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Lecture 1 Ancient Britain

1.1. Prehistoric Britain

A million years ago, the whole of northwestern Europe, including Britain, was in the grip of the last Ice Age. During this period, the ice advanced and retreated several times across the land. Britain was joined to Europe by a land bridge.

Archaeologists think that the earliest ancestors of modern human beings may have entered Britain overland from Europe more than half a million years ago. These hominids belonged to the Old Stone Age. They used stone tools and may have discovered how to control fire. They travelled as hunters, following herds of migrating wild animals. The earliest known settlements in Britain date from about 250,000 B.C. They include a site at Clacton, Essex, where stone choppers have been found.

About 70,000 BC, the last of the severe glaciations began, and for much of this period, no hominids lived in Britain. Those who did venture into Britain during short mild spells dwelt in caves. These hominids included the earliest modern human beings.

About 12,000 B.C., the last Ice Age was ending, and the climate had begun to improve. People still dwelt in caves and hunted for food. Cheddar in Somerset and Creswell Crags in Derbyshire have produced many interesting finds from this period. These finds include Britain's only surviving works of Paleolithic art. One such find, the Dancing Man of Creswell Crags, is a puzzling engraving on a piece of bone. It is said to resemble a masked male dancer.

          ^ 1.2. The Pre-Celtic Period

By about 8000 B.C., Britain at last emerged from the Ice Age. Over the next 5,000 years, the improving climate changed the environment. The slowly rising temperature caused the ice sheets to melt and raised the level of the sea. Britain lost its land link with the rest of Europe after the formation of the English Channel and the North Sea about 5000 B.C.

Some historians refer to the original population as the Scots and Picts with whom newcomers started merging. The Picts inhabited mainly Scotland and the Scots lived in what we know as Ireland [or ‘Scotia’].

Britain attracted new settlers during this period. They hunted and fished, and their culture was more advanced than that of the Paleolithic Period. Archaeologists call these settlers Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) people. One group of these settlers migrated from Denmark not long after 8000 B.C. Their most famous remains are at a settlement at Star Carr, North Yorkshire.



Mesolithic people made such tools as saws and mattocks. Mesolithic hunters domesticated the dog The people of this time also cleared a few areas of forest by fire, and some experts think they used the clearings for herding deer and other game.

Shortly before 4000 B.C., scattered tribes of people travelled to Britain from the mainland of western Europe. These people brought the settled and highly organized culture of the Neolithic (New Stone Age) Period with them. They were mainly farmers and village traders. They cleared large areas of woodland and made fields for planting crops and farming livestock. They also made and traded in Britain's earliest pottery.

The Neolithic people appear to be the first in Britain to have put up buildings of stone and wood. They also built the first roads—wooden trackways across marshy areas such as the Somerset Levels.

Neolithic people buried their dead in communal chambered tombs built of stone. These tombs belong to the class of huge monuments of stone called megaliths. Megalithic monuments also include vast circles of standing stones. The best known of these, Stonehenge was probably begun about 2700 B.C. and completed by Bronze Age builders.

Between 3000 B.C. and 2500 B.C., people began using metal in Britain. New immigrants arrived in the country. One group came about 1700 BC from the Rhine-land and the Netherlands (an Alpine race), and mixed with another from Spain and Portugal (the Iberian people who came here earlier - around 2400 BC). The newcomers were skilled in the use of copper and gold. Unlike the slim, long-headed people of Neolithic Britain, they were stocky and round-headed. Archaeologists refer to the new settlers as the Beaker Folk, because of the distinctive beaker-shaped pottery vessels they buried with their dead.

The Beaker Folk tended to live in isolated round houses, not in villages. They usually buried their dead singly under round barrows.

By about 1400 B.C., Bronze Age people had completed Stonehenge and had built a larger monument at Avebury, in Wiltshire. They also built stone circles in many other places.

Archaeologists know little of life in the Bronze Age, but many experts think that the use of the wheel and the plough began in Britain during this period.

^ 1.3. The Celts

Soon after 800 BC, as the Bronze Age ended, Britain was invaded by the Celts - a new group of immigrants. They belonged to several different groups, but all used a form of the same language, called Celtic. These newcomers are therefore 

called Celts. Some historians believe that the Celtic language had already spread to Britain earlier in the Bronze Age, perhaps as a result of trade with Europe. By the time the Romans reached Britain, in 55 B.C., Celtic had replaced Britain's earlier language almost entirely.

