The Justification of the Conquest
Chapter 1 of Conquered England: Kingship, Succession, and Tenure 1066-1166
The author of the D manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was almost certainly a member of Archbishop Ealdred of York’s household. He was, therefore, probably at the centre of events during 1066, and his testimony deserves to be weighed very seriously. In the annal for that year he describes the submissions of many of the most important surviving members of the English nobility, beginning with Archbishop Ealdred, to Duke William of Normandy at Berkhamsted. These submissions, he reports, followed widespread ravaging by the invading army in the wake of the English defeat at Hastings, and the subsequent, doomed attempt, in which Archbishop Ealdred also appears to have taken a leading role, to make Eadgar ætheling, Edward the Confessor’s nephew, king. The chronicler laments their having taken so long to bow to the inevitable: ‘they submitted out of necessity, after most of the damage had been done—and it was a great folly that they had not done so earlier, since God would not make things better, because of our sins.’ Thereby he seems to imply that the devastation of the countryside could have been ended much sooner if only the English had submitted to the new ruler inflicted as a punishment by God.