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Hommes et sociétés, dans l’Europe de l’an mil

 | 
Pierre Bonnassie
, 
Pierre Toubert

b) Les diversités régionales

England around the year 1000

David Bates

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  • 1 Much can be said about this subject. I find particularly interesting the recent observations by Pi (...)
  • 2 Dominique Barthélemy, La mutation de l’an mil a-t-elle eu lieu ?, Paris, 1997, p. 13-28 ; L’an mil (...)

1To commemorate the year 1000 is not in truth to commemorate a specific year or event. It is to confront a multi-dimensional range of issues. Whatever one’s personal stance in relation to the febrile controversies now associated with La mutation de L’An Mil, there is no doubt that the discussion of the period around the millennium has in recent times broadened to take in much more than the classic economic and social themes which were traditionally central to the subject1. Once identified with a feudal crisis, the dissolution of many traditional forms of authority and the disintegration of notions of loyalty and abstract notions of justice, it is now, whatever the perspective taken, thought of much more in terms of renewal, a mixing of the traditional and the novel, and the beginning of major long-term changes. The debates largely initiated by Dominique Barthélemy raise issues about whether the period should be seen as a distinctive phase of change, as opposed to needing to be placed in a lengthy evolutionary process2.

  • 3 See, for example, K. Leyser, “On the Eve of the First European Revolution”, in Communications and (...)
  • 4 This is a complex topic with an enormous bibliography. See, for example, the remarks of David Bate (...)
  • 5 James Campbell, “Was it infancy in England? Some Questions of Comparison”, in England and Her Neig (...)
  • 6 James Campbell, “England, France, Flanders and Germany in the reign of Ethelred II: some compariso (...)

2With so much now controversial about the wider historiographical context of La mutation or the so-called feudal revolution, any attempt to address the subject of England around the year 1000 has to be done against a very fluid interpretative background. Not to do so is, however, to fail to address adequately England’s place either in relation to the disputed revolutionary implications of La mutation, or to the differing versions of what is coming to be characterised as “the First European Revolution”3. It is also to fall into the particularly English snares which locate revolutionary change at the Norman Conquest of 1066, rather than in any sense before, or which treat the five hundred and more years of “Anglo-Saxon England” as a unitary historical period, without asking questions about change within it4. What is easily the most important discussion of La mutation as applied to England goes as far as to deny its relevance; first published in 1989, it is in any case now very dated in relation to French historiography5. Other attempts at comparison have not attracted the international response which they deserve6. The explanation for English historiography’s relative absence of engagement with the holistic conceptual framework of La mutation is ultimately a matter for speculation. One fairly persuasive line of argument would emphasise the predominant concern of much Anglophone historical writing with law and the progressive evolution of the state. It is also true that differences in quality and quantity of documentation can fuel different discourses; England has law-texts and Domesday Book in a way that France does not, but charters and narrative sources are much less numerous.

  • 7 For a summary bibliography of this vast subject, see Robin Fleming, “The New Wealth, the New Rich (...)
  • 8 R. Abels, Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Londo (...)
  • 9 Rosamond Faith, The English Peasantry and the Growth of Lordship, Leicester, 1997, ch. 1 to 6; Chr (...)
  • 10 P. Wormald, The Making of English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century, Oxford, 1999, p. 462, 4 (...)
  • 11 M.K. Lawson, “Archbishop Wulfstan and the homiletic element in the laws of Æthelred II and Cnut”, (...)

3An extensive literature does, however, pin-point the ninth to the eleventh centuries in England as a time of massive social and economic change, as countless new villages were created, market towns founded and aristocratic power diversified and re-shaped7. A change of considerable importance in Anglophone historical writing has been the recent emphasis placed on the far-reaching role of lordship and aristocratic power8. The evolution of lordship over peasants has been set within parameters which have much in common with the regions of the Carolingian West9. Very importantly, moreover, Patrick Wormald has recently remarked that “it is hardly controversial that the evidence from the early decades of the eleventh century gives off an aroma of revolutionary times” and has identified very clearly key elements of mutationisme in the English sources. His statement that “it matters for Europe’s as well as England’s history that apocalyptic foreboding and social upheaval alike could be confronted by a leading figure (ie, Wulfstan) in a governmental system that was still viable, and in ways that contributed to its survival” is of the greatest importance10. Kenneth Lawson has also drawn valuable parallels between English law-codes and the Peace of God11. Neither, however, was able to take account of Dominique Barthélemy’s explosive rejection of La mutation de L’An Mil.

4The most obvious characteristics of the tenth – and eleventh – century English polity are without doubt firstly the strength of what I shall for convenience call the state and secondly the kingdom’s continuing absorption into a Scandinavian, as well as a western European, world. The literature on both is extensive. We can begin a discussion of both by taking the very simple route of quoting the entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 1000:

  • 12 I have for convenience largely followed the translation in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Revised Tr (...)

5In this year the king (Æthelred) went into Cumbria and ravaged nearly all of it; and his ships went out round Chester and should have come to meet him, but they could not. And the enemy fleet had gone to Richard’s realm (ie, Normandy) that summer12.

  • 13 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. A Collaborative Edition. V. ms. C, ed. Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, Camb (...)
  • 14 For an assessment of the year 1000 and the military situation, Pauline Stafford, “The Reign of Æth (...)

6This laconic text is not contemporary with the events it describes, since it reached its final form after Æthelred’s death in 1016. There is also considerable uncertainty about where it was written; its latest editor, for example, has proposed a revival of the old attribution to Canterbury13. Notably remote from any sensationalism about the year 1000, it tells us of a botched campaign beyond the north-west of the kingdom, in all probability into Strathclyde and of a failed naval operation in the Irish Sea, both presumably against hostile military activity based in the Norse settlements in Ireland, aided perhaps from Strathclyde and the lands of the kings of Scots. It also keeps in focus “the enemy”, by which is meant the Scandinavian war-bands, which were by this time engaged in the systematic exploitation of the English kingdom, and a part of which in 1000 had traveled to Normandy, the land ruled by the descendants of Viking settlers14.

