The Shaping of the Nation (1066-1381)
I. Norman Rule (1066-1381)
1. William's Rule （1066-1087）
England's feudalism under the rule of William the Conqueror
①Under William, the feudal system in England was completely established. ②According to this system, the King owned all the land personally. ③William gave his barons large estates in England in return for a promise of military service and a proportion of the land's produce. ④These estates were scattered far and wide over the country, so that those who held them could not easily combine to rebel the king. ⑤The barons, who had become William's tenants-in-chief, parceled out land to the lesser nobles, knights and freemen, also in return for goods and services. ⑥At the bottom of the feudal scale were the villeins or serfs. ⑦One peculiar feature of the feudal system of England was that all landowners must take the oath of allegiance，not only to their immediate lord, but also to the king.
2. King Henry II and his reforms
The ways King Henry II consolidate the monarchy.
Henry II took some measures to consolidate the monarchy. He forced the Flemish mercenaries to leave England; recalled grants of Royal lands made by his previous king Stephen; demolished many castles built in Stephen's time; strengthened and widened the powers of his sheriffs and relied for armed support upon a militia composed of English freemen.
The ways Henry II reform the courts and the law.
King Henry II greatly strengthened the Court and extended its judicial work. He divided the whole country into six circuits and appointed justices to each. Cases were therefore heard before the intermittent justices who applied the law impartially. During his reign, a common law was gradually established in place of the previous laws of the local barons. He also introduced a new jury system to replace the old ordeal-based trial system. Besides, he shifted the trial of clergymen charged with criminal offenses from the Bishop's court to the King's court.
II．Contents and the significance of the Great Charter
Great Charter was signed by King John in 1215 under the press of the barons. It consists of sixty-three clauses. Its important provisions are as follows: (1) no tax should be made without the approval of the Grand Council; (2) no freemen should be arrested, imprisoned or deprived of their property; (3) the Church should possess all its rights, together with freedom of elections; (4) London and other towns should retain their traditional rights and privileges, and (5) there should be the same weights and measures throughout the country. Although The Great Charter has long been popularly regarded as the foundation of English liberties, it was a statement of the feudal and legal relationships between the Crown and the barons, a guarantee of the freedom of the Church and a limitation of the powers of the king. The spirit of the Great Charter was the limitation of the powers of the king, keeping them within the bounds of the feudal law of the land.
《大宪章》是约翰国王1215年在封建贵族压力下签定的。《大宪章》总共63条，其中最重要的内容是：(1) 未经大议会同意，不得征税；(2) 只有根据国家有关法律才能逮捕、监禁自由人以及剥夺他们的财产；(3)教会应享受其所有权利且有选举自由；（4） 伦敦和其它城镇应保留其古时的权力和特权；(5) 全国要使用统一的重量和长度度量衡。尽管人们普遍认为《大宪章》为英国的自由奠定了基础，但该宪章只是规定国王和贵族之间封建关系和法律关系的文件，保证了教会的自由，限制了国王权利。《大宪章》的精神是限制国王权力，使其在英国封建法律允许的范围内活动。
III.The origins of the English Parliament
The Great Council is known to be the prototype of the current British Parliament. In 1265, Simon de Montfort summoned the Great Council, together with two knights from each county and two citizens from each town. It later developed into the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Its main role was to offer advice. There were no elections or parties. And the most important part of Parliament was the House of Lords.
IV．The Hundred Years' War and its consequences.
The Hundred Years' War refers to the war between England and France that lasted intermittently from 1337 to 1453. The causes of the war were partly territorial and partly economic. The territorial causes were related with the possession by the English kings of the large duchy in France, while the French kings coveted this large slice. The economic causes were connected with cloth manufacturing towns in Flanders, which were the importer of English wool, but they were loyal to the French king politically. Besides, England's desire to stop France from giving aid to Scots and a growing sense of nationalism were the other causes.
The English's being driven out of France is regarded as a blessing for both countries. If the English had remained in France, the superior size and wealth of France would have hindered the development of a separate English national identity, while France was hindered so long as a foreign power occupied so much French territory.
V. The Black Death
The Black Death is the modern name given to the deadly epidemic disease spread by rat fleas across Europe in the 14th century. It swept through England in the summer of 1348. It reduced England's population from four million to two million by the end of the 14th century.
The economic consequences of the Black Death were far-reaching. As a result of the plague, much land was left untended and there was a terrible shortage of labour. The surviving peasants had better bargaining power and were in a position to change their serfdom into paid labour. Some landlords, unable or unwilling to pay higher wages, tried to force peasants back into serfdom. In 1351 the government issued a Statute of Labourers which made it a crime for peasants to ask for more wages or for their employers to pay more than the rates laid down by the Justices of the Peace.
VI. The Peasant Uprising of 1381 and its significance
Armed villagers and townsmen of Kent and Essex, led by Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, moved on London in June, 1381. The king was forced to accept their demands. Most of the rebels dispersed and went home, while Tyler and other leaders stayed on for more rights. Tyler was killed at a meeting with the king.
The uprising was brutally suppressed, but it had far-reaching significance in English history. First, it directed against the rich clergy, lawyers and the landowners. Second, it dealt a telling blow to villeinage, and third, a new class of yeomen farmers emerged, paving the way to the development of capitalism.
1381年6月，在瓦特 泰勒和杰克 斯特劳领导下，凯特郡和埃塞克斯郡的农民和市民武装起来发动起义，并向伦敦进发。国王被迫接受了他们的要求。大多数起义农民解散回家，但泰勒和其他坚决的农民留下来要求得到更多的法律、宗教和政治权利。泰勒在又一次与国王的会见中被杀死。