The Normans: 1,000 years of rent

  • "Volez-le et gardez-le - avec l'épée, la croix et la loi"
  • "Steal it and keep it - with sword, cross and the law"

England is still a Norman colony

1066: invasion, conquest or occupation?

  • AD43: the Romans arrive in Britain by force, seize land, build large estates, exploit people and natural resources (tin, copper, lead, agricultural poducts) and introduce Roman law. By 425 they had gone.
  • 1655: the British arrive in Jamaica by force, sieze land, build large estates, import slaves from Africa, exploit people and natural resources and introduce British law. In 1962 Jamaica became independent.
  • 1750s: the British arrive in India by force, build large estates, exploit people and natural resources and introduce British law. In 1947 India became independent.
  • 1066: the Normans arrive in England by force, seize land (*), build large estates (under "freehold" grants from the king), exploit people and natural resources and create a system of law and education (public schools, universities) to protect their property.
  • The Normans came and stayed - we are still living with the consequences.

* all land became the personal property of Guillaume le Bâtard, duc de Normandie (William 1st). Today all land is still "owned" by the "crown" - that's why you purchase the freehold ("freedom to hold") on land - but you don't "own" it. Since the crown is now the people (following the execution of Charles 1st) all land in the England is owned in common - by all of us as a society.

The Norman invasion of 1066, and the total theft of all English land, has created our legal system (to protect wealth and land ownership - on which they pay no tax), our education system (where children of the gentry learnt to defend their wealth) and our class system. It has created the most unfair distribution of wealth in Europe - only dictatorships, theocracies and the increasingly theocratic USA are more unfair.

Norman "Dukes"

Gerald Grosvenor and Peregrine Cavendish

Descended from Gilbert Le Grand Veneur ("the great huntsman") and Robert de Gernon.

  • Gilbert acquired land in Cheshire and the family estate is still there.
  • The Grosvenors hold at least 140,000 acres in England and Scotland and another 32,000 acres in Spain. The 300 acres they hold in Mayfair and Belgravia bring in huge amounts of income.
  • Robert was given land in Suffolk and acquired estates in Cavendish by marriage. The family changed its name before moving to Derbyshire.
  • The Cavendishes held over 192,000 acres in 1907 but that has been whittled down to about 70,000 acres including 35,000 acres at Chatsworth.
  • Between them, the 24 UK "Dukes" hold 1,148,120 acres of land and in 2015 they received £8,432,497 in farm subsidies from taxpayers.

Note: Norman law makers have ensured that there is no tax on land.

When billionaire landholder Gerald Grosvenor ("Duke of Westminster" - a Norman title) was asked for the best way to get rich, he replied: "have an ancestor who killed people at the battle of Hastings." To paraphrase: "greed is good, and violent greed is better!"

Like the ancestors of billionaire landholder Peregrine Cavendish ("Duke of Devonshire") Gerald's wealth comes directly from The Great Theft of 1066 - as, on a smaller scale, does the wealth of the Chandos-Pole family in Radbourne - a couple of miles away from Trusley.

In the case of Trusley (known then as "Toxenai", or "Trusseli" - a "brushwood clearing") it was handed over to Henri de Ferrières (anglised to "Ferrers") of Ferrières-Saint-Hilaire in Normandy. Henri was a sub-tenant of Guillaume le Bâtard, duc de Normandie and, after 1066, he was granted permission to hold 210 manors throughout England - including Trusley.

Click for more about Henri de Ferrières and his local connections.

Since then, most of Trusley has passed through the hands of many families: Hugh de Arbalester (Norman French - an "arbalest" was a crossbow), Ralph de Beufey (Norman French), Oliver de Odingsells (Norman French), Richard Piper, Thomas Coke, the Vernons (the "de Vernons" from Vernon in Normandy), the Manners (anglised from their place of origin before 1066 - Mesnières in Normandy) and finally back to the Coke family in the 16th century.

