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After the Battle of Hastings the Normans, led by William the Conqueror and his army now marched on Dover where he remained for a week. He then went north calling in on Canterbury before arriving on the outskirts of London. He met resistance in Southwark and in an act of revenge set fire to the area. Londoners refused to submit to William so he turned away and marched through Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. He ravaged the countryside and by the end of the year the people of London, surrounded by devastated lands, began to consider the possibility of surrender. (1)
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a group of senior figures, including Earl Edwin of Mercia, Earl Morcar of Northumbria, Edgar Etheling, Ealdred, Archbishop of York and "all the best men from London, who submitted from force of circumstances... They gave him hostages and swore oaths of fealty, and he promised to be a gracious lord to them." On 25th December, 1066, William was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey. (2)
After his coronation, William the Conqueror claimed that all the land in England now belonged to him. William retained about a fifth of this land for his own use. Another 25% went to the Church. The rest were given to 170 tenants-in-chief (or barons), who had helped him defeat Harold at the Battle of Hastings. These barons had to provide armed men on horseback for military service. The number of knights a baron had to provide depended on the amount of land he had been given.
When William granted land to a baron an important ceremony took place. The baron knelt before the king and said: "I become your man." He then placed his hand on the Bible and promised to remain faithful for the rest of his life. The baron would then carry out similar ceremonies with his knights. By the time William and his barons had finished distributing land there were about 6,000 manors in England. Manors varied in size, some having only one village, while others had several villages within its territory.
Richard FitzGilbert is an example of someone who did very well out of the Norman invasion. Richard had the same mother as William the Conqueror, Herleva of Falaise. His father, Gilbert, Count of Brionne, one of the most powerful landowners in Normandy. As Herleva was not married to Gilbert, the boy became known as Richard FitzGilbert. The term 'Fitz' was used to show that Richard was the illegitimate son of Gilbert. (3)
When Robert, Duke of Normandy, William's father died in 1035, William the Conqueror, inherited his father's title. Several leading Normans, including Gilbert of Brionne, Osbern the Seneschal and Alan of Brittany, became William's guardians. A number of Norman barons would not accept an illegitimate son as their leader and in 1040 an attempt was made to kill William. The plot failed but they did manage to kill Gilbert of Brionne. As Richard was illegitimate, he did not receive very much land when his father died. (4)
When William the Conqueror, decided to invade England in 1066, he invited his three half-brothers, Richard FitzGilbert, Odo of Bayeux and Robert of Mortain to join him. Richard, who had married Rohese, daughter of Walter Giffard of Normandy, also brought with him members of his wife's family.
Richard FitzGilbert, was granted land in Kent, Essex, Surrey, Suffolk and Norfolk. In exchange for this land. Richard had to promise to provide the king with sixty knights. In order to supply these knights, barons divided their land up into smaller units called manors. These manors were then passed on to men who promised to serve as knights when the king needed them. (5)
Richard FitzGilbert was given the title, the Earl of Clare. The baron often lived in a castle at the centre of his estates. FitzGilbert built castles at Tonbridge (Kent), Clare (Suffolk), Bletchingley (Surrey) and Hanley (Worcester). His knights normally lived in the manor that they had been granted. Once or twice a year, FitzGilbert would visit his knights to check the manor accounts and to collect the profits that the land had made. (6)
Barons often kept about a third of the land in the manor for their own use (the demesne). Another large area was given to the knight who looked after the manor. The rest was divided up between the church (the glebe land) and the peasants who lived in the village. Those peasants who were freeman would rent the land for an agreed fee. However, the vast majority of the peasants were unfree. These unfree peasants, who were called villeins or serfs, had to provide a whole range of services in exchange for the land that they used. The main requirement of the serf was to supply labour service. This involved working on the demesne without pay for several days a week. As well as free labour, serfs also had to provide the oxen plough-team or any equipment that was needed.
In 1067 William and his army went on a tour of England where he organised the confiscating of lands, built castles and established law and order. His chroniclers claim that he met no opposition during his travels around the country. After appointing his half-brother Odo of Bayeux, and William FitzOsbern, as co-regents, William went to Normandy in March 1067.
While he was away, disturbances broke out in Kent, Herefordshire, and in the north of the country. William returned to England in December, 1067, and over the next few months the rebellions were put down. However, in 1068, another insurrection, led by Harold's sons, took place at Exeter. Once again he successfully defeated the rebels. Afterwards he built castles in Exeter and other key towns. This included Durham which was the scene of a rebellion in 1069. (7)
William also had to deal with raids on the north led by King Sweyn of Denmark. In September 1069, Sweyn's fleet sailed into the Humber and burnt York. William's army forced the Danes to retreat and then crushed another uprising in Staffordshire. He then burnt crops, house and property of people living between York and Durham. The chroniclers claim that the area was turned into a desert and people died of starvation. The revolt finally came to an end when William's troops captured Chester in 1070. A. L. Morton argues that "the greater part of Yorkshire and Durham was laid waste and remained almost unpeopled for a generation". (8)
In 1071 another revolt broke out. Led by Hereward the rebels captured the Isle of Ely. He held out in the fen country for more than a year. During this period Earl Edwin of Mercia and Earl Morcar of Northumbria, were killed. William personally led the Norman army against Hereward. He managed to escape but William punished the rebels he caught with mutilation and lifelong imprisonment and built a new castle at Ely. (9)
William returned to Normandy in 1073 and later that year conquered Maine. While he was away Waltheof, the Earl of Northumbria, began to conspire against him. Geoffrey of Coutances led the fight against the uprising and afterwards ordered that all rebels should have their right foot cut off. Waltheof was arrested: "His motives, even his actions, were uncertain at the time and have been contentious ever since. Waltheof certainly did not rebel openly. It may have been simply (as one later version had it) that he knew about a conspiracy against the king and was slow in reporting it, or (following another account) that he went along with the plot when it was first put to him, only to have immediate reservations and throw himself on the king's mercy." William had him executed - the only time capital punishment was inflicted on an English leader during his reign. (10)
In 1077 William's eldest son, Robert Curthose, suggested that he should become the ruler of Normandy and Maine. When the king refused, Robert rebelled and attempted to seize Rouen. The rebellion failed and Robert was forced to flee and established himself at Gerberoi. William besieged him there in 1080 but his wife, Matilda of Flanders, managed to persuade the two men to end their feud. (11)
Odo of Bayeux had been left in control of England while William was in Normandy. In 1082 William heard complaints about Odo's behaviour. He returned to England and Odo was arrested and charged with misgovernment and oppression. It was also claimed that Odo was preparing an expedition to Rome to become pope after Gregory VII. Found guilty he was kept in prison for the next five years. (12)
In 1085 William returned to England to deal with a suspected invasion by King Canute IV of Denmark. While waiting for the attack to take place he decided to order a comprehensive survey of his kingdom. There were three main reasons why William decided to order a survey. (1) The information would help William discover how much the people of England could afford to pay in tax. (2) The information about the distribution of the population would help William plan the defence of England against possible invaders. (3) There was a great deal of doubt about who owned some of the land in England. William planned to use this information to help him make the right judgements when people were in dispute over land ownership. (13)
William sent out his officials to every town, village and hamlet in England. They asked questions about the ownership of land, animals and farm equipment and also about the value of the land and how it was used. When the information was collected it was sent to Winchester where it was recorded in a book. About a hundred years after it was produced the book became known as the Domesday Book. Domesday means "day of judgement".
