William the Conqueror on the web: Discover your town's history with digital Domesday


Blackleaf
#1
The Domesday Book, completed in 1086, was a great survey of England when it was a colony of Normandy undertaken on the orders of England's King William I, or William the Conqueror as he arrogantly preferred to be known (he was previously known as William the Bastard).

William, the Duke of Normandy, wanted a record of who owned what in his conquered kingdom, so he sent out his councillors into the shires to record what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock. It also determined what taxes each landowner was required to pay the king.

Landowners not only had to say what they owned at the present time (1085/6), but also what they owned 20 years previously in 1066 when King Edward the Confessor (William's cousin, who reigned from 1042-1066)) was on the Throne. The short reign in 1066 of King Harold II, Edward the Confessor's successor, who was defeated by William at the Battle of Hastings allowing William to conquer England, was therefore ignored.

The judgment of the great survey's assessors was final—whatever the book said about who held the material wealth or what it was worth, was the law, and there was no appeal. Hence the English gave it the nickname Domesday (Doomsday), with which it is still known today.

Most of England was covered in the survey except the northermost counties and also parts of London.

The Domesday Book remained the biggest audit of its kind anywhere in Europe until the censuses of the 19th century.

Now, the book is available online, meaning it has become easier to trace the history of your town or village.

Now anyone in the world can use the data collected by William the Conqueror in 1085-86 to instantly find out who owned what in Norman Britain.

The digital version of the Domesday Book also sheds light on how land was passed (usually unwillingly) from Saxon landowners to the new Norman nobility in the years after the Battle of Hastings.

Despite Normans comprising just one percent of the English population at the time of the survey, due to the Norman nobility taking lands from native English landowners for themselves a huge percentage of Norman England was owned by the Norman nobility.

Historian Prof Stephen Baxter said: 'Ever wondered who owned your town or village at the time of the Norman conquest? It’s now possible to find out at the flick of a button.'

The sheer size and scale of the Domesday Book shows how much of a blessing it is than the ancient document has been put online - Domesday names a total of 13,418 places. Each placename in the original document is scored through with a red line to make it easier for anybody to search for placenames.

William the Conqueror on the web: Discover your town's history with digital Domesday Book

By David Derbyshire
11th August 2010
Daily Mail


Data collected by William I (the Conqueror), above, in 1085-86 has been used to create the site

Tracing the history of your town or village has become easier with the launch of an online version of the Domesday Book, the most important historical record of Medieval England.

For the first time, anyone in the world can use the data collected by William the Conqueror in 1085-86 to instantly find out who owned what in Norman England.

The digital version of the Domesday Book also sheds light on how land was passed from Saxon landowners to the new Norman nobility in the years after the Battle of Hastings.

All users have to do is type in the name of the area they wish to learn about and the findings will be presented in map or table form.

Historian Prof Stephen Baxter said: 'Ever wondered who owned your town or village at the time of the Norman conquest? It’s now possible to find out at the flick of a button.

'And having done so, you can create maps and tables of the estates held by the same lords elsewhere in England.

'Results are delivered quickly, and the scale of the dispossession of the English by Norman billionaire-like barons comes vividly to life.

'As you can imagine, constructing this database has been quite an exercise, but it is a phenomenally useful research tool. Essentially, it’s now possible for anyone to do in a few seconds what it has taken scholars weeks to achieve in the past.’

"For as the sentence of that strict and terrible last account (the Day of Judgement) cannot be evaded by any skilful subterfuge, so when this book is appealed to ... its sentence cannot be put quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we (the English people) have called the book 'the Book of Judgement' ... because its decisions, like those of the Last Judgement, are unalterable."

(Richard FitzNigel, c. 1179, on why it came to be known as the Domesday Book. Richard was a churchman and bureaucrat in the service of King Henry II ).

The Domesday Book was commissioned by William the Conqueror.

It was a gigantic survey of every town and village in England and described in detail which barons owned which tracts of land.

Prof Baxter, the presenter of a one-hour documentary on the Domesday Book on BBC2 tonight and medieval historian at King's College, London, said the document had been misunderstood as a tax register.


The website, seen above, is part of a project called PASE, 'The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England', which collates information about people living in England between the sixth to the 11th century

But he argues that it was a political exercise to highlight the transition from Saxon to Norman rule, and end disputes between the nobility about land ownership.

The Domesday Book remained the biggest audit of its kind anywhere in Europe until the censuses of the 19th century.

"While spending the 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).

The website is part of a project called PASE, ‘The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England’, which aims to draw together information about people living in England between the sixth to the 11th century.

