Anglo-Saxon
The Angles and Saxons invaded and settled in Britain in the 5th century. In 1066 England (named after the Angles) was ruled by two Anglo-Saxon Kings, Edward the Confessor, who died in January, and Harold II, who was defeated by William Duke of Normandy in October.
Arpent
An Old French measurement used in Domesday in relation to the vineyards.
Bordar
Unfree peasant with less land than villans.
Borough
An urban dwelling often fortified. Many had markets. The borough courts which were attended by the burgesses often had their own customs which are recorded in Domesday Book.
Breton
Bretons from Brittany in northern France formed part of Duke William’s invasion army in 1066 and many later settled in England.
Burgess
An urban dweller, usually from the upper section of townsmen, whose tenure was based on a financial payment.
Carucate
A standard unit of assessment sometimes used for tax purposes in northern England, where Danish law prevailed, instead of the hide (See “Hide”).
Circuit
One of the seven or more regions into which England was divided for the purposes of collecting information for the Domesday survey. They consisted of two or more counties and were assigned high-ranking officials known as commissioners from outside the circuit to collect and verify the information gathered. The resulting record from each circuit is known as a circuit summary.
Colophon
In publishing, text, typically at the end of a book providing details of book production, such as dates, typefaces used, and so on. The colophon in Little Domesday details the date of its completion, the year of the King’s reign and county coverage.
Conqueror
Descriptive title given to William King of England and Duke of Normandy following his conquest of England.
Cottar
Unfree peasant with fewer lands than villans. Also called cottagers.
Demesne
Part of the manor either kept by the lord in his own hands or farmed for his own profit.
Feudal
Term given much later to the medieval system of land tenure in which the King or a baron gave land and protection to his tenants in return for their loyalty and specific services, principally military.
Fief
Land granted in return for military service. Also called fee.
Freeman
A man who was free and might hold land but who owed some services to his lord.
Geld
Anglo-Saxon land tax continued by the Normans. It was assessed on the number of hides.
Hide
The standard unit of assessment used for tax purposes. It was meant to represent the amount of land that could support a household, roughly 120 acres. There were four virgates to every hide.
Hundred
A sub-division of the shire (or county) used for administrative purposes. Known in the northern England (where Danish law and customs prevailed) as wapentake.
Knight
A military retainer, usually a heavily armed and trained cavalryman.
Manor
An estate or unit of lordship, varying in size. The Domesday survey was based on the manor and not the parish.
Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy was established after 911 when the Viking leader Rollo, Count of Rouen forced the French king to cede the province to him. It was later integrated into the Kingdom of France in 1204 by King Phillip II, however the English crown continued to claim it until the Treaty of Paris in 1259.
Pannage
A form of payment for pasturing pigs or the feed given to pigs in autumn.
Plough(land)
When Domesday refers to number of ploughs it is referring to the taxable amount of land that can be ploughed by a team of eight oxen. Thus, land ‘for half a plough’ (or ‘for four oxen’) means half a plough land.
Public record
Record created by government in the normal course of its business.
Radknight
A riding servant whose services included riding escort to lord.
Rapes
Six administrative sub-divisions of Sussex, each with castle and lord, all considered to be of strategic importance on the south coast.
Sokeman
Freeman who nevertheless had to attend their lord’s court.
Slave
Man or woman who was the property of his or her lord and had no lands.
Tenant-in-chief
The King’s principal barons and churchmen who held land directly from him.
Thegn
The order of nobility in Anglo-Saxon England before the Conquest was earl, King’s thegn and median thegn.
TRE
Abbreviation used in Domesday Book for tempore regis Edwardi, ‘at the time of King Edward’. When William wanted to know who owned the manor immediately before he became King he referred to the reign of King Edward. Harold, who succeeded Edward as King in January 1066 and was defeated by William in October 1066 is nearly always referred to as ‘earl’ Harold in Domesday – his reign being airbrushed out of history by the scribe.
Villan
An unfree peasant who owed his lord labour services (two or three days per week) but who also farmed land for himself. Villans were the wealthiest and most numerous of unfree peasants. Also called villains or villeins.
Wapentake
(See ‘Hundred’.)