William's survey was completed in only seven months. When William knew who the main landowners were, he arranged a meeting for them at Salisbury. At this meeting on 1st August, 1086, he made them all swear a new oath that they would always obey their king. John F. Harrison, the author of The Common People (1984) points out that "from this unique document we have an unparalleled picture of early medieval society in England, including much about the peasantry." (14)
In later life William became very fat. In 1087 William was told that King Philip of France described him as looking like a pregnant woman. William was furious and on mounted an attack on the king's territory. On 15th August he captured Mantes and set fire to the town. Soon afterwards he fell from his horse and suffered internal injuries. Ordericus Vitalis said that as he was "very corpulent" he "fell sick from the excessive heat and his great fatigues". (15)
William was taken to the priory of St. Gervase. Close to death, he directed that Robert Curthose should succeed him in Normandy and William Rufus should become king of England. William said on his deathbed that "I tremble when I reflect on the grievous sins which burden my conscience, and now, about to be summoned before the awful tribunal of God, I know not what I ought to do. I was too fond of war... I was bred to arms from my childhood, and I am stained with the rivers of blood that I have shed." (16)
Feudalism was a normal way of life within Medieval England and it was many centuries before this changed.
The Feudal system was first introduced by William I, often referred to as William the Conqueror. After defeating King Harold’s English army, William wanted to take control of the country. However, as a foreigner who had fought his way to the throne, he was not well liked among the population and was not immediately accepted as King of England.
Slow modes of transportation in the 11th Century made it impossible for William to win over his subjects and rule the country alone, and as the Duke of Normandy he was also responsible for maintaining control over his land in France.
In an attempt to ensure people in England became - and remained - loyal, William constructed his own castle in London, also known as the Tower of London, which overlooked the city. Additionally, he went on to build a castle in nearby Windsor, where the motte can still be seen today. However, the country simply saw these buildings - and the soldiers that resided within them - as a threat.
William needed to create a more widespread and acceptable way of governing the country, and this led to the introduction of the Feudal System.
Under this system, the country was separated into sections of land that were similar to the counties we know today. Each of these sections was put under the management of a nobleman who had fought on William the Conqueror’s behalf in battle, based on William’s logic that those willing to die for him would remain loyal. Additionally, however, each of these noblemen was expected to take an oath, collect taxes in their region and provide the king with soldiers as required.
The men chosen by William to receive the land packages - who came to be known as tenants-in-chief under the Feudal system - were all of high standing and often the most highly regarded person within their region, such as earls, dukes and barons.
Some of the land packages were still too large for some of the tenants-in-chief to manage alone, prompting many to divide the land up further and ‘gift’ it to equally trustworthy Norman knights. Like William’s noblemen before them, each of these knights were trusted to swear an oath to the tenant-in-chief, as well as collect taxes and provide soldiers.
England’s lord were ruthless in their mission to keep law and order on their land, using the threat of Norman soldiers to ensure those living within their borders remained in support of the King and under Norman control. This was important work - any knight or nobleman found to be neglecting their duty could be withdrawn from their position at any time.
Under the Feudal system, the noblemen were officially labelled as tenants, while knights were considered sub-tenants. For both groups, this meant they were essentially renting out their land from its real owner, William the Conqueror. However, this system allowed William to maintain control of the country from afar, which forced the English to choose between obeying their new ruler or facing the consequences.
While William the Conqueror is often thought to have been a harsh ruler, many also consider his actions necessary. Having taken England by force, William had to ensure his subjects were in no doubt of his power, and the introduction of the Feudal System was an effective means of achieving this. William’s decision to split the country into different areas also prompted him to demand a survey of the whole of England, which resulted in the creation of the Domesday Book.
Domesday Book encompasses two independent works (originally, in two physical volumes): "Little Domesday" (covering Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex), and "Great Domesday" (covering much of the remainder of England – except for lands in the north that later became Westmorland, Cumberland, Northumberland, and the County Palatine of Durham – and parts of Wales bordering, and included within, English counties).  No surveys were made of the City of London, Winchester, or some other towns, probably due to their tax-exempt status. Other areas of modern London were then in Middlesex, Kent, Essex, etc., and are included in Domesday Book. Most of Cumberland and Westmorland is missing. County Durham is missing because the Bishop of Durham (William de St-Calais) had the exclusive right to tax it in addition, parts of north-east England were covered by the 1183 Boldon Book, listing areas liable to tax by the Bishop of Durham. The omission of the other counties and towns is not fully explained, although in particular Cumberland and Westmorland were not yet fully conquered. [ citation needed ]
"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". [ citation needed ]
Both volumes are organised into a series of chapters (literally "headings", from Latin caput, "a head") listing the fees (knight's fees or fiefs, broadly identical to manors), held by a named tenant-in-chief of the king (who formed the highest stratum of Norman feudal society below the king), namely religious institutions, bishops, Norman warrior magnates and a few Saxon thegns who had made peace with the Norman regime. Some of the largest such magnates held several hundred fees, in a few cases in more than one county. For example, the section of the Devonshire chapter concerning Baldwin the Sheriff lists one hundred and seventy-six holdings held in-chief by him. Only a few of the holdings of the large magnates were held in demesne, most having been subinfeudated to knights, generally military followers of the tenant-in-chief (often his feudal tenants from Normandy), who thereby became their overlord. The fees listed within the chapter concerning a particular tenant-in-chief were usually ordered, but not in a systematic or rigorous fashion, by the Hundred Court under the jurisdiction of which they were situated, not by geographic location. As a review of taxes owed, it was highly unpopular. 