History is easy to understand as long as you "follow the money". The violent struggle for resources (particularly land) in order to live off the labour of others through rent and taxes, provides an explanation for almost everything that has happened on a large scale in the past.

From the time of the Norman invasion, those who had previously owned or worked the land were forced under the feudal system to provide labour, military service, rent, tithes and taxes to those who had stolen it.

Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who, despite being a Christian priest, wielded a club at the battle of Hastings, was the half brother of Guillaume le Bâtard so he received the lion's share of the land hand-out after 1066. He took the rent and, as a churchman, also took the tithes - thus keeping it all within the family - something Norman descendants continued to do until the last remaining tithes were abolished in 1976. Visit a rural church, look at the list of rectors benefiting from tithes, see how many names are the same as the family which owned the land and lived off rent.

Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, wielding his club

English and Welsh resistance

All history is written by the victors in their own interest so it is no suprise that schools in England teach very little about the decades of resistance to the Norman invasion

We treat those in the French resistance as heros for opposing the German occupiers and there is never a week goes by without some film on TV about the second World War or without a repeat of "'ello, 'ello".

There was huge resistance to the Normans but the names of the English and Welsh heros have been whitewashed from history.

By definition, those who write history are those who can read and write and in the 11th century that meant monks, priests, clerks writing legal documents on behalf of (Norman) landholders, and some of the wealthy.

As now, the names that appear in records of wars and battles are those of the leaders. The majority of those who did the fighting were forced to do so but Mark The Baker, William The Blacksmith, John The Builder, Tom The Miller, Hugh The Swineherd and Dick The Labourer, never appear in the written records. As always, "the common man" fights for the right to be oppressed by his current master (if his side wins) or by a new one (if his side loses). Whatever happens, if he survives he will continue to provide labour, to pay rent and to be taxed.

In part this explains why life carries on as normal for most people even after such a disaster as The Great Theft and why resistance usually tapers off. Those in France who continued to go about their normal lives after the German invasion in World War 2, were doing no more than has always been done throughout history. Few people rebel because a conquest simply changes those who take the rent, not those who do the work.

Following The Great Theft there were rebellions throughout the country. The South East gave in pretty quickly after William took his time progressing from Hasting to London via the Kent coast, killing people, destroying villages and burning crops. Londoners opened the gates pretty quickly! Serious rebellions occurred from the far South West around Exeter, along the Welsh border, through the Midlands then up to York and the North. Moving out from the South East William's gangs crushed local rebellions and built wooden castles as they passed through.

Eventually William lost patience and ordered the destruction of everything in the North of England in what became known as "The Harrying of the North". People were killed, villages were destroyed, livestock was slaughtered and crops were burned. Tens of thousands died of starvation and the countryside of the North was left almost totally depopulated. Things didn't end there - it wasn't until 1283 that the final rebellions in Wales were put down by Edward 1st.

The guilt of the Normans caught up with them and William became more and more religious - worrying about his soul because of his crimes against humanity. So many of Norman descent tried to buy their way into heaven by giving donations to monasteries and other religious institutions, that Edward 1st had to put a stop to it. Since the church provided no men to fight the king's wars, and paid no tax, Edward was running out of men and money! Henry VIII wasn't the first to recognise the great wealth of the church built on the guilty consciences of the rich.

Why did the Normans succeed?

  • They were extraordinarily vicious - possibly resulting from their Viking ancestry. Their like was probably not seen again until the Einsatzgruppen killing squads used by the Germans in Eastern Europe from 1939 onwards. Note: the Einsatzgruppen were not exclusively German - they were assisted by right wing groups in Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, etc. Today we would say that a large proportion of them were psychopaths lacking all forms of empathy.

    In the last few decades there has been a lot of psychological research into a predisposition towards authoritarianism in terms of being personally authoritarian (abusive, bullying, domineering, lacking empathy) and being willing to follow authoritarian leaders. There is a high correlation between authoritarianism and lack of education and between authoritarianism and religious determinism - belief that the fate of the world has been pre-determined by a "god". Estimates are that up to 30% of the population falls into the authoritarian category - so perhaps the Norman genes continue to thrive in the 21st century. Authoritarianism is particularly high amongst evangelical Christians in the USA.

