<ul><li>Objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>Know the what the Norman conquest was, the players involved, and its importance (need to know what the Battle of Hastings is, but don’t need to know the details). </li></ul><ul><li>Need to know what the Magna Carta was, what it did, and why it was important. </li></ul>
Here’s the situation: England’s king, Edward the Confessor, an Anglo-Saxon (Germanic), dies in 1066. He has no heir. There’s a power vacuum and several people who want to fill it. King Edward, aka Saint Edward the Confessor: patron saint of kings, difficult marriages, and separated spouses.
<ul><li>One of the people contending for the throne was William of Normandy, Edward’s cousin. The Normans were derived from the Vikings but were pretty much French by this point. </li></ul><ul><li>Another contender was Harold Godwinson, another Anglo-Saxon and Edward’s brother-in-law, who was effectively ruling England in Edward’s latter weak days. </li></ul><ul><li>William crossed the English Channel and invaded England. </li></ul><ul><li>Edward rushes south from a previous victorious battle against a Viking lord who also wanted the throne. </li></ul><ul><li>They meet at what will become known as the Battle of Hastings in 1066, one of the most important in English history. </li></ul>
At Hastings, the English infantry form a defensive line and occupy the high ground against the Norman cavalry and archers. The initial archer volleys do nothing.
The Normans nearly eat it when the English come rampaging down the hill and almost turn William’s left flank.
William’s cavalry, though, rushes in and cuts off the English attackers.
<ul><li>Instead of trying the break through the English line, the Normans compel the English to break it themselves. The Norman cavalry would come up, attack the line for a little bit, and then do a feigned retreat. </li></ul><ul><li>The English were all too eager to break their line and chase down what they thought was a retreating enemy. </li></ul>
<ul><li>When the English would break the lines and try chasing down the Normans, the Normans would wheel around and cut down the English. They did this several times. </li></ul><ul><li>Not only did this tactic get rid of English defenders, but it also opened up gaps in the defensive line that the Normans started exploiting. </li></ul>
According to legend, Harold dies from an arrow through his right eye. This comes mainly from the Bayeux Tapestry, which is supposed to depict the events.
<ul><li>Other sources indicate he was ridden down and hacked to death. </li></ul><ul><li>Interestingly, the tapestry also depicts Halley’s Comet, which would have appeared in the sky around this time and it was seen as a bad omen. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The end result is that William conquers England and becomes known as William the Conqueror. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Fast-forward a little bit. King Richard the Lionheart (yes, the crusader) dies in 1199 and his brother John takes the throne. </li></ul><ul><li>King John wasn’t a great king. He lost English-held lands in France and raised taxes. </li></ul><ul><li>Eventually his nobles had enough of him and rebelled. They forced him to sign an agreement in 1215 that was the Magna Carta. </li></ul><ul><li>Among other things, the MC granted certain rights, like a trial by jury, taxation with representation, and a couple of others. </li></ul><ul><li>It also established a committee of 25 barons who could overrule the king and seize his possessions. </li></ul><ul><li>John signed it under duress but never intended to keep his promise. He started a civil war and died during it. The MC was reissued to subsequent kings. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Out of the Magna Carta came the first (Model) Parliament in 1295 </li></ul><ul><li>King Edward I (Edward Longshanks – the guy who killed Braveheart William Wallace) called two burgesses and two knights from every borough (district, kinda) as well as earls, barons, and Church authorities. </li></ul><ul><li>They served as a council and to approve new taxes and subsequent kings followed the precedent and called parliament from time to time to approve new taxes. </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, the groups separated themselves with the knights and burgesses becoming the House of Commons and the nobles and bishops becoming the House of Lords. </li></ul>