Each county's list opened with the king's demesne lands, which had possibly been the subject of separate inquiry. Under the feudal system, the king was the only true "owner" of land in England, by virtue of his allodial title. He was thus the ultimate overlord, and even the greatest magnate could do no more than "hold" land from him as a tenant (from the Latin verb tenere, "to hold") under one of the various contracts of feudal land tenure. Holdings of bishops followed, then of the abbeys and religious houses, then of lay tenants-in-chief and lastly the king's serjeants (servientes), and Saxon thegns who had survived the Conquest, all in hierarchical order.
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 custumals (older customary agreements), records of the military service due, of markets, mints, and so forth. From the towns, from the counties as wholes, and from many of its ancient lordships, the crown was entitled to archaic dues in kind, such as honey.
The work suggests that over ten percent of England's population in 1086 were slaves. 
In the Domesday Book, scribes' orthography was heavily geared towards French, most lacking k and w, regulated forms for sounds / ð / and / θ / and ending many hard consonant words with e as they were accustomed to do with most dialects of French at the time.
In a parallel development, around 1100, the Normans in southern Italy completed their Catalogus Baronum based on Domesday Book. The original manuscript was destroyed in the Second World War, but printed copies survive. 
The manuscripts do not carry a formal title. The work is referred to internally as a descriptio (enrolling), and in other early administrative contexts as the king's brevia (writings). From about 1100, references appear to the liber (book) or carta (charter) of Winchester, its usual place of custody and from the mid-12th to early 13th centuries, to the Winchester or king's rotulus (roll).  
To the English, who held the book in awe, it became known as "Domesday Book", in allusion to the Last Judgement and in specific reference to the definitive character of the record.  The word "doom" was the usual Old English term for a law or judgment it did not carry the modern overtones of fatality or disaster.  Richard FitzNeal, treasurer of England under Henry II, explained the name's connotations in detail in the Dialogus de Scaccario (c.1179): 
The book is metaphorically called by the native English, Domesday, i.e., the Day of Judgement. 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 on those matters which it contains, its sentence cannot be quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we have called the book "the Book of Judgement", . not because it contains decisions on various difficult points, but because its decisions, like those of the Last Judgement, are unalterable.
The name "Domesday" was subsequently adopted by the book's custodians, being first found in an official document in 1221. 
Either through false etymology or deliberate word play, the name also came to be associated with the Latin phrase Domus Dei ("House of God"). Such a reference is found as early as the late 13th century, in the writings of Adam of Damerham and in the 16th and 17th centuries, antiquaries such as John Stow and Sir Richard Baker believed this was the name's origin, alluding to the church in Winchester in which the book had been kept.   As a result, the alternative spelling "Domesdei" became popular for a while. [ citation needed ]
The usual modern scholarly convention is to refer to the work as "Domesday Book" (or simply as "Domesday"), without a definite article. However, the form "the Domesday Book" is also found in both academic and non-academic contexts. 
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that planning for the survey was conducted in 1085, and the book's colophon states the survey was completed in 1086. It is not known when exactly Domesday Book was compiled, but the entire copy of Great Domesday appears to have been copied out by one person on parchment (prepared sheepskin), although six scribes seem to have been used for Little Domesday. Writing in 2000, David Roffe argued that the inquest (survey) and the construction of the book were two distinct exercises. He believes the latter was completed, if not started, by William II following his assumption of the English throne William II quashed a rebellion that followed and was based on, though not consequent on, the findings of the inquest. 
Most shires were visited by a group of royal officers (legati), who held a public inquiry, probably in the great assembly known as the shire court. These were attended by representatives of every township as well as of the local lords. The unit of inquiry was the Hundred (a subdivision of the county, which then was an administrative entity). The return for each Hundred was sworn to by 12 local jurors, half of them English and half of them Norman.
What is believed to be a full transcript of these original returns is preserved for several of the Cambridgeshire Hundreds – the Cambridge Inquisition – and is of great illustrative importance. The Inquisitio Eliensis is a record of the lands of Ely Abbey.  The Exon Domesday (named because the volume was held at Exeter) covers Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and one manor of Wiltshire. Parts of Devon, Dorset, and Somerset are also missing. Otherwise, this contains the full details supplied by the original returns.
Through comparison of what details are recorded in which counties, six Great Domesday "circuits" can be determined (plus a seventh circuit for the Little Domesday shires).
Three sources discuss the goal of the survey:
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.' Also he commissioned them to record in writing, 'How much land his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, and his abbots, and his earls' and though I may be prolix and tedious, 'What, or how much, each man had, who was an occupier of land in England, either in land or in stock, and how much money it was worth.' So very narrowly, indeed, did he commission them to trace it out, that there was not one single hide, nor a yard of land, nay, moreover (it is shameful to tell, though he thought it no shame to do it), not even an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was there left, that was not set down in his writ. And all the recorded particulars were afterwards brought to him.
- The list of questions asked of the jurors was recorded in the Inquisitio Eliensis.
- The contents of Domesday Book and the allied records mentioned above.
The primary purpose of the survey was to ascertain and record the fiscal rights of the king. These were mainly:
- the national land-tax (geldum), paid on a fixed assessment,
- certain miscellaneous dues, and
- the proceeds of the crown lands.
