Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Its 1086 The Time of the Domesday Book

It's 1086 and Judheal of Totnes, a Breton knight, lords it over four of the five manors of my ancestors.  

Life for my Meavy ancestors in the centuries between their  beginnings as an isolated Dumnonii tribe and the invasion of the Normans would not have changed at all, it was still a hard and meager existence. They would still have hunted and farmed and defended what was theirs, the only difference during those years was who they defended their property from. The Meavy’s may not have heard of the kings who sat on the throne of England, but by the time the Domesday commissioners arrived at the doors they might not have known who William the Conqueror was but they would certainly know exactly what he wanted. 

Soon after Hastings the new Norman king was quick to realise the importance of securing the West Country, the first step in achieving this was to take Exeter, the fourth largest city in the country.  This town was still controlled by the Godwin family. Harold’s son had fled to Ireland but his mother, Gytha, who still lived within the city walls held out against the Norman forces during William’s return to Normandy, however on his return to England he made Exeter his first port of call. Exeter’s city walls withstood an eighteen month winter siege, many of the Norman soldiers succumbed to the cold, eventually though Exeter fell and Gytha escaped with her granddaughters to island of Flatholme in the Bristol Channel. There is no mention of Harold's son’s at the Siege of Exeter and it may well be that they were already in Ireland. Gytha’s stand at Exeter in 1068 wasn’t the last effort by the Godwins to take back some control of their father's country. Inevitably though, Devon would submit to Norman control, but before that Harold’s sons would give the invaders a run for their money. 

The story of my Devon ancestors, the Meavys continues on my website

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