Mapping the Medieval Countryside has announced that the beta version of their searchable English translations of inquisitions post mortem (IPMs) – a major source into the lives and legacies of thousands of families from the Later Middle Ages.
The free database is being created by a collaborative research project between King’s College London and the University of Winchester. The inquisitions post mortem describe the lands held by thousands of families, from nobles to peasants, and are a key source for the history of almost every settlement in England – and of many in Wales.
This week the first part of the database went live – it covers the years 1418-47. Eventually, users will be able to access records from the period 1236 to 1447 and 1485 to 1509.
The English government conducted Inquisitions post mortem when someone died who had lands held directly from the king. This could include powerful noble families, knights, townsmen and peasants. The records offer much detail about the property held by these individuals as well as their family relations.
While many volumes of the calendar of inquisitions post mortem were published in the early years of the 20th century, this project will not only be digitizing the volumes, but making many improvements on the originals, including:
- fuller details of writs have been provided: in all instances, the name of the issuing Chancery clerk, and details of endorsements; in many cases, more accurate information about the nature of the writ
- names of officiating escheators have been added
- names of jurors have been added (around 48,000 names)
- a substantial number of IPMs omitted for various reasons from the print volumes are published here for the first time
Dr Matthew Holford, research officer on the project, explains that “the IPMs are the single most important source for the study of landed society in medieval England. They are widely used by academic historians and also by family historians, genealogists and local historians. Although they have been published, the printed volumes are difficult to access and cumbersome to search – this project makes a key source for the history of late medieval England freely available and widely accessible. It also lays the foundation, through extensive semantic markup, for much more detailed geo-spatial analysis of the medieval landed economy.”
Users can access the databse from the project website www.inquisitionspostmortem.ac.uk. Mapping the Medieval Countryside also has a blog that explores some of the interesting case studies that emerge from the records, including;
Professor Michael Hicks of the University of Winchester, one of the principal investigators of the proejct, says this beta launch is “the culmination of the great historical enterprise – now almost 200 years old – to publish all the inquisitions post mortem”.
You can also follow them on Twitter:
— MedievalIPM (@MedievalIPM) July 13, 2015