-aunt and the Confessor’s pro-Norman proclivities were well-known despite the vacillations on the subject which he showed and which we would ascribe to his political ‘balancing act’ between the conflicting forces in Angleland not least the Edwin-Morcar and Tostig Godwineson axes.
We think you profoundly underestimate the significance of swearing oaths on Holy Relics. This was a matter of the utmost gravity not least for the swearer’s soul in the afterlife. Godwineson was a pious man and was a regular at his local church at Bosham, Angleland. Whatever Harold Godwineson was aiming to do in Normandy, the Conqueror rightly considered his presence sufficiently untrustworthy as to warrant the ultimate verification.
It is clear that you consider the institution of Slavery of secondary importance. The state of slavery is the worst condition known to humanity. A serf or villein was not allowed to leave the land/manor on which he worked. A slave could be bought or sold like a piece of property and disposed of at the whim of the slave-owner. Many, if not all, slaves in Angleland were probably Celts victims of the victory of the Angle-Saxon Revolution of 451 and its aftermath. As Pollock and Maitland state in their ‘History of English Law’ “ the Conqueror left a land where there were few slaves (Normandy SW,D) for one in which there were many, for one in which the slave was still treated as a vendible chattel and the slave trade was flagrant”. The Conqueror and the Red, and their revolutionary leadership team, presided over the destruction of the institution of Slavery in Angleland. Domesday Book,which is widely recognised as unique in European Medieval History,not just Angleland,certainly includes the mention of individual slaves but by the mid-12th Century, there were none because the Conqueror and the Red’s firm stand against the institution had created the conditions for it to be untenable.
The offer made by the Conqueror to the Usurper of trial by combat to see whose cause was just to save lives is recorded by William de Poitiers. The offer was conveyed by a monk of Fecamp.

S. Walsh, Drogo,Martin Tilston (all in personal capacity)



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Re: William the Conqueror


As I said, it does not matter how Edward was related to William, nor does it matter how he promised the throne to him, nor whether he did it verbally, in writing or by swearing on his mothers life. The Throne of England was NOT his to give. It would be like me promising to let you have Tower Bridge when I die - it isnt mine to give, so you cant just turn up and start claiming ownership!

Actually, I do understand the significance of dwaering oaths, and also I know of Harolds piety. Hence the ONLY explanations which make ANY sense is that the oaths were made under duress, or by the use of trickery. There is no way he would have made such an oath on holy relics otherwise.

Slavery is of prime importance - without freedom, what hope is their for humanity? Which is why I am disgusted and amazed at your distortion of the facts regarding the position of slavery in 11th Century England! I assume you have not read the original Domesday book, as I have, else you could not fail to see the huge number of people who had their land taken from them by William and his henchmen, people who were once free, and who 20 years after the Conquest were now slaves, forced to till land which once was theirs for the benefit and enrichment of a small number of people who didnt even speak their language! By 1086, 90% of England was owned by less than 20 people, the biggest concentration of ownership in recorded history.

In Essex, for example, the number of freemen had declined to just 7% of their number before 1066. Over all there were 225 000 villeins, bordars, cottars, burs and servi. Basically, there were now nearly a quarter of a million slaves, where before slavery was unheard of. Every page, every paragraph and almost every line of Domesday records some dispute over ownership of land, usually dating back to the seizure of the land in 1066 by William and his followers. Regardless of the claims over the right to the Throne, no leader should have the power to arbitraliy seize land simply to reward those who helped him seize power. Your view that the Conqueror and William Rufus managed to eliminate slavery does not bear in relation to the facts, which record that serfdom, villeiny and slavery were still the lot of the ordinary Englishman until well into the 14th Century. Stragely enough, it was the coming of the Black Death, and with it the elimination of large numbers of such slaves which gave the survivors the whip hand in forcing freedom, the right to own land, the right to choose their own Lord! Slavery was virtually unknown before 1066 in England. People of Celtic, Danish and Saxon descent were all given the same rights, and no man had the right to "own" another. This freedom was what the English fought to preserve at Hastings, else why would the fyrd have turned out in such numbers at Stamford, or at Hastings?

