halesworth

A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.

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Volume 1



east anglia



William's Conquest of East Anglia in 1071

The native English did not accept William's rule and confiscation of their lands easily. Several times they rose up in rebellion, only to be stamped out mercilessly. It was not until 1071 that the King faced the last stronghold to stand out against him, these were the fens of East Anglia, marshy land, full of swamps and streams, where the rebels who gathered there were led by Hereward the Wake.

There was a Saxon camp near Ely, Cambridgeshire, to which those who were losing their homes and lands in Suffolk and Norfolk fled for safety. Hereward the Wake's father owned a house and estate in the village of Bourn, Cambridgeshire, and when Hereward heard of his father's death, he was also told that the small estate had been given to a Norman. So he joined those at Ely to make war on William's troops. William sent further soldiers to quell the rebels, but without success, as the English knew the marshes so well that they could evade and lead them on false trails. Eventually William brought his fleet to The Wash in order to root them out, and the monks of Ely, fearing revenge on their religious house, sent a message to the king, offering to show him the secret safeway across the fens. Thus he succeeded in getting close to the rebel camp. Most of the English were rounded up and killed, but Hereward cut his way through the swampy fens northwards and escaped.



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