Domesday Book is the oldest government record held in The National
Archives. There are In fact two Domesday Books..
Little Domesday and Great Domesday
Together contain a great deal of information about England in the
11th century. In 1086, King William I the Conqueror wanted to find
out about all the land in his new kingdom, who owned which property,
who else lived there, how much the land was worth and therefore how
much tax he could charge.
He sent official government inspectors around England to ask
questions in local courts. Fixed questions were asked, such as what
the place was called, who owned it, how many men lived there, how
many cows were there and so on.
For each property, questions were asked three times to see what
changes had happened over time so that the king would know about the
lands in Edward the Confessor?s time.
All the results of these questions were handwritten into the
Domesday Book by scribes.
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