After a great political convulsion such as the Norman conquest, and the following wholesale confiscation of landed estates, William needed to reassert that the rights of the Crown, which he claimed to have inherited, had not suffered in the process. His Norman followers tended to evade the liabilities of their English predecessors. The successful trial of Odo de Bayeux at Penenden Heath near Maidstone in Kent less than a decade after the conquest was one example of the Crown's growing discontent at the Norman land-grab of the years following the invasion. Historians believe the survey was to aid William in establishing certainty and a definitive reference point as to property holdings across the nation, in case such evidence was needed in disputes over Crown ownership. 
The Domesday survey, therefore, recorded the names of the new holders of lands and the assessments on which their tax was to be paid. But it did more than this by the king's instructions, it endeavoured to make a national valuation list, estimating the annual value of all the land in the country, (1) at the time of Edward the Confessor's death, (2) when the new owners received it, (3) at the time of the survey, and further, it reckoned, by command, the potential value as well. It is evident that William desired to know the financial resources of his kingdom, and it is probable that he wished to compare them with the existing assessment, which was one of considerable antiquity, though there are traces that it had been occasionally modified. The great bulk of Domesday Book is devoted to the somewhat arid details of the assessment and valuation of rural estates, which were as yet the only important source of national wealth. After stating the assessment of the manor, the record sets forth the amount of arable land, and the number of plough teams (each reckoned at eight oxen) available for working it, with the additional number (if any) that might be employed then the river-meadows, woodland, pasture, fisheries (i.e. fishing weirs), water-mills, salt-pans (if by the sea), and other subsidiary sources of revenue the peasants are enumerated in their several classes and finally the annual value of the whole, past and present, is roughly estimated.
The organisation of the returns on a feudal basis, enabled the Conqueror and his officers to see the extent of a baron's possessions and it also showed to what extent he had under-tenants and the identities of the under-tenants. This was of great importance to William, not only for military reasons but also because of his resolve to command the personal loyalty of the under-tenants (though the "men" of their lords) by making them swear allegiance to himself. As Domesday Book normally records only the Christian name of an under-tenant, it is not possible to search for the surnames of families claiming a Norman origin. Scholars, however, have worked to identify the under-tenants, most of whom have foreign Christian names.
The survey provided the King with information on potential sources of funds when he needed to raise money. It includes sources of income but not expenses, such as castles, unless they needed to be included to explain discrepancies between pre-and post-Conquest holdings of individuals. Typically, this happened in a town, where separately-recorded properties had been demolished to make way for a castle.
Early British authors thought that the motivation behind the Survey was to put into William's power the lands, so that all private property in land came only from the grant of King William, by lawful forfeiture.  The use of the word antecessor in the Domesday Book is used for the former holders of the lands under Edward, and who had been dispossessed by their new owners. 
Custodial history Edit
Domesday Book was preserved from the late 11th to the beginning of the 13th centuries in the royal Treasury at Winchester (the Norman kings' capital). It was often referred to as the "Book" or "Roll" of Winchester.  When the Treasury moved to the Palace of Westminster, probably under King John, the book went with it.
The two volumes (Great Domesday and Little Domesday) remained in Westminster, save for temporary releases, until the 19th century. They were held originally in various offices of the Exchequer: the Chapel of the Pyx of Westminster Abbey the Treasury of Receipts and the Tally Court.  However, on several occasions they were taken around the country with the Chancellor of the Exchequer: to York and Lincoln in 1300, to York in 1303 and 1319, to Hertford in the 1580s or 1590s, and to Nonsuch Palace, Surrey, in 1666 for a time after the Great Fire of London. 
From the 1740s onwards, they were held, with other Exchequer records, in the Chapter house of Westminster Abbey.  In 1859, they were placed in the new Public Record Office, London.  They are now held at The National Archives at Kew. The chest in which they were stowed in the 17th and 18th centuries is also at Kew.
In modern times, the books have been removed from the London area only rarely. In 1861–63, they were sent to Southampton for photozincographic reproduction.  In 1918–19, prompted by the threat of German bombing during the First World War, they were evacuated (with other Public Record Office documents) to Bodmin Prison, Cornwall. Likewise, in 1939–45, during the Second World War, they were evacuated to Shepton Mallet Prison, Somerset.  
The volumes have been rebound on several occasions. Little Domesday was rebound in 1320, its older oak boards being re-used. At a later date (probably in the Tudor period) both volumes were given new covers. They were rebound twice in the 19th century - in 1819 and 1869, on the second occasion, by the binder Robert Riviere and his assistant, James Kew. In the 20th century, they were rebound in 1952, when their physical makeup was examined in greater detail and yet again in 1986, for the survey's ninth centenary. On this last occasion Great Domesday was divided into two physical volumes, and Little Domesday into three volumes.  
The project to publish Domesday was begun by the government in 1773, and the book appeared in two volumes in 1783, set in "record type" to produce a partial-facsimile of the manuscript. In 1811, a volume of indexes was added. In 1816, a supplementary volume, separately indexed, was published containing
- The Exon Domesday – for the south-western counties
- The Inquisitio Eliensis
- The Liber Winton – surveys of Winchester late in the 12th century.
- The Boldon Buke (Book) – a survey of the bishopric of Durham a century later than Domesday
Photographic facsimiles of Domesday Book, for each county separately, were published in 1861–1863, also by the government. Today, Domesday Book is available in numerous editions, usually separated by county and available with other local history resources.
In 1986, the BBC released the BBC Domesday Project, the results of a project to create a survey to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book. In August 2006, the contents of Domesday went online, with an English translation of the book's Latin. Visitors to the website are able to look up a place name and see the index entry made for the manor, town, city or village. They can also, for a fee, download the relevant page.
Continuing legal use Edit
In the Middle Ages, the Book's evidence was frequently invoked in the law courts.  In 1960, it was among citations for a real manor which helps to evidence legal use rights on and anchorage into the Crown's foreshore   in 2010, as to proving a manor, adding weight of years to sporting rights (deer and foxhunting)  and a market in 2019. 