    The Hare Psychopathy Checklist has been used to identify potential psychopaths among political and business leaders - it has even been used to check Boris Johnson though it is most likely he would be defined as a sociopath.

  • They had tanks - well, they had battle horses which they used as cavalry. The latest research indicates that their horses were not huge (Normans didn't wear plated armour) but were small enough to make them fast and nimble.
  • They had castles. This was the single most important key to their success - so important that they carried them with them - they brought pre-fabricated wooden castles over the channel in 1066!

    Castles were barracks for the cavalry. They provided a secure base from which armed bands could ride out to crush any form of resistance and to enforce the payment of rent and tithes - as well as a bit of rape and pillage.

    Over 500 castles were built - which, if nothing else, shows there was so much continuing resistance and resentment that the Normans were forced to build them.

    After decades of fighting the resistance, the Normans finally converted the castles to stone - and many are still with us today as a symbol of the Norman oppression of the English and Welsh.

Who was in Trusley before The Great Theft?

We have no record of who was here before the murderous Norman thieves arrived but William quickly recorded the value of the loot in The Doomsday Book which was not called "the day of doom" for nothing.

The day of doom in Trusley

The 1086 entry for Toxenai records those living here as:<

Aefic; Aelfheah; Aelfric; Algar; Almaer; Alric; Alweald; Baldric; Cola, man of Henri de Ferrières; Dunning; Eadric; Ealhhere; Earl Waltheof; Earngeat; Edward; Elfin; Geoffrey Alselin; Godric; Godric another; Godwine; Hakon; Hugh; Ketil; Leodmaer; Leofnoth; Leofsige; Leofwine; Leofwine Cild; Ordmaer; Ralph; Robert; Roger; Saswalo; Thorgisl; Thorir; Toki; Ubbi; Ubeinn; Ul.

Note: "Cola, man of Henri de Ferrières" would have been the man assigned to control and tax the people of Trusley on behalf of Henri de Ferrieres who was given the area as part of what he helped to steal in 1066.

How big was Trusley

We don't know the boundaries of Trusley at the time, nor how much was received as stolen goods by Henri de Ferrieres. Doomsday records things in different ways:

  • 6 bovates attributed a value of 20s.
  • 6 bovates in Toxenai, Derbyshire.
  • Aefic held 6 bovates in Toxenai, Derbyshire.
  • This property was held by Henri de Ferrières.
  • It was worth 20s.

An ox team of eight oxen was assumed to be able to plough a "carucate", about 120 acres, in one year. A "bovate" or "oxgang" was the amount attributable to one ox: about 15 acres.

The 6 bovates in Toxenai equate to 90 acres while the parish of Trusley today runs to well over 1,000 acres. A modern small tenant farm in this area is about 120 acres - not far from the total area described in the Doomsday Book.

The "furlongs" or "furrows" ploughed by Aefic and others can still be seen in Trusley's ridge and furrow fields.

Perhaps those descended from Earl Waltheof and Aefic would like it back?

Note about our legal system

Of course we need laws! Of course we need law enforcement!

Of course murderers, rapists, drug barons, thieves, etc. should be prosecuted!

Our criminal law is pretty straightforward, most people with a little intelligence and effort, could understand it.

One could argue that our criminal law doesn't go far enough - after all, those in "financial services" who defraud the social good by facilitating money laundering as well as evading and avoiding taxes, seem to get away with a wrap over the knuckles and nothing else. The whole world was brought to its knees in 2007/2008 by the reckless gambling of the financial sector - but how many of the guilty ended up in prison? The average drug baron pales into insignificance compared to white collar crime - most of which we never become aware of! One has to ask who is the benefit scrounger when billionaire landholders receive multi-million pound grants for their estates and farms.