The Celts are supposed to have come from Central Europe in three distinct waves. The first Celtic comers were the Gaels. They made iron tools and weapons of high technical quality. The Britons arrived some two centuries later, pushing the Gaels to Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall, and took possession of the south and east and probably gave their name to the whole country. They brought tools, weapons, shields, and very artistic personal ornaments. Some time after 100 B.C., the Belgae, the most advanced of the Celtic tribes, arrived in southern Britain from Gaul (France), and occupied the greater part of what is known as the Home Countries [the central part of Great Britain.]. They used ploughs, made pottery or potter's wheels, and struck metal coins. The Belgae built farms and large settlements that developed into Britain's first towns.

Thus, the whole of Britain was occupied by the Celts who merged with the Picts and Scots, as well as the Alpine part of the population. The term “Celtic” is often used rather generally to distinguish the early inhabitants of the British Isles from the later Anglo-Saxon invaders.

It was a patriarchal clan society based on common ownership of land. It was then that social differentiation began to develop: the tribal chiefs and the semi-dependent native population.

The Celts were good warriors. Their communities were ruled by warrior chiefs. They were the first people in Britain to use chariots and to ride on horseback. Celtic war-chariots were famous beyond the limits of the country. The Celts were heathens. The priests were called Druids and their superior knowledge was taken for magic power. In England itself Celtic influence is felt to this very day, though this influence is much weaker, as compared with the other parts of the country. The Celts worshipped nature. The oak-tree, mistletoe and holly were sacred. Water was also worshipped as the source of life. There are place-names in 

England connected with the Celts. For example, Avon — the name of a river, which means "water" in Celtic. The origin of the name Severn — the longest river in the country — is connected with the name of a Celtic goddess — Sabrina. On the eve the Roman conquest, the Britons were at the stage of decay.

^ 1.4. Roman Britain (55 B.C.-A.D. 410)

Caesar's expeditions. By 56 B.C., the Roman general and political leader Gaius Julius Caesar had almost completed his conquest of Gaul. But Gallic resistance was hard to break and was being strengthened by help from Britain. Julius Caesar led his forces into Britain in 55 B.C. and again in 54 B.C. On both occasions, he landed in Kent. In 54 B.C., he advanced inland and captured Wheathampstead, near present-day St. Albans, Hertfordshire. But a rebellion in Gaul forced him to withdraw from Britain.

At the time Caesar landed, Britain, which the Romans called Britannia, consisted of tribal communities ruled by kings or queens. The country's importance as a trading centre was already well known, but probably grew after Caesar's expeditions.

The Romans did not invade Britain again until nearly 100 years after Caesar's two expeditions. They then occupied the southern part of the island for more than 350 years. During this period, Britain was a province of Rome. It was ruled by Roman governors and defended by Roman armies and fleets.

^ The arrival of the Romans. The Roman Emperor Claudius ordered the conquest of Britain in A.D. 43 (A.D.-Anno Domini; Latin — "in the year of Christ"). At the Battle of the Medway, the Romans defeated the tribes of southeastern Britain led by Caratacus. Claudius himself marched in triumph into Colchester, where many tribal chiefs submitted to him. The Romans then advanced northwards and westwards from London, building roads and establishing forts. Caratacus fled to the southern part of present-day Wales. There, he headed a tribe called the Silures and resisted the Romans until A.D. 51, when he was defeated and captured. By A.D. 61, the Romans controlled the country as far north and west as the Humber and Severn rivers.

Between A.D. 71 and 79, the Romans subdued western Britain. Gnaeus Agricola, appointed governor in A.D. 78, advanced northwards to the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. In the A.D. 120's, Emperor Hadrian built a wall from the Solway Firth to the River Tyne to defend Roman Britain from raids by the Picts and other tribes of northern Britain. From A.D. 140 to 142, during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius, Roman forces built a second defensive wall from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde as defences against Picts and Scots, but they could not hold it against tribal attacks and eventually abandoned it.

