The Teacher 187

9 The Teacher  1-2 (187) 2022 Culture              ❯❯❯ Fig. 1. The Cambridgeshire Fens drawn by Blaeuin 1648. showing the Isle of Ely. The green areas were covered with water in winter. The Fens extended into Lincolnshire to the N.W. and Norfolk to the N.E. The area teemed with fish and water birds and animals of all kinds (Fig. 2) .Anyone who wanted to be free of his local lord or who was an outlaw could hide here and live reasonably well. Some settlements were established on large “islands” (Fig. 3) such as Crowland and Ely built around abbeys where monks wanted peace and solitude to worship God. When the Normans under Duke William of Normandy, later called William the Conqueror, invaded Britain in 1066AD they imposed a completely different culture and way of life on the British population. The Saxons, the inhabitants of Britain, had a hierarchical structure like any other European country at the time, including slaves, but also a fairly free peasantry who had some rights. Local disputes were handled by the “Moot”, a local gathering of the village which also settled arguments about how to run local agriculture. There were lords of the manor, of course but they recognised elements of freedom enjoyed by the local free men. The Normans brought a totally alien system where the land was divided up by Norman barons who controlled the country harshly. Fig. 2. Wicken Fen near Peterborough. The area has been restored to provide habitats for birds but illustrates the Fens when flooded.

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