Domesday Book


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Domesday Book

(do͞omz`dā), record of a general census of England made (1085–86) by order of William IWilliam I
or William the Conqueror,
1027?–1087, king of England (1066–87). Earnest and resourceful, William was not only one of the greatest of English monarchs but a pivotal figure in European history as well.
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 (William the Conqueror). The survey ascertained the economic resources of most of the country for purposes of more accurate taxation. Royal agents took the evidence of local men in each hundred (county subdivision), the latter acting as inquest jurors. Descriptions of each piece of land, its present and former holders, the holding itself, and the population on it were among the facts recorded. For the thoroughness and speed with which it was taken, the Domesday survey as an administrative measure is unsurpassed in medieval history. Written from the data thus gathered, the Domesday Book is an invaluable historical source. It furnished the material for F. W. Maitland's masterly survey, Domesday Book and Beyond (1897), which deals with social and economic conditions in Anglo-Saxon and Conquest times. Many of the Domesday records have been printed by counties in the Victoria County Histories, and several portions have been independently published. The name domesday is a variant of doomsday, meaning day of judgment.

Bibliography

See V. H. Galbraith, The Making of Domesday Book (1961, repr. 1981); R. W. Finn, The Domesday Inquest and the Making of Domesday Book (1961) and Introduction to Domesday Book (1963); J. C. Holt, Domesday Studies (1987).

Domesday Book

 

the record of a general land census in England undertaken by William I the Conqueror in 1086 (20 years after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066) to determine the crown’s material resources; this was the earliest state census in European history. The Domesday Book was exceptionally complete; data were assembled on the size of patrimonies (manors) and on the distribution between the landowner and the peasant tenants of arable land, livestock, and equipment on the manor, as well as on the number and categories (in property and law) of the various kinds of landowners and tenants. The very fact of determining the legal status of the peasants of England made the Domesday Book a cause for the drastic deterioration of their position and for the spread of serfdom to strata of the peasantry that had previously been free. The name of this census reflects the attitude of contemporaries toward it. The Domesday Book is an extremely valuable source for the socioeconomic history of medieval England.

PUBLICATION

Domesday Book . . . , vols. 1–4. London, 1783–1816.

REFERENCES

Kosminskii, E. A. Issledovaniia po agrarnoi istorii Anglii XIII ν. Moscow, 1947.
Barg, M. A. Issledovaniia po istorii angliiskogo feodalizma ν XI—XIII vv. Moscow, 1962.
Levitskii, la. A. “Problema rannego feodal’nogo goroda ν Anglii i Kniga Strashnogo suda.” In the collection Srednie veka, issue 3. Moscow, 1951.

M. A. BARG

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