[The Picts (from Latin Picti “painted”) lived in east and northeast. They were the



descendants of pre-Celtic natives and spoke a Celtic language. During and soon after Roman invasion they seem to have developed two kingdoms north of Firth of Forth. By the 7th century there was a united “Pictland”. It is famous for its beautifully carved memorial stones and crosses, the round stone towers – brochs, and the underground stone houses – weems.

The union of the lands of modern Scotland began in 843 when Kenneth I king of the Scots became also king of the Picts. He joined Pict-land to Scot-land to form the kingdom of Alba].

The rule of the Romans. Not all of Britain was firmly in the hands of the Romans. In the south and southeastern parts Roman influence was greatest, while in the north and west the country remained much untouched. The Romans failed to conquer northern Britain and sent no expeditions to Hibernia (Ireland).

Southern Britain, as was mentioned above, was considerably influenced by Roman civilization. There, the Roman way of life spread from the towns to the countryside. The Romans imposed their own way of life and culture, making use of the existing Celtic aristocracy to govern and encouraging this ruling class to adopt Roman dress and the Roman language [Latin]. It was during this time that the Scots migrated from Ireland to Scotland, where they became allies of the Picts and opponents of the Romans. This division of the Celts into those who experienced direct Roman [the Britons in England and Wales] and those who did not [the Gaels in Ireland and Scotland] may help to explain the development of two distinct branches of the Celtic language.

Many towns were built by the Romans, which were connected by good roads. Some of these roads still exist to this very day. For example, Watling Street from London to Chester, or Icknield Way connecting London with Cirencester. Most British towns with names ending with "chester" were, in Roman times, fortified camps.

The Romans built most towns to a standardized pattern of straight, parallel main streets that crossed at right angles. The forum (market place) formed the centre of each town. Shops and such public buildings as the basilica (public hall), baths, law-courts, and temple surrounded the forum. The paved streets had drainage systems, and fresh water was piped to many buildings. Some towns had a theatre for animal fights, gladiator shows, and plays. Houses were built of wood or narrow bricks and had tiled roofs. In some houses, hot air from a furnace was conducted through brick pipes under the floor to provide heat.

The largest of the towns was called Londinium. It began life as a Roman fort at a place where it was possible to cross the river Thames. Many believe that here was a Celtic settlement called "Llyn-dyn" which meant "lake-fort" and which the Romans changed into Latin.



The departure of the Romans. Roman rule in Britain ended when the Roman Empire declined. Massive migrations of less civilized peoples, such as the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, had for years been putting pressure on the frontiers of Rome's provinces. In the 300's, Germanic tribes penetrated into Rome's western provinces. During the same period, Saxon pirates from Germany raided the southeastern coast of Britain. In 368, Pictish tribes severely damaged Hadrian's Wall and destroyed much of northern Roman Britain. A Roman army quickly restored order, but its control soon lapsed.

Roman forces withdrew steadily from Britain to Gaul and Italy. By 400, Hadrian's Wall and the forts of Cambria were abandoned. By 407, almost all the Roman soldiers had left Britain. In 410, people in the towns appealed to Rome for protection against the Saxons. But the Romans replied that Britain had to see to its own defence. Rome itself was being attacked by Goths.

Despite their efforts, Romanized Britons were in time easily conquered by the Saxons and related Germanic tribes called ^ Angles and Jutes. The Anglo-Saxons destroyed Roman culture wherever they settled. Consequently, the Roman occupation had few lasting effects on Britain, except for good roads in the southern part of the country and the survival of the Christian Church in Wales and Cornwall.

One reason why Roman Britannia disappeared so quickly is probably that its influence was largely confined to the towns. In the countryside, where most people lived, farming methods had remained unchanged and Celtic speech continued to be dominant. The Roman occupation had been a matter of colonial control rather than a large-scale settlement.

 

^ Lecture 2 The Dark Ages (410-1066) and the Norman

                  Conquest  (1066-1337)

Many people today still call the period between the departure of the Romans in the 400's and the invasion of the Normans in 1066 the Dark Ages. This is because few reliable historical records of these times exist, and our knowledge of them is therefore limited.

^ 2.1. The Anglo-Saxon settlement

Romanized Celtic leaders operated the Roman system of local government until about 446, when they made a final, fruitless appeal to Rome for protection. From then onwards, power fell more and more into the hands of local chiefs. From time to time, some of them established a lordship over others. Tradition says that one such overlord, Vortigern, controlled an area from Kent to South Wales.



