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Normans must pay for their crimes

Peter Cushing, right, as the Sheriff of Nottingham. FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Getty Images

Restorative justice for the victims of colonialism is “an idea whose time has come”, says Sahil Mahtani in The Spectator. Universities in particular are bending over backwards to investigate even the remotest link to slavery. It’s tempting to suggest we should spend our time righting the injustices of today, rather than those of the distant past. But if these wrongs are not righted, they will live on in our collective shame and the victims’ descendants will continue to suffer. Instead of abandoning the principle of restorative justice, “we should be expanding it”.

One “glaring” example is the great evil visited on the Anglo-Saxons by the Normans in 1066. The effect on English society was “enduring devastation”. Through “war, invasion and genocide”, the Anglo-Saxon ruling class was almost entirely replaced by the French arrivistes. We can calculate the cost. By 1086 the Normans had stolen almost a third of England’s 12.5 million acres of arable land, divvying it up into baronial estates. At a conservative estimate, that land is now worth £7,000 an acre – a total of £25bn that the Normans owe Anglo-Saxons for the conquest. Reparations must be made, of course. Perhaps a tax on the Lampards, Vardys and Gascoignes, payable to the Bamfords, Bransons and Ecclestones?