  • 15 For convenient surveys of the main lines of argument, Simon Keynes, “A Tale of Two Kings: Alfred t (...)

7While 1000 was a year of relative calm in terms of the attacks on England from Scandinavia, it needs to be kept firmly in mind that they had been renewed in 980 and that their ultimate outcome was the cataclysmic defeat of English forces and the assumption of English kingship in 1016 by the Danish king Cnut. Historians continue to debate how far the English monarchy’s defeat was the result of Æthelred’s personal failings as a ruler, or of factors beyond his control. Immense ingenuity has been lavished on unraveling the volatile and often disruptive relationships within the aristocratic elite15. With hindsight, we can see that the English kingdom was in the year 1000 in the midst of a deepening crisis, but the crisis may not have been so self-evident to contemporaries. The kingdom possessed great resources and the attacks were at this stage mostly local in their significance. It was only after 1006 that the situation became serious, and only by 1013 that there were manifest signs of terminal collapse.

  • 16 The politics of the marriage have recently been well discussed in Pauline Stafford, Queen Emma and (...)
  • 17 The classic essay is James Campbell, “Observations on English Government from the Tenth to the Twe (...)

8King Æthelred’s capacity to mount an extensive military operation involving land and naval forces at such a great distance from the monarchy’s power bases in the south in the old kingdom of Wessex is notable. Although the campaign seems to have been a failure, the fact that it could be undertaken at all is testimony to the power and resources of the late tenth-century English state. It echoes, and in some senses maintains, the powerful, but contested, claims to rule over the whole of Britain which had evolved in the earlier reigns of Æthelstan (924-39) and of Æthelred’s father Edgar (959-75). We also know that Æthelred later tried to strike out against his enemies through an attack on Normandy which was defeated in the Cotentin, having previously, in 1002, sought to neutralise one area of support for his enemies by marrying Emma, a daughter of Richard I16. The failure of these military initiatives illuminates the difficulties which the English kings experienced in maintaining their power around the fringes of their lands. It is also notable that in the year 1000, as for more than a century before and a further century afterwards, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle remains a “national” source interested in what we might call “national” events and in the fate of the “nation”. In less anachronistic terms it is reasonable to see it as a continuation of the Carolingian court annalistic tradition exported to Wessex in the time of Alfred the Great (871-99), and thence, as the kings of Wessex expanded the territory under their rule, to England. The Chronicle exemplifies the extensive borrowing from the Carolingian Empire which has been a major theme in modern English historiography17.

  • 18 All the relevant articles can now be conveniently consulted in Essays in Anglo-Saxon History and T (...)
  • 19 “It may seem extravagant to describe early England as a ‘nation-state’. Nevertheless it is unavoid (...)
  • 20 P. Wormald, “Lordship and Justice in the Early English Kingdom: Oswaldslow revisited”, in Property (...)
  • 21 J. Campbell, “The Late Anglo-Saxon State: A Maximum View”, Proceedings of the British Academy, 199 (...)
  • 22 See the comments in Campbell, The Anglo-Saxon State, p. xxi-xxiii, as against P. Wormald, “Engla L (...)
  • 23 Thus, “it is obvious enough that the raids exposed tensions and weaknesses which went deep into th (...)

9The most powerful arguments for the strength of the English state in the tenth and eleventh centuries have been brilliantly set out by James Campbell18. Central to them are the law-codes, a unified system of coinage, systems of assessment which supported organised military service and taxation on a then unique scale, the local communal governmental units of shire and hundred integrated into a kingdom-wide framework, a sense of belonging to a single state and relatively well-defined frontiers (except in the north)19. Patrick Wormald has added continuous royal control over all major forms of justice to the panoply20. In what he describes as the “maximum” view, Campbell also argues for the early presence of what might be seen as the distinctive and well-nigh timeless English characteristics of individual freedom and constitutional monarchy21. However, if the strength of the English state around the year 1000 is effectively an historical orthodoxy, there are very significant differences of emphasis among the scholars who write about it, and considerable doubts about the depth of unification. One of the most serious differences of opinion unquestionably concerns the chronology of England’s unification. While it is a common factor in all arguments that a single English kingdom was created by the Wessex conquests of the tenth century, the degree to which this was foreshadowed by eighth-century developments is controversial22. In the same way, the crisis of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, ending as it did in political collapse, can be seen as a temporary interlude in a progressive process, or as evidence of deep structural flaws23.

  • 24 Timothy Reuter, “The Making of England and Germany, 850-1050”, in A.P. Smyth (ed.), Medieval Europ (...)
  • 25 M.K. Lawson, “The collection of Danegeld and Heregeld in the reigns of Ætheklred II and Cnut”, Eng (...)
  • 26 R. Fleming, Domesday Book and the Law: Society and Legal Custom in Early Medieval England, Cambrid (...)

