Domesday Book as an Example of Embryonic Weberian Administration in a Patrimonial State

Domesday Book as an Example of Embryonic Weberian Administration in a Patrimonial State

By Michael Jones

Sixth Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference (2010)

Introduction: The way in which accounting plays a key part in the creation and maintenance of governmental power has recently become a source of enquiry for accounting researchers. Napier’s  survey of 30 years of historical accounting research identifies power, knowledge and government as one of the key themes of the new accounting history. Although attracting more attention of late, there is still surprisingly little work which seeks to explore the exploitation of accounting as a mechanism by which governmental power can be reinforced. In particular, there is only a limited literature which explores how accounting reflects and interacts with the social, economic and political forces of different, important historical eras. Important exceptions are Carpenter and Feroz, Edwards, Coombs and Greener, Neu, Neu and Jones.

In this paper, the focus is on an extremely important historical locus: the post-Norman conquest of England, in the late eleventh century. The Norman Conquest was a decisive moment in British history. Before 1066, England had been ruled first by the Romans and then by the Anglo-Saxons. However, in 1066 after a successful invasion William replaced English rule with Norman, introducing an Anglo-Norman realm held together by a Norman aristocracy. This aristocracy brought a new social, economic and political order whose roots lay in military power. This period thus represents a unique key, transitional period in the history of the United Kingdom. Unique in that it represents the only time since the Romans invaded Britain in 55 BC that massive social, economic and political change has been imposed by conquerors (i.e. Normans) on a conquered people (i.e. Anglo-Saxons). The new kingdom, which emerged, was one of the most, if not the most developed, monarchies in Western Europe.

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