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 England in the Middle Ages

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Join date : 2010-10-31

England in the Middle Ages Empty
PostSubject: England in the Middle Ages   England in the Middle Ages I_icon_minitimeMon Nov 01, 2010 12:31 pm

Following the Roman retreat, Britain was left open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors such as Saxons and Jutes who gained control in areas around the south east.[40] The advance was contained for a while after the Britons' victory at the Battle of Mount Badon. The Sub-Roman Brythonic kingdoms in the north, later known collectively by British bards as the Hen Ogledd, were also gradually conquered by Angles during the 6th century. Reliable contemporary accounts from this period are scarce, as is archaeological evidence, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age. There are various conflicting theories on the extent and process of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain; Cerdic, founder of the Wessex dynasty, may have been a Briton.[41] Nevertheless, by the 7th century a coherent set of Anglo-Saxon petty kingdoms known as the Heptarchy had emerged in southern and central Britain: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex.[42]

Christianity was introduced in the south by Augustine from Rome and in the north by Aidan from Ireland. This reintroduced Christianity, which was lost after the founding of the Heptarchy.[43] The title Bretwalda, meaning "Lord of the Britons", denoted the most influential kingship.[44] Northumbria and Mercia were the most dominant forces early on.[45] However, following Viking conquests in the north and east, and the imposition of Danelaw, the premier English kingdom became Wessex under Alfred the Great. His grandson Athelstan unified England in 927, although this was only cemented after Edred defeated the Viking Eric Bloodaxe. King Cnut the Great briefly incorporated England into an empire that also included Denmark and Norway.[46] However the Wessex dynasty was restored under Edward the Confessor.

England was conquered in 1066 by an army led by William the Conquerer from the Duchy of Normandy, a fief of the Kingdom of France.[47] The Normans themselves originated from Scandinavia and had settled in Normandy a few centuries earlier.[47] They introduced feudalism and maintained power through barons, who set up castles across England.[47] The spoken language of the new aristocratic elite was Norman French, which would have considerable influence on the English language.

The House of Plantagenet from Anjou inherited the English throne under Henry II, adding England to the budding Angevin Empire of fiefs the family had inherited in France including Aquitaine.[48] They reigned for three centuries, proving noted monarchs such as Richard I, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V.[48] The period saw changes in trade and legislation, including the signing of the Magna Carta, an English legal charter used to limit the sovereign's powers by law and protect the privileges of freemen.[47] Catholic monasticism flourished, providing philosophers and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded with royal patronage. The Principality of Wales became a Plantagenet fief during the 13th century[49] and the Lordship of Ireland was gifted to the English monarchy by the Pope.

During the 14th century, the Plantagenets and House of Valois both claimed to be legitimate claimants to House of Capet and with it France—the two powers clashed in the Hundred Years' War.[50] The Black Death epidemic hit England, starting in 1348, it eventually killed up to half of England's inhabitants.[51][52] From 1453 to 1487 civil war between two branches of the royal family occurred—the Yorkists and Lancastrians—known as the Wars of the Roses.[53] Eventually it led to the Yorkists losing the throne entirely to a Welsh noble family the Tudors, a branch of the Lancastrians headed by Henry Tudor who invaded with Welsh and Breton mercenaries, gaining victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field where the Yorkist king Richard III was killed

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