Land, rent and tithes

English law was created by those with land to protect those with land.

Under the Norman system of "socage" you don't "own" the land on which your home is built - you own everything on top of it (bricks, mortar, contents) but you "hold" the land from the "crown" under socage - hence "freehold" - free to hold.

During the first 150 years of Norman rule the number of annual disputes over land grew to over 6,000 nationally and many more locally. The Norman motto: "Steel it, keep it, with sword and cross" became "Hold it, live off it, with corruption and law."

The corruption side was pretty straightforward - it depended who you were friends with and how big a bribe you could offer - much the same as now under Cameron and Johnson.

The legal side of it became horrendously complicated with ideas such as "entail" being used to ensure that land was passed from generation to generation but never left the family. "Entail" lasted until 1925 by which time it had been replaced with "trusts" to avoid tax and keep landed estates together.

When Guillaume le Bâtard granted land to his half brother, Odo Bishop of Bayeaux, he began a system of "tithing" so the Church got 10% of the value of everything produced on the land. Over time payment was switched to cash but the local Rector (often from the same family as the landholder) continued to take the tithes until the Tithe Act 1936 tried to bring an end to it. However, tithe redemption annuities continued to be paid until October 1977 and, in 2022, many homes may still be liable for Chancel Repair Liability for their local church.

For almost 1,000 years lawyers have grown fat as civil and church (canon) law has become impenetrably complicated and disputes over land have been a regular money spinner.

In the 21st century, just as in the 11th, landholders remain determined hang on to it, pay no tax on it and live off the labour of others through rent.

You pay Council Tax on your home but there is no tax on land.

Legalised unfairness

Our legal system, and the fact that there is no tax on land, has created an incredibly unfair country.

In 2021/22 the average house price in South Derbyshire was £201,518, in Kensington & Chelsea it was over tens times as much at £2,235,706, in Westminster it was over five times as much at £1,028,649

In 2021/22 band H Council Tax in South Derbyshire was £3,743.80, in Kensington & Chelsea it was £2,627.20, in Westminster it was £1,655.12.

John Caudwell's house in Mayfair cost him £250 million yet he pays £1,655.12 Council Tax - less than half paid on a Band H house in South Derbyshire.

People can spend the money they've earned on whatever they like (as long as they pay their taxes) but there doesn't appear to be much "fairness" in Council Tax! John Caudwell has been accused of "tax dodging" and trying to use offshore trusts to avoid tax. He also gave £500,000 to the Conservative Party before the 2019 election.

The UK has one of the most corrupt political systems in Europe - a quick look at the Register of Members Financial Interests will show who is paying whom to do what. The register shows only those things that are declared but there is far more going on below the surface as those with wealth protect that wealth through overt bribery and corruption. This applies to both the major parties - in the last few years the Labour Party has become as corrupt as the Conservatives - relying on donations from the rich instead of subscriptions from those it is supposed to represent.

Our legal system has no concept of "fairness" so we have the most unequal distribution of wealth in Europe and it explains why rich Russian oligarchs (mafia and thieves) and rich Saudi billionaires use our legal system to protect their wealth and why they buy expensive land and property in our country to protect their ill-gotten, immoral (and often illegal) gains.

Our country has become the biggest money laundering operation in the world as a direct result of laws drawn up to protect land and wealth - and we have the Normans and their descendants to thank for all of that.

In 2023, 957 years after The Great Theft of 1066, we still don't know how much land they hold - and they use every trick in the book to stop us finding out.

The Land Registry, established in 1862, records the sale and purchase of land but it has no record of land that has not changed hands since then.

We can start to correct all this by replacing Council Tax and Business Rates by a simple, fair and unavoidable Land Value Tax (LVT) - but don't expect the Normans to give up without a vicious fight!

Note: LVT applies to all land - rural and urban - including the land under your home. However, the tax is on the market value of the land only, not on the value of your house. LVT will cost the average home owner a lot less than Council Tax!