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11. What can the Assembly at Salisbury tell us about William’s rule?

This lesson focuses on a lesser-known but important event from the latter part of William the Conqueror’s reign: the Assembly at Salisbury, where William gathered together the most influential people from across England – including up to 10,000 landowners.

At Old Sarum (now Salisbury), these people were expected to make an oath of allegiance to the king, confirming the loyalty that many had shown him since the Battle of Hastings.

The findings of the Domesday Survey were also revealed, which served to underline William’s authority over all of the land and people in England – as well as recognising the tenancy rights of his earls, knights and landowners.

In the lesson, students use a series of clues about the meeting at Old Sarum to make inferences, reflecting on the changing nature of William’s authority twenty years after he had first come to power in England.

They are then tasked with putting themselves in the shoes of a Norman landowner who was invited to Old Sarum, composing a narrative account of this landowner’s experiences at the meeting.

This is a lesson that serves to build students’ understanding of change/continuity, as well as developing their descriptive writing skills. 

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  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
  • Lesson write-up: PDF
  • Worksheet 1 & 2: PDF

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