Was William really a Conqueror?

The Logical Place

by Tim Harding

The ‘Norman Conquest’ is generally regarded as an epic event in English history – it was more than just a change of royal dynasty.  There is no doubt that William I[1] built castles and drastically changed the composition of the nobility and clergy, dispossessing many of their estates. However, the extent of legal and administrative changes he made to England is contested by different historians. I intend to show that William initially minimised these changes to help legitimise his claim to the English throne. He emphasised continuity in English law and customs, to avoid the appearance of a Norman French takeover of England. But he later abandoned this strategy, and made some major and lasting changes to English law and administration.

William I of England

As the legitimacy of William’s claim to the English throne is of central relevance to the initial strategy of his reign…

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