fundamental studies on Domesday Book

There are a handful of studies which provide a framework for the study of Domesday Book in almost all its aspects.

The modern study of Domesday Book began with J.H. Round, Feudal England (1895), whose views still shape the debate on many subjects. F.W. Maitland, Domesday book and beyond (1897), is a more complex, intricate and difficult book; but it is the most profound contribution to Domesday studies yet written. Few major topics were left unilluminated by Maitland; and even where his views have been superseded, his discussion of the problems posed by Domesday has rarely been surpassed. V.H. Galbraith, The making of Domesday Book (1961), has set the framework for most recent discussion of the making of Domesday Book; many scholars would regard this as the most significant new work since Maitland and Round. The current generation of Domesday scholars has, however, challenged the Galbraith thesis from a variety of angles, notable contributions being those of David Roffe, Domesday: the Inquest and the Book (2000) and Decoding Domesday (2007) and Sally P.J. Harvey Domesday: Book of Judgement (2013). It would be fair to say that no new synthesis has yet commanded the general acceptance previously accorded to Round and Galbraith in their day.

On feudal and agrarian society, Reginald Lennard, Rural England, 1086-1135: a study of social and agrarian conditions (1959), is both readable and detailed; while H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977), summarises the conclusions of some forty years work by a team of Domesday geographers and is an invaluable conspectus of modern views on the meaning of most of the Domesday statistics.

Finally, the unduly neglected topic of landholding - the central subject of Domesday Book - has produced several thought-provoking volumes: Peter A. Clarke, The English nobility under Edward the Confessor (1994); Robin Fleming, Kings and lords of Conquest England (1991); Stephen Baxter, The earls of Mercia (2007), and Ann Williams, The world before Domesday (2008). Between them, these books - plus an expanding article literature by such scholars as Ann Williams and Chris Lewis - should set the agenda for future trends in Domesday research.