England: A Norman Property

The coming of the Normans to Britain turned every single aspect of life around. After their disastrous conquest, which annihilated Anglo-Saxon England and set another kind instead, the Normans started a systematic process to transform England into a Norman property. They brought with them a highly centralized and hierarchical system of government, which had a lasting influence on the political landscape of Britain.

Administrative Changes

From their early days, the Normans introduced feudalism as the chief means to manage the new property. Under this mechanism, land was divided into large estates which were granted by the king to his nobles in return for their loyalty and military service. The nobles, in their turn, would grant smaller parcels of land to their own vassals, who were required to provide them with military service or other forms of support. Feudalism helped consolidate the Normans’ power in England, as the king was able to rely on a network of loyal vassals to govern the country. It also had the effect of strengthening the power of the aristocracy, as the nobles became the dominant force in British politics.

Another significant way in which the Normans shaped British politics was through the consolidation of monarchy and royal courts. Prior to the Norman Conquest, the kings of England had been relatively less powerful, with certain prerogatives being shared among various regional lords and knights. However, the Normans brought with them a highly centralized form of government, in which the king was the final if not ultimate authority. This centralization of power was notable in the establishment of a strong royal court, which another political organ to serve the state’s decisions and policies.

Legal Transformations

The Normans put the locals through a rigid militaristic system to break any sort of rebellion against the Normans’ authority in England. The result was the introduction legal and administrative practices that would guarantee order and discipline. In fact, taxation and the establishment of the Exchequer, a system of financial administration, helped in centralizing the management of royal finances. Their “common law,” did tremendously standardize legal practices across the country. They additionally established a system of local government, with the appointment of royal officials like “Justiciars” to oversee local administration.

Briefly, the Normans introduced a host of mechanisms and systems, both legal and administrative, which in few decades transform the political landscape in England. Feudalism, royal courts, taxation and a range of legal and administrative reforms did indeed establish a centralized and hierarchical system of government. The latter would indubitably shape British politics in the centuries to come.