Key Stage 3 History: 6: The Domesday Book


Blog 6 in our Key Stage 3 History series looks at the writing of the Domesday Book.

The Domesday Book

Oh my… I really thought it couldn’t get any worse. We have the feudal system. There are castles popping up everywhere. We can’t move without permission. Literally. Silly old me, asking what can William do next?! I really thought he’s done it all. But no. He can take it still further. We have been given the worst Christmas present ever. We are now being assessed to make sure we are paying enough tax. This really is taking things too far. William is lucky he has all those castles because this latest outrage would seriously test our patience. If we had a realistic chance of winning we would fight against this… this appalling outrage.

We found out at Christmas in 1085 what William planned to do in the next year. I’ve heard its being called the Domesday Book. Domesday means ‘Day of Judgement’. A book which is being created to assess how much wealth England has, so William can judge who to tax the most, who to settle in favour of if there is a land dispute… He will know everything about England. You have to hand it to him. Who else would have the audacity to go to the extremes of writing down exactly what every single village in the entire country owns?

And he’s not using half measures. Two officials turned up in our village in April. They interviewed the reeve first. He’s the man who runs the land for our lord, the Knight who owns our land. Then they interviewed the priest in our village church. And then I managed to get myself caught up in it all. They interviewed six peasants from each village too. Why me?! How do I always get myself caught in the middle?

At least it means I know for definite what they ask. I felt like I was being interrogated. They asked how many people live in the village, how many ploughs there are, how many mills we have, how much land we give over to grazing cattle… it felt endless.

And now William has all this evidence. So he knows exactly how much we all own. If he ever needs any money, he knows exactly what to tax to get the most money. It is so unfair. We work all day, every day to feed our families, but our lord and our King can just force us to give everything to them. They don’t care what happens to us as long as they get what they want. But what can we do?

Penny Brooks

Tutor

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