Friday, January 1, 2016

The Domesday Book

I could write something about the Domesday Book, but it would be redundant since there is wonderful information available about it. It was commissioned in 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066 and became its king. He rewarded his supporters, who were French, with land and power, leaving only a few of the resident Anglo-Saxon nobility with holdings. There were 13,418 settlements in the English counties, and he needed to know what was there. The book recorded the value of land and who held what. It provides a picture of what life was like in the 11th century. The original Domesday Book is held by the National Archives in London. Here are a couple of good sources if you would like to know more. Genealogically speaking, the book is a treasure.
They call the book "Britain's finest treasure" and "the foundation document of the National Archives." This site has wonderful photos of the book, 11th century tapestries, and other artifacts; also a Domesday glossary, bibliography, and Latin tutorials for beginners and advanced level. There are two exhibitions, "Discover Domesday" and "World of Domesday." They offer several different searches, including by place and name. They even note that the name may have a Biblical context referring to Doomsday when Christ has the final word of judgment. In its time, the Domesday Book had the final word. The logo you see is theirs. Everything else is for sale, such as books, photos, etc.
They also tell about life in the 11th century. There is a nice picture of William and a time line of his life. There is a list of landowners with short descriptions, which is very interesting if your family history extends back to nobility. For instance, the Count of Mortain, who is mentioned in Radigan's little history is listed. He was half-brother to William, and the largest landholder in the country after the king. There is also a glossary. You can find a nice interactive map with links to listings of the places found in the book. Another great feature is the origin of place names from the Roman, Celtic, Saxon, and Viking. A timeline tells about world events during this time. It appears that this is still a work in progress and there will be even more.

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