Domesday Book is critical to understanding the period in which it was written. As H. C. Darby noted, anyone who uses it
can have nothing but admiration for what is the oldest 'public record' in England and probably the most remarkable statistical document in the history of Europe. The continent has no document to compare with this detailed description covering so great a stretch of territory. And the geographer, as he turns over the folios, with their details of population and of arable, woodland, meadow and other resources, cannot but be excited at the vast amount of information that passes before his eyes. 
The author of the article on the book in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica noted, "To the topographer, as to the genealogist, its evidence is of primary importance, as it not only contains the earliest survey of each township or manor, but affords, in the majority of cases, a clue to its subsequent descent."
Darby also notes the inconsistencies, saying that "when this great wealth of data is examined more closely, perplexities and difficulties arise."  One problem is that the clerks who compiled this document "were but human they were frequently forgetful or confused." The use of Roman numerals also led to countless mistakes. Darby states, "Anyone who attempts an arithmetical exercise in Roman numerals soon sees something of the difficulties that faced the clerks."  But more important are the numerous obvious omissions, and ambiguities in presentation. Darby first cites F. W. Maitland's comment following his compilation of a table of statistics from material taken from the Domesday Book survey, "it will be remembered that, as matters now stand, two men not unskilled in Domesday might add up the number of hides in a county and arrive at very different results because they would hold different opinions as to the meanings of certain formulas which are not uncommon."  Darby says that "it would be more correct to speak not of 'the Domesday geography of England', but of 'the geography of Domesday Book'. The two may not be quite the same thing, and how near the record was to reality we can never know." 
Feudalism and bastard feudalism
Feudalism was the method by which society was structured across the tenth to thirteenth centuries. Essentially the tenant-in-chief was the monarch. William the Conqueror regarded the whole of conquered England as his along with the deer, the boar and the wolves who were owned by no one except God and since God had clearly given William England by right of Conquest then the large beasts which roamed the land must also be his….
The monarch then distributed land or fiefs to his lords – the lands varied in size and location. There was a promise of military and legal protection along with the land. In return the monarch’s tenants, or vassals, promised obedience through an act of homage and payment in the form of military service and/or goods. Sometimes a lord might pay for mercenaries to take his place rather than offering military service himself – this was called scutage. One of the advantages for William was that he was able to call on a large army when he needed one but it was not a standing army which he would be required to pay for – it also ensured that he was able to reward is supporters.
The lords or barons as medieval history tends to term them, who received land from the monarch often had more than they could manage themselves and in different parts of the country. These vassal of the king would sub-let land, manors and estates to their own adherents, the knightly class or less important barons, in return for loyalty, military service and goods. Just as the baron expected protection so the baron’s tenant would expect the lord to protect him militarily and legally as the lord was himself protected by the king.
The knights might in their turn give land to freemen to hold in return for goods and service.
All of the above would be served by peasants who might hold their land in return for labour and a percentage of their crops or by serfs who were tied to the land.
Clearly it was more complicated than this but this is the basic pyramid that we learn at school.feudal pyramid showing numbers of people in the system and who gained what.
Bastard feudalism was not what a serf might describe the social structure as being (sorry – couldn’t resist.) Bastard feudalism developed during the fourteenth century and was at its most influential during the fifteenth century. This system was different from feudalism in that it was based on a contract that involved much more than land in exchange for service and loyalty. Edward III had the twin problems of the black death and a weakened kingdom thanks to his mother and her lover deposing his father.
Put very simply, the black death meant that there were insufficient villeins/serfs to work the land. Rather than being tied to the manor where they were born or having no choice in how much they were offered for their services, land owners now found that the people who worked their land were valuable commodities that had to be paid for.
Edward III needed the support of his nobility. He did not require another Mortimer situation on his hands. Therefore he gave his nobility more concessions than earlier medieval monarchs had done. This ultimately weakened the crown – again this is putting things at their most straight forward.
Titled noblemen or important members of the gentry (we’ve moved away from barons) developed networks or affinities as a consequence of the greater freedoms that Edward III had been forced to grant them. He also created the “super-noble” in the form of his royal sons who he made dukes. John of Gaunt’s Lancaster Affinity is the most widely signposted example of an affinity. Basically the person at the centre of the affinity created a network of retainers who provided him and his family with military service, domestic service and political and legal support – there was no prerequisite for land to exchange hands- the affinity was superglued into place by extended family – someone who was part of an affinity might reasonably expect an advantageous marriage to be arranged within the affinity either for themselves or their children. In return the network of retainers would expect protection, office, power and money. Bastard feudalism and the widespread use of these powerful networks was once the reason given for the Wars of the Roses – think of the feuds between the Nevilles and the Percys. However, it would be fairer to say that feudalism and bastard feudalism required a strong monarch to control the various factions.
An additional factor in the equation of bastard feudalism and social structure is the Hundred Years War. When the English were winning it was an opportunity for younger sons and those lower down the social ladder to gain wealth which they spent on upping their position within the social hierarchy. Militarily talented men might gain battlefield knighthoods and jump up the social ladder at a stroke but they would need the patronage of someone more powerful if they were to continue their upward journey. Then when the English ultimately lost the Hundred Years War there were powerful nobles who had financed armies and put men in the field who were now looking for political influence. Again, I have presented the case in its most straight forward format.
Year seven pupils (eleven-year-olds) are required to have a grasp of the feudal pyramid as a social structure introduced by William the Conqueror. Clearly social structures were more complicated than this. The Church needs to fit into the equation along with the merchant classes and the impact of a changing economy.
Who was involved in the feudal system?
Full answer is here. Hereof, who created the feudal system?
Furthermore, how did feudal system work? Feudal society is a military hierarchy in which a ruler or lord offers mounted fighters a fief (medieval beneficium), a unit of land to control in exchange for a military service. The individual who accepted this land became a vassal, and the man who granted the land become known as his liege or his lord.
Accordingly, what is the feudal system in history?
feudal system. In a feudal system, a peasant or worker known as a vassal received a piece of land in return for serving a lord or king, especially during times of war. Vassals were expected to perform various duties in exchange for their own fiefs, or areas of land.
Who benefited from the feudal system?