The PASE Domesday website includes masses of data from the Saxon era, as well as information gathered for the Domesday Book

Prof Baxter added: 'This is far more accessible than anything available before because it allows you to download the results to your desk top and create maps. You can look up Coventry or Islington and see who the landowner was.

'It's hard to think of any other historical document that is has as much importance for researching England's history.'

The website is available at domesday.pase.ac.uk.


The Domesday Book, above, was a huge survey of every town and village in England and remained the biggest audit of its kind in Europe until the censuses of the 19th century. The map, below, shows the areas of England owned by the last Anglo-Saxon earl, Waltheof.



The digital version of the Domesday book allows users to find out who owned what at the time of the Norman Conquest. This map, above, shows land owned by Earl Waltheof and provides interesting facts about his life.

Top 10 Facts About the Norman Conquest of England

The Norman conquest of England took but a few weeks, yet its legacy is enormous.

The arrival of the warrior-race and their French-Norman culture changed the course of British history.

Here are ten facts (more or less in order) about the conquest and its consequences you truly need want to know.

1. Three Kings

In 1066, after the death of Edward the Confessor, three wannabe-kings were claiming the English crown; King Harald III of Norway (defeated by the English at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire 19 days before the Battle of Hastings), Harold Godwinson (Edward's brother-in-law, and for a short while King Harold II of England) and William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy (victorious against King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings and henceforth known as 'William the Conqueror ' ).

2. William the Viking

The Normans weren't French, despite what the French may think today (although the Norman barons probably acquired their snobbish personalities from the French). They were the descendants of Vikings. Their name derives from 'Nortmanni' – meaning 'men from the north'. The French wouldn't conquer Normandy until the 13th Century.

By 1086, Norman barons owned 55 per cent of the land in England, despite comprising one per cent of its population. In comparison, native Anglo-Saxons held only 5 per cent.

3. The Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings (October 14th 1066) lasted one day. It was one of the longest battles in the medieval world, so a break for lunch (and regrouping) was taken.

4. Castle-crazy

Immediately after their victory, the Normans started constructing castles from IKEA-style 'quick assembly Norman castle kits' brought from Normandy. According to Sir Edward Creasy, they had “had brought with them in the fleet, three wooden castles from Normandy, in pieces, all ready for framing together, and they took the materials of one of these out of the ships, all shaped and pierced to receive the pins which they had brought cut and ready in large barrels; and before evening had set in, they had finished a good fort on the English ground”.

Those Normans were surely castle-crazy. Thirty years after the Norman Conquest, no village in England was more than a day's march from a Norman fortification or castle.

5. The Bayeux Tapestry

Despite currently being displayed in the French town of Bayeux, the famous tapestry was almost certainly created by Englishwomen, probably in Canterbury, in around 1070. The Battle of Hastings (and the construction of prefab castles) is documented on the tapestry ,which is some 70 metres of embroidered cloth. It also features Halley's Comet, which appeared in the sky on 24th April 1066 and which the English perceived to be a prophecy of doom. Research has shown that rather than depicting William the Conqueror as some sort of hero, the Bayeux Tapestry may actually be pro-English propaganda which has been subtly disguised. If this is proven, the French may decide to hand back the tapestry to the English!

6. New Names and Game

The Normans introduced the names William, Robert and Henry to Britain and rabbits to the British countryside.

7. Norman Nobility

By 1086, Norman barons owned 55 per cent of the land in England. In comparison, Anglo-Saxons held only 5 per cent. (The remaining lot was owned by the King, Church, … .)

8. Domesday

We know this because 60,000 people all over England were questioned during the Domesday Inquisition and 13,000 places are named in the Domesday Book. Writing this all down took about one million words (double the amount of Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings') and at least 200 calf and sheep skins to make the Domesday Book's 800 pages.

9. The Menu

Why does "beef" come from cows and "mutton" come from sheep? Well, those Norman French-speaking barons would order mouton, boeuf and veau (mutton, beef and veal), while the Anglo-Saxon peasants would herd sheep, cows and calves. The master wants venaison (vennison) on his plate? Go hunt some deer.

10. The English Lexicon

It is not just the food. About 30% of English vocabulary originates in French, compared to less than 25% of words inherited from Anglo-Saxon (the remaining bulk is mainly derived from Latin and Greek). English grammar, though, is based on the Anglo-Saxon, and so are most of its most common words, such as "the."

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Aug 11th, 2010 at 01:06 PM..
 
Dingus
#2
Thanks for the info Blackleaf. At present in England there is a short series about the Normana and they are looking at the Doomesday Bokk tonight.

Thanks for the info Blackleaf. There is a short series on TV here in England at the moment all about the Normans which started last night. Tonight the programme is looking at the Domesday Book. Don't know if you can get BBC2, but if so, its on at 9pm tonight.
 

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