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 What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.

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normanhurst
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PostSubject: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Sun 16 Sep 2012, 08:32

Of the thousands of men transported here as the invading force under William at the time of the conquest, was it arranged that each knight came with his own retinue of troops. Was it planned to invade and conquer and then once Norman rule was established for the knights to return to their homeland estates or to stay and take fresh lands here. Did they ever return to Normandy, or commute between France and England on a regular basis… more to the point what became of the rank and file foot soldiers they brought over with them. were they ever to go home or was the whole expedition a massive land grab, exactly how did the soldiers benefit from all the fighting, did they receive any land, enough for them to farm and raise a family. Assuming a lot of them were retained to patrol and govern their lord’s castle and lands, did any of them bring families with them or take English women as wives… and blend into a newly formed Anglo-Norman society.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Mon 17 Sep 2012, 08:57

You do ask some intriguing questions at times, sir! This one started me on a thumbing exercise through some books I had to hand thinking that a ready answer could be obtained, the failure in which then sent me on a surfing trek that led me to some weird and wonderful websites, none of which addressed the case in point, and finally to desperate e-mails sent to anyone and everyone who might know a bit about this or know a bit about someone who knows a bit etc. I got quite a few responses (inquisitive minds have been aroused) and I expect more. But here’s the interim report:

The upshot is that no one, it appears, seems to have cared to think about the ordinary guys before. There is no extant record of a contemporary nature which even hints at their treatment, their behavior, or even their movements in the immediate wake of the conquest. Nor is there much mention in the records that exist of anyone connected with William who mightn’t be classified as one of the “nobs” who joined him on his excursion.

However there are some clues, or at least some assumptions which can be made based on data contemporary with and subsequent to the event. The first clue lies in the immediate apportionment of confiscated lands. Contrary to widely held presumption the initial “land grab” in which William confiscated and took ownership of previously Saxon-administered estates amounted to 50% of the country and of this half was immediately given over to the church – the pope having made this a condition of support. This left a quarter of the estates to be shared out, and there is no evidence that there was much subdivision of previous Saxon estates when this was initially done. The reason for this would have been everything to do with as seamless a takeover of the taxation system as possible. William did not want extra administrative overheads, just the loot. This means that of the 7,500 troops he commanded (the upper estimate) only about 40 to 50 of the top nobs got their hands on anything, at least initially. This will account for some of the foot soldiers etc who may have been in their employ and who may have been thus deployed to consolidate their bosses’ ownership of their new lands, but obviously not that many.

We also know that William, even after the official coronation at Christmas, did not for a moment think he had consolidated his own securement, and we also know that he suspected from day one that those knights who he had rewarded with great estates could also simply revert to being local warlords and difficult to control if he turned his back on them for a moment. For these reasons he kept the entire country under what we now would call martial law and his troops on a war footing. From this we can deduce that quite a bit of the “expeditionary force” must have thus become an army of occupation and been deployed in William’s patrolling of that 50% of territory where the Saxon administration had been pretty much left in situ, at least initially. How many of these formed a part of the original invasion force is moot however. William invaded with quite a few men who probably would have joined on the understanding that they could high-tail it back to Normandy a.s.a.p. afterwards for purely agricultural reasons. There is no record of any hardship back in Normandy based on uncollected harvests or insufficient winter preparations so this seems to have occurred, and we also know that troop transports to and fro across the channel excited the attention of local monks, so this seems to indicate a rather fluid deployment and redeployment of “squaddies” throughout the period. In the fealty system many of these would have been in the service of William via service to a local noble in Normandy who may or may not have also shared in the Hastings adventure. Many will not have done so. This means that the lads at the bottom of the pile will have simply been used much as professional soldiers today, with no expectation of material reward from the English booty.

The paucity of Norman surnames in circulation for quite a while supports this general pattern. It was to be 50 years before this surname pattern seems to have exploded in number. Of course by then the land grab had moved on in two huge strides, both of which together brought in almost all the land in the kingdom outside of church control under royal administration. This seems to have been the opportunity for the lower Norman ranks to finally “make good” in England, though we’re talking about a whole generation away from the lads who’d initially come over with the boss.

