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Encyclopedia > Domesday Book
A line drawing entitled 'Domesday Book' from Andrew Williams's Historic Byways and Highways of Old England.
A line drawing entitled 'Domesday Book' from Andrew Williams's Historic Byways and Highways of Old England.

Domesday Book (also known as Domesday, or Book of Winchester) was the record of the great survey of England completed in 1086, executed for William I of England. The survey was similar to a census by a government of today. William needed information about the country he had just conquered so he could administer it. While spending Christmas of 1085 in Gloucester, William "had deep speech with his counsellors and sent men all over England to each shire ... to find out ... what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock, and what it was worth." (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1804x972, 296 KB) The Domesday Book from Andrews, William: “Historic Byways and Highways of Old England” (1900)[1] File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Domesday Book User... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1804x972, 296 KB) The Domesday Book from Andrews, William: “Historic Byways and Highways of Old England” (1900)[1] File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Domesday Book User... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... Events Domesday Book is completed in England Emperor Shirakawa of Japan starts his cloistered rule Imam Ali Mosque is rebuilt by the Seljuk Malik Shah I after being destroyed by fire. ... William I of England (c. ... Image:1870 census Lindauer Weber 01. ... For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation). ... Gloucester (pronounced ) is a city and district in the English county of Gloucestershire, close to the Welsh border. ... The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle. ...


One of the main purposes of the survey was to find out who owned what so they could be taxed on it, and the judgment of the assessors was final—whatever the book said about who owned the property, or what it was worth, was the law, and there was no appeal. It was written in Latin, although there were some vernacular words inserted for native terms with no previous Latin equivalent and the text was highly abbreviated. The name Domesday comes from the Old English word dom, meaning accounting or reckoning. Thus domesday, or doomsday, is literally a day of reckoning, meaning that a lord takes account of what is owed by his subjects. Medieval Christians believed that in the Last Judgement as recorded in Revelation, Christ would carry out a similar accounting of one's deeds—hence the term doomsday also referred to this eschatological event.[1] For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon[1], Old English: ) is an early form of the English language that was spoken in parts of what is now England and southern Scotland between the mid-fifth century and the mid-twelfth century. ... Image:Michelangelo - Fresco of the Last Judgment. ... Visions of John of Patmos, as depicted in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. ... For the book by Pope Benedict XVI, see Eschatology (book). ...


In August 2006, a complete online version of Domesday Book was made available for the first time by the The National Archives. Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The National Archives building at Kew. ...

Contents

Domesday Book

Domesday Book is really two independent works. One, known as Little Domesday, covers Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. The other, Great Domesday, covers the rest of England, except for lands in the north that would later become Westmorland, Cumberland, Northumberland and County Durham (because some of these lands were under Scottish control at the time). There are also no surveys of London, Winchester and some other towns. The omission of these two major cities is probably due to their size and complexity, Cumberland is missing because it was not conquered until some time after the survey and the Prince-Bishop William of St. Carilef had the exclusive right to tax Durham; the omission of the other counties has not been fully explained. Parts of the North East of England were covered by the 1183 'Boldon Book', which listed those areas liable to tax by the Bishop of Durham. Norfolk (IPA: //) is a low-lying county in East Anglia in the east of southern England. ... Suffolk (pronounced ) is a large historic and modern non-metropolitan county in East Anglia, England. ... For other meanings of Essex, see Essex (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... Westmorland (formerly also spelt Westmoreland, an even older spelling is Westmerland) is an area of north west England and one of the 39 historic counties of England. ... Cumberland is one of the 39 traditional counties of England. ... Northumberland is a county in the North East of England. ... County Durham is a county in north-east England. ... This article is about the country. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Winchester is a historic city in southern England, with a population of around 40,000 within a 3 mile radius of its centre. ... The Bishop of Durham is the officer of the Church of England responsible for the diocese of Durham, one of the oldest in the country. ... William of St Calais (Carilef) (d. ...


