1066 and why they could not get along?

Ralph the Red, progenitor of the family de Mitton was undoubtedly a bastard; then again so was William the Conqueror who was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy and initially known as William the Bastard. William was the second cousin of “Edward the Confessor”, the last Saxon King of England and was his designated heir (at least according to William). Harold Godwinsson of Wessex, a Saxon, was sent to Normandy to inform Duke William of old King Edward’s wish for him to succeed him. The “Confessor” was a pious man and had no heirs of his own. Harold was knighted by William after joining a battle with a neighboring barony. He swore fidelity to Duke William in Bayeux cathedral sanctified with christian relics.

Upon Harold`s return to England, Edward the Confessor died Jan. 5, 1066. A “Witan” or Saxon word for meeting was convened of about 60 Lords and Bishops from the realm. They quickly decided on and approved Harold of Wessex as successor to Edward on Jan. 6th who then became King. This triggered the invasion of England by William to defeat Harold to assert his claim to the throne cumulating in the decisive victory of Hastings in Sept 1066. Harold’s death on the battlefield along with his brothers is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. William was subsequently crowned King at the newly built Westminster on Dec. 25, 1066. The Normans went about replacing the Saxon nobility of England from this time forward. The de Mitton family is established in 1102 with a grant of manors as part of the Norman legacy of the conquest of 1066.

King Harold is hit in the eye with a Norman arrow and dies on the field at Senlac Ridge near Hastings as do his brothers. He is then chopped into pieces and rendered difficult to identify after the battle. Some references claim that Ilbert de Lacy was one of the knights to deliver the final “coup de grace” to Harold and may explain why he was a favorite of William.

William I

After his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, became King William I of England and introduced his form of feudalism into the country. From the Conquest, the King alone owned all the land in England, except for land he gave to the church, Earls, Barons and others in return for their support especially in providing military resources. However, what he gave he could take away.

The person holding feudal land directly on behalf of the King was known as a “tenant-in-chief”. To obtain Knights for the King’s service, the tenants-in-chief “sub-feuded” some of their land (that is, permitted men to manage land on their behalf). The sub- feuding process continued downwards to a lord of a single manor.    

The Manor was the basic unit of estate administration. Typically the manor contained a village church and agricultural land, usually consisting of three large arable fields in which the inhabitants (tenants) held scattered strips. Manor houses were built on land near rivers or streams, often where grass was grown for hay.

An important part of manorial administration was the manor court, a periodic meeting of the tenants, presided over by the Lord of the manor or his steward. The purpose of the court was to administer the agriculture of the manor, the Lord’s and tenants’ rights and duties, and to resolve disputes between tenants. Over succeeding centuries, many of these manor communities grew into villages and towns. The important historical role of the manor has largely been overlooked, but manors, and their Lords, were the seeds of many important English towns and villages.

“These are William’s lands…”  Norman lands were part of the British Crown domains until 1801 when they dropped their French claims. The present Queen of England is the Duke of Normandy and is regarded as such on the Channel Islands. The invasion of Normandy in 1944 is referred to as the liberation of William lands on inscriptions* in Normandy commemorating the Allied invasion of June 6th, 1944. William himself died Sept. 9, 1087.

“The conquered have now come to reclaim the lands of the Conqueror”*

The standard is that of William, Duke of Normandy. This is still the one used in Normandy to this day. It is also part of the British Royal Standard. A third Leopard (yes they are represented Leopards) was added during the reign of Richard I around 1398 to the British  Royal coat of arms. William’s Leopards have always been a part of the British Monarch’s coat of arms. The Normandy standard remains with the original two.

Henry I invaded Normandy across the English Channel in 1106 to deal with his brother Robert’s previous attempted invasion to take the English Crown. After his victorious Battle of Tinchebray and the capture of Robert in 1106, Henry became the Duke of Normandy, succeeding Robert. He then incarcerated the captured Robert in England and after he tried to escape had his brother’s eyes put out to prevent further attempts. Robert died in captivity at Wareham. Even the family members could not get along during those times and were often in conflict.