10A wide-ranging critique of Campbell’s “maximum” view has pointed out how far it depends on the evidence of law and coinage24. Other significant qualifications have concerned tax, legislation, the king’s capacity to intervene in the localities and the enduring strength of regionalism. As all commentators admit, however, none of them ultimately dent a fundamental acceptance of the strength of the English state in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Kenneth Lawson, for example, might doubt whether the kings received all the taxes they levied, but he has no doubt that the large sums recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are correct25. While Robin Fleming has pointed out that local courts were often dominated and manipulated by great aristocrats, and that the kings’ interference in the legal life of local communities was infrequent, this does not weaken the fundamental point that the officials controlling the courts were ultimately recognised as being the kings’ appointees26. A return to the older plural kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and the like was briefly threatened by the agreement between Cnut and Edmund Ironside in 1016 by which the former took Mercia and Northumbria and the latter Wessex, but in this case, we cannot know what would have happened if Edmund had not died soon after the agreement, thereby allowing Cnut to take over the kingdom. The likelihood is that the conflict would have continued – perhaps lengthily and exhaustingly – until unity had been recreated. None of the subsequent dynastic or political crises in 1035-37, 1042, 1051-2 and 1066-72 threatened the kingdom’s unity.

  • 27 W.E. Kapelle, The Norman Conquest of the North: The Region and its Transformation, 1000-1135, Lond (...)
  • 28 F. Barlow, Edward the Confessor, new ed., New Haven and London, 1997, p. 235-9; Kapelle, Norman Co (...)
  • 29 See especially, A.A.M. Duncan, “The Battle of Carham, 1018”, Scottish Historical Review, 1976, t. (...)
  • 30 See the essay by W.M. Aird, “Northern England or Southern Scotland? The Anglo-Scottish Border in t (...)

11The strength of regionalism and, specifically, of the extent to which the kings actually controlled the northern counties of their kingdom have been much discussed. A minimum – and probably correct – view is that, while the shires north of the Humber were identifiably part of England, regular royal intervention there was not expected, and was indeed resented27. It is noticeable too that Domesday Book’s account of Yorkshire and Lancashire is much less substantial than those of the counties to the south. The classic illustration of the dichotomous character of northern England is the revolt in 1065 against the imposed southern English earl Tostig, a revolt which effectively asked King Edward the Confessor to replace him with a member of a less southerly family, but still very much an English one, that of the earls of Mercia. This need not be viewed, however, as a statement of principled adherence to being English, but as a pragmatic solution to an intractable problem. It was after all the Northumbrians, not the king, who got what they wanted, and attempts to strengthen ties between Mercia and the North were a tactic with at least a century’s history behind it28. As it happens, the period around the year 1000 did see the English kings lose for ever their claim to control Lothian to the rulers of another emergent kingdom, the kings of Scots29, but this must be seen as part of a longer struggle for hegemony, since exactly where the line between the kingdoms of the English and the Scots might fall was still very much an open question in the twelfth century, let alone the tenth or the eleventh30.

  • 31 G. Duby, Les Trois Ordres ou l’imaginaire du féodalisme, Paris, 1978; translated into English as T (...)
  • 32 The passages are conveniently set out in Powell, “The ‘Three Orders’”, p. 110-22; Wormald, Making (...)
  • 33 For a summary of the evidence for links, David Bates, “Britain and France and the Year 1000”, Fran (...)
  • 34 The point about social disorder is very well made in Wormald, Making of English Law, p. 461-2.

12There are many parallels between the evidence which does survive from England and France around the year 1000. The appearance, or rather reappearance, or perhaps, rediscovery, at this time on both sides of the Channel of the idea that society was divided into three orders is well known. Since Georges Duby’s magisterial discussion, a formidably large literature has been published31. The three statements on the subject by Ælfric of Eynsham and the one by Archbishop Wulfstan of York, which date from either shortly before, or shortly after the year 1000, are all a warning that the orders were becoming confused, that the bellatores were not playing their part, and that, as a result, the kingdom was under threat32. All, along with a fifth mention by an unknown author, pre-date the famous pronouncements in the 1020s by Gerard of Cambrai and Adalabero of Laon. Any attempt to establish the primacy of the English and French usages strikes me as both fruitless and valueless; the scale of links across the Channel at this time was such that traditional textual criticism is simply irrelevant to a subject which would undoubtedly have been discussed orally by intellectuals who had all read the same basic texts33. The ways in which the schema is set out by the various authors are different, not only on the two sides of the Channel, but even on the same side; Ælfric’s three statements, for example, are differently couched from one another. It is above all Wulfstan who treats expansively of the theme of social disorder and the lack of respect for rank, not, it must be said, in his short statement about the three orders, but elsewhere in his voluminous writings in graphic and forceful terms. In this respect, the construct resembles the French. But, for Wulfstan and in Ælfric’s third statement, it was the very security of the kingdom which was threatened by the mixing of the orders34.

  • 35 For English references to the imminent end of the world, Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, ed. Dorothy Whitelo (...)
  • 36 The Homilies of Wulfstan, ed. Dorothy Bethurum, Oxford, 1957, p. 136-41. Key passages are translat (...)
  • 37 The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church: The First Part, containing the Sermones Catholici or Homil (...)
  • 38 For a similar opinion, Sermo Lupi, ed. Whitelock, 48. See also, Leo Carruthers, “Apocalypse Now: P (...)
  • 39 Sermo Lupi, ed. Whitelock, p. 47-67. For a translation, English Historical Documents, vol. 1, c.50 (...)

