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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation (Penguin Classics)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Domesday Book: A Complete Translation (Penguin Classics).pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Geoffrey Martin(Introduction)

    Book details


Domesday Book has been described as 'the most valuable piece of antiquity possessed by any nation.' (David Hume) But a complete translation has never been available before at an affordable price. Penguin's edition will change that.
Compiled in a matter of months in 1086 at the behest of William the Conqueror, Domesday quickly established itself as document of immense legal importance. It was last consulted for legal precedent in 1982.It is also the most remarkable portrait of England in thelate eleventh century.
The publication of a complete translation of Great and Little Domesday is already being eagerly anticipated by historians. There are advance quotes from Norman Davies, Michael Wood, Roy Strong and Antonia Fraser.

'Domesday Book is THE book of English history... A must for scholars and history buffs everywhere.' Michael Wood

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Book details

  • PDF | 1456 pages
  • Geoffrey Martin(Introduction)
  • Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Oct. 2003)
  • English
  • 4
  • History

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Review Text

  • By Mr. P. J. R. LEWIS on 14 February 2008

    There are few historical documents now over 900 years old that are frequently quoted in courts of law to clarifie points of law.The Domesday volumes, Great Domesday and Little Domesday as they are known are kept within a large 14Century chest at the Public Records Office at Kew in London.On prior arrangement and a fee you are allowed to examine under strict supervision the contents of either volume but unless you are a scholar in early Latin their velum pages will mean little.In the early 1980s a most impressive hardback series totalling every county surveyed by Williams officials known as The Philimore Collection became available but at a considerable cost.I know because i bought the Hereford volume with its gorgeous red cover to help in my research of churches mentioned in the Hereford area during the Elevnth Century.The beautifully presented hardback volume of Hereford was a direct copy of the original 11Century text and set me back nearly £30 in 1984.That was a lot of money for me then, and remember that was only a single volume, if you wanted the entire Domesday Book, Great Domesday and Little Domesday, there were a further 34 volumes to purchase, which makes this Penguin translation that more significant for the casual reader.My Hereford volume was at the time very hard to read, mainly because it was a direct copy of the original text, and like most potential customers, my grasp of early clerical Latin was nil.The Philimore collection was magnificent but had one major flaw in that it was aimed at the accademic scholar whose grasp of early Latin enhanced their understanding of the text and also it would have cost an absolute fortune to purchase every individual volume had one required them for academic research.Roll forward twenty or so years and we are presented with what must be the Holy Grail for those stydying 11thCentury history.Penguin have compiled the entire Domesday both Great and Small into one most impressive 1436 paged soft back or hardback volume.The time it must have taken those involved to translate the early text into 21st Century language must have been collosal.What we have here is plain English that we can all understand and enjoy but still this is hardly Harry Potter.Your interest must lie in discovering what 11thCentury life in Williams kingdom was really like and there is no other book in the English language that will provide the reader with such an indepth analysis of daily life nine centuries ago.I find its contents trully fasinating,with the information on how many people and properties were at Oxford and Gloucester in 1086 as well as how many oxen and slaves ploughed the land in each and every village there about is history at your fingertips.For the historian or person interested in English history this book is an almost unique narrative.Maybe Bedes History of England and The Anglo Saxon Chronicles are of equal merit for their period in English history but neither book is as relevant to today's civil and criminal proceedings as are the Domesday Volumes.Remember the entire population of Williams kingdom is estimated to be just around 800,000 subjects and the stewards sent out by the King gathered so much information about each and every village and town that we can look on in wonder and almost visualise what life so long ago must have been like.The most compelling thing is that the many place names especially in the Hereford and Gloucestershire areas are still here over 900 years later and with some, the population has little changed apart from lack of oxen and your occasional slave or Housecarl tending the land.We have our regular census every now and then but really there is no historical document in any country throughout the world to rival THE DOMESDAY survey.It was of its time but the insight into a way of life and being is relevant today.Until you familiarise yourself with its contents you cannot imagine the pleasure it will give those trully interested in early English history and its text now is so easy to read and comprehend.If you set sail from the port of Chester without the permission of the crown everybody found onboard the vessel was fined 100 shillings.Likewise if you refused to gather arms upon request to venture into Wales to give the Taffies a bloodynose you were fined 40 shillings.These are only two of the most interesting aspects of everyday life in the city of Chester under Williams rule.This was a considerable sum of money in the 11C more than a years wages for the majority of peasants or those who worked the land.Talking of Wales, Williams officials didnot include it in the servey mainly because of the tenureship of the Lords Marcher,who at the time were some of the most powerfull men in the kingdom next to the King himself,their estates in South and Mid Wales were known quantities,and William roughly knew the revenue due to him.The county of Herefordshire is as close as Domesday came to Wales, with certain villages especially Kilpeck now famous for its magnificent 12c Norman church, were directly on the English Welsh border.Kilpeck was then known as Chipitee,but Streton Sugwas, Shobdon, Eardisley and Castle Frome all made famous by the magnificent Kilpeck school of Norman architecture are right there in the Herefordshire county of Domesday,and even their original 11C names except Kilpeck have remained unchanged.Remarkably these two counties of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire show very little change in overall place name index in Domesday.Atleast 80% of the place names mentioned in Domesday for these two counties still remain,and the parish boundaries have not changed much either.This is probably not a book you will read from cover to cover, but its certainly one you can pick up again and again to learn what life was really like over 900 years ago.What other document of similar antiquity can provide a modern reader with so much relevant information.Domesday predates Magna Carta by well over 150 years, both are just as relevant to our legal system to this very day,and thats why both are often quoted in our Courts of Law.It has taken years to materialise,and is now available for all to read,its contents will enthrall or disinterest you, but you cannot denie its impressiveness,there are few books on my bookshelf as thick or as interesting to read as this one.Its price is so impressive that it would make the ideal gift to anyone interested in history, but here is a book that now is easy to read and follow,and thankfully has a glossary at the back to explain what a Housecarl is.

  • By rhinototo on 19 July 2017

    Great service great book

  • By J. COGAN on 9 March 2009

    What can one really say about the Domesday Book apart from the fact that it's THE DOMESDAY BOOK. To those of us who love history (especially medieval history) the book is a MUST and for those tracing family history the book is a benchmark for all further research. This edition is well presented with a clear translation and a good index though there are one or two discrepancies (but for such a large undertaking I think that these can probably be forgiven). The attached glossary is comprehensive and clear. It is when you begin to read the various introductions to the different counties and realize how tangled their land-ownership was and the bitchiness that the various plaintiffs were that you begin to wonder if the original compilers laughed at the foibles of their brethren.

  • By M. PENZER on 15 February 2009

    For anyone who collects books and is interested in history this (for the price)should be in your library. Most books about the Domesday benefit by having this copy of the complete greater and lesser Domesday to delve into.Facinating in its own right just to leaf throught the pages and glance at a unique snapshot of history.


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