History - Anglo saxons notes, Edexcel GCSE 2018



The social system

Peasant farmers

  • Rented small farms worked for themselves and their families

  • Did a set amount of work for a local lord and worked land for their families

  • If they didn’t do set work they could lose land

  • Ceorls- free peasant farmers not tied to their land


  • 10% of saxon society

  • Bought and sold

  • Not punished as harshly so they could still work

  • Normans thought it was barbaric but slaves were normal in saxon society


  • Local lords

  • Between 4000-5000 by 1060

  • Aristocracy of saxon age, warrior class


  • Most important aristocrats

  • Competed against each other to be most trusted by kind

  • Got rewards and honour from king

  • Sometimes challenged king

The power if the English monarch

Powers of king

  • Law-making

  • Money- controlled production

  • Landownership- could grant and take away land

  • Military power- had ability to raise national army and fleet

  • Taxation - decided when they were payed and was delivered to him

Duties of the people

  • Obey the law

  • Use kings coins

  • Land carried two obligations; payment of tax + military service

  • Landholders provide + equip fighters for army or fleet or they were fined or lost land

How powerful was edward the confessor

  • Was a respected law-maker

  • Was very religious , believed to be anointed by God

Limits to kings power

  • Half of england was danelaw , had their own laws

  • Earl godwin was as rich as king and was very powerful and so put pressure on king


The witan

  • A council that advised king on issues of the government

  • Made up of most important aristocrats in kingdom

  • discussed ; possible threats from foreign powers, religious affairs, land disputes and settling them


  • Introduced by king cnut

Powers of earls

  • Responsible for collecting taxes

  • Oversaw justice and legal punishments

  • Had great military power

Local government


  • Each shire had its own court

  • Shire reeve acted as kings representative

  • Each shire had a burh

  • Each shire provided troops for the fyrd

Shire reeves

  • Collected revenues from kings land

  • Collected geld tax

  • Collected fines from court

  • Enforced and witnessed law at shire court

  • Responsible for providing men for fyrd

  • Responsible for maintaining upkeep of roads

Military service

  • Select fyrd- men to fight anywhere in england for king

  • General fyrd- gathered men to fight who didn’t travel outside local area

The legal system

Blood feuds and wergild

  • Blood feud- a revenge based system, if someone was killed victims family had right to kill someone from murders family and so on

  • wergild - paid compensation by murders family price varied based on social status

Collective responsibility

  • There would be consequences for everyone in a tithing if someone commited a crime

  • Community based justice system

Saxon economy


  • 10% of population lived in town

  • Had strong walls and ramparts guarded by men of town

  • Upkeep of town was responsibility of burh’s inhabitants

Towns and trade

  • Burhs were trading hubs

  • Kings laws all trade should be worth more than a set of money so that trade could be







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