The Anglo-Norman Territories

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Lordship and Feudalism

 

    A new presence in the architectural landscape, the castles, and an emerging class of men specialists in mounted warfare, the knights, were, as in every other part of the West in the 11th and 12th centuries, symbolic of feudal society in the Anglo-Norman realm.

The novel aspect of what happened in Normandy is that castles were often constructed under the authority of the duke, or with his approval, and those who held them normally did so in his name and rendered him service. The duke appropriated a power otherwise solely reserved to the king, as he also did in respect of the highly symbolic right to strike money.

Aspects of this social organisation were transported to England after 1066 where the fortifications trusted to the barons stamped the mark of the conquerors on the land. However, the development of the motte and bailey type of castle was a response to different requirements. In Normandy it was the residence of the minor aristocracy, sometimes a temporary fortification dismantled after a period of crisis. In England the type was used as a base to divided up the conquered lands or defend its frontiers.

Even if England and Normandy, united under a single crown, remained separate states, there existed a unity which characterised the Anglo-Norman domain both in the type of fortifications and in the social organisation based on military service - that of the knight in particular which was due to the prince in exchange for the granting of land.

In this society one only sees the upper ranks with any precision. It is also only at this level that one can recognise women and see something of their role in a world of warriors and clerics. One must turn to documents, like the customaries, put together in later times to see the relationships between men in a world in which everything was not, in fact, governed by the simple rules of force.

The castle and the aristocratic residence
The English baronial castle
From the horseman to the knight
The role of women in Norman aristocracy
The Marcher Lords
Coinage, as an image of power
Norman customary law

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