When William conquered England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 he encountered many problems that needed to be solved in order to establish his control over the Country. He needed to reward those who helped him at Hastings to keep them loyal. He needed money to run the country but he had no idea how much wealth there was and who owned what. He also needed to have an army (which he couldn’t afford) in order to keep control of the Kingdom. Another thing was that he had to find ways of controlling the local areas as the English hated him and would oppose him.
William the Conqueror was one of the most superior and heroic kings that England had ever seen. He became successful and powerful as he established tactics that were unique and very efficient. He was feared throughout the whole of England because of his violence and strong determination.
The Feudal System
One of William’s most efficient and dominant strategies was known as the feudal system .How did this help him keep control? This tactic consisted of four levels of hierarchy that made it very effective! First of all at the top of the feudal system was obviously the king, William himself as he was the most superior!
Secondly were the Barons that owed allegiance to the king. William had brought about 200 barons with him from Normandy. He divided up the land in England between them. In return for the land they had been given by the King, the Barons had to swear fealty to the King. They had to serve on the royal council, pay rent and provide the King with Knights for his army when he demanded it. They also had to provide lodgings and food for the King and his court when they travelled around the country. The Barons kept as much of their land as they wished for their own use, then divided the rest among their Knights. Barons were very rich.
Next were the knights that ensured that both the king and the barons were protected and safe from danger they were given some money to ensure that they stayed focused and on duty. Finally were the peasants. They owed allegiance to everyone that was above them in the feudal system. They fought in battle and ensured that everyone was well fed. They were given a little bit of land to farm. This is only one of the effective strategies that William had hidden up his sleeve! This is what made him successful. It was new to England and was effective and unbelievably efficient.
William the Conqueror built many towering and sturdy castles throughout England. He built them near major towns, cities and rivers, however how did this ensure that he kept control? He built different types of castles ranging from strong stone castles to wooden motte and bailey castles! The motte and bailey castle was built on the highest bit of ground in the area. They could be built by about 50 men within 40 days. They were regarded as temporary castles; they were unique and well equipped. He built as many of these as possible in strategic positions e.g. harbours so that he could control a wide area and observe enemy activity. They consisted of two mounds that held a small community and a keep. The small community ensured that the motte and bailey had a high defence and that it was well equipped with soldiers. The Keep was mounted on top of a towering hill that was surrounded by a ditch. This made it difficult for enemies to gain control and ambush the Normans! Surrounding the keep and the community was a bailey a wooden fence that helps protect the keep and community this was often built by Saxons! Building castles played a major part of how William controlled the land. It was impossible for foes to gain control due to the castles that were built in tactical places! William learned from the battle of Hastings that whoever had the higher ground would have a higher chance of success! So he used this knowledge and built the castles on a hill so he would have the upper