National Income in Domesday England

National Income in Domesday England

By James T. Walker

Paper from Henley Business School, Reading University (2008)

Abstract: The Domesday Survey provides the first comprehensive national survey of any economy. The availability of two complementary data sources allows a direct estimate of Tenant-in-Chief’s lands from the Survey. By providing a means to identifying the extent of arable activity outside the demesne, as well as the extent that ploughs working on the lords estates were active in the peasant economy, I provide a transparent method of estimating the extent of non-seigniorial production. After incorporating a series of other elements valued in the Survey, and adding these to the seigniorial and non-seigniorial agricultural production estimates, we derive an estimate for the income of Domesday England in 1086. The findings are consistent with an important interpretation of the Domesday text proposed by Bridbury that is further developed conceptually. Furthermore, a ‘full capacity’ 1086 estimate, determined under differing assumptions concerning population, price, and climatic conditions, is compared against recent estimates for the earliest benchmark period circa 1300.

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