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National Income in Domesday EnglandJames T. WalkerHenley Business School at the University of Reading, International Business and Strategy andCentre for International Business History, PO Box 218, Whiteknights, Reading, Berks,RG6 6AA;email:[email protected]Summary:The Domesday Survey provides the first comprehensive national survey ofEngland. By providing a means to identifying the extent of arable activity in the non-seigniorial economy enables transparent estimates for production in the non-seigniorialeconomy to be derived, and hence for the total Domesday economy. The preferred ‘fullcapacity’ 1086 estimate, determined under different assumptions concerning population,price, and climatic conditions, is then compared against recent estimates for the earliestbenchmark period circa 1300.Key words: Domesday England, income, long-run economic change.JEL: N13, E01, O11.I.In 1086, for the first time in recorded history, it is possible to reconstruct and provide abenchmark estimate of the national income of an economy from manorial data. A recordfollowing the watershed in English history that accompanied the successful invasion ofWilliam the Conqueror, the Domesday Book provides a broad set of information relating toEngland in 1086. No survey on the scale of Domesday was to be conducted for manycenturies following its completion.1Graeme Snooks and Nicholas Mayhew attempt to benchmark Domesday income andchart changes in the English economy over the long run.2To do so, both authors use HenryClifford Darby’s total of Domesday income as a measure of seigniorial income and then,1The next attempt to provide a national survey of England, the 1279 Hundred Rolls, was abandoned beforecompletion and only a proportion of the original returns have Kosminsky (Studies in the agrarian history ofEnglandand Raban,Second Domesday?)2Mayhew, “Modelling medieval monetarisation,” pp.55–75, Mayhew, “Prices in England”, p.22 and Mayhew,“La richesse de l’Angleterre medievale”;and Snooks, “Dynamic role,” pp.27–54.1
based on secondary sources, make estimates of the extent of non-seigniorial income.3Snooksmakes austere assumptions to come up with a figure of £147,000, while Mayhew providesestimates that size the British economy at between £300,000 and £400,000. Mayhew thenattempts to validate his estimates against a model of medieval monetarization based on thequantity theory of money while Snooks uses aggregated data from the Domesday Book toestimate income levels and then simulates economic change over time. Both these earliernovel attempts to establish the size of the Domesday economy have substantial limitations,principally that they make quitead hocestimates of the extent of the non-seigniorialeconomy.Taking advantage of data generated by two substantial projects that provide fullmanorial level information from the Domesday Book, this study provides a methodology toderive the full extent of Domesday seigniorial (made up of the King’s lands, ecclesiastical

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