Despite its name, Little Domesday is actually larger — as it is far more detailed, down to numbers of livestock. It has been suggested that Little Domesday represents a first attempt, and that it was found impossible, or at least inconvenient, to complete the work on the same scale for Great Domesday.


For both volumes, the contents of the returns were entirely rearranged and classified according to fiefs, rather than geographically. Instead of appearing under the Hundreds and townships, holdings appear under the names of the local barons, i.e. those who held the lands directly of the crown in fee. Fief depiction in a book of hours Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud, feoff, or fee, often consisted of inheritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord in return for a form of allegiance, originally to give him the means to fulfill his military... A hundred is an administrative division, frequently used in Europe and New England, which historically was used to divide a larger region into smaller geographical units. ... Baron is a specific title of nobility or a more generic feudal qualification. ...


In each county, the list opened with the holdings of the king himself (which had possibly formed the subject of separate inquiry); then came those of the churchmen and religious houses; next were entered those of the lay tenants-in-chief (barons); and last of all those of women, of the king's serjeants (servientes), of the few English thegns who retained land, and so forth. Map of runestones raised over a thegn. ...


In some counties, one or more principal towns formed the subject of a separate section; in some the clamores (disputed titles to land) were similarly treated separately. This principle applies more specially to the larger volume; in the smaller one the system is more confused, the execution less perfect.


Apart from the wholly rural portions, which constitute its bulk, Domesday contains entries of interest concerning most of the towns, which were probably made because of their bearing on the fiscal rights of the crown therein. These include fragments of custumals (older customary agreements), records of the military service due, of markets, mints, and so forth. From the towns, from the counties as wholes, and from many of its ancient lordships, the crown was entitled to archaic dues in kind, such as honey. For other uses, see Honey (disambiguation). ...


The information of most general interest found in the great record is that on political, personal, ecclesiastical and social history, which only occurs sporadically and, as it were, by accident. Much of this was used by E. A. Freeman for his work on the Norman Conquest. Edward Augustus Freeman (August 2, 1823 - March 16, 1892) was an English historian. ... Bayeux Tapestry depicting events leading to the Battle of Hastings The Norman Conquest of England was the conquest of the Kingdom of England by William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy), in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent Norman control of England. ...


The survey

From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it is known that the planning for the survey was conducted in 1085, and from the colophon of the book it is known that the survey was completed in 1086. It is not known when exactly Domesday Book was compiled, but the entire work appears to have been copied out by one person. The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle. ... April 2 - Emperor Zhezong became emperor of Song Dynasty. ... In publishing, a colophon describes details of the production of a book. ... Events Domesday Book is completed in England Emperor Shirakawa of Japan starts his cloistered rule Imam Ali Mosque is rebuilt by the Seljuk Malik Shah I after being destroyed by fire. ...


Each county was visited by a group of royal officers (legati), who held a public inquiry, probably in the great assembly known as the county court, which was attended by representatives of every township as well as of the local lords. The unit of inquiry was the Hundred (a subdivision of the county, which then was an administrative entity), and the return for each Hundred was sworn to by twelve local jurors, half of them English and half of them Normans.


What is believed to be a full transcript of these original returns is preserved for several of the Cambridgeshire Hundreds, and is of great illustrative importance. The Inquisitio Eliensis, the Exon Domesday (so called from the preservation of the volume at Exeter), which covers Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, and the second volume of Domesday Book, also all contain the full details which the original returns supplied. Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs) is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. ... A number of other places have taken their names from Exeter The city of Exeter is the county town of Devon, in England, UK. It is located at 50° 43 25 N, 3° 31 39 W. In the 2001 census its population was recorded at 111,066. ... For other uses, see Cornwall (disambiguation). ... Part of the seafront of Torquay, south Devon, at high tide Devon is a large county in South West England, bordered by Cornwall to the west, and Dorset and Somerset to the east. ... Dorset (pronounced DOR-sit or [dÉ”.sÉ™t], and sometimes in the past called Dorsetshire) is a county in the south-west of England, on the English Channel coast. ... This article is about the county of Somerset in England. ... Wiltshire (abbreviated Wilts) is a large southern English county. ...


