Anglo Saxon England has been seen by some commentators as a bit of a basket case by 1066 – out of date and ready to be conquered. But actually England had its great strengths that would have been the envy of continental monarch, if they’d spent any time thinking about that small, damp island somewhere off the continental coast. The History of England takes a brief look at the English state in the 11th century
Law, Government, Agriculture – and Feudalism?
Anglo Saxon England was not so very different from continental Europe, in reality. But there were some differences. Mainly these were around a more communal approach to Government. For example, the position of Earl was a non hereditary job title in England; he was a government official. In Normandy, Earl is a hereditary title. The Army is similar too – the Anglo Saxon Army is still recruited as a public army, rather than raised by the Kings’ nobles based on their landholding.
But things had changed since 7th Century. England was moving towards Feudalism; most Thegns held land of their own right, but more held them from a lord in return for military service. And more Coerls had lost their independent land holding than used to be the case, and were therefore less free. A manorial approach to agriculture was much more common – i.e. organised around a village with communal fields, rather than individual farms.
The King’s though had mainly retained his rights – although there was a little devolving of his rights of justice to his nobility. And his power had grown – because now he has the added power of the Church and God’s approval to add to his mystique. English administration was also relatively advanced, so he could be effective – unless he was himself incompetent of course.
Searching for place names
The English Place Name Society is the official expert I guess; now at Nottingham University. There is this delightful site you can use to search for the place name of your choice – the Key to English Place Names. Give it a go!