The Domesday Book is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086, executed for William I of England, or William the Conqueror. "While spending the Christmas of 1085 in Gloucester,
William had deep speech with his counsellors and sent men all over
England to each shire to find out what or how much each landholder had
in land and livestock, and what it was worth" (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle).
One of the main purposes of the survey was to determine who held what and what taxes had been liable under Edward the Confessor;
the judgment of the Domesday assessors was finalâ€”whatever the book said
about who held the material wealth or what it was worth, was the law,
and there was no appeal. It was written in Latin,
although there were some vernacular words inserted for native terms
with no previous Latin equivalent, and the text was highly abbreviated.
Richard FitzNigel, writing c.
1179, stated that the book was known by the English as 'Domesday', that
is the Day of Judgement "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 put 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."