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The Moneyers and Domesday Book

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 December 2023

Stephen D. Church
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

Domesday Book presents the digested results of a systematic survey of landholding in England, probably conceived at the end of 1085 and carried to fruition over the next year or so. To show legitimate succession of tenure, it also incorporates infor-mation about holdings at the end of the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–66). The Domesday project is one of the most ambitious governmental undertakings of the Middle Ages, and its contents provide a solid bedrock on which to base studies of many aspects of eleventh-century England. However this information represents the product of a precise set of inquiries focused strongly on rural property and its value, which translated into its fiscal liability: the survey is structured by shire, and within each shire by the lands of each of the ‘tenants in chief’ of 1086 (i.e. those who held land direct from the king), usually organized by hundred. Other aspects of contemporary society impinged on the survey but were of tangential interest and so were treated inconsistently, and generally much less fully. Towns fell into this category, as did details of the monetary system. The presence of moneyers or minting was noted among the customs of twenty-nine locations, ten in connection with conditions under Edward, fourteen in 1086 and five in both (Map 1). Actual coins show that this record is only partial: about three times that many locations had been named on coins in the decades before and after the Norman Conquest. Most but not all of the mint-places were among the 112 locations described as towns in Domesday Book (Map 2). Moreover, even where the Domesday survey does refer to minting or moneyers, it usually gives just a terse statement about how much income was produced for the king. Only in one case (Oxford) is a moneyer named as such, and then only in his capacity as a landholder within the town.

Even this information is valuable given how little is known about the monetary system beyond the coins themselves. Yet Domesday Book has the potential to make a second, indirect, contribution to knowledge of the coinage. It names thousands of individuals who held property in England, running the gamut from the king, major aristocrats and leading ecclesiastics down to very small-scale landholders, many of whom must reflect better-to-do members of the peasantry.

Type
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Anglo-Norman Studies XLV
Proceedings of the Battle Conference 2022
, pp. 181 - 274
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2023

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