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When William was crowned King of England he had actually only captured the Southeast. The rest of England was all still ‘Anglo-Saxon’. In 1066/1067 William, according to the Normans was the legitimate King of England. He had got Edward the Confessor’s promise that he would be King. He also had a kinship with Edward, which made it that much easier to become King. It didn’t hurt Williams cause when Harold apparently usurped the throne and took it for him self – it gave William a legitimate reason for invading. Then after William had gained control of the Southeast the rulers of England submitted to him at Little Berkhamstead.
Then they allowed him to be crowned King of England with an Anglo-Saxon Service. This shows their acceptance of William as their King. BUT William had made a mistake. He assumed that once he had been crowned King everyone would follow him as their King. William had not gone West of Faringdon and North of Bedford. It just so happened that the remainder of Harold’s family was in the West and Edwin and Morcar (the Northern Earls) who were in the North. Both of these groups had not really submitted to William as their king and were willing to start a rebellion to stop William becoming even more powerful.
The rebellions started because when William went back to Normandy. He had to leave regents in his place to rule for him. He chose Bishop Odo and William fitzOsbern. These two people were kinsmen of Williams and so he knew that he could trust tem. But according to Oderic Vitalis: ‘… behaved in a violent and cruel fashion… ‘ and so because of the violent and cruel fashion in which they behaved rebellions started to spring up. The first rebellion was in Exeter and involved Harold’s family. This is the first time that William shows his policies for rebelling against him.
William reacts decisively and with great force. He marches to Exeter, building castles along the way. When he got to Exeter he brings out a hostage and blinds him in front of the walls so that everyone could see it. Then he lays siege to the city. After 18 days the city submits. All William does is to build a castle in the city its self and garrison it. This is Williams’s policy: He will act with violence (the blinding of the hostage) and he will build castles. The violence scares the people and the castles ensure that the area around them is secure.
So far William has been successful against the rebellions against him because he has got superior technology (castles – which the Anglo-Saxons have not come up against before) and because he has acted decisively and with violence. He has scared the common people that he has come up against so much that they will not do it again. 1068 was a far more serious year for William. This took place in the Earldoms of Mercia and Northumbria. Edwin and Morcar decided that they had had enough of William and that they were going to join the Welsh. William once again marches up as fast as he could, only stopping off to build castles.
The key one being at Warwick which he entrusted to Henry of Bomont. Initially he manages to make peace with Edwin and Morcar, and he pardons the Earls. Whilst all this has been happening Edgar ? thling had deserted William and had gone to Scotland. Once in Scotland he persuades the King, Malcome, to marry his sister and so joining them together. The Northumbrians with the Scots seize York. So William once again sets off, again building castles wherever he goes. William then marches on York and captures it. The only thing that he does is to build a castle in York its self.
There were many more rebellions on 1068, and all of these William squashed and then built castles all over the area, thus making sure that all the problem parts of England were covered with Castles. William seemed obsessed by the idea of covering the face of England with castles. That also coupled with the face that he took charge personally were ever he could and got to the heart of the revolt as quickly as possible meant that there was not really too much damage. The rebellions of 1067 – 1072 failed, in my view, because of the fact that they were all so spur of the moment and so dispersed form one another.
If they had joined up together and planned together, then they might have had a chance. Especially of they had joined up with the Vikings that came and invaded in 1069. The Vikings gave William the most trouble, but because William already had a series of castle sin place all over the country it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. William completely destroyed the area around York, so that the Vikings and his other enemies could not make use of it. He destroyed them so badly that the effects were still apparent in the Doomsday book, written many years later.
Williams’s ferocious suppression of the north of England in 1069 – 1070 in response to the English and Scandinavian resistance is often regarded as the darkest deed in his reign. William eventually had to pay the Danes to go away so that William could deal with the English rebels him self. So William was successful against the rebels in 1067 – 1072 purely because he was more ruthless than they were and because he had access to greater technology, mainly castles building. William terrorised the English so much that they didn’t dare rebel again.