Through comparison of what details are recorded in which counties, six "circuits" can be determined.

  1. Berkshire, Hampshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex
  2. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire (Exeter Domesday)
  3. Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex
  4. Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire
  5. Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire — the Marches
  6. Derbyshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire

This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Hampshire (disambiguation). ... The Kent coat of arms For other uses, see Kent (disambiguation). ... This article is about the English county. ... Sussex is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. ... For other uses, see Cornwall (disambiguation). ... Part of the seafront of Torquay, south Devon, at high tide Devon is a large county in South West England, bordered by Cornwall to the west, and Dorset and Somerset to the east. ... Dorset (pronounced DOR-sit or [dɔ.sət], and sometimes in the past called Dorsetshire) is a county in the south-west of England, on the English Channel coast. ... This article is about the county of Somerset in England. ... Wiltshire (abbreviated Wilts) is a large southern English county. ... Bedfordshire (abbreviated Beds) is a county in England that forms part of the East of England region. ... Buckinghamshire (abbreviated Bucks) is one of the home counties in South East England. ... Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs) is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. ... For the similarly named county in the West Midlands region, see Herefordshire. ... The Middlesex Guildhall at Westminster Middlesex is one of the 39 historic counties of England and was the second smallest (after Rutland). ... Leicestershire ( IPA: (RP), IPA: (locally)), abbreviation Leics. ... Northamptonshire (abbreviated Northants or Nhants) is a landlocked county in central England with a population of 629,676 (2001 census). ... Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from the Latinised form Oxonia) is a county in the South East of England, bordering on Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire. ... Staffordshire (abbreviated Staffs) is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. ... A detailed map Stratford-upon-Avon Kenilworth Castle Warwickshire (pronounced // or //) is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in central England. ... Cheshire (or, archaically, the County of Chester)[1] is a county in North West England. ... Gloucestershire (pronounced ; GLOSS-ter-sher) is a county in South West England. ... Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county and unitary district (known as County of Herefordshire) in the West Midlands region of England. ... Shropshire (pronounced /, -/), alternatively known as Salop[6] or abbreviated Shrops[7], is a county in the West Midlands of England. ... Worcestershire (pronounced ; abbreviated Worcs) is a county located in the West Midlands region of central England. ... The Welsh Marches is an area along the border of England and Wales in the island of Great Britain. ... Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. ... Huntingdonshire (abbreviated Hunts) is a part of England around Huntingdon, which is currently administered as a local government district of Cambridgeshire. ... For other places with the same name, see Lincolnshire (disambiguation). ... Nottinghamshire (abbreviated Notts) is an English county in the East Midlands, which borders South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. ... Look up Yorkshire in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Purpose

For the object of the survey, we have three sources of information:

"After this had the king a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out "How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire." Also he commissioned them to record in writing, "How much land his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, and his abbots, and his earls;" and though I may be prolix and tedious, "What, or how much, each man had, who was an occupier of land in England, either in land or in stock, and how much money it were worth." So very narrowly, indeed, did he commission them to trace it out, that there was not one single hide, nor a yard of land, nay, moreover (it is shameful to tell, though he thought it no shame to do it), not even an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was there left, that was not set down in his writ. And all the recorded particulars were afterwards brought to him."
  • The list of questions which the jurors were asked, as preserved in the Inquisitio Eliensis
  • The contents of Domesday Book and the allied records mentioned above.

Although these can by no means be reconciled in every detail, it is now generally recognized that the primary object of the survey was to ascertain and record the fiscal rights of the king. These were mainly The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle. ...

  • The national land-tax (geldum), paid on a fixed assessment,
  • Certain miscellaneous dues, and
  • The proceeds of the crown lands.

