Carucate: The carucate was based on the area a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season. A carucate of land contained about 100 acres; eight oxgangs made a carucate, and every oxgang contained twelve or thirteen areas, or thereabouts. Though the carucate is laid down at 100 acres, the actual area must have varied according to the nature of the soil and the custom of husbandry in each country. The word comes from the Latin word caruca, in French, carrue: a plough; and signifies as much land as one team could well manage to plough in a year”. The History of Morley, by Norrison Scratcherd.
Wasta: The Doomsday book of 1087 refers to “Mitune” as “wasta” meaning it had had no real value. The Norman “Harrying of the North” in 1069-70 destroyed much of what value the Normans had conquered. Including wrecking farm implements needed to sustain the Saxons to drive them into complete submission. It took 40 years for the countryside to recover. “Mitune” is in beautiful countryside today in the Ribble Valley but was a devastated area in the later part of the 11thcentury.
Importance of the Doomsday Book: So accurate was the Doomsday Book that by the completion in 1087, King William had acquired an exact knowledge of his possessions of the Crown that could never be disputed. It was a minutia survey, manor by manor of the entire lands of William’s conquest. Its authority was never called into question from that time on. There was no appeal from its findings by a court. It was the final judgment for dispute resolution and defined the legal disposition for lands held in “demesne” or by any other manor holding entity. “Doomsday” meaning “day of judgment” determined all such questions regarding title of land in the Kingdom from then on. One could appeal to Doomsday surveys in legal disputes, but there could be no repudiation of a Doomsday finding.
Richard FitzNeal wrote circa 1179 in the Dialogus de Scaccario;
for as the sentence of that strict and terrible last account cannot be evaded by any skillful 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.
Note: Doomsday had a different connotation, meaning a legal judgment not final death as we might interpret it today.
The book was deposited in the king’s treasury at Westminster and it is still kept under lock and key at the National Archives to this day. The Doomsday Book continued to be used, last in 1982 to settle land disputes. It explains why so many of the names of various places in England have lasted 900 years. Mitton or “Mitune” in Doomsday became the legal definition.That name and many other names from Doomsday survived because of the absolute authority vested in King William’s original survey. No one wanted to change the names and confuse who had what from the great findings of Doomsday. The old Norman location names gave legal credence to a landowner as first determined by the 11th century accounting for the English lands of the Conqueror. The names have survived in place for over 900 years from that simple circumstance. Doomsday established the western idea of a land title enforced by government authority and upheld by a legal system. With out a doubt the Doomsday survey was a great advancement over what many nations have to this day.
Please click for a larger panoramic view.
Above left Mitton Bridge over the Ribble and Great Mitton Hall and Mytton Church on the Great Mitton north side of the Ribble
Private property is sacrosanct in legally advanced nations as it was in medieval England. The Doomsday legacy may be the greatest accomplishment of William the Conqueror’s reign by establishing property rights (albeit first for him and his friends).
The basic idea that one could hold land under the Kings authority and have a legal system to protect it advanced the idea of property rights by law. This was the central political posture of John Locke’s 2nd Treatise of Government written in 1688. Essentially, Locke was defining the purpose of government as “the protection of private property”. It is the fundamental difference that separates those areas of the western world that use their legal system to protect private property rights, as opposed to governments who do not. The great differences of western nations economic advancements incorporating government protected property rights, or lack thereof, are rooted in King William’s Doomsday Book of 1087.