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The Domesday Economy of England, 1086

The Domesday Economy of England, 1086

By John Mcdonald

Paper given at University of Canterbury (New Zealand), April 2008

Introduction: Some 900 years ago, a remarkable survey was undertaken. The survey, which has become known as the Domesday Survey, was ordered by the King of England, William (the Conqueror). It covered most English manors in 1086. Landholders answered questionnaires and their responses, not regarded as confidential, were then publicly verified in local courts. The Survey provides surprisingly high quality and detailed information on manorial net incomes, resources and tax assessments. These data can be used to reconstruct the economy of the time -production and tax relationships can be estimated; and issues such as the efficiency of production, the fairness of the tax system, and the influence of the feudal and manorial systems on production investigated. In this seminar I review some of the findings relating to eleventh century production efficiency, explain the frontier method used to derive the results, and indicate the impact of the feudal and manorial systems on production.

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See also our Feature on the Domesday Book

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