The Anglo-Saxon raids continued. These raids were part of a general migration of Germanic tribes in search of new land for their increasing population.

During the fifth century, a number of tribes from the northwestern European mainland invaded and settled in Britain in large numbers. These tribes were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. The Jutes and the Angles came from the Jutland peninsula (today southern Denmark). The Saxons arrived from the territory between the Rhine and Elbe rivers (northern Germany). At first they came as mercenaries hired by Celtic tribal chiefs who fought one against the other, then seeing that the country was weak to defend itself, they came in great numbers conquering it altogether.

Tradition says that the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England began in 449, when Vortigern invited two Jutish chiefs, Hengest and Horsa, to help him defend Kent against invading tribes. Hengest and Horsa later rebelled against Vortigern. Horsa died in battle, but Hengest and his descendants eventually conquered Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight by about 550.

The Angles occupied the central part of southern Britain and the northern and eastern coasts. The Saxons settled around the River Thames. They advanced westwards to the Bristol Channel by 577 and to the Irish Sea by 613. By then, almost all of present-day England was under Anglo-Saxon rule. Quite soon the country began to be called "the land of the Angles", later "Englaland" and as you easily see England.

In the west of the country, their advance was temporarily halted by an army of [Celtic] Britons under the command of the legendary King Arthur. Nevertheless, by the end of the sixth century, the Angle-Saxons and their way of life predominated in nearly all of England and in parts of southern Scotland.

Wherever the Anglo-Saxon settlers went, they displaced the local Romanized Celtic Britons, forcing them northwards and westwards into present-day Scotland and Wales. Some Britons took refuge in Cornwall or across the Channel in Brittany. In the 500's and 600's, the Angles made gains in Scotland and captured the land between Wales and the Celtic kingdom of Strathclyde. In the 700's, Offa, king of Mercia, built a defensive dyke that defined the English boundary with Wales.

The Anglo-Saxons and Jutes were close to each other in speech and customs, and they gradually formed into one people referred to as the Anglo-Saxons. For a long time the tribes fought with one another for supreme power.

^ 2.2. Anglo-Saxon England

Altogether, seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms developed in England—East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex, and Wessex. By the early 

600's, Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex dominated the other four kingdoms. In the 700's, Mercia had important commercial and diplomatic links with Europe.

In the 800's, Wessex became the politically dominant kingdom. Egbert, its king, conquered the Welsh of Cornwall in 815. In 825, he defeated Mercia and seized Mercia's subject kingdoms of Kent and Sussex. In 827, Egbert forced Mercia and Northumbria to accept his overlordship. After 827, local kings still ruled in East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria, but Egbert claimed to rule the whole of England.

Egbert's successors include ^ Alfred the Great, one of England's most significant early monarchs. Alfred was a great statesman, general, and man of letters. He wrote and translated books, opened schools, formed laws, and helped to found England's navy.

Among Alfred's descendants were two more outstanding kings. Athelstan, who ruled from 924 to 939, was acknowledged as overlord by the Danes and by the Celts of Scotland and Wales. ^ Edgar the Peaceful, who reigned from 959 to 975, reformed the laws and coinage and founded religious institutions.

Anglo-Saxon life. The Anglo-Saxons made little use for towns and cities. They had a great effect on countryside, where they introduced new farming methods and founded thousands of self-sufficient villages which formed the basis of English society for the next thousands or so years.

The earliest Anglo-Saxon kings were military leaders who ruled with the aid of thanes (lords). The Anglo-Saxons settled in small tribal villages or townships of timber huts thatched with straw, reeds, or heather. By the 800's, village life had become more organized. The Anglo-Saxon kings had allotted land to their thanes and had made them overlords of some villages. Villagers became dependent on their thane and had to give him food and labour.

Saxon villages consisted of about 20 to 30 families, all faithful to their leader. Local rules were made by the "moot", which was a small meeting held on a grassy hill or under a tree. Sometimes it judged cases between the people of the village. The many villages were, as time went by, grouped into "hundreds", and the "hundreds" were grouped into "shires". Each "hundred" had an open-air court of justice, and the judges were called aldermen. Important cases were judged by the sheriff of shire or by a king's representative called a reeve. These cases were discussed at a shire moot or meeting, which was a 

kind of local parliament, which met usually twice a year. The King's council was called the Witan, which was a kind of parliament of wise nobles and clergy. The Witan advised the king and was the highest law court. It could make laws and choose, or elect new kings. 