13The English evidence for apocalyptic thinking is extensive35. Ælfric and Wulfstan make several explicit mentions of the imminent end of the world, and it is Wulfstan who provides a remarkably vivid description of the forthcoming rule of Anti-Christ36. There is compelling evidence that the notion that the end might come in the year 1000 was taken seriously. Writing, for example, in around the year 990, Ælfric specifically sets the texts which are known as his Catholic Homilies in the context of the forthcoming end of the world; he did not, however, believe that the time of Anti-Christ had yet come37. More persuasively, Wulfstan, in the homily mentioned above, alluded to the famous prophecy that the end would indeed come a thousand years after Christ’s birth, while pointing out that the millennium had now past. Although both Ælfric and Wulfstan, like Abbo of Fleury, who had heavily influenced Ælfric, were well aware of the theological objections to predicting the date of the Second Coming, Wulfstan would surely not have written as he did if there had not been a powerful expectation among those of whose opinions he was aware, that 1000 might be the year38. After the year had passed, he still consistently wrote as if the end was not far away. His famous Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, written in 1014, has often been interpreted as a call to repentance in the context of what was by then manifestly a mounting military and political crisis. Yet the Viking attacks are little mentioned in what is regarded as the earliest version of the great sermon. Its beginning sets a scene which is primarily apocalyptic; the attacks, along with such manifestations as disloyalty, violence and oppression, were mainly seen as symptoms for the approaching time of Anti-Christ, for which Wulfstan was encouraging the English people to prepare39.

  • 40 Catholic Homilies, p. 2.
  • 41 In general on this topic, see Lawson, “Archbishop Wulfstan and the homiletic element in the laws o (...)
  • 42 For the accounts of the council, F. Liebermann, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, 3 vols., Halle, 1903 (...)
  • 43 V Æthelred, 14, 14.1, 15, Liebermann, t. 1, p. 240-1.
  • 44 VII Æthelred, 1, 2, 2.1, Liebermann, t. 1, p. 260.

14There is no doubt that both Ælfric and Wulfstan were trying to disseminate their message very widely, and that both (particularly Wulfstan) commanded the communication channels to enable them to do so. Ælfric, like Alfred the Great a century earlier in the midst of a different set of troubles, saw translation into the vernacular of key texts as a means to combat error and spread true doctrine among those not literate in Latin40. Wulfstan also wrote extensively in the vernacular, and his Sermo Lupi, addressed to the whole English people and ranging across all sectors of society, presumably sought to reach a large audience. His role as the draftsman of Æthelred’s and Cnut’s law-codes from 1008 gave him a unique vehicle to do this41. Concern for peace and anxieties about violence, attacks on church property and disloyalty to God, kingdom and lords became the constant theme of the law-codes of the last years of Æthelred’s reign. At Enham, probably in 1008 and certainly at Pentecost (when the Apostles had preached to the multitude), the bishops, meeting on the instructions of the king and the two archbishops, reached agreements about peace among themselves and then preached to large crowds about the need for true Christian belief. The nobles agreed, possibly on oath, to abide by what the king had decreed42. Enham means the place where lambs are bred and it is very probable that it was decided at the same time to make a new national coinage, which is known as agnus dei, and on which the Lamb is represented. Further religious provisions were made then and subsequently for the kingdom’s welfare. A universal fast was decreed, for example, on all feasts of the Virgin and of the Apostles (with the exception of Philip and James, because of Easter), and it was decided that the feast-day of Æthelred’s murdered brother, King Edward the Martyr, should be celebrated on 18 March43. The 1009 law-code which, in its Old English version, starts with a rubric mentioning the arrival of the great army of the Danish chieftain Thurkill, announced a universal penance on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Michaelmas, that every man should go barefoot to church and make confession, and that all should go out in processions with relics44. All this strongly resembles the contemporary events of the Peace of God in southwestern France. While the role of oaths seems less prominent, and that of the king, much more prominent in England than in the regions of France, these may well be more differences of form than substance, resulting from local circumstances.

  • 45 Campbell, “England, France, Flanders and Germany in the reign of Ethelred II: some comparisons and (...)
  • 46 Rollason, Saints, p. 169.
  • 47 Catherine Cubitt, “Sites and sanctity: revisiting the cults of murdered and martyred Anglo-Saxon r (...)

15It is difficult to know how far the writings and activities of these essentially conservative churchmen might reflect either widespread popular hopes and fears, or indeed a profound social crisis; the absence of an English equivalent of Ralph Glaber inhibits somewhat the kind of debate about popular involvement that the evidence from France encourages. The overwhelming emphasis must surely be on a traditional episcopal role to advise the king and protect the salvation of his subjects, on duties which were much more traditional than radical. Nonetheless, while Wulfstan and the other bishops were unquestionably trying to mobilise opinion in a certain religious direction, it is quite likely that peoples affected by eschatological expectations and, at least in the south and east of England, an ever increasing military threat from overseas, would already be very restive. In parallel with France, there were also significant developments in England in the composition of saints’ lives and the frequent translation of relics from c.950 onwards45. The Lives of the three main saints of the Tenth-Century Reform, Æthelwold, Dunstan and Oswald, all put an emphasis on “asceticism, authority and association with the king”46. The translations of relics were frequently to the profit of the religious houses most closely associated with the Reform. Even if these developments can to an extent be interpreted as indicative of ecclesiastical authority organising and channeling the religious lives of the laity and reinforcing the alliance of king and Church which was central to the Tenth-Century Reform, the frequent participation of the poor has to be evidence of the same social and religious inter-action suggested by the evidence of apocalyptic belief. It has recently been argued that cults such as that St. Edmund the Martyr, the king of East Anglia killed by Vikings in 870, whose Life was written by both Abbo of Fleury and Ælfric (in his case in the vernacular), were in origin popular cults taken up by the authorities. Similar arguments can be applied to the rapid sanctification of King Edward the Martyr, murdered brother of King Æthelred47. This is not the alliance of populace and clergy against oppressive castellans of extreme mutationisme, but it does suggest arguments for popular opinion as a powerful force in society.

