Battle of Hastings
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Following his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror, after he became king of England, ordered a survey of his new realm. The end result was the Domesday Book, one of the great medieval manuscripts. William ordered the survey beginning in 1085, with the main purpose being a determination of what taxes had been owed during the reign of Edward the Confessor.
The Domesday Book Manuscript
The Domesday Book manuscript, now held at the National Archives in Kew, England:
- Was written in Latin
- Contained financial surveys of most of England, organized by fiefs. (A medieval fief was the central organizing principle of medieval feudalism, in which a parcel of land was owned by a particular lord and worked by vassals.)
- Since the document was primarily concerned with taxation, it proved highly unpopular during its recording.
William the Conqueror came from Normandy, a province in France. By 1085, he desired to know the organization of his new kingdom, and ordered the survey that fall, in order to differentiate between lands that fell under Crown rule and those that had been usurped by his Norman underlings.
A single individual on parchment largely copied out the original manuscript of the Domesday Book. Another complete survey of England was not undertaken until 1743. The original manuscript was, for most of its history, held in the office of the Exchequer. A modern effort to publish the book on the Internet was undertaken in 2006.