English history until 1603 – Vikings, 12th and 13th century
In the 11th century the Danish king Canute managed to unite the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes. England became a part of Scandinavia. The Vikings were attacking England from the 8th to 11th century. But the Anglo-Saxon empire was restored by Edward the Confessor. He was a very weak ruler so the real man in power was Harold Godwin. When Edward died, Harold was chosen to be the king. This period is called Medieval England. William, the Duke of Normandy, was very upset with this decision. He was Edward’s cousin, and he claimed that he had been nominated to obtain the throne. He took his army and went to England. In 1066 he met with the army of Harold Godwin near Hastings. William had a stronger army with archers and knights, so he won. After the battle, he went to London and was crowned the King of England in Westminster Abbey.
This period was a breakpoint for England. William brought with him to England the feudal system and also the French language. He divided the land among the Norman nobles.
The greatest conflict during this century was a conflict between the Church and the State. The King Henry II wanted to reign without the Church. He established new laws and orders and judicial system. He made his best friend, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He thought that Thomas would hold the Church. But Thomas soon argued with Henry and left the country. After his return, Henry II executed him.
The king Richard the Lionheart ruled at this time. He was very aggressive and so he was fighting the Egyptian ruler Saladin all the time. He died in a battle in France. After him John the Lackland was crowned king. He was forced to sign the document called Magna Charta (1215), because he wanted to increase taxes without the parliament. This document limited the absolute power of the king and gave more freedom to the barons. During his reign the House of Commons was summoned for the first time. He lost a lot of land in France.
The next King Henry III continued the Parliament policy. It was a meeting of the king, his barons and servants. They were discussing problems. Simon de Monfort summoned the House of Commons in 1265.