The lord, in return, would provide the king with soldiers or taxes. Under the feudal system land was granted to people for service. It started at the top with the king granting his land to a baron for soldiers all the way down to a peasant getting land to grow crops. The center of life in the Middle Ages was the manor.
British Feudal Hierarchy
British feudal hierarchy came into existence in 1066 by William I also known as William the conqueror. He defeated the British army in the year 1066 at the battle of Hastings which was lead by the king Harold. After defeating the king, William I tried to centralize the power so that he could not be defeated by any other king.
So to gain control over the England and to truly become the king of the England, he practiced what we call British feudalism which made a huge impact in the history of England Feudal Hierarchy for many centuries. There were four major causes which became the reason behind the origination of British feudal hierarch and they were:
- William I was still the duke of Normandy and so he had to return to his native place to maintain his control over there.
- Since William I was a foreigner and hence not so popular with the British people.
- Ruling each and every part of England physically was like impossible.
- The travelling in the eleventh century was both slow and difficult.
These reasons jointly made a way for the rise of British feudalism which helped William I to control the England and made people loyal towards his services. British feudalism was based on the granting of land to people in exchange of their british military services. Life under British feudalism demanded an owed acquiescence to the king along with the immediate royal superiors. The British feudal hierarchy was then finally concluded as below:
Medieval Life – What was the Feudal System?
The Feudal System was introduced to England following the invasion and conquest of the country by William I (The Conqueror).
The system had been used in France by the Normans from the time they first settled there in about 900AD.
It was a simple, but effective system, where all land was owned by the King. One quarter was kept by the King as his personal property, some was given to the church and the rest was leased out under strict controls.
Here’s a simple plan showing how the Feudal System works:
The King was in complete control under the Feudal System. He owned all the land in the country and decided who he would lease land to. He therefore only allowed those men he could trust to lease land from him. However, before they were given any land they had to swear an oath to remain faithful to the King at all times. The men who leased land from the King were known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful and had complete control of the land they leased from the King.
Barons leased land from the King which was known as a manor. They were known as the Lord of the Manor and were in complete control of this land. They established their own system of justice, minted their own money and set their own taxes. In return for the land they had been given by the King, the Barons had to serve on the royal council, pay rent and provide the King with Knights for military service when he demanded it. They also had to provide lodging and food for the King and his court when they travelled around the country. The Barons kept as much of their land as they wished for their own use, then divided the rest among their Knights. Barons were very rich.
Knights were given land by a Baron in return for military service when demanded by the King. They also had to protect the Baron and his family, as well as the Manor, from attack. The Knights kept as much of the land as they wished for their own personal use and distributed the rest to villeins (serfs). Although not as rich as the Barons, Knights were quite wealthy.
Villeins, sometimes known as peasants or serfs, were given land by Knights. They had to provide the Knight with free labour, food and service whenever it was demanded. Villeins had no rights. They were not allowed to leave the Manor and had to ask their Lord’s permission before they could marry. Villeins were poor.
The Norman Succession
William of Normandy became King of England in 1066. He died in Rouen in 1087, and was buried at Caen. He left four children: Robert, William Rufus, Henry and Adela.
The eldest, Duke Robert, ruled in Normandy and his second son William Rufus became King William II of England, known as Rufus because of his red complexion. Rufus was not a popular king. He was killed by an arrow in 1100 when hunting in the New Forest and he may have been murdered. Rufus did not marry and had no children to succeed him. His brother Henry took the throne, but Robert of Normandy also claimed it. Eventually Henry imprisoned Robert who died in Cardiff Castle.
Henry I had two legitimate children, a son and a daughter. His son was drowned on the White Ship while crossing the English Channel. Possibly the loss of this son moved Henry to found the Reading Abbey in 1121. When Henry died in 1135 he was buried in Reading, before the high altar of his abbey.
Henry had named his daughter Matilda, who was married to Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou, as his successor and the barons had sworn that they would accept her as sovereign. On Henry's death, Stephen, son of William the Conqueror's daughter Adela, seized the throne and from 1139 until 1153 civil war raged in England. In 1153 the Treaty of Wallingford established that Stephen would become king but Matilda's son Henry would succeed him on his death. Stephen died a year later and Henry took the throne as Henry II, the first of fourteen Plantagenet Kings.
To imagine what life was like for the Saxons who refused to accept Norman rule following Norman conquest, this amateur video (17mins), The Last Saxon, recreates a sense of being hunted down by Norman forces.
Hereward was a Saxon rebel who eventually accepted the feudal system and Norman rule to reclaim the land he'd lost.
HEREWARD THE WAKE'S REBELLION
Still revered nearly a 1,000 years later by some in England as a great symbol of Englishness - here's a song and video inspired by him! Here's a simple whiteboard video detailing his story.
|A heroic figure who inspired the legend of Robin Hood|
This video provides a lot of useful information, though the voiceover is done by computer voice translation!
Exiled as a young man (just 18) by Edward the Confessor, he became a mercenary, returning to England in 1069 to find his brother's head impaled where his land and property once was. Enraged to hear Normans boasting about this, he killed 14 of them at a feast . their head's replaced his brother's above his old house!
|There are many books on Hereward!|
Several conflicting accounts exist as to Hereward's fate thereafter, the Gesta Herewardi states that while in attempt to negotiate with William he was provoked into a fight which led to his capture and imprisonment, however, he was later liberated by his friends while in the course of being transferred from one castle to another. Hereward's former gaoler persuaded the king to negotiate again, and he was eventually pardoned by William. The Estoire des Engleis, written by Geoffrey Gaimar claims Hereward lived for some time as an outlaw in the Fens, but that as he was on the verge of making peace with William, he was set upon and killed by a group of Norman knights. Even after his death, people still visited a wooden castle in the Fens that was known to the peasants as Hereward's Castle. (source)
HORRIBLE HISTORIES. WILLIAM'S STRUGGLES WITH HEREWARD AND ELY
William struggled to defeat the rebels at Ely, who had picked their defensive base well. He tried laying planks across the marsh, but this collapsed, killing many soldiers.
