An Introduction to Domesday Book

An Introduction to Domesday Book

An Introduction to Domesday Book

An Introduction to Domesday Book

Excerpt

There has not been published any book dealing solely and comprehensively with the Domesday Inquest and all its products since Augustus Ballard's appeared nearly sixty years ago. Since then, not only has much excellent work on Domesday Book and the allied documents appeared, but some of the conceptions concerning their character and origins have been modified. It is time, therefore, that a new introduction to the contents and to the study of Domesday Book should appear.

The sheer volume of Domesday Book, and the deceptive monotony of its thousands of entries, are discouraging to the inexperienced. These are reasons for attempting to reduce its essentials to more manageable proportions, and, as far as is possible, to segregate each of its definable aspects. But, before these can be considered by the student or the amateur, it is as well to examine just what Domesday Book is, why the Inquest which produced it was held, how this Inquest obtained its information, and in what manner the results were committed to writing. It is also judicious to consider in what manner and along what lines the earliest and most celebrated commentators approached the problems which Domesday Book presents. While this book, for lack of space, does not pretend to make anything but occasional glances backwards or forwards from the time of the Inquest, it is as well to remember that it is impossible altogether to isolate Domesday Book. Much of what appears within it has its roots deep within an England less mature than the kingdom over which the Confessor had reigned: the student must know something of the slow evolution of administrative and agrarian arrangements, of socioeconomic divisions, of the beginnings of legal codes and a legal system, before he can hope to understand both its contents and what made its compilation possible. Much which is to be found therein is, without some acquaintance with the history of the Anglo-Norman state, only partly intelligible. But this is an . . .

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