The Teacher 187

11 The Teacher  1-2 (187) 2022 Culture              ❯❯❯ They could not speak Saxon English, but spoke Norman French which became the official language for 300 years. The ordinary people lost their rights of the Moot court and became little more than slaves to these Norman barons with no right of property and were easily exploited. The former Saxon Lords lost their estates and in many cases their freedom. This change was almost total over a short period of 10 to 20 years. Naturally there was resistance amongst some of the better organised Saxons and the most important of these, a former Saxon nobleman, was Hereward the Wake. Very little is known about his life. He was probably born in about 1035 and stories about him appeared in many Anglo Saxon Chronicles from 1070 until the 14th century, but mainly in the 12th century particularly in the Gesta Herewardi possibly written by the Bishop of Ely in about 1120 AD (Fig. 4). There have been continued arguments about his ancestry up till the present day. He may have been related to Leofric Duke of Mercia, a former English kingdom which became part of the English Kingdom created by King Æthalstan in 927 AD, whose borders remain more or less unchanged until today. Hereward was supposed to have been born in Bourne, a small town in the administration area of south Lincolnshire, not far from the northern edge of the Fens. He allegedly owned lands in Lincolnshire and also at Crowland (Fig. 5) in Lincolnshire and Peterborough (Fig. 6), both important settlements which grew up around important abbeys. Peterborough was at the end of a peninsular of high ground spreading eastwards into the Fens and Crowland was an island in the Lincolnshire part of the Fens. The Fens rich in wild life also provided himwith an income. Hereward seems to have been an unruly child and was banished because he disrupted the livelihood of the local population and also disobeyed his father. He was sent into exile being declared an outlaw by King Edward the Confessor, Æthalstan’s successor, and at the time of the Norman conquest was working as a mercenary in Flanders (now Belgium). Hereward returned to England in 1067AD, a year after the Norman conquest to find Fig. 5. Crowland Abbey today. The abbey ruins are on the right, the church left. The abbey was rebuilt in the 14th century and destroyed under Henry VIII in the 16th century. Fig. 6. Peterborough Cathedral. The former abbey was to the right, demolished by Henry VIII.