The Anglo-Saxon peoples spoke languages belonging to the Germanic group of languages. The speech of the Anglo-Saxons predominated in England and formed the basis from which the English language developed.

The Anglo-Saxons were pagans and worshipped different gods: the sun, the moon, and such nature gods as Odin (Woden) and Thor. Their names are reflected in the names of the days of the week: Tiu (Tuesday) was the god of war, Woden (Wednesday) was the supreme god and the god of kings, Thor (Thursday) was the god of storm, Frigga (Friday), Woden's wife, was the goddess of nature and of love.

St. Augustine, a missionary from Rome, brought Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons in the south. He converted Kent in the late 590s and founded the Church of England in 597.

^ 2.3. Struggle against the Viking raiders  

In the late 700's, Vikings, seafaring people from Scandinavia, raided several European countries for plunder. The Vikings from Denmark (the Danes) went mostly to England and Wales, and those from Norway (the Northmen) went mainly to Scotland and Ireland.

Vikings first raided the Wessex coast in 789. They raided the Hebrides in 794 and Ireland in the next year. Their raids became more frequent in the 800s. They attacked rich monasteries. They plundered and burnt villages, took slaves, and left survivors to starve.

The Anglo-Saxons understood that their small kingdoms must unite to struggle against the Danes successfully. At the beginning of the 9th century, Wessex became the leading kingdom. Egbert, the king of Wessex, united several neighbouring kingdoms and became the first king of the united country. Since 829, the greater part of the country was united under the name “England”. An important event that contributed to the unification of the country and the development of culture was the adoption of Christianity in England in 664. Wessex united the rest of England in the fight against the Danes.

In the 9th century, the latter conquered and settled the extreme north and west of Scotland, and also some coastal regions of Ireland. Danish Vikings first 

settled permanently in England in 851. By 870, they had conquered every English kingdom except Wessex.

Their conquest of England was halted when King Alfred the Great (871-901) defeated them in 886. This resulted in a treaty that divided England between Wessex and the Danes.

By the terms of this treaty, the Peace of Wedmore, the Danes accepted Christianity. They also agreed to live in an area north of a line drawn from the River Thames to Chester, and south of a line drawn from the River Tees to the Solway Firth. This area was called the Danelaw.

Danish Vikings founded the towns of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, and Stamford. They also established trade between England and countries beyond the North Sea. York was a leading Viking town and trading centre.

By 954, Wessex had conquered the Danelaw. Nevertheless, new Danish raiders arrived in the later 900's. King Ethelred II tried to buy them off with money raised from a land tax called Danegeld. But by 1013, the Danes had conquered most of England. However, the cultural differences between the Anglo-Saxons and Danes were comparatively small. They led roughly the same way of life and spoke two varieties of the same Germanic tongue. Moreover, the Danes soon converted to Christianity. These similarities made political unification easier, and by the beginning of the eleventh century, England was one kingdom with a Germanic culture throughout. Danish influence is still felt in some place-names ending in -by, -toft, such as Appleby or Lowestoft, as well as in the presence of some words in the English language.

In 1016, ^ Canute, king of Denmark and Norway, became king of England. On Canute's death in 1035, his empire collapsed. In 1042, Ethelred's son, Edward, became king.

The northern part of Britain, meanwhile, was the home of the Picts and Scots. After the conquest of the Picts by the Scots in the ninth century this northern territory came to be called Scotland and a united Scottish kingdom, at least in name, was formed in the 11th century.

^ 2.4. The Norman Conquest (1066-1337)

King Edward, known as the Confessor, because of his interest in religious matters, ruled from 1042 to 1066. He had no son, and a struggle for power developed.

When Edward the Confessor died, Godwin's son Harold became king with the Witan's support. His right to become king was immediately challenged by 

William, Duke of Normandy (now part of northwestern France). The Normans were a people descended from Vikings (the Northmen) who had settled around the River Seine. They had adopted Christianity and the French language and had become powerful. William claimed the English throne because he was distantly related to Edward. Edward had been brought up in Normandy and supported William's claim. However, Edward's death left power with Godwin's family, so Harold II came to the throne.