As I said, nowhere else records the challenge of trial by Combat, and William of Poitiers was writing what we today would call an "authorised biography" at the request of the Conqueror - if King William had told him "And then I challenged him to trial by Combat" what else could Poitiers do except include it in his history? Who would have most to lose in a such a Trial? If Harold died, then William would still have to face the Saxon army - no doubt the witan would declare Edgar King. If Harold won, the Norman army would in likelihood be encouraged to disperse - they had no other claimant and the Saxons were getting reinforcements throughout the day. If any offer of trial by combat was made that day, it was not by William, but by Harold. I doubt that any claim by either side was made, however.

I will finish by reminding you of Williams deathbed confession:

"I have persecuted the Natives of England beyond all reason. Whether gentle or simple I have cruelly opressed them; many I have unjustly disinherited; innumerable multitudes perished through me by famine or the sword, I fell upon the English of the northern shires like a ravening Lion. I commanded their houses and their corn, with all their implements and chattels, to be burnt without distinction, and great herds of cattle and beasts of burden to be butchered wherever they were found. In this way I took revenge on multitudes of both sexes by subjecting them to the calamity of a cruel famine, and so became the barbarous murderer of many thousands, both young and old, of that fine race of people. Having gained the throne of that kingdom by so many crimes I dare not leave it to anyone but God."
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Re: William the Conqueror


Guthric,it is obvious that our Forum and yourself will not agree on the points you make which we have already dealt with in earlier [sign in to see URL] will however address your last point concerning the Conqueror's deathbed speech from which you quote an [sign in to see URL] deal with his final point first: leaving Angleland to [sign in to see URL] monarch,in death thoes before or since has ever bequeathed the kingdom he/she ruled to [sign in to see URL] usual process is to bequeath it to another aspirant [sign in to see URL] is said that The Usurper was [sign in to see URL] Conqueror was a Cluniacist,the most eminent level of religeous and moral commitment in [sign in to see URL] fact that he linked this to a public apology for the deaths of pro-Dane Counter-Revolutionaries during the Rising of 1069 shows again the profundity of his Cluniacist belief.
The Conqueror from his Norman Revolutionist perspective recognised that those people however mistaken they were stood for a cause they believed in as strongly as he believed in [sign in to see URL] made them heroic and not [sign in to see URL] knew from Norman History that his own people had been on the verge of annihilation between 1054-58 when the Frankish King and Geoffrey Martel's Counter-Revolutionary armies swept across Normandy with fire and [sign in to see URL] and the revolutionary leadership he headed triumphed and so changed the course of [sign in to see URL] Frankish King and Martel had tried to make Normandy part of their kingdom as a subjugated province and [sign in to see URL] tried to give Normans a Counter-Revolutionary destiny in a bigger phenomenon:The Frankish Kingdom.
The Conqueror was also in the business of putting the lands the Normans revolutionised into the bigger phenomenon of The Norman Revolution and its export to the remainder of The Frankish Kingdom and to bring Angle-Saxon-Dane peoples into the struggle to put a Norman ie A Frank-Viking to rule The Frankish [sign in to see URL] in so doing fuse the Frank and Scandinavian histories at the highest point of [sign in to see URL] Usurper and his pro-Scandinavian allies of differing stripes and objectively Hardraada whom the Conqueror used brilliantly, were for the status quo as far as Angleland was [sign in to see URL] is to say:the Cnut the Great template [sign in to see URL] Frankish Kingdom was the rising star in Europe and that ultimately is why old Angleland split and was consigned to History's [sign in to see URL] Conqueror and the Revolution he led was a catalyst in that [sign in to see URL] it must have given him great satisfaction in the last two years of his life,to experience the failed Counter-Revolutionary invasions of Normandy-Angleland from a "revamped" Scandinavia which included a Frank in its alliance and that of the old enemy The Frankish King.
Tragically,the Conqueror died shortly after exporting The Norman Revolution's last thrust at [sign in to see URL] is these facts which are the context for the Conqueror's deathbed speech and the quote you select not some "mea culpa" cri-de-coeur indicating some "terrible crime" but placing the sacrifices that had to be made into the revolutionary focus that made them necessary and in so doing ennobling those who perished.

