PROVIDE A HISTORY OF ENGLAND DURING THE 100 YEARS WAR.
History of Britain Part I
Political History of England: 1066
By the dawn of the 11th century, England was no amateur to being invaded. For centuries Vikings had raided and plundered coastal villages, everywhere sowing seeds of destruction and chaos. Then, Alfred the Great, a Saxon king, made England stable enough to fend off Viking attacks; despite the long boats that came and went, the king’s law ensured stability. However, one Viking invasion succeeded where the others had failed, leaving a Viking, King Canute, on the English thrown. Canute, as has already been discussed in class, ruled a vast empire, which was comprised of England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. King Canute respected Saxon customs and its nobility in England, and therefore, he changed nothing with regards to English society and culture. Canute chose as his closest advisor the most powerful Saxon noble, Godwin, Earl of Wessex. Godwin’s power and influence became so insurmountable that he became virtual co-ruler with Canute in England. Then, when Canute Died in A.D. 1035, a power struggle ensued amongst the nobility. Treachery, murder, and mutilation ran rampant throughout the divided island. By the end of this bloody contest, Prince Edward was the only survivor that had any claim to the throne as a descendent of the once great Saxon, Alfred the Great.
Edward, known as “The Confessor,” was crowned king on Easter Day A.D. 1043. However, he did not possess absolute power. Godwin still retained a lot of power and he did not want to lose power to the newly crowned king. Edward hated Godwin because Godwin had arranged the death of his older brother during the tumultuous period after Canute’s death. However, despite his position as king, Godwin’s influence was such that there was little Edward could do in order to seek revenge on his rival. Therefore an uneasy peace agreement was reached when Godwin offered his daughter to Edward for marriage, and Edward accepted.
Edward had grown up in Normandy and was not native to England. Edward’s mother was Norman, and he had lived in Normandy for 30 years before being crowned the English king. Edward’s native language was Norman French, and his godfathers were the formidable Dukes of Normandy. The Normans themselves were decedents of Viking raiders that had settled and learned how to ride horses into battle with uncanny skill. Although the Norman Duchy did formal homage to the king of France, they were very independent—they owned fortified castles and were patrons of great churches, which granted them considerable papal support. In time, a gent by the name of William “the Conquer,” whichever title you prefer, was born in A.D. 1027 in Normandy, and was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy. William was a child when his dad died on a pilgrimage to the holy land, leaving William only 8 years of age as his heir. It is likely that Edward was a protector of William in his young age. William would not have an easy upbringing due to Norman nobles that had set their eyes on becoming the Duke, which was William’s debatable title. William survived assassination attempts, and saw his Stewart murdered before his eyes at the tender age of 10. Edward must have been astonished at how the boy grew into a formidable man that was able to crush a league of rebellious nobles that tried to rob William of the title of his duchy.