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.


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.


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


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.


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Richard fitzNigel's view of Domesday Book is perhaps understandable in the context of the burgeoning Common Law of the reign of Henry II (r.
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The Survey and compilation of Domesday Book took about twenty months, from Christmas 1085 to the death of William in September 1087.
King William's great inquest of 108e and the enormous Domesday Book that it produced have probably generated more enduring scholarly comment than any other event and document in English history, more even than King John's sealing of Magna Carta on the field of Runnymede.
When Gruffydd ap Llywelyn recovered the region in the eleventh century, English farmers must have paid the same kind of render to their new master; and the custom survived the further conquests of north-east Wales by the Normans in the 1070s, to be noted and written down in 1086 by the compilers of Domesday Book.
Lordships and baronies are some of Europe's oldest titles, dating back to the Domesday Book, which recorded a land survey for William the Conqueror in 1086.
Combining the Domesday Book data with a variety of auxiliary assumptions, Snooks estimates the GDP per capita for England in 1086, finding it "about the same as that for India in the mid-nineteenth century" [p.
Relying on a computerized version of the Domesday book, William the Conqueror's precocious land survey, Fleming enhances the picture of the process of dividing up England after 1066.
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The National Archives has one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1000 years of British history, from the Domesday Book to newly released government papers.