  • 48 Kathryn A. Lowe, “Lay Literacy in Anglo-Saxon England and the Development of the Chirograph”, in A (...)
  • 49 Liber Eliensis, ed. E.O. Blake, Camden, 3rd. series, 1962, t. 92, p. 87; Lowe, “Lay Literacy”, p. (...)
  • 50 See, for example, Susan Kelly, “Anglo-Saxon lay society and the written word”, in The Uses of Lite (...)
  • 51 Olivier Guyotjeannin, “‘Penuria scriptorum’ : le mythe de l’anarchie documentaire dans la France d (...)
  • 52 Hemingi chartularium ecclesiae Wigorniensis, ed. T. Hearne, 2 vols., Oxford, 1723, t. 1, p. 248-9. (...)
  • 53 On the despoliations, see, for example, Simon Keynes, The Diplomas of King Æthelred ‘The Unready’ (...)

16Although English diplomas are in many respects sui generis in comparison with continental Europe, the English documents reveal the sort of mutation documentaire which is evident in France at this time. While the cirograph has an inexplicably precocious history in England – the earliest date from the beginning of the ninth century – the number of survivals, often involving an agreement between an ecclesiastical institution and a layman, are notably greater from the second half of the tenth century48. It is also noticeable that some monasteries not only kept their portion of the cirograph, but also compiled a narrative record of the transaction; there is, for example, a famous story inserted into the Liber Æthelwoldi from the abbey of Ely49. English historians have in general interpreted these changes as evidence of increasingly literate documentary practice, rather than of the social dissolution and clerical uncertainty favoured by the mutationistes50. There are obvious parallels with the arguments of Olivier Guyotjeannin against the so-called myth of documentary anarchy in France; as in France; for example, the diplomatic form and language of the new texts take a great deal from traditional documents51. It was Wulfstan (again), as bishop of Worcester, who oversaw the production of the first surviving English cartulary in the early years of the eleventh century. It is noteworthy that the second cartulary of Worcester cathedral, which dates from the end of the eleventh century, commented on the losses which the church had suffered around the year 1000 as a result of the depredations of both English and Danish aristocracies52. Overall narratives inserted into the diplomas often illuminate the despoliation of church lands which was a particular feature of the early years of Æthelred’s reign, and which was often complained about in the laws and homilies53.

  • 54 See the references listed in Bates, “Britain and France and the Year 1000”, p. 20, note 48; Barthé (...)
  • 55 Matthew Strickland, “Military Technology and Conquest: the anomaly of Anglo-Saxon England”, Anglo- (...)
  • 56 For convenient references and discussion, Fleming, “The New Wealth”, 11-15.

17The similarities, as well as the differences, between England and France in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries are relevant to both the national historiographies of the two countries and to European history in general. They pose fundamental problems about how apparently similar phenomena, sometimes recorded in very different types of document, should be approached. One extreme position would be to propose that the undeniable presence in the English sources of factors associated in French historiography with feudal crisis and the dissolution of authority suggests that French historians have in large measure misdiagnosed the disease, and should think again. This is not the subject of this chapter, but it is worth remarking that the renewed emphasis on the survival of public power in recent writing about tenth-and eleventh-century France, albeit mostly at the level of the principalities rather than the kingdom, represents a major shift54. A second extreme possibility is that English scholars, by largely ignoring La mutation, have neglected a very profitable analytical paradigm and seriously misrepresented England’s historical development. The new emphasis on lordship and its ramifications and the many analyses of social change make this a possibility. Key questions about the militarisation of western European society do, however, pose particularly fraught problems when applied to England. While the notion that English warfare was technologically inferior to continental has been vigorously rebutted by Matthew Strickland, issues relating to so-called “heavy cavalry” and castles are particularly complex55. The differences in fighting methods exemplified by the clash of infantry and cavalry at the hard-fought Battle of Hastings in 1066 do illustrate two somewhat distinct military cultures. Yet archaeology is increasingly pointing to investment by the aristocracy in fortified residences and in physical and ideological structures which differentiated them from the mass of the peasantry56. If undesirable semantic discussions about the meaning of the word “castle” are left to one side, the parallels with France are striking.

  • 57 Vincent Moss, “Normandy and England in 1180: the Pipe Roll evidence”, in England and Normandy in t (...)
  • 58 Sarah Foot, “The making of the Angelcynn: English identity before the Norman Conquest”, in Transac (...)

18England, we should probably conclude, was different, but not exceptional. A good test of comparative social structures is to look back at the processes of change around the first millennium from the perspective of differences between Normandy and England after 1066. When, for example, we look at two near-identical sources surviving from the two sides of the Channel, such as later twelfth-century Exchequer Rolls, it is clear that the notions of a local unit of revenue collection and of justice presided over by a royal official, in other words, the shire and the sheriff, had survived much more robustly in England than in even a relatively undisrupted territorial principality such as Normandy57. A probable explanation of difference, at least in terms of the history of politics and power, is that the wars between territorial princes which characterised tenth- and eleventh-century France placed a stronger premium on local fortification and localised power than in England, where towns which were often the successors of King Alfred the Great’s burhs still served to protect against outside invaders, and where wars between great aristocrats were rare and therefore militated against a consolidation of local territorialised power. I personally doubt whether the English state around the year 1000 was that distinct from its continental equivalents, at least in the way in which state power was defined. While “national identity” is clearly more deeply entrenched than in the regions which became France and Germany, its significance for historical development is debateable58. Over the longer term, England is most probably best viewed as an old-fashioned state, with predominantly Carolingian cadastral structures and kingly law-making which were regularly reinforced by conquest at the very top. The Wessex kings in the tenth century, the Danish ones after 1016, and the Norman ones after 1066 all centralised power on themselves and made great play of perpetuating existing structures and law. It is a paradox that crisis and change reinforced continuity.

  • 59 Andrew Wareham, “The ‘Feudal Revolution’ in eleventh-century East Anglia”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 2 (...)

