Subjugation of the CountryCategory: 11th century
The victory at Hastings was only the beginning of the Conquest. It took several years for William and his barons to subdue the whole of England. Soon after the victory at Hastings the Normans encircled London and the Witenagemot had to acknowledge William as the lawful king of England. Thus the Norman duke became king of England — William I or, as he was generally known, William the Conqueror. He ruled England for 21 years (1066-1087).
During the first five years of his reign the Normans had to put down many rebellions in different parts of the country. The free peasants fought fiercely for their freedom against the invaders. The peasant communities in Kent offered the most stubborn resistance to the invaders. Only in the early part of 1068 did the Normans conquer the West, and in the latter part of that year they subdued central and northern England as far as Yorkshire. But rebellions against Norman rule rose again and again, in one part of the country and then in another. The largest rebellions took place in 1060 and 1071 in the North-East where the free peasantry was more numerous than in other regions of the country.
In 1071 the subjugation of the country was completed. All the uprisings were put down and the rebels were punished severely. William’s knights raided the villages burning and slaying far and wide. After several uprisings in the North,
William who was a fierce and ruthless man, determined to give the Anglo-Saxons a terrible lesson. The lands of Northumbria were laid waste. Whole villages between York and Durham were ruined—every cottage was burnt to the ground, people were killed, cattle were driven off, all the crops and orchards were destroyed. Hardly a house was left standing, or a human being alive and the land became a desert for many years. Only the great castle of Durham which was built by William’s order rose on a high rock surrounded by a river, above the burnt villages and untilled fields.
With lessons of such severe punishment the conquerors meant to keep the people in obedience, to intimidate them, so that they should not dare to rise against Norman rule.