So the short answer to your questions seems to be – those who stayed on at the time were not in a position to bring families over. Less of those who had formed the bulk of the lower rank troops remained than went back after the initial job was done (though many may indeed have returned later, and maybe several times). There was an initial land grab but it wasn’t as big as is presumed and would not have been sufficient to reward everyone in the initial excursion with estate. And anyway William trusted his leaders only slightly more than he trusted the Saxons and didn’t want any of them getting ideas above their station, so the system he devised kept them all on their toes. This supports the notion that poor squaddies were kept in perpetual motion too.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Mon 17 Sep 2012, 10:40

What an informative reply, many thanks. I have to say at first it seemed to attract very little interest leaving me to think it wasn’t enough for the academics here to bother with… I drew many blanks when I tried surfing for answers as well, hence my question. You’ve obviously put quite a bit of time and effort into it, thank you once again.

I’d guesstimated an army of around 8,000, but didn’t realise his commanders, the ‘nobs’ that gained much would have numbered so few.
It’s as I imagined then that the rank and file, the cannon fodder of the future received little or anything. How typical.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Mon 17 Sep 2012, 10:57

Still waiting for a mate's response from Trondheim. He has written at length about the experience of the foot soldier in the Norse military structure, the model on which William marshaled his forces too. His insight would be valuable here - I know he's traced the evolution of Norse military organisation through several European (and west Asian) societies.

Normally when a bunch like William's invaded another territory there was a lot of sacking and looting of towns (the places where the disposable wealth was normally concentrated) and the "proceeds" were primarily earmarked for lump sump payoffs to everyone concerned, even down to the lowest ranks. This didn't happen in 1066. When towns, such as York for example, were famously sacked later it was normally where they were being taken back by the Normans after an interim revolt. The last thing William wanted in those situations was looting, since he would have rated everything of value in the place as his anyway.

By medieval standards the English adventure to a common Norman footsoldier must have been one of the least lucrative campaigns in which one could ever have had the misfortune to be involved.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Mon 17 Sep 2012, 19:37

Most informative post Nordmann but is 7.500 the upper estimate? I have seen slightly higher estimates than that figure in some books on the battle.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Mon 17 Sep 2012, 20:55

It's a higher estimate, yes, Tim. There are lower but the even higher would seem to contradict the contemporary accounts.

However, even if the actual figure is indeed slightly higher it only serves to reinforce the point that the footsoldiers and their ilk received paltry rewards, if any. The few select mates of William got and shared amongst themselves all the immediate spoils.

Or do you know different? I am still awaiting Arild's analysis from Trondheim. It might back your belief, if you indeed hold it (why else would you quibble about a few hundred plebs) that they made better out of the invasion than the records might suggest. We'll see.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Tue 18 Sep 2012, 06:15

I tried to establish a list of some Williams’s nobles that accompanied him over here… there is scant info on Google and the only two that I found are vastly differing…

http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/arval/hastings.html

http://www.three-peaks.net/1066.htm

any ideas where else to look as I appear to be stumped, or must one enter a fee paying domain…
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Tue 18 Sep 2012, 08:36

Nordmann I was not so much quibbling as just querying. To my mind it is very hard to estimate the numbers on either side, within certain vague limits. The evidence is not good enough, William of Poitiers gives a figure of 50,000. Though slightly dated, A.H.Burne in his chapter on the battle lists the following estimates from earlier authors:

Oman 12 - 13,000
Baring 8 - 10,000
Round 5 - 10,000
Stenton c 7,000
Ramsey under 10,000
Corbett 4,400
James 8,600

Burne himslef estimates around 9,000

Young and Adair 8 to 10,000
Fuller around 5,000
Smurthwaite 7,000
Douglas under 7,000
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Tue 18 Sep 2012, 09:18

You need to look at several sources to compile a list - the ones most used being Master Wace, William of Poitiers, Odericus Vitalis, the Bayeux Tapestry and the Domesday Book - all of which claim to identify people present at the battle. As far back as the 12th and 13th centuries people were attempting to assemble rolls based on this and other data, the most famous one being that which allegedly hung in Battle Abbey itself (which alas disappeared after the dissolution of the monasteries). Copies which are claimed to have been transcribed from this list do survive, but infuriatingly fail to completely agree. In any case there is strong reason to suspect that the monks at Battle were not averse to retrospectively placing some aspiring nobleman's ancestor on the battlefield (for a small fee of course).

The sad truth is that the chroniclers, where they can best be believed, if not exactly verified, do not name more than 40 individuals, and even then only about 20 of these survive cross source reference with enhanced credibility.