19In England around the year 1000, there was a complex inter-weaving of apocalyptic expectation, social change, military failure and political disunity. There is undeniably a danger of circularity in analysing a mostly clerical rhetoric which deals with these themes. In England too, the crisis around the year 1000 was undoubtedly very real; it was not the abstract modern creation of the mutationistes, but destructive and persistent invasion. If the English evidence does perhaps favour an evolutionary perspective on change, it unquestionably demonstrates its pace and importance and it illuminates magnificently the feverish atmosphere which existed in the years around the first millennium. Although focused exclusively on 1066, a recent econometric analysis of Domesday Book East Anglia has proposed that consolidation and estate management, rather than violence, is at the heart of the so-called feudal revolution59. There are analytical possibilities in England which exist nowhere else in Western Europe.

Notes

1 Much can be said about this subject. I find particularly interesting the recent observations by Pierre Bonnassie, “Les inconstances de l’An Mil” and Dominique Iogna-Prat, “Consistances et inconsistances de l’an mil”, in Médiévales, 2000, t. 37, p. 81-90, 91-7. The use or non-use of capital letters is notable.

2 Dominique Barthélemy, La mutation de l’an mil a-t-elle eu lieu ?, Paris, 1997, p. 13-28 ; L’an mil et la paix de Dieu : La France chrétienne et féodale, 980-1060, Paris, 1999.

3 See, for example, K. Leyser, “On the Eve of the First European Revolution”, in Communications and Power in Medieval Europe: The Gregorian Revolution and Beyond, London and Rio Grande, 1993, p. 1-19; R.I. Moore, The First European Revolution, c.970-1215, Oxford, 2000.

4 This is a complex topic with an enormous bibliography. See, for example, the remarks of David Bates, “England and the ‘Feudal Revolution’”, in Il Feudalismo nell’alto medioevo, Settimane di studi del Centro Italiano de studi sull’alto medioevo, 2000, t. 47, p. 615-16, 642-44; Eric John, “The Age of Edgar” in J. Campbell, P. Wormald and E. John, The Anglo-Saxons, London, 1982, p. 168-9. For a valuable critique of the word “Anglo-Saxon”, Susan Reynolds, “What Do We Mean by ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Anglo-Saxons’?”, Journal of British Studies, 1985, t. 24, p. 395-414.

5 James Campbell, “Was it infancy in England? Some Questions of Comparison”, in England and Her Neighbours, 1066-1453: Essays in Honour of Pierre Chaplais, ed. Michael Jones and Malcolm Vale, London, 1989, p. 1-17; reprinted in James Campbell, The Anglo-Saxon State, London and New York, 2000, p. 179-99.

6 James Campbell, “England, France, Flanders and Germany in the reign of Ethelred II: some comparisons and connections”, in Essays in Anglo-Saxon History, London, 1986, p. 191-207.

7 For a summary bibliography of this vast subject, see Robin Fleming, “The New Wealth, the New Rich and the New Political Style in Late Anglo-Saxon England”, in Anglo-Norman Studies, 2001, t. 23, p. 1-2.

8 R. Abels, Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1988, p. 146-61. In general, Bates, “England and the ‘Feudal Revolution’”, p. 611-49. For a good recent discussion of the dynamics of lordship, Stephen Baxter, “The Earls of Mercia and their commended men in the mid eleventh century”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 2001, t. 23, p. 23-46.

9 Rosamond Faith, The English Peasantry and the Growth of Lordship, Leicester, 1997, ch. 1 to 6; Christopher Wickham, “Problems of comparing rural societies in Early Medieval Western Europe”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1992, 6th. series, t. 2, p. 235-6.

10 P. Wormald, The Making of English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century, Oxford, 1999, p. 462, 464, for the quotations. My debt to Patrick Wormald’s work will be very evident in the pages which follow.

11 M.K. Lawson, “Archbishop Wulfstan and the homiletic element in the laws of Æthelred II and Cnut”, English Historical Review, 1992, t. 107, p. 574-5; reprinted in The Reign of Cnut: King of England, Denmark and Norway, ed. A.R. Rumble, London, 1994, p. 152.

12 I have for convenience largely followed the translation in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Revised Translation, ed. D. Whitelock, D.C. Douglas and S.I. Tucker, London, 1961, p. 85.

13 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. A Collaborative Edition. V. ms. C, ed. Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, Cambridge, 2001, p. lxviii, with references to earlier discussions.

14 For an assessment of the year 1000 and the military situation, Pauline Stafford, “The Reign of Æthelred II, a Study in the Limitations on Royal Policy and Action”, in Ethelred the Unready: Papers for the Millenary Conference, ed. D. Hill, British Archaeological Reports, British Series, t. 59, Oxford, 1978, p. 30.

15 For convenient surveys of the main lines of argument, Simon Keynes, “A Tale of Two Kings: Alfred the Great and Æthelred the Unready”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1986, 5th. series, t. 36, p. 195-217; M.K. Lawson, Cnut: The Danes in England in the early eleventh century, London and New York, 1993, p. 34-48; Pauline Stafford, Unification and Conquest: A Political and Social History of England in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries, London, 1989, p. 57-68.

16 The politics of the marriage have recently been well discussed in Pauline Stafford, Queen Emma and Queen Edith: Queenship and Women’s Power in Eleventh-Century England, Oxford, 1997, p. 215-20. For the attack on the Cotentin, The “Gesta Normannnorum Ducum” of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, 2 vols., ed. and trans. Elisabeth M.C. van Houts, Oxford, 1992-95, t. 2, p. 12-15.

