In 1069 Robert of Comines, a Norman to whom William had given the earldom of Northumberland, was murdered by the English at Durham; the north declared for Edgar Atheling, the last male representative of the West-Saxon dynasty; and Sweyn Estrithson of Denmark sent a fleet to aid the rebels.
The great earldoms of the West-Saxon period were allowed to lapse; the new earls, for the most part closely connected with William by the ties of blood or friendship, were lords of single shires; and only on the marches of the kingdom was the whole of the royal jurisdiction delegated to such feudatories.
The English dialect in which the Anglo-Saxon laws have been handed down to us is in most cases a common speech derived from West Saxon - naturally enough as Wessex became the predominant English state, and the court of its kings the principal literary centre from which most of the compilers and scribes derived their dialect and spelling.
The oldest Anglo-Saxon codes, especially the Kentish and the West Saxon ones, disclose a close relationship to the barbaric laws of Lower Germany - those of Saxons, Frisians, Thuringians.
Other early writers, however, do not observe these distinctions, and neither in language nor in custom do we find evidence of any appreciable differences between the two former groups, though in custom Kent presents most remarkable contrasts with the other kingdoms. Still more curious is the fact that West Saxon writers regularly speak of their own nation as a part of the Angelcyn and of their language as Englisc, while the West Saxon royal family claimed to be of the same stock as that of Bernicia.