The Doomsday Book, initiated by William the Conqueror for the purpose of taxation and identification of all the conqured lands under King William completed in 1087. Doomsday lists ‘Mitune’ as part of the manor of Grindleton, which had previously been held by Earl Tosti, At the time of the great survey completed in 1087 it belonged to Roger de Poitou. Within Grindleton, he held four carucates in Great Mitton, four carucates in Bashall Eaves, two in Waddington and two in West Bradford, as well as others around Slaidburn. The only land assessable was that under cultivation by the plough, and this was reckoned roughly in round numbers, with some consideration of the quality of the land for growing crops. Hence we cannot take the figures as anything but approximate. “Thus at the time of the Doomsday survey there were some 480 acres under the plough in Mitton”. History of the Parish of Mitton, George Ackerley 1947.
Caracute: The carucate was based on the area a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season. A carrucate of land contained about 100 acres; eight oxgangs made a carrucate, 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 especially in Yorkshire. 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 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 the 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 and its authority was never called into question from that time on. There was no appeal from its finding by a court. It was the final judgment for land dispute resolution and defined the legal disposition for lands held in “demesne” or by any other manor holding. “Doomsday” meaning “day of judgment” determined all such questions regarding title of land. One could appeal to Doomsday surveys in legal disputes, but there could be no repudiation of a Doomsday finding.
“it is difficult to collect a land tax when the landholding itself is in dispute”- Mark Morris, The Norman Conquest, 2012
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 until 1982 to resolve land disputes. It explains why so many of the names of various places in England have remained 900 years. Mitton or “Mitune” in Doomsday became the legal definition for that manor land. 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 findings of Doomsday. The old Norman location names gave legal credence to a landowner as first determined by the 11th century accounting for 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.
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.
“One of the fundamental duties of a King was to protect the property rights of his subjects”.– The Plantagenets- Dan Jones; 2012 Penguin Books
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 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 is that of a central government protected property rights. This was established in King William’s Doomsday Book of 1087. At least that is my conclusion and interpretation of said. Williams great survey remains the standard today in England regarding property rights and similarly in many other advanced western governments under law.