The significance and fate of the native english landholders of 1086

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Abstract

This article uses a computerized database to investigate the landholding and wealth of native English landholders at the time of Domesday Book. It also explores their relations with the new Norman regime. I argue that a surprising number of 1086 native tenants were new men and that Richard Fitz Nigel's much later claim that natives had to earn the right to hold land from the new regime was based on oral history passed partly through his own family, and contained a large core of truth to it. These factors, along with the relatively good opportunities available to English warriors abroad, limited the extent of the revolts facing William the Conqueror, and help to explain the surprising amount of support the new regime gained from natives, despite the massive dispossession that English landholders experienced. Though affirming recent arguments that Domesday Book provides an incomplete picture of native landholding in 1086, the article also argues that the level of distortion was limited, and that a very large percentage of the land held by natives at that date subsequently passed to Normans, thus meaning that the survey actually gives an exaggerated picture of native landholding over the long term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-333
Number of pages31
JournalEnglish Historical Review
Volume118
Issue number476
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History

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