This article from a family tree website for a branch of the Crompton family highlights the dangers in placing too much faith in the alleged rolls for Hastings which are extant and does a good job of identifying the primary sources which academics tend to use to guess.

Cromptons of East Riding

Tim - I agree that there is no dependable estimation for the true size of William's army. These are either worked out from assigning troops to commanders named on the rolls (which are an incredibly unreliable starting point) or from a more pragmatic military analysis of the presumed terrain, the course of the battle as recorded and cross reference with more reliably recorded battles of the period. The former tend towards the higher estimates, the latter towards the lower. An averaging of the estimations you cite itself produces a figure of around 8,000 though that has been weighted in favour of the higher estimations based on narrative sources.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Tue 18 Sep 2012, 14:05

Nordmann I am reminded of a line at the beginning of 'To kill a mockingbird'. "Being southerners, it was a shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings."

I remember someone claiming descent from the Normans who fought at the battle on the BBC pages and querying it as his surname did not appear in the later and more comprehensive list let alone in the somewhat shorter but more accurate list. He never came back.

My sons cannot claim descent from either side but they can, through their grand-mothers side claim a surname of one of the very few names recorded on the English side - Thirkill.

Actually based on the ancestor paradox - 1000 ancestors 250 years ago (based on a 25 year general), 1 million 500 years ago and 1 billion 750 years ago - we must all almost certainly be descended from someone on both sides.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Tue 18 Sep 2012, 14:39

William's original nickname alone should serve as a warning to people tracing their lineage back to someone standing on that battlefield! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 05:10

Just a thought and query, and probably a stupid one at that.

Most armies usually consisted partly of mercenaries and I'm assuming William's was no different. Did William (or any of his nobles) hire any and at what percentage of the army did they consist?

If there was a large proportion it could explain why many of the common soldiers didn't receive much for their efforts beyond their pay?
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 09:06

For reasons most infuriating my google box is being extremely selective in bringing up the information I desire… about the best I’ve managed is this… and I’ve highlighted a passage dealing with mercenaries…

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/William_I_of_England

Norman invasion

The first would-be attacker was Tostig Godwinson, Harold's brother, but he was successfully defeated by Edwin, Earl of Mercia at a battle on the south bank of the Humber.

Meanwhile, William submitted his claim to the English throne to Pope Alexander II, who sent him a consecrated banner in support. Then, William organized a council of war at Lillebonne and openly began assembling an army in Normandy, consisting of his own army, French mercenaries, and numerous foreign knights who expected plunder or English land. To each man, William promised both lands and titles of nobility after their victory. William gained the support from many knights and gathered a considerable army of 600 ships and 7,000 men at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. But because of the heavy militia presence on the south coast of England and the fleet of ships guarding the English Channel, it looked as if he might fare little better than Tostig.

However, once the harvest season arrived, Harold withdrew the militia on September 8 because of falling morale and dwindling supplies, and he consolidated the ships in London, leaving the English Channel unguarded. Then came the news that Harald III of Norway had landed ten miles from York with Tostig, which forced Harold and his army to head north. After a victory against the forces of Earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria at the Battle of Fulford, Harald and Tostig were defeated by Harold's army at the slaughterous Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25.

Weeks of unfavorable weather affected the English Channel, delaying William's departure but granting Harold additional time. William arrived with his army in Pevensey Bay (Sussex) on September 28, and then he moved to Hastings, a few miles to the east, where he built a prefabricated wooden castle for a base of operations.

King Harold Godwinson was in the north of England and had just defeated another rival, Harald III of Norway, supported by his own brother Tostig. He marched an army of similar size to William's 250 miles in nine days to challenge him at the crucial battle of Senlac, which later became known as the Battle of Hastings. This took place on October 14, 1066. According to some accounts, perhaps based on an interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry commemorating the Norman victory, Harold was allegedly killed by an arrow through the eye, and the English forces fled, giving William victory.
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 19:10

@normanhurst wrote:
I tried to establish a list of some Williams’s nobles that accompanied him over here… there is scant info on Google and the only two that I found are vastly differing…

http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/arval/hastings.html

http://www.three-peaks.net/1066.htm

any ideas where else to look as I appear to be stumped, or must one enter a fee paying domain…

The second list has Roger of Montgomery, he was for certain left in charge of Normandy and came over later with William's wife.

