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Abstract

This essay explores the ways in which historians of the past several decades have viewed and defined the development of English government following the Norman Conquest in 1066. Organization will turn on three related themes: the nature of interactions between local and royal administrations; the origins, purposes and functions of post-Conquest institutions; and the degree to which centralization of royal power was achieved through administrative tactics. Recently, historians have argued that local governments exerted strong influence on central authority and that their administrative techniques were adapted to the goals of royal government; that Anglo-Norman administrative structures and political institutions rested on continental and insular precedents; and that goals of centralization and the efficacy of central governments may have been misconstrued.