In September 1066, Tostig, Harold's brother, together with King Harald Hardrada of Norway, invaded northern England. Harold II defeated them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. But he had to turn south at once to oppose a landing in East Sussex by William. At the Battle of Hastings on October 14, the Normans defeated the Saxons and Harold was killed. The Norman conquest of England followed the Battle of Hastings.

William I was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey, London, on Christmas Day, 1066. He is known in popular history as ‘^ William the Conqueror’. The date is remembered for being the last time that England was successfully invaded.  

The Normans settled in the country, and the French language became the official language of the ruling class for the next three centuries. This explains the great number of French words in English. Unlike the Germanic invasions, the Norman invasion was small-scale. There was no such thing as a Norman village or a Norman area of settlement.

The successful Norman invasion of England in 1066 brought Britain into the mainstream of western European culture. Previously most links had been with Scandinavia. Only in Scotland did this link survive.

William was a Norman king who saw England as an extension of his French domains. He exercised strict and systematic control over his conquests. He raised taxes and redistributed land, granting most of it to barons (noblemen).

In return for their land, William's barons had to perform certain services. They and the bishops served as members of William's Council, which replaced the Anglo-Saxon Witan. The barons also had military obligations to serve as knights (army commanders) for William.

All land was divided into manors. Most manors contained a village. A baron was tenant-in-chief and had several manors. He passed on part of his military obligations to his tenants, who held manors from him. The tenants of each manor performed specific regular services for their lord. This type of land tenure and manorial and military organization is known as feudal tenure. Feudalism had been practised in Anglo-Saxon times, but under the Normans, it became more organized. The peasants were the English-speaking Saxons. The lords and the 

barons were the French-speaking Normans. This was the beginning of the English class system. The monarchy, which was established by William and his successors, was, in general, more effective. The feudal system contributed to the growth of power of the state, and little by little, England began to spread its power.

In 1086, William's officials surveyed much of England to record the ownership, extent, and value of each manor. Their records formed the ^ Domesday Book, which provided information for William's tax officers.

William II and Henry I, the sons of William I, continued their father's strong rule. Nevertheless, England was torn by civil war between 1135 and 1154, when Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, challenged the right of the fourth Norman king, Stephen, to rule. Most of the lords supported Stephen, believing that he would allow them more power. Before his death, Stephen promised that Matilda's son would become king as Henry II.

Henry II was the first Plantagenet king. He was a descendant of the French House of Anjou, whose emblem was a sprig of broom. The Latin for broom plant was planta genesta, which gave rise to the name Plantagenet. Henry reigned from 1154 to 1189. He proved to have a strong, authoritative personality. His successors were less effective. Richard I (the Lion Heart), who reigned from 1189 to 1199, wasted England's resources on crusades in the Holy Land. John, Richard's brother, reigned from 1199 to 1216. He clashed with his barons and lost many of his French lands. Henry III, John's eldest son, was just as unsuccessful a ruler during his reign (1216-1272), and his barons waged war against him.

Henry's heir, Edward, crushed the rebellious barons. In 1272, he succeeded Henry III as King Edward I. Like Henry II, Edward was a man of authority. He passed important laws and skillfully influenced the development of Parliament. He suppressed a Welsh rebellion and annexed (joined) Wales to England in 1282. The annexation was not confirmed by a political Act of Union until 1536. Apart from a revolt led by Owen Glendower (Owain Glyn Dwr) in the 1400s, Wales's political independence was ended by Edward I’s military victories. Edward also brought Scotland under English control for a time.

Edward's son, Edward II, lost much that his father had won. He proved unpopular and easily influenced by favourites. His noblemen eventually forced him to give up the throne. His son, Edward III, sought to win back England's lands in France, and in 1337, began a war against the French—the Hundred Years' War.

^ 2.5. Life under the Normans

The lord of a manor held all the manor's land as the king's tenant-in-chief. The lord kept some land as his demesne. He let other land go to freeholders, who 

could leave his manor if they wished. The rest was farmed by villains, who were bound to stay on the manor and had to give the lord part of their produce. They also had to work on the demesne.

Some land around the manor was common land for keeping cattle, poultry, and sheep. People gathered fuel from the woodland and grew hay on the meadowland.

The law.
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