Hugo,Franc B,First Secretary (both in personal capacity)

Last edited by thewilliam theredforum2002, Mar/5/2005, 5:11 pm
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Re: William the Conqueror


I apologise for quoting out of context. However, I still cannot see the phrase "I have persecuted the Natives of England beyond all reason" as anything except a confession of wrong doing.

To deal with the points I have made, you will need to accept the reality of the evidence. This you have consistently failed to do, for I have read all your earlier posts.

I take exception to the idea that England on the Saxon model was consigned to history's scrapheap. I live in an English shire, (actually in a burgh created in Alfreds time) governed by a law of justice which is clearly based on the Saxon model, and not the Norman-French model. I speak English, a tongue most definitely descended from Anglo-Saxon, and not Norman French. I live in a society of tolerance for those of differing religious beliefs, just as my ancestors did 10 centuries ago, and not in a society where to disagree with ones Lord was to invite death, as the Norman society was. And finally I am free, and not tied to the service of someone else, toiling for the enrichment of someone else. The Norman "revolution" ultimately failed, and the England of Chaucer owed more to the Saxon than it did to the Norman, because even the most cruel of regimes will ultimately fall.
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Re: William the Conqueror


Guthric and all:

I don't exactly know where to begin on this. In the first place, Guthric is right. King Edward could not promise the throne to William or anybody else. Only the Witan could do this, and even then, they could not "promise" the throne to anybody before the current king died. I suppose it is possible that King Edward might have made his wishes known to the Witan, but if so, wouldn't this have been noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle? Frankly, I don't know what King Edward did. He certainly didn't like the Godwin family, and doubtless would have preferred to be succeeded by just about anybody but Harold. But even he knew his limits, I think. There doesn't seem to have been much talk of William succeeding Edward until after the bishop Robert of Jumieges left England for Normandy. I have read suggestions that Bishop Robert "planted" the suggestion in William's mind, and William kind of took it from there. I'm not saying this is true, but it's at least plausible.

As to the other issues, yes, there was slavery in England at the time of Domesday, but it was pretty much dying out, and not only through the influence of the Normans. Domesday certainly is a unique document in the sense that there isn't anything like it anywhere in Europe at that particular time, and it is invaluable in many ways to modern scholars if they want to get an idea of how people lived and who related, so to speak, with what land. Certain parts of England had fewer slaves than others, and East Anglia was the most populous part of England and had the fewest. Interestingly, the aftereffects of the Norman Conquest were felt most keenly here, as well as in northern England, for a variety of reasons.

Finally, as to William's supposed deathbed repentance, you all have to remember that this comes from the pen of Orderic Vitalis, who was a monk who lived years after the above events took place. Being a monk, I suppose he was not averse to writing an "improving" tale, as King William's deathbed "confession" surely would have been. I have no idea whether King William actually even thought such a thing. He felt he had the right to rule, and at Hastings, he was exceedingly lucky.
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Re: William the Conqueror


All,I am researching the exact route taken by the Conqueror following his acceptance of the submission of Cospatric and Waltheof in Northumbria in 1069/70.
Apparently he led his revolutionary army down to York using a route which had never been tried before and involved very hazardous marching over very high ground in the middle of winter.I cannot find where this route started from other than it was close to the River Tees or the journey from there.

John G (personal capacity)
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Re: William the Conqueror


you could just make it up. You seem pretty good at that. ¬_¬
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Re: William the Conqueror


WorkMonkey and all:

And his "revolutionary" army was hardly revolutionary. But that's another story.
ANne G
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Re: William the Conqueror


WorkMonkey, apt [sign in to see URL] gibber well. Anne, your job is to prove it was not a Revolutionary Army not merely assert the negative.

[sign in to see URL],Sammy,Hugo,Lydia Giles,Dinsdale (all in personal capacity)
Sep/1/2005, 9:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to thewilliam theredforum2002   Send PM to thewilliam theredforum2002
 
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Re: William the Conqueror


All:

WorkMonkey wasn't gibbering. And, judging from the tenor and tone of your replies, and the gushing tone of your "biographical sketches", it doesn't look like you've read the relevant historical documents with any degree of comprehension. And, might I ask, how an army that was essentially ordered to destroy everything in its path, regardless of the innocence or guilt of whoever was in the way, "revolutionary"? In anysense of the term?
Anne G
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