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Before the High Middle ages what are now England and France were divided up into many separate fiefdoms The feudal system evolved in such a way that the king had little power The vassals pledged their allegiance to their lords and the peasants pledged their allegiance to the vassals so it was really the lords who had the power The kings also had no armies of their own and relied on their vassals for support The church was also a very powerful force due to the immense amount of control it had over people The church controlled kings by the power of excommunication and by imposing interdicts against their kingdoms if they challenged the Church The English kings didnt like the Churchs power but nothing was done about it until William the Conqueror came to power after a large power struggle Like other kings he granted fiefs to nobles and the Church but he kept a large piece of land for himself He also kept track of what was built where and when In one of his smartest moves he made vassals swear their allegiance to him before their lords This way King William had the last say on everything He also created a census that logged almost every castle field and pigpen in England This book was called the Domesday Book because the name implies that no one can escape it This book enabled William to create a successful system of tax keeping This set the stage for Williams successors to strengthen the two most important aspects of government finances and law His successors created an exchequer or treasury to collect taxes but they didnt just collect taxes they also collected fees fines and other forms of income In 1154 a smart and energetic king Henry II came into power and found a way to make old customs into law Next he sent out traveling justices to enforce his new laws These justices
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