Domesday Book: an engraving published in 1900. Great Domesday (the larger volume) and Little Domesday (the smaller volume), in their 1869 bindings, lying on their older "
|Also known as||The Great Survey; Liber de Wintonia|
|Place of origin|
Domesday Book (
Then, at the midwinter , was the king in
Gloucesterwith his council ... . After this had the king a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out "How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire."
It was written in
The assessors' reckoning of a man's holdings and their values, as recorded in Domesday Book, was dispositive and without appeal. The name "Domesday Book" (
for as the sentence of that strict and terrible last account cannot be evaded by any skilful subterfuge, so when this book is appealed to ... its sentence cannot be quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we have called the book "the Book of Judgement" ... because its decisions, like those of the
Last Judgement, are unalterable.
The book is an invaluable primary source for modern historians and historical economists. No survey approaching the scope and extent of Domesday Book was attempted again in Britain until the
Domesday Book encompasses two independent works (in, originally, two physical volumes). These were "Little Domesday" (covering
"Little Domesday" – so named because its format is physically smaller than its companion's – is the more detailed survey, down to numbers of livestock. It may have represented the first attempt, resulting in a decision to avoid such level of detail in "Great Domesday".[
Both volumes are organised into a series of chapters (literally "headings", from Latin caput, "a head") listing the
Each county's list opened with the king's
In some counties, one or more principal towns formed the subject of a separate section: in some the clamores (disputed titles to land) were also treated separately. This principle applies more especially to the larger volume: in the smaller one, the system is more confused, the execution less perfect.
Domesday names a total of 13,418 places. Apart from the wholly rural portions, which constitute its bulk, Domesday contains entries of interest concerning most of the towns, which were probably made because of their bearing on the fiscal rights of the crown therein. These include fragments of