Anglo Saxon England has been seen by some commentators as a bit of a basket case by 1066 - out of date and ready to be conquered. But actually England had its great strengths that would have been the envy of continental monrach, if they'd spent any time thinking about that small, damp island somewhere off the continental coast. The History of England takes a brief look at the English state in the 11th century.
Click and play podcast: 20 11th Century Anglo Saxon England
Law, Government, Agriculture - and Feudalism?
Anglo Saxon England was not so very different from contentintal Europe, in reality. But there were some differences. Mainly these were around a more communal approach to Government. For example, the position of Earl was a non hereditary job title in England; he was a government official. In Normandy, Earl is a hereditary title. The Army is similar too - the Anglo Saxon Army is still recruited as a public army, rather than raised by the Kings' nobles based on their landholding.
But things had changed since 7th Century. England was moving towards Feudalism; most Thegns held land of their own right, but more held them from a lord in return for military service. And more Coerls had lost their independent land holding than used to be the case, and were therefore less free. A manorial approach to agriculture was much more common - i.e. organised around a village with communal fields, rather than individual farms.
The King's though had mainly retained his rights - although there was a little devolving of his rights of justice to his nobility. And his power had grown - becuase now he has the added power of the Church and God's approval to add to his mystique. Engish administration was also relatively advanced, so he could be effective - unless he was himself incompetant of course.
Place names and websites
Have fun with the place names thing - really, sounds nerdy, but it's good. These two websites are good for different things. I picked this English Place Names website becasue it gives a nice clear introduction to some of the most common.
While this one, the English Place Name Society, is the official expert. It has a great search engine, where you can serach for any place name or part of a name to find out why your home town is named as it is. When you go tthe site, go to 'The Key' and then use the search tool.