Domesday Inquest

The modern study of Domesday Book and the Domesday Inquest begins with J.H. Round, Feudal England (1895) who argued that the key to though his views were largely superseded by those of V.H. Galbraith, The making of Domesday Book (1961). Galbraith originally sketched his ideas in 'The making of Domesday Book', English Historical Review, vol. 57 (1942), pages 161-77, and in Studies in the public records (1948); but neither of these short essays do full justice to his ideas. A later book by Galbraith, Domesday Book: its place in administrative history (1974), includes some additions and refinements to his 1961 version, but the earlier book remains the most important and comprehensive review of the subject.

R. Welldon Finn has also produced a series of articles and books on the same subject along roughly the same lines as Galbraith but lacking his lucidity. Finn's three main contributions are The Domesday inquest and the making of Domesday Book (1961); Domesday studies: the Liber Exoniensis (1964), which contains a detailed examination of the Exeter Domesday; and Domesday studies: the eastern counties (1967), which analyses the Inquisitio Eliensis and the Feudal Book of Bury St. Edmunds. His more important articles, which are too numerous to itemise here, are listed in those books.

Contributions which have given a new twist to Galbraith's theories are Sally P.J. Harvey, 'Domesday Book and its predecessors', English Historical Review, vol. 86 (1971), pages 753-73, and F.F. Kreisler, 'Domesday Book and the Anglo-Norman synthesis', in Order and innovation in the middle ages, edited by W.C. Jordan et al., pages 1-16. Kreisler has set out his arguments at much greater length in Domesday Monachorum reconsidered: studies in the genesis of Domesday Book and its relationship to its sources and 'satellites' (1967), while Sally Harvey has returned to the subject in 'Domesday Book and Anglo-Norman governance', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (1975), pages 175-93; 'Recent Domesday studies', English Historical Review, vol. 95 (1980), pages 121-33; and Domesday: Book of Judgement (2014). The many contributions of David Roffe are subsumed and amplified in Domesday: the Inquest and the Book (2000) and in Decoding Domesday (2007), which take their place alongside Round and Galbraith as key texts on the 'making of Domesday Book'. Dr Roffe's thesis has more in common with that of Round than Galbraith though significantly different.

One of the most interesting new suggestions to emerge from recent work has been that of H.B. Clarke, 'The Domesday satellites', Domesday Book: as re-assessment, edited by Peter H. Sawyer (1985), pages 50-70. Dr Clarke has suggested that the Domesday scribes may have used 'conversion tables' to transform feudal data into a geographical format, and vice-versa. If so, much of the debate on the 'making of Domesday Book' has been based on flawed premises since the conversion from one format to another was a simple clerical task.