On a longer-term perspective, it is arguable that the Conquest was the last in a series of conquests of lowland Britain and itself had relatively little impact on a broader evolutionary process of economy, society, landscape, and language. The newcomers were a small military élite who were gradually assimilated into Britain and whose connections with the continent were severed with the loss of Normandy in 1204. On the other hand, it is not unreasonable to think of the Norman Conquest as a decisive shift within this broader process; the England and the Britain which emerged from the Norman military take-over were surely significantly different from the one which would have developed if Harold had won. There can be no doubt that William and his successors governed through mechanisms which were essentially those of the late Old English kingdom. The new aristocracy claimed to exercise the same rights and powers over their peasants as their English predecessors had done. Not everyone, however, would accept this appearance of continuity at face value. William I, William II, and Henry I all intervened with increasing frequency in the shires; it is far from certain that Harold and his successors would have made the same use of the existing structures. At a local level, many estates were reorganized, apparently in the short term depressing the fortunes of the peasantry. It was also the case that the Conquest's creation of the cross-channel Anglo-Norman realm sucked England into the feuds between the territorial rulers of northern France and can be linked over centuries to the outbreak of the Hundred Years War. The new connection with France also established cultural connections which ensured that England's place in the 12th-cent. renaissance was more closely linked to developments in France than it would otherwise have been. The Conquest extracted England from the Scandinavian political orbit which had brought about the earlier conquest by Sweyn Forkbeard and Cnut and Harold Hardrada's invasion, defeated in 1066 by Harold Godwineson at the battle of Stamford Bridge. It is doubtful whether Wales, Scotland, and—ultimately—Ireland would have been as intensively colonized from England but for the presence there of a new aggressive aristocracy.
David Richard Bates
Norman Conquest ★ Park Plaza 1953
Conway finds himself drugged and framed for murder in this bargain-basement thriller. Bartok is the leader of a diamond-smuggling operation who may be involved. 75m/B VHS . GB Tom Conway, Eva Bartok, Joy Shelton, Sidney James, Richard Wattis, Robert Adair, Ian Fleming; D: Bernard Knowles; W: Bernard Knowles.