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In the Norman Conquest, the Normans (from Normandy in the north of France) invaded England. The Normans were led by William the Conqueror.
The main cause of the invasion was the desire for conquest. There had been a dispute over who should be the next king of England and William invaded to support his claim.
The result of the conquest was that the Normans were the ruling class in England. The natives of England were, in most cases, reduced in status. This made French the language of the elites, and this changed the English language a great deal.
Upon the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, William of Normandy, and Norway’s Harold III all claimed the English crown. William won the throne with the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Norman conquest brought William of Normandy to the English throne. There he found an established sovereign monarchy, a tradition of free men participating in government, and system of royal agents, or sheriffs. Preserving these government institutions but staffing them with his own followers, William ensured that all land remained under the control of the king as he introduced feudalism to the island. New accounting systems and extensive fiscal records facilitated efficiency. His Domesday Book surveyed English land holdings and wealth.
The centralized kingdom of England was the creation of the Norman Conquest of 1066. William the Conqueror retained portions of the administrative system of Anglo-Saxon England while imposing the French system of feudal vassalage. All land in England was held directly from the king. William’s successors created a central treasury system, the Exchequer and a central court. The most important legal reformer was Henry II (1154–1189). Henry successfully imposed the jurisdiction of royal courts over both aristocratic and ecclesiastical tribunals. Under King John (1199–1216) and Henry III (1216–1272), the barons of England were able to gain some voice in the government. John was forced to accept the Magna Carta, or the great charter of liberties that placed the English king under the rule of law. King Edward I (1272–1307) formalized the participation of barons in government by the creation of a parliament. As the wealth of the towns made them attractive sources of revenue, urban representatives also became customary attendees at parliament. By 1300, England and France had become the most centralized governments of western Europe. Because their governments could make more efficient use of their national resources, they were also the most powerful.
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