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Using William the Conqueror’s accounting record to assess manorial efficiency: a critical appraisal

Using William the Conqueror’s accounting record to assess manorial efficiency: a critical appraisal

By Keith Hopper

Accounting History, Vol. 11: 1 (2006)

Abstract:┬áProfessor McDonald (2005) is to be congratulated on his boldness and the readability of his comparative study based on the limited data available in the Domesday Book. It is, however, argued that the data is not sufficient or reliable enough to justify any conclusions as to postconquest farming efficiency. Furthermore, to draw such conclusions necessitates valiant attempts at generalization and standardization as to land measurements such as “hides”, the value and productivity of slave labour, variable soil qualities, land values and uniform farming practices. To theorize based on “constant returns to scale”, where conscripted labour is employed, is to deny the empirical farming experiences of Cambodia under Pol Pot and the Soviet Union under Stalin. That Professor McDonald concludes from such an analysis that Norman farming practices compare favourably with modern farming practices is both controversial and courageous.

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