Domesday - Doomsday
Domesday Book is the great record of landholdings, completed in 1086, made at the command of William the Conqueror to facilitate the transfer of administration and government after the Norman Conquest (1066). It and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are the two unequalled treasure-houses of early English history.
The word Domesday, which should always be spelled this way in this context, is etymologically the same as Doomsday - both are pronounced 'DOOMZ-day' - which is a name for the Christian vision of the end of the world, or Day of Judgement. The belief in the 12th century, when this name is first recorded, seems to have been one or a combination of these ideas: that the great record was akin to that of the Recording Angel; that the Book was a record which would last 'till the crack of doom'; or that it was an unanswerable true record of everything in the state of England: "for as the sentence of that strict and terrible last account cannot be evaded by any skilful subterfuge, so when this book is appealed to ... its sentence cannot be quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we have called the book 'the Book of Judgement' ... because its decisions, like those of the Last Judgement, are unalterable." (Fitzneale, Richard (1950) Dialogus de scaccario: The course of the exchequer; Constitutio domus regis: The king's household, (trans. C. Johnson), London, Nelson. (written c. 1197).)
It is an academic nicety that it is proper to call the record ("The Great Inquisition") Domesday Book, never "
the Domesday Book".
- 'Little Domesday', one of two main Inquests, covers Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. 'Great Domesday' covers the rest of England, except for lands in the north that would later become Westmorland, Cumberland, Northumberland and County Durham. There are no records for London, Winchester or County Durham.