17 The classic essay is James Campbell, “Observations on English Government from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1975, 5th. series, t. 25, p. 39-54; reprinted in Essays in Anglo-Saxon History, p. 155-70. See also, P. Wormald, “Æthelwold and his continental counterparts: contact, comparison, contrast”, in Bishop Æthelwold. His career and influence, ed. Barbara Yorke, Woodbridge, 1988, p. 13-30.

18 All the relevant articles can now be conveniently consulted in Essays in Anglo-Saxon History and The Anglo-Saxon State.

19 “It may seem extravagant to describe early England as a ‘nation-state’. Nevertheless it is unavoidable”. The central points in favour of this statement are set out in J. Campbell, “The United Kingdom of England: The Anglo-Saxon Achievement”, in Uniting the Kingdom? The Making of British History, ed. A. Grant and K.J. Stringer, London, 1995, p. 31-7; reprinted in The Anglo-Saxon State, p. 32-7.

20 P. Wormald, “Lordship and Justice in the Early English Kingdom: Oswaldslow revisited”, in Property and Power in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Wendy Davies and Paul Fouracre, Cambridge, 1995, p. 114-36; “Maitland and the Anglo-Saxon Law: Beyond Domesday Book”, in The History of English Law: Centenary Essays on “Pollock and Maitland”, ed. John Hudson, Oxford, 1996, p. 6-10.

21 J. Campbell, “The Late Anglo-Saxon State: A Maximum View”, Proceedings of the British Academy, 1994, t. 87, p. 49-51, 62-3; reprinted in The Anglo-Saxon State, p. 12-14, 26-8.

22 See the comments in Campbell, The Anglo-Saxon State, p. xxi-xxiii, as against P. Wormald, “Engla Lond: the making of an allegiance”, Journal of Historical Sociology, 1994, t. 7, p. 3-5.

23 Thus, “it is obvious enough that the raids exposed tensions and weaknesses which went deep into the fabric of the late Anglo-Saxon state”, Simon Keynes, “England, c.900-1066”, in The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. iii: c.900-c.1024, ed. T. Reuter, Cambridge, 1999, p. 484. Campbell, on the other hand, identifies stability up until 1006, J. Campbell, “England, c.991”, in The Battle of Maldon: Fiction and Fact, ed. Janet Cooper, London, 1993, p. 13-17; reprinted in The Anglo-Saxon State, p. 173-8.

24 Timothy Reuter, “The Making of England and Germany, 850-1050”, in A.P. Smyth (ed.), Medieval Europeans. Studies in Ethnic Identity and National Perspectives in Medieval Europe, Basingstoke, 1998, p. 60-1.

25 M.K. Lawson, “The collection of Danegeld and Heregeld in the reigns of Ætheklred II and Cnut”, English Historical Review, 1984, t. 99, p. 731-5. The accuracy of the Chronicle’s figures has been discussed at some length; for a bibliography, Campbell, The Anglo-Saxon State, 28, note 91.

26 R. Fleming, Domesday Book and the Law: Society and Legal Custom in Early Medieval England, Cambridge, 1998, p. 27-31.

27 W.E. Kapelle, The Norman Conquest of the North: The Region and its Transformation, 1000-1135, London, 1979, passim; Stafford, Unification and Conquest, p. 57-8, 95-9.

28 F. Barlow, Edward the Confessor, new ed., New Haven and London, 1997, p. 235-9; Kapelle, Norman Conquest of the North, p. 99-101.

29 See especially, A.A.M. Duncan, “The Battle of Carham, 1018”, Scottish Historical Review, 1976, t. 55, p. 20-8; Kapelle, The Norman Conquest of the North, p. 21-2, for slightly different interpretations of the evidence.

30 See the essay by W.M. Aird, “Northern England or Southern Scotland? The Anglo-Scottish Border in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries and the Problem of Perspective”, in Government, Religion and Society in Northern England, 1000-1700, ed. J.C. Appleby and Paul Dalton, Stroud, 1997, p. 27-39.

31 G. Duby, Les Trois Ordres ou l’imaginaire du féodalisme, Paris, 1978; translated into English as The Three Orders: Feudal Society imagined, Chicago and London, 1978. For helpful bibliography, W.E. Powell, “The ‘Three Orders’ of society in Anglo-Saxon England”, Anglo-Saxon England, 1994, t. 23, p. 105-09; Wormald, Making of English Law, p. 457-62.

32 The passages are conveniently set out in Powell, “The ‘Three Orders’”, p. 110-22; Wormald, Making of English Law, p. 458.

33 For a summary of the evidence for links, David Bates, “Britain and France and the Year 1000”, Franco-British Studies: Journal of the British Institute in Paris, 1999, t. 28, p. 10-13. Much of the basic material is set out by Veronica Ortenberg, The English Church and the Continent in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries, Oxford, 1992, p. 218-63.

34 The point about social disorder is very well made in Wormald, Making of English Law, p. 461-2.

35 For English references to the imminent end of the world, Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, ed. Dorothy Whitelock, 3rd. ed., reprinted, Exeter, 1976, p. 47, note 7. The English evidence has been only slightly discussed in the controversies among historians of France. For a view stressing the absence of millennial expectation, while thinking it very likely to occur in England, Sylvain Gougenheim, Les fausses terreurs de l’an mil: attente de la fin des temps ou approfondissement de la foi?, Paris, 1999, p. 52, 76-7. For a more positive assessment, Richard Landes, “The Fear of an Apocalyptic Year 1000: Augustinian Historiography, Medieval and Modern”, Speculum, 2000, t. 75, p. 103, 117.

