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'The greatest change the Normans brought was a transformation of the English church.' How far do you agree with this judgement?

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Introduction

Fiona Cook 'The greatest change the Normans brought was a transformation of the English church.' How far do you agree with this judgement? The reform of the English church was a major change brought about by the Normans following their victory over the English in 1066. However, the Normans introduced many other changes to English society. This essay will explore some of those changes and offer an alternative view of what was the greatest change. In 1070, a few years after the Norman Conquest, William started on his reform of the English church. One of his first moves was to replace the Archbishop of Canterbury by Lanfranc. Lanfranc was the Abbott of St. Stephen's in Caen. He had gained favour with William by being influential in persuading Pope Alexander II to support the Norman invasion of England. The English clergy did not impress Lanfranc and he supported William's policy of promoting foreigners to high office in the Church. It was Lanfranc who implemented the rule that priests could not marry. He replaced English with Latin as the language in which Church services were to be conducted. What ever William wanted, he could make happen through Lanfranc as Lanfranc was greatly respected by the English. ...read more.

Middle

The church allowed William to communicate with his people and get a hold on society. It was also a place where French and English could congregate too. However the church did not help William in terms of keeping control over the whole country, military wise, and it did not assure his continued sovereignty. When it came down too it, William's priority was keeping control of his throne, and alone, the church could not do this. Therefore it is probable to say that his success did not come from the feudalisation of the church alone, and was more to do with other issues. His success did not come from the church alone, and in my view was more to do with other changes. Castles, like churches, were buildings that formed the focal point of their community. The castles were placed where threatened Normans could retreat, while simultaneously holding a good defensive position. These castles contributed to William's success, as rebellions often occurred. William was often away from England. In 1074, for example, William spent most of his time in Normandy, suggesting he had confidence in his authority over the English. It could also suggest that at this time, the English were fairly content with his rule. ...read more.

Conclusion

The only places where Earls owned large amounts of land were in Wales and Northern England where attack was a reduced possibility. This shows how carefully thought out William's strategy was. It also suggests that the security of the lands contributed to eliminating rebellion, linking in with the building of castles. It is not easy to determine which was the greatest change brought to England by the Norman conquerors, as all of the changes mentioned above were significant ones. It is arguable that the church was the most significant change William brought to England, as it generally 'won over the people.' However, in my opinion, the transformation of the church did not have the same impact as that made by the construction of castles as it was these that secured William's reign. The people of England were very religious, and the church did help to unite the Anglo Saxons and Normans, but the impact of the castles went much wider: it stimulated the growth and economic prosperity of castle towns and provided levels of defence, without which, it is unlikely that William would have stayed in power for so long. In my view, the change to English society brought by these castles was therefore more important than the changes brought by the transformation of the Church. ...read more.

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