[MR] Ancient Origins: The Domesday Book
Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 14 02:43:46 PDT 2020
One of Ancient Origins' recent posts is all about the Domesday Book.
References to this book float through 11th century histories of England,
but few sources explain how the Domesday census was organized, what
information was gathered, and to what sinister purposes the information was
applied. In short it was all about taxes--who owned what (and who owned
whom!), and how much that "what" or "whom" was worth to William the
Conqueror and his successors.
In "The Domesday Book: Don't Worry It's Not the End of the World" author
Veronica Parkes does a really nice job explaining all this in very clear
. One very interesting factoid is that there actually were TWO Domesday
Books, the Great Domesday and the Little Domesday. The names are about the
physical size of the books, not that one is more important than the other,
and the Little Domesday book actually came in five volumes. To my surprise,
the Domesday Books are now preserved and displayed in the National Archives
at Kew (which if you didn't know is part of greater London, and you can get
there by the Tube). When I saw the Domesday Book (just one) in 2000 it was
displayed in the Tower of London which for centuries WAS the site of the
And yes, it pretty much was the end of the world, at least for Saxons.
The article also includes a link to Episode II of the really excellent
documentary series MICHAEL WOOD'S STORY OF ENGLAND, which explores how the
Norman Conquest and the Domesday Book changed the lives of Anglo-Saxons,
particularly in a village called Kibworth. In case you want to skip the
article, the video is found at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnPiN6tVpGI&feature=youtu.be . Wood even
makes references to the beginnings of that noble British institution, the
pub, to which the Anglo-Saxons retreated to kvetch and drown their miseries
in ale. Naturally, the Normans didn't think much of pubs, but Wood tells us
they didn't think too highly of anything Saxon. Now with an intro like
that, how can you resist watching the video?
So if you need something to do during the lockdown besides watch paint peel
off your walls, here's a chance to wallow in not-so-merry Olde England for
an hour or two.
Lord Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge 🦆
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