The Doomsday Survey
The Doomsday survey can actually be broken down into two sections, and these are the Great Domesday and the Little Domesday. The Great Domesday covers the vast majority of England, but does not include the Northern regions. The Little Domesday covers Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk. It should also be noted that surveys were not taken for either London or Winchester. Many historians believe that the primary reason why these cities were not chosen is because of their large size and the complications involved with getting information on the many people who lived there.
Cumberland is not included because it was not under the control of William at the time. There are a few other regions that were not listed, and the explanation for this has never been given. It should be noted that the name Little Domesday is somewhat misleading, because there is nothing small about this project. It is very large and highly detailed. In fact, Little Domesday is so detailed that it even has the available number of livestock. Because of the detail of Little Domesday, some historians have concluded that the project was too time consuming and tedious to carry out at the same level as the Great Domesday.
The information for both volumes is based on fiefs rather than the geography. Holdings can be found under the regional barons instead of townships. The barons were the individuals who held the land of the king for a certain amount of money. For each county, the list would begin with the property that was owned by the king. After the king came the heads of the churches, and the barons would come after them. The servants of the king would come after the baron, and the list would continue down to the women. Sizeable towns had to be separated in some cases because of disputes that were occurring over land.
The rural areas of England make up a large part of Domesday. However, some important information was collected on towns as well. Some of this information included military service, mints, and markets. A number of goods had to be provided to the king through the towns and counties. The information collected for the Domesday survey is considered to be the most detailed information to be collected during the Middle Ages. The information provides historians with a detailed view of the social, religious, and political aspects of English society during this time. It appears that the survey was first planned in 1085, and it was fully completed by 1086. The period in which the document was compiled is not known.
The project called for the officers to visit each county of the country, and they would hold a public meeting in which the leaders of each town would be present. Those responsible for the inquiry were called the Hundred, and a dozen local jurors would be involved as well. The Cambridgeshire Hundreds provides a detailed account of this information, Somerset, Wiltshire, Cornwall, and Devon are covered. The Domesday Book has become one of the most important documents in English history.
Original Authors: Stephen Palmer
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 06/02/2007