The Harrying of the North
The Harrying of the North was a series of military campaigns led by Willem the Conqueror, following his succession to the English throne in 1066. The campaigns were carried out in the north of England during the winter of 1069-70, as an attempt to subdue the remaining threats to the throne.
The Harrying is considered by historians to be a brutal genocide of England’s northern communities. Willem utilised scorched earth tactics to decimate the populations of many of the northern communities. Combined with the harsh winter, it created a devastating effect that resulted in brutal famines. Following the Harrying, Willem succeeded in imposing his dominance by replacing the dwindling English barons with his own Norman nobility.
Many powerful Northern families lost their male members as a result of the Harrying, as familial patriarchs were brutally usurped by Willem’s court. Willem particularly focused on the remaining Hycathic families, as he saw their powers as a threat to his church and throne. One such family were the Eymors of West Mercia, whose male lineage was entirely erased and whose noble status was overpowered. Meredith Eymor, a Baethla and the youngest of the Eymor line, lost her father and uncle during the Harrying. As a result, Meredith dedicated her life to rebuilding a Hycathic community that militantly opposed the church, ultimately sowing the seeds for the First Hycath War.