King Canute continued English institutions and laws and even supported the Catholic Church.
His dynastic line proved unable to maintain itself, however, and in 1042, the Anglo-Saxon line of kings was restored in the person of Edward the Confessor.
After his death, the kingship was taken by Harold Godwinson, who belonged to one of England’s greatest noble families.
A cousin of Edward the Confessor, William of Normandy, however, laid claim to the throne of England.
The Anglo-Saxon army, consisting mostly of foot soldiers armed with shields, swords, and battle-axes, created a shield wall at the top of a hill.
Exhausted from their march from the north, the Anglo-Saxon forces fought bravely but were gradually worn down by the charges of the Norman knights.
The battle lasted almost the entire day, but after the death of Harold Godwinson on the battlefield, the Anglo-Saxon forces fled.
William then began his advance to London, where he was crowned king of England at Christmastime.
After his conquest, William treated all of England as a royal possession.
Based on the Domesday Book, which William com-missioned in 1086 by sending out royal officials to ascertain who owned or held land in tenancy, modern historians have estimated that the Norman royal family took possession of about one-fifth of the land in England as the royal demesne.
In 1086, however, by the Oath of Salisbury Plain, William required all sub vassals to swear loyalty to him as their king and liege lord.
Henceforth, all sub vassals owed their primary loyalty to the king rather than to their immediate lords.
Thus, the Norman conquest of England had brought a dramatic change.
In Anglo-Saxon England, the king had only limited lands while great families controlled large stretches of territory and acted rather independently of the king.
In contrast, the Normans established a hierarchy of nobles holding land as fiefs from the king.
Gradually, a process of fusion between the victorious Normans and the defeated Anglo-Saxons created a new England.
Although the Norman ruling class spoke French, Anglo-Saxon and French gradually merged into a new English language as the Norman-French intermarried with the Anglo-Saxon nobility.
William maintained the Anglo-Saxon administrative system in which countries were divided into hundreds.
William retained the office but replaced the Anglo-Saxon sheriffs with Normans.
William also more fully developed the system of taxation and royal courts begun by the Anglo-Saxon and Danish kings of the tenth and eleventh centuries.
The Norman conquest of England had repercussions in France as well.
Because the new king of England was still the duke of Normandy, he was both a king and at the same time a vassal to a king, but a vassal who was now far more powerful than his lord.
This connection with France kept England heavily involved in Continental affairs throughout the High Middle Ages
High officials of the church, such as bishops and abbots, came to hold their offices as fiefs from nobles.
As vassals, they were obliged to carry out the usual duties, including military service.
Of course, lords assumed the right to choose their vassals, even when those vassals included bishops and abbots.
Because lords often selected their vassals from other noble families for political reasons, these bishops and abbots were often worldly figures who cared little about their spiritual responsibilities.
The immediate cause of the so-called Investiture Controversy was a disputed election to the bishopric of Milan in northern Italy, an important position because the bishop was also the ruler of the city.
Control of the bishopric was crucial if the king wished to reestablish German power in northern Italy.
Since Milan was considered second only to Rome in importance as a bishopric, papal interest in the office was also keen.
Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV backed competing candidates for the position.
To gain acceptance of his candidate, the pope threatened the king with ex-communication.
To counter this threat, the king called a synod or assembly of German bishops, all of whom he had appointed, and had them depose the pope.
Pope Gregory VII responded by excommunicating the king and freeing his subjects from their allegiance to him.
The German nobles were only too eager to diminish the power of a centralized monarchy because of the threat it posed to their own power, and they welcomed this opportunity to rebel against the king.
Both the nobles and the bishops of Germany agreed to hold a meeting in Germany with the pope to solve the problem, possibly by choosing a new king.
Henry, realizing the threat to his power, forestalled the pope by traveling to northern Italy, where he met the pope at Canossa, a castle belonging to Countess Matilda of Tuscany, an avid supporter of the papal reform program.
There, in January 1077, the king admitted his transgressions and begged for forgiveness and absolution.
Although he made the king wait three days, the pope was constrained by his priestly responsibility to grant absolution to a penitent sinner and lifted the ban of ex-communication.
Within three years, the pope and king were again locked in combat.
The struggle continued until 1122 when a new German king and a new pope achieved a compromise called the Concordat of Worms.
Under this agreement, a bishop in Germany was first elected by church officials.
After the election, the nominee paid homage to the king as his secular lord, who in turn invested him with the symbols of temporal office.
A representative of the pope then invested the new bishop with the symbols of his spiritual office.
Not only was the pope superior to all other bishops, but popes now claimed the right to depose kings under certain circumstances.
Such papal claims ensured further church-state confrontations.
The popes of the twelfth century did not abandon the reform ideals of Gregory VII, but they were less dogmatic and more inclined to consolidate their power and build a strong administrative system.
By the twelfth century, the Catholic Church possessed a clearly organized, hierarchical structure.
The pope and papal curia were at the apex of the administrative structure. Each diocese was divided into parishes, each headed by a priest.
Theoretically, the bishop chose all priests in his diocese, administered his diocese, and was responsible only to the pope.
In the second half of the eleventh century and the first half of the twelfth, a wave of religious enthusiasm seized Europe, leading to spectacular growth in the number of monasteries and the emergence of new monastic orders.
Most important was the Cistercian order, founded in 1098 by a group of monks dissatisfied with the lack of strict discipline at their Benedictine monastery.
Cistercian monasticism spread rapidly from southern France into the rest of Europe.
The Cistercians played a major role in developing a new activist spiritual model for twelfth-century Europe.
An attempt was made in the tenth century to unify the Islamic world under the direction of a Shi’ite dynasty known as the Fatimids.
In establishing a Shi’ite caliphate, they became rivals to the Sunni caliphate of Bagh-dad and divided the Islamic world.
One of these peoples, the Seljuk Turks, soon posed a threat to the Fatimids themselves.
The Seljuk Turks were a nomadic people from Central Asia who had been converted to Islam and flourished as military mercenaries for the Abbasid caliphate.
While the Abbasid caliph remained the chief representative of Sunni religious authority, the real military and political power of the state was in the hands of the Seljuk Turks.
In Europe and within the Muslim world itself, the Turks were initially regarded as a disaster.
By the latter part of the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks were exerting military pressure on Egypt and the Byzantine Empire. When the Byzantine emperor foolishly challenged the Turks, the latter routed the Byzantine army at Manzikert in 1071.
In dire straits, the Byzantines looked west for help, setting in motion the papal pleas that led to the Crusades.
Whether the Crusades had much effect on European civilization is debatable.
There may have been some broadening of perspective that comes from the exchange between two cultures, but the interaction of Christian Europe with the Muslim world was actually both more intense and more meaningful in Spain and Sicily than in the Holy Land.
There is no doubt that the Crusades did contribute to the economic growth of the Italian port cities, especially Genoa, Pisa, and Venice.
But it is important to remember that the growing wealth and population of twelfth-century Europe had made the Crusades possible in the first place.
The Crusades may have enhanced the revival of trade, but they certainly did not cause it.
Even without the Crusades, Italian merchants would have pursued new trade contacts with the eastern world.
Some historians have argued that the Crusades might be considered a ‘‘Christian holy war,’’ whose memories still trouble the relationship between the Muslim world and the West today.
The first widespread attacks on the Jews began with the Crusades.
With the crusades, the massacre of Jews became a regular feature of medieval European life.