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When William the Conqueror wished to reward his armourer, he made him a grant of land – land worked by freemen and already belonging to a Saxon lord. But the men of the Conquest had no time for the niceties of land tenure and legal possession. Rolf, the armourer, hacked his way through the Saxon defiance and savagely claimed his royal bequest. His possessions included a village of sullen peasants – turned overnight into homeless villeins, the stone and wooden dwelling that was suitable for a Saxon but not for a Norman, and Madselin – the proud, courageous young widow of the Saxon lord…