The history of England: Domesday goes digital

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Tomorrow, 920 years after it was compiled by an anonymous scribe, William the Conqueror's epic audit of life in medieval times will become available on the internet.

He has become known as Scribe A and was, by the standards of the 11th century, an educated man who could read and write Latin. Deduced from his writings, Scribe A was English, but probably worked for the Bishop of Durham, one William of St Calais, a member of what was the French elite ruling England. He was almost certainly a monk or held some other religious office, but little else is known about Scribe A, such as his real name, title, or status.

Most modern historians believe that in the late summer of 1086, Scribe A sat down and wrote the bulk of what was then called the Book of Winchester, now known as the Domesday Book. And despite the lack of detail about the man himself, Scribe A, with the dedication to detail worthy of any contemporary civil servant or accountant, gave succeeding generations an astonishing window into life in early medieval England.

He tells us who owns what and who works for whom. He tells us the names of all the villages and manors, and how many freeman, cottagers, bishops, priests, churches, castles, vineyards and villeins are there and how much they are worth and what land they own or farm and what taxes and dues they pay. It is as if the records of the Inland Revenue and the Land Registry were rolled together with the latest census returns into a medieval "Who Owns What and Where".

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Edson T. Strobridge - 8/5/2006

What a wonderful tool for those of usinterested in Genealogy. Does anyone know how to access this work on the Internet?