Monday, October 3, 2011

Fun in the Stacks--The Domesday Book


Helen Lacouture and I were happy to host Dan Coquillette's Anglo-American Legal History class a couple of weeks ago when they came to visit the Rare Book Room. We put out an exhibit of selected Norman law materials, including a couple of Magna Cartas, a Bracton, a Glanville, and this facsimile of the Domesday Book. Until this visit, I'd never had occasion to deal with it closely, other than to strain my back when lifting it off the shelf. However, it is such a fascinating piece of work that I thought a blog post was in order.

The Domesday Book was a 1086 survey of Britain ordered by William I of England, more often referred to as William the Conqueror. William wanted a clear record of the lands that were in his realm, who owned what, and what taxes were owed to him by the holders of the lands and the personalty thereon. He sent his men out across the country, and every acre and every pig and cow on top of every acre was counted.

The photo above (left) is a page from a 1986 facsimile of the original Domesday (held at the British National Archives in London) --specifically a page from the section devoted to Devonshire. The 1986 facsimile, which was released in honor of Domesday's 900th anniversary, added translation volumes. The appropriate page from the translation volume is also included above (right). More photos will be posted on Facebook!

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