He brought in witches to curse the rebels . shockingly, this failed!
Bribery won out . monks who feared Hereward and the rebels would rob them as they had done the Peterborough monastery betrayed them, telling William's men how to safely cross the marshes.
William won the Battle of Hastings, but he faced a long fight to defeat his remaining opponents, determined to oppose and undermine Norman rule and the feudal system that transferred wealth and land from many of the previous, Saxon elites.
HEREWARD: READ MORE!
There are several books on Hereward - check with your parents
before accessing any of these, as some portray the brutal realities quite starkly.
James Wilde's novel is a recent example (Amazon UK), but there have also been comic books and kids books . have a look for yourself online.
William the Conqueror and his Castles
Historical Background about William the Conqueror
The Normans had come to live in Normandy in the 9th century – originally from Scandinavia, they had settled in northern France after an agreement with the West Frankian king Charles the Simple in 911 AD.
Rollo, their leader, had become the first duke of the newly created duchy of Normandy. The Norse settlers adopted the local languages and customs of their native Frankish neighbours, leading to the creation of a distinct cultural and ethnic ‘Norman’ identity in the 10th century.
Throughout the medieval period, they were famed for their martial skill, as well as their catholic piety.
William the Conqueror was a descendant of Rollo. Born in 1028, he was also known as ‘William the Bastard’, as he was the offspring of Duke Robert I of Normandy and his mistress Herleva.
His illegitimate status caused William considerable issues later in his life: however, he was Robert’s only male heir, and therefore he inherited the title of Duke upon his father’s death in 1035. As he was just 7 or 8 years old at the start of his rule, affairs of state were handled by regents.
William had the support of his great uncle, Archbishop Robert, as well as the favour of the King of France, Henry I, which in part had allowed him to succeed his father.
However, the death of his great uncle in 1037 plunged the duchy into chaos as competing nobles fought to act as regent for the young William and wield his ducal authority – in the early 1040s William’s guardian Osbern was murdered in the Duke’s chamber while he slept.
In 1047 the now-adult William defeated a rebellion against his rule and spent the years until 1054 in almost constant warfare securing his rule across Normandy. It was not until 1060 that William had fully consolidated his power and was able to look to his ambitions abroad.
William had a claim on the English throne, as King Edward the Confessor supposedly appointed the Norman Duke as his heir in 1051 – the two were related by blood, as William was the grandson of Edward’s maternal uncle, Duke Richard II of Normandy.
William may have been made successor as relations between the English king and his most powerful Earl, Godwin of Wessex, had soured, leading to a short period of exile for Godwin in 1051-1052.
However, when Edward died on 5th January 1066, the Godwin family was back in favour and Harold Godwinson was crowned as the new king of England.
William gathered a large fleet and invaded the country, defeating and killing King Harold at the battle of Hastings on 14 th October 1066. The Norman duke was crowned king of England in London on Christmas Day of that same year.
Now William had the difficult task ahead of establishing his authority over his newly acquired realm. Despite confirming major English nobles in their titles, Norman rule was subject to a series of major rebellions in the years following the invasion of England.
The earls of Mercia and Northumbria revolted in 1068, and the following year Edgar the Ætheling rose to attack William with the aid of the king of Denmark.
William needed a way to counter the potential military movements of rebels, physically holding onto his new possessions, and also to impress his new subjects with a display of wealth and power that would cement his authority and his position as their feudal lord.
The solution to this issue was castles, and William did not wait for trouble to emerge before he began to build them. Immediately following his victory at Hastings and his coronation in London, the new king embarked upon an ambitious building policy, constructing a series of castles across England, particularly in important towns and centres of royal authority.
The castles controlled the countryside and the towns in which they were situated – the garrison could sally out to attack raiders or enemy armies, and the fortifications could act as a place of shelter for friendly troops.
Initially, most of William’s castles were simple wooden motte-and-bailey constructions, but they were soon converted to highly impressive stone keep castles, complete with the latest Romanesque architecture.
Through a process of subinfeudation (where a lord grants land to his vassals to create their own distinct fiefs), Norman knights came to settle across the length of England.
As William’s reign wore on and more rebellions were defeated, the land was confiscated from rebel Saxon nobles and granted to Normans.
Castles of William the Conqueror
Immediately after landing on the south coast of England in September 1066, William ordered the construction of a motte-and-bailey castle at Pevensey. The castle was built on the location of an existing Roman shore fort known as Anderitum, thought to have been constructed around the year 290 AD.
The Roman fort consisted of a stone wall circuit with towers, measuring 290 metres by 170 metres. The towers were impressive, standing 9.5 metres tall and about 4 metres thick at the base. The fort was built on what was a peninsula at the time, projecting into marshland – over time, silting and land reclamation have left the site and the castle on it landlocked.
As a result, there are only towers on what was once the landward side of the fort. There are also two gates, one to the east and one to the west, and the ground inside the walls was artificially raised, probably using earth excavated during the construction of the wall foundations.
Inside the old Roman fort was constructed a keep similar in appearance to a shell keep castle – it consisted of a curtain wall punctuated by round towers, positioned against the eastern Roman wall.
This essentially created a castle within a castle. The Normans referred to the space within their new stone walls as the ‘inner bailey’ (which housed important domestic buildings) and called the area between their new construction and the old Roman walls the ‘outer bailey’ (which was home to functional buildings such as the granary).
William’s construction was initially made of wood, while the stone fortifications that stand there today date from the 13 th and 14 th centuries. The original keep was soon upgraded to stone and measured 17 metres by 9 metres internally – it also had 7 projecting towers, a very unusual design for the time.
The interior does not survive, but it seems that it included a chapel and kitchen, as well as an entrance on the ground floor, and may have been up to 25 metres in height. The Normans also dug a moat around their new walled keep which was likely around 18 metres wide and spanned by a wooden bridge.
Rebellious Norman barons besieged the castle in 1088 and were unable to take it by assault, although they did succeed in forcing the castle to surrender through starvation.
Hastings was another of William’s early castles, built just down the coast from his landing point at Pevensey. Adjacent to the sea, the castle was built to establish a base of operations for William’s forces, from which they raided the English countryside prior to the battle of Hastings in October.