After a great political convulsion such as the Norman conquest, and the wholesale confiscation of landed estates which followed it, it was in William's interest to make sure that the rights of the crown, which he claimed to have inherited, had not suffered in the process. More especially was this the case as his Norman followers were disposed to evade the liabilities of their English predecessors.


The Domesday survey therefore recorded the names of the new holders of lands and the assessments on which their tax was to be paid. But it did more than this; by the king's instructions it endeavoured to make a national valuation list, estimating the annual value of all the land in the country, (1) at the time of Edward the Confessor's death, (2) when the new owners received it, (3) at the time of the survey, and further, it reckoned, by command, the potential value as well. It is evident that William desired to know the financial resources of his kingdom, and it is probable that he wished to compare them with the existing assessment, which was one of considerable antiquity, though there are traces that it had been occasionally modified. The great bulk of Domesday Book is devoted to the somewhat arid details of the assessment and valuation of rural estates, which were as yet the only important source of national wealth. After stating the assessment of the manor, the record sets forth the amount of arable land, and the number of plough teams (each reckoned at eight oxen) available for working it, with the additional number (if any) that might be employed; then the river-meadows, woodland, pasture, fisheries (i.e. weirs in the streams), water-mills, saltpans (if by the sea) and other subsidiary sources of revenue; the peasants are enumerated in their several classes; and finally the annual value of the whole, past and present, is roughly estimated. St Edward the Confessor or Eadweard III (c. ... Generic plan of a mediaeval manor; open-field strip farming, some enclosures, triennial crop rotation, demesne and manse, common woodland, pasturage and meadow Manorialism or Seigneurialism is the organization of rural economy and society in medieval western and parts of central Europe, characterised by the vesting of legal and economic... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


It is obvious that, both in its values and in its measurements, the survey's reckoning is very crude.


The rearrangement, on a feudal basis, of the original returns enabled the Conqueror and his officers to see with ease the extent of a baron's possessions; but it also had the effect of showing how far he had engaged under-tenants, and who those under-tenants were. This was of great importance to William, not only for military reasons, but also because of his firm resolve to make the under-tenants (though the "men" of their lords) swear allegiance directly to himself. As Domesday Book normally records only the Christian name of an under-tenant, it is not possible to search for the surnames of families claiming a Norman origin; but much has been done, and is still being done, to identify the under-tenants, the great bulk of whom bear foreign Christian names.


To a large extent, it comes down to the king's knowing where he should look when he needed to raise money. It therefore includes sources of income but not sinks of expenditure such as castles; unless their mention is needed to explain discrepancies between pre-and post-Conquest holdings. Typically, this happened in a town, where separately-recorded properties had been demolished to make way for a castle.


Subsequent history

Domesday Book was originally preserved in the royal treasury at Winchester (the Norman kings' capital). It was originally referred to as the Book of Winchester, and refers to itself as such in a late edition. When the treasury moved to Westminster, probably under Henry II, the book went with it. In the Dialogus de scaccario (temp. Hen. II.) it is spoken of as a record from the arbitrament of which there was no appeal (from which its popular name of Domesday is said to be derived). In the Middle Ages its evidence was frequently invoked in the law-courts; and even now there are certain cases in which appeal is made to its testimony. Winchester Cathedral as seen from the Cathedral Close Arms of Winchester City Council Winchester is a city in southern England, and the administrative capital of the county of Hampshire, with a population of around 35,000. ... Westminster is a district within the City of Westminster in London. ... Henry II of England 5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189) ruled as King of England (1154–1189), Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. ...


It remained in Westminster until the days of Queen Victoria, being preserved from 1696 onwards in the Chapter House, and only removed in special circumstances, such as when it was sent to Southampton for photozincographic reproduction. Domesday Book was eventually placed in the Public Record Office, London; it can be now seen in a glass case in the museum at The National Archives, Kew which is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London. In 1869 it received a modern binding. Most recently, the two books were rebound for its ninth centenary in 1986, when Great Domesday was divided into two volumes and Little Domesday was divided into three volumes. The ancient Domesday chest, in which it used to be kept, is also preserved in the building at Kew. “Queen Victoria” redirects here. ... Photozincography is a method for reproducing a print or photographic image onto a sensitized zinc plate. ... The Kew building. ... The National Archives building at Kew. ... Kew is a place in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London. ...