I think the first list is the only confirmed.

The second appears to be from the Battle Abbey Rolls, much disputed.

http://www.robertsewell.ca/battleabbey.html
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 19:42

@normanhurst wrote:
For reasons most infuriating my google box is being extremely selective in bringing up the information I desire… about the best I’ve managed is this… and I’ve highlighted a passage dealing with mercenaries…

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/William_I_of_England

Norman invasion

The first would-be attacker was Tostig Godwinson, Harold's brother, but he was successfully defeated by Edwin, Earl of Mercia at a battle on the south bank of the Humber.

Meanwhile, William submitted his claim to the English throne to Pope Alexander II, who sent him a consecrated banner in support. Then, William organized a council of war at Lillebonne and openly began assembling an army in Normandy, consisting of his own army, French mercenaries, and numerous foreign knights who expected plunder or English land. To each man, William promised both lands and titles of nobility after their victory. William gained the support from many knights and gathered a considerable army of 600 ships and 7,000 men at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. But because of the heavy militia presence on the south coast of England and the fleet of ships guarding the English Channel, it looked as if he might fare little better than Tostig.

However, once the harvest season arrived, Harold withdrew the militia on September 8 because of falling morale and dwindling supplies, and he consolidated the ships in London, leaving the English Channel unguarded. Then came the news that Harald III of Norway had landed ten miles from York with Tostig, which forced Harold and his army to head north. After a victory against the forces of Earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria at the Battle of Fulford, Harald and Tostig were defeated by Harold's army at the slaughterous Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25.

Weeks of unfavorable weather affected the English Channel, delaying William's departure but granting Harold additional time. William arrived with his army in Pevensey Bay (Sussex) on September 28, and then he moved to Hastings, a few miles to the east, where he built a prefabricated wooden castle for a base of operations.

King Harold Godwinson was in the north of England and had just defeated another rival, Harald III of Norway, supported by his own brother Tostig. He marched an army of similar size to William's 250 miles in nine days to challenge him at the crucial battle of Senlac, which later became known as the Battle of Hastings. This took place on October 14, 1066. According to some accounts, perhaps based on an interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry commemorating the Norman victory, Harold was allegedly killed by an arrow through the eye, and the English forces fled, giving William victory.

The arrow in the eye was almost certainly added to the tapestry after it was damaged during the French Revolution, Napoleon had it restored. The story is very early but none of the contemporary chronicles mention it, Orderic and William of Jumieges have Harold killed in the first assault, possibly he led the charge when the Normans appeared to be routed.
Orderic says survivors told of 15,000 Normans falling at the Malfosse.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/hastings/malfosse.html
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 20:54


The contemporary sources on the size of William's army.

William of Poitiers followed by Orderic say William supported 50,000 men-at- arms at his own expense.
William of Jumieges says William assembled a fleet of 3,000 ships.

Contemporary warships, certainly of the higher status carried 80 t0 100 men and were 60 oars, the horses would have been carried in the merchant Knarr that didn't have oars.

Whatever the size of the fleet/army, I would guess at least half the fleet would be supply ships, it was late September and the grass is worthless as fodder for the horses at that time of year.
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 21:27

Some good stuff there Haesten… certainly plenty to mull over, many thanks. Where do you get this stuff from… never heard about the arrow being added before… fascinating stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 21:47

@normanhurst wrote:
Some good stuff there Haesten… certainly plenty to mull over, many thanks. Where do you get this stuff from… never heard about the arrow being added before… fascinating stuff.

Expensive books and years on message-boards like this.

The arrow was originally probably a spear.

http://www.bayeux-tapestry.org.uk/deathofharold.htm
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 23:18

Thanks Haesten, not only makes me feel very uneducated, but proves it too, however it doesn’t diminish my interest… thankfully.
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PostSubject: Re: What were the benefits for the common Norman soldier after the invasion.   Fri 21 Sep 2012, 10:06

There's examples of common soldiers given land in Domesday, crossbow men etc. The Flemish contingent ended up in the Welsh Marches of Monmouthshire, the Bretons probably left with their Dukes after the Bridal of Norwich revolt.
This was to do with Flemish politics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_I,_Count_of_Flanders

The Breton forces advanced to the River Severn and were stopped by the Worcestershire fyrd commanded by the English Bishop, Wulfstan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt_of_the_Earls
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