Initially, Hastings Castle was built in wood and featured a wooden palisade, man-made earthwork motte, and outer bailey before the new king ordered it to be upgraded into a stone keep following his coronation. By 1070 the stone castle was completed and stood high above the fishing port of Hastings, dominating the surrounding countryside.
In 1069 William granted the castle to Robert, Count of Eu, and it was held by the house of Eu until they forfeited their English landholdings in the 13 th century.
The castle was ruined during the reign of King John I, although not by warfare – the king ordered it to be destroyed to prevent it falling into the hands of Louis the Dauphin of France, who had designs on the English throne.
Like Pevensey, Dover was home to pre-existing fortifications that William utilised to build a new castle. Earthworks from the Iron age or earlier still survived, and there may have even been a hillfort on the site. There is also an old Roman lighthouse there, the largest and best-preserved in Europe, which can still be seen today.
Upon their arrival in November 1066, the Normans burned Dover and constructed a new timber motte-and-bailey castle on the hill overlooking the town, taking advantage of the earthworks which were already there.
Dover castle’s location was crucial to helping William control his new realm, as it commanded the route to France by sea as well as the old road to Canterbury.
The fortification successfully repelled an attack by William’s former ally, Eustace of Boulogne, in 1067. The stone keep that stands there today was built by Henry II in the 1180s – nothing remains of the original Norman fortifications.
The Tower of London
Prior to his coronation in London on Christmas day in 1066, William sent troops ahead to capture the city and found a castle. The site chosen was at the south-eastern corner of London’s old Roman walls, and the Normans quickly constructed a simple wooden fortification.
However, almost immediately after it was completed, William initiated the process of upgrading it to stone. London was an important city and was strategically placed, so an impressive stone castle was crucial to impressing the king’s new subjects and securing his realm.
The site would have defended the entrance to London from the sea (via the river Thames), so was also an important military structure.
The original Norman White Tower was actually built of Kentish ragstone and detailed with Caen limestone, which has since been replaced with local Portland stone. It also had smaller windows in the Romanesque style which have also been replaced with enlarged later openings, although some of the originals are still visible on the south side of the building.
However, despite later adaptations, the White Tower is an excellent example of an 11th century Norman keep, with distinctively Norman elements such as the buttresses, first-floor entrance with forebuilding, and almost square ground plan (the keep measures 36 metres by 32 metres).
The building also contained luxurious accommodation for the king, although it was only completed after his death in 1087.
Windsor was established by William the Conqueror as part of a series of motte-and-bailey castles surrounding London, designed to defend the capital from attack. Windsor was especially important thanks to its close proximity to the river Thames, and to the royal hunting forests at Windsor.
The first castle was a wooden keep built atop an artificial motte which stood on a chalk bluff 100 metres above the river. A small wall was also constructed at its base. Soon after it was built, a bailey was added to the east of the keep, and by the end of the 11 th century, another bailey had also been built to the west, creating Windsor’s distinctive double-bailey design.
Although Windsor was later used as a royal residence, William and other Norman kings preferred to stay in the palace of Edward the Confessor in Windsor village.
Likely started in the 1070s or 1080s on the orders of William the Conqueror, Colchester castle is a large Norman fortification built on the site of an old Roman temple of Claudius. Because the builders used the foundations and plinth of the old temple, the castle is enormous, measuring 46 metres by 34 metres.
The location was no accident – not only could William’s builders save time and money by reusing the existing foundations, but William could also cast himself as a symbolic successor to the Romans.
Norman elements can still be seen on the building today: there is an archway built of Caen stone at the entrance, a large winding staircase in the south-west tower, and fireplaces with Y-shaped chimneys which emerge from the walls.
A large ditch also surrounded the castle, and a bailey was constructed on the north side close to the town of Colchester.
Early in 1067, William embarked upon a campaign to subdue potential rebellions in East Anglia, and it seems likely that Norwich castle was founded around this time.
It stands as an impressive symbol of Norman power and wealth, constructed of Caen limestone imported from Normandy at great expense, and styled according to the latest Romanesque architectural fashions.
The artificial earthwork motte at Norwich is enormous, and up to 113 Saxon houses were demolished to make space for it. William’s castle would have been a relatively simple wooden keep, but at the end of the 11th century, the current stone keep was completed.
It displays all the hallmarks of Norman castle architecture, including buttresses, crenellations, small windows, and even elaborate blind arcading. The castle also had a forebuilding which was later torn down.
Founded in 1067, this castle in Monmouthshire, Wales was on a strategically important site that William the Conqueror was keen to claim, as it controlled both the river Wye and the roads into southern Wales.
At the time the Welsh kingdoms were independent and presented a threat to the newly crowned king of England. Chepstow was built on limescale cliffs beside the river giving it excellent natural defences in addition to the Norman fortifications.
Unlike William’s other castles, Chepstow was never built of wood – instead, it was initially constructed out of stone, perhaps as a statement of power intended to impress the Welsh kings.
The great tower (the keep) was completed in 1090, with additional towers and baileys being added in the centuries afterwards.
Durham was begun in 1072 on the orders of William the Conqueror following his journey to the North earlier that year. The structure itself was built using local stone cut from the nearby cliffs.
Durham is a classic Norman motte-and-bailey castle – it may have been built of wood initially but was certainly upgraded to a stone keep later on.
Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland, oversaw construction until his rebellion and execution in 1076, after which Walter, the Bishop of Durham, completed the construction work. Durham was crucial to controlling the Scottish border, as well as dealing with rebellions in the North.
Like Durham, York castle was intended to control the surrounding territory, protecting it against rebellions and cementing William’s authority. York had been an important Viking capital, and in 1068 the new English king built a simple wooden motte-and-bailey, with a motte around 61 metres wide at its base.
This fortification stood on the site of modern-day York Castle, but William also built another castle in 1069 on what is now called Baile Hill, opposite the first fortification. Both castles were captured and destroyed by the Vikings later that year. However, a stone keep was later built on the first site, this time with greater defences including an artificial lake and a moat.