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Domesday Book
August 17, 2006 6:02 AM   Subscribe

The Domesday Book is online. This book is "a great land survey from 1086, commissioned by William the Conqueror to assess the extent of the land and resources being owned in England at the time, and the extent of the taxes he could raise. The information collected was recorded by hand in two huge books, in the space of around a year." You can browse it here. The site also has some background info both on England at the time and the book itself.
posted by marxchivist (20 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Earlier discussion on a previous digital version of the book.
posted by marxchivist at 6:03 AM on August 17, 2006


On a tangentially-related note, The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, is a superb work of speculative fiction mostly set in the same time period. Um, sort of. It's hard to explain without giving away too much plot.

She's an extraordinary author, and I recommend it highly.
posted by Malor at 6:09 AM on August 17, 2006


Flanders, Walter of - Perhaps the same as Walter Bec. Large holdings in Beds. Also in Bucks., Herts., Northants.

Stupid Saxony Flanders
posted by hal9k at 6:33 AM on August 17, 2006 [3 favorites]


Um, Malor: While I agree with you that Willis's Doomsday Book (no "The") is a great book, it is by no means set in the same time period. The Domesday Book was written in the late 11th Century; the part of Doomsday Book that takes place in the past takes place in the 14th Century.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:37 AM on August 17, 2006


When I was little (six years old maybe) I got to be one of the few allowed to breathe the same air as the Domesday book. I wasn't allowed to touch the thing, but I was allowed to peer over my grandfather's shoulder as he did.

I was thoroughly unimpressed with it - I was six and it was a boring looking tome with no cool pictures or speech bubbles.

Strangely, my grandfather was thoroughly unimpressed with it as well. The difference was that he was the guy who was supposed to look after it - he headed the Public Record Office.

Rumour states that he actually tried to get rid of it several times - something that caused all sorts of problems in the Civil Service. In reality, he just thought it was a horribly over rated book, and he wanted to tuck it away in the vaults at Chancery Lane (this was before Kew) and hope everyone forgot about it. It never happened.

As a completely random aside (not that the rest of this is entirely on-topic) my grandfather was bitterly opposed to the move to Kew, but he couldn't block it in time. The plans were to build a huge concrete building just off the banks of the Thames - in a place liable to flooding. He thought the building ugly and regularly made it known. It's somewhat telling that (last time I checked) the place was covered in ivy.

His preference was to move the Public Record Office to Battersea power station a site that now houses the Tate Modern.
posted by twine42 at 6:40 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes, cerebus... but I couldn't explain why it would have this title but be set in the wrong period without spoiling the early plot. So I left that out.

You're right about the 'the'. Oops.
posted by Malor at 6:43 AM on August 17, 2006


His preference was to move the Public Record Office to Battersea power station a site that now houses the Tate Modern.

Tate Modern is in Bankside power station several miles downstream.
posted by cillit bang at 6:50 AM on August 17, 2006


Tate Modern is in Bankside power station several miles downstream.

Damn. I knew I'd make a mistake somewhere...
posted by twine42 at 6:54 AM on August 17, 2006


Mathowie holds in demesne Metafylter. Land for use by 9 socke-puppets and woodland for 23 pigs. At time of King Edwarde, 49 users, now 43,603 users and 2 quonsars (wasted).
posted by randomination at 7:02 AM on August 17, 2006 [3 favorites]


I always loved the entry for Bradford, my home town: "Ilbert hath it, it is a waste".

The more things change the more they stay the same.
posted by vbfg at 7:07 AM on August 17, 2006


Thank you Marxchivist! (nice confluence of handle and post too)
posted by owhydididoit at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2006


Color images of some of the actual pages here.
posted by marxchivist at 7:57 AM on August 17, 2006


What a nice coincidence! I just picked up Rackham's classic History of the Countryside last night (the original 1986 version) and am now wending my way through it. The Domesday book plays a pivotal role in British scholars' approaches to understanding such a vast array of topics that it's really excellent to have it so handy and--best of all-searchable. Excellent post, Marxchivist!
posted by Chrischris at 9:11 AM on August 17, 2006


The Domesday Book was designed to screw the public - and, nine centuries on, we're still being screwed. Guardian on the download cost: £3.50 per page.
posted by imperium at 9:35 AM on August 17, 2006


The Domesday Book was designed to screw the public - and, nine centuries on, we're still being screwed. Guardian on the download cost: £3.50 per page.

The cost of scanning and bandwidth is enormous for this, plus the National Archives is one of several areas being squeezed by the Gershon Review. I don't like it either but unfortunately it's a charge out of necessity, not greed.
posted by randomination at 9:43 AM on August 17, 2006


Guardian on the download cost: £3.50 per page.

You can browse and search the lists of landowners for free from my main link tho. Appears to not be associated with the National Archives, which seems to me the ones that ought to be allowing free access.
posted by marxchivist at 9:47 AM on August 17, 2006


Then there was the BBC Domesday project which, while only 20 years old, needed some serious work to recover ...
posted by scruss at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2006


When did we stop calling it the Doomsday book?
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2006


The light blue upon mouseover is annoying. But those people have really cool names!
posted by echo0720 at 1:07 PM on August 17, 2006


On a tangentially-related note, The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, is a superb work of speculative fiction mostly set in the same time period. Um, sort of. It's hard to explain without giving away too much plot.

Sorry for the siderail, but I have to disagree with Malor here. The Doomsday Book is a repetitive, slow, repetative, awkwardly-written "science fiction" book in a future where the only technological advancement is time travel to the past, but no one even has cell phones. Did I mention it's repetitive?
posted by zardoz at 5:02 PM on August 17, 2006


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