The printing of Domesday, in "record type", was begun by the government in 1773, and the book was published, in two volumes, in 1783; in 1811 a volume of indices was added, and in 1816 a supplementary volume, separately indexed, containing:

  1. The Exon Domesday — for the south-western counties
  2. The Inquisitio Eliensis
  3. The Liber Winton — surveys of Winchester early in the 12th century
  4. The Boldon Buke — a survey of the bishopric of Durham a century later than Domesday.

Photographic facsimiles of Domesday Book, for each county separately, were published in 1861-1863, also by the government. Today, Domesday Book is available in numerous editions, usually based per county and available with other local history resources. (11th century - 12th century - 13th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 12th century was that century which lasted from 1101 to 1200. ... Year 1861 (MDCCCLXI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Year 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Local history is the study of the history of a relatively small geographic area; typically a specific settlement, parish or county. ...


In 1986, the BBC released the BBC Domesday Project, the results of a project to create a survey to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book. In August 2006 the contents of Domesday went on-line, with an English translation of the book's Latin. Visitors to the website will now be able to search a place name, see the index entry made for the manor, town, city or village and, for a fee, download the appropriate page. Year 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link displays 1986 Gregorian calendar). ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... The BBC Domesday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers Ltd, Philips, Logica and the BBC to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, an 11th century census of England. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Although unique in character and invaluable to the student, scholars are unable to explain portions of its language and of its system. This is partly due to its very early date, which has placed a gulf between Domesday Book and later records which is difficult to bridge.


To the topographer, as to the genealogist, its evidence is of primary importance, as it not only contains the earliest survey of each township or manor, but affords, in the majority of cases, the clue to its subsequent descent.


Bibliography

  • Domesday Book: A Complete Transliteration. London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7.
  • Hallam, Elizabeth M. Domesday Book through Nine Centuries. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1986.
  • Keats-Rohan, Katherine S. B. Domesday People: A Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents, 1066–1166. 2v. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1999.
  • Maitland, F. W. Domesday Book and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-521-34918-4
  • Wood, Michael. The Doomsday Quest: In Search of the Roots of England. London: BBC Books, 2005. ISBN 0-563-52274-7

Dr Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan is a history researcher at the University of Oxford specialising in prosopography. ...

See also

Medieval demography is the study of human demography in Europe during the Middle Ages. ... The BBC Domesday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers Ltd, Philips, Logica and the BBC to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, an 11th century census of England. ...

References

  1. ^ Robert Berkhofer, III, Day of Reckoning: Power and Accountability in Medieval France(Philadelphia, 2004), pp. 166-68

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Domesday Book
  • Domesday Book, from The National Archives (UK). Searchable text and page scans (complete).
  • Focus on Domesday, from Learning Curve. Annotated sample page.
  • Domesday Book, an article from History Magazine.

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Domesday Book Online - Frequently Asked Questions (1478 words)
The Domesday Book is a great land survey from 1086, commissioned by William the Conqueror to assess the extent of the land and resources being owned in England at the time, and the extent of the taxes he could raise.
However, the Domesday Book does not provide an accurate indication of the population of England towards the end of the 11th century.
The term 'waste' or 'wasted' appears many times in the Domesday Book, most often describing settlements the army had passed through and left their mark on during their conquest, although the term was also used sometimes for manors simply not paying geld for one reason or another.
Domesday Book - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1707 words)
Domesday Book (also known as Domesday, or Book of Winchester), was the record of the great survey of England completed in 1086, executed for William the Conqueror, that was similar to a census by a government of today.
Domesday Book was originally preserved in the royal treasury at Winchester (the Norman kings' capital).
The Exon Domesday - for the south-western counties
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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