36 The Homilies of Wulfstan, ed. Dorothy Bethurum, Oxford, 1957, p. 136-41. Key passages are translated in Wormald, Making of English Law, p. 451-2. On the subject as a whole, Malcolm Godden, “Apocalypse and Invasion in Late Anglo-Saxon England”, in M. Godden, D. Gray and T. Hoad (eds.), From Anglo-Saxon to Early Middle English: studies presented to E.G. Stanley, Oxford, 1994, p. 130-62.

37 The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church: The First Part, containing the Sermones Catholici or Homilies of Ælfric, ed. B. Thorpe, London, 1844, t. 1, p. 2-6.

38 For a similar opinion, Sermo Lupi, ed. Whitelock, 48. See also, Leo Carruthers, “Apocalypse Now: Preaching and Prophecy in Anglo-Saxon England”, in Études anglaises, 1998, t. 51, p. 404-09.

39 Sermo Lupi, ed. Whitelock, p. 47-67. For a translation, English Historical Documents, vol. 1, c.500-1042, ed. Dorothy Whitelock, Oxford, 1955, p. 854-59. For a reaffirmation of the traditional dating of the three main versions of the Sermo, Godden, “Apocalypse”, p. 143-6.

40 Catholic Homilies, p. 2.

41 In general on this topic, see Lawson, “Archbishop Wulfstan and the homiletic element in the laws of Æthelred II and Cnut”, p. 573-9; reprinted in The Reign of Cnut: King of England, Denmark and Norway, p. 150-6; Wormald, Making of English Law, p. 449-65. See also, Dorothy Whitelock, “Archbishop Wulfstan, homilist and statesman”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1942, 4th. series, t. 24, p. 35-45.

42 For the accounts of the council, F. Liebermann, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, 3 vols., Halle, 1903-16, t. 1, p. 246-57; Councils and Synods with Other Documents relating to the English Church, i, AD 871-1204, ed. D. Whitelock, C.N.L. Brooke and M. Brett, 2 vols., Oxford, 1981, p. 362-73. Note the phrases atque pactum pacis et concordie fideliter firmiterque inter se confirmabant and Haec itaque legaliter statuta vel decreta in nostro conventu sinodali a rege Æpelredo magnopere edicta, cuncti tunc temporis optimates se observaturos fideliter spondebant, Liebermann, t. 1, p. 247, 257; Councils and Synods, p. 362, 373.

43 V Æthelred, 14, 14.1, 15, Liebermann, t. 1, p. 240-1.

44 VII Æthelred, 1, 2, 2.1, Liebermann, t. 1, p. 260.

45 Campbell, “England, France, Flanders and Germany in the reign of Ethelred II: some comparisons and connections”, in Essays in Anglo-Saxon History, p. 193-4; Christine Fell, “Edward King and Martyr and the Anglo-Saxon Hagiographic Tradition”, in Ethelred the Unready: Papers for the Millenary Conference, p. 1-13; David Rollason, Saints and Relics in Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford, 1987, p. 164-95.

46 Rollason, Saints, p. 169.

47 Catherine Cubitt, “Sites and sanctity: revisiting the cults of murdered and martyred Anglo-Saxon royal saints”, Early Medieval Europe, 2000, t. 9, no. 1, p. 63-5, 72-4.

48 Kathryn A. Lowe, “Lay Literacy in Anglo-Saxon England and the Development of the Chirograph”, in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts and their Heritage, ed. P. Pulsiano and E.M. Treharne, Aldershot, 1998, p. 185-203.50 out of 63 surviving known cirographs date from after 950.

49 Liber Eliensis, ed. E.O. Blake, Camden, 3rd. series, 1962, t. 92, p. 87; Lowe, “Lay Literacy”, p. 171-2.

50 See, for example, Susan Kelly, “Anglo-Saxon lay society and the written word”, in The Uses of Literacy in Early Medieval Europe, ed. Rosamond McKitterick, Cambridge, 1990, p. 47-51; Lowe, “Lay Literacy”, p. 168-80.

51 Olivier Guyotjeannin, “‘Penuria scriptorum’ : le mythe de l’anarchie documentaire dans la France du nord (xe-première moitié du xie siècle)”, Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Chartes, 1997, t. 155, p. 11-44.

52 Hemingi chartularium ecclesiae Wigorniensis, ed. T. Hearne, 2 vols., Oxford, 1723, t. 1, p. 248-9. The fundamental study of these two early Worcester cartularies remains N.R. Ker, “Hemming’s Cartulary: a Description of the two Worcester cartularies in Cotton Tiberius A XIII”, in Studies in Medieval History presented to Frederick Maurice Powicke, ed. R.W. Hunt, W.A. Pantin and R.W. Southern, Oxford, 1948, p. 49-75.

53 On the despoliations, see, for example, Simon Keynes, The Diplomas of King Æthelred ‘The Unready’ 978-1016, Cambridge, 1980, p. 176-86.

54 See the references listed in Bates, “Britain and France and the Year 1000”, p. 20, note 48; Barthélemy, L’an mil et la paix de Dieu, p. 82-88, 468-96.

55 Matthew Strickland, “Military Technology and Conquest: the anomaly of Anglo-Saxon England”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 1997, t. 19, p. 353-82.

56 For convenient references and discussion, Fleming, “The New Wealth”, 11-15.

57 Vincent Moss, “Normandy and England in 1180: the Pipe Roll evidence”, in England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, ed. David Bates and Anne Curry, London, 1994, p. 190-4. In general, see David Bates, “Normandy and England after 1066”, English Historical Review, 1989, t. 104, p. 851-80.

58 Sarah Foot, “The making of the Angelcynn: English identity before the Norman Conquest”, in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1996, 6th. series, t. 6, p. 25-49.

59 Andrew Wareham, “The ‘Feudal Revolution’ in eleventh-century East Anglia”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 2000, t. 22, p. 293-322.

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