The Norman’s – Leaving Norman

The Domesday Book

Twenty years after the Norman’s invade and occupy Britain, the new King of England decides to do a survey to find out what he’s conquered, who he’s conquered, and how much tax he can charge them. It’s the first real census in history, and it’s presented as a parody of CBC classic show “”On The Road Again With Wayne Ronstad””.

The compilation in 1068 of the Domesday Book, the first modern census, is the focus of this episode. The sketches focus on the fact that considering the census was being made for a fairly punitive tax rate, people went to extraordinary lengths to hide assets.

Original Air Date: April 11, 2002

YouTube Transcript

William The Conqueror on History Bites

Welcome to History Bites I’m Rick Green.  They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes, well that was certainly true for William the Conquerer.
He dished out a whole lot of death when he invaded England in 1066, after putting down various rebellions he decided to cover the cost of all that conquering with taxes, but to tax people you have to figure out what they can pay.
Since nobody filled out tax returns in medieval times William sent his accountants escorted by armed guards to take stock of the whole kingdom.

final tally a gross national product was compiled into the Domesday book.  Naturally folks weren’t pleased about property assessment or paying more taxes.
So let’s go back to the Year 1086 and see how Britain would have looked if the Domesday book had been doomsday
Is a census of all Britain from your slaves and go to your kidneys tally your
crops in the fields your livestock will
be revealed
over every about will discover and I’m
my keys will pay his bills what you got
King William Cinco
where the bandwidth to stable King
William Santa we’re the death with the
what I Wayne Rolston and welcome to this
week’s edition of on the road to
doomsday where we travel the highways
and byways of the kingdom reading people
and gathering information for the
Doomsday Book you may remember last week
shower we visited bacon 4-pin Norfolk
where mrs. Agnes showed us her husband
Thurston’s beautiful property well after
we’d finished shooting she had two
questions for me when she said what do
you do with all the information you’ve
written about my land and why is this
book called the Doomsday Book well I
guess we get these questions quite a lot
all the information in the book will
eventually go to King William who wants
to know exactly how much land and
livestock everyone owns so he can take
his share in taxes thanks to the
information we gather Agnes your
husband’s taxes will go up more than
500% and that’s where the title of the
Doomsday Book comes from because as we
all know taxes are as inevitable as the
day of final judgment this week were
continuing our travels through the Shire
of Norfolk and we’re going to pay a
visit to Raynald son of ival so let’s go
he was a Viking I believe his name was
Norman just like my uncle Norman except
he wasn’t a Viking he was a Virgo no no
that other man wasn’t named Norman
he was a Norman he told me he was part
Viking I couldn’t tell which part but I
assumed it was something he’d rather not
talk about I know the feeling the
Norman is actually short for North man
that’s what the French called the
Vikings because they came from the north
I thought the Normans came from the
south didn’t they come from the south
yes they came from the south when they
crossed the English Channel into Britain
from France but they came to France from
the north so the North men came from
Normandy which is north France and
invaded southern England that’s right by
going north George don’t be silly
someone started north France go north
and end up in South England
I thought Vikings were expert navigators
well I’d like to see what I’ve navigate
this conversation anyway the Normans now
run England so Norman is short for North
Men and it means Vikings that’s it
wait’ll I tell poor uncle Northman he
didn’t know it was a bad
he will be happy that he’s running Great
Britain under the old Saxon system the
peasants were owned by sex and Thane’s
and URLs but after the Normans conquered
the Saxons and began ruling England that
all changed instead of a lifetime of
slavery under a saxon thane the english
peasants could finally look forward to a
lifetime of slavery under a Norman
knight as we wander around your
beautiful land here Raymond yeah I can’t
help but be struck by the but charming
people that live here about oh yeah
they’re they’re a great people Wayne
yeah thanks no wonder the people we just
met I’m assuming those were slaves oh no
Wayne I I don’t have any slaves really
oh really well no that’s funny because
they told me but they were your screams
they did oh well you know they’re
probably just saying that cuz they don’t
want to get you know tax themselves you
know we’ll have to look into that a
little bit later what do you guys do
what are you talking to him for it’s all
this way through years all this your
property well uh yes and no well more no
I would be that’s that’s there nothing
to do with me the neighbor likes to park
it there no there’s no sense in writing
it down because it’s not mine no what do
you keep in here Raynald uh well Wayne
this is where I keep my swine this is my
swine pen my ass died and well the swine
aren’t here right now they’re off
grazing in the woods you see cuz so they
don’t like people on they’re really
sickly animals anyway so you know spine
I used to keep swine oh really
yeah no how many would you say you have
I’d say about five five maybe eight well
you know your your slave ler said you
had 15 they did well y’all you know you
know how slaves lightly and I know they
do sure or I mean that they would lie if
they were my slaves which they’re not
right great well in that case they
probably weren’t lying and they were
be sure you had 15 Luther boys you
knowing now that I think about it
probably was 15 I’m uh I’m not very good
with numbers so uh you know a lot of
people have that problem here so I’m
gonna just write down fifteen swine here
in my book just so I don’t forget write
in swine that looks like 50 Robert which
king of England was killed at the Battle
of Hastings here on the second correct
Amy what huge tapestry commemorates the
Battle of Hastings the Bayeux Tapestry
correct will what sound does a mace make
when it hits a warrior’s skull close
it’s bunk lumpy what is the central core
of the castle used for the last stands
against invaders big keep
and now a few minutes with Andy Rooney
maybe it’s just me but this new
bilingualism in England is really
starting to annoy me
in the old days we raised cow piggy
sheep and when we killed them and cook
them we ate cow pig and sheep
now these Normans insist on calling the
meat by their french names I can’t even
pronounce half these French animal names
I heard some food at the end the other
day the daily specials were a pork chop
or a belief pie who can understand these
foreign words why can’t they just call
the food what it is a pig chop and a cow
I hate it when people try to force
French down my throat you know what’s
gonna happen since we do all the farming
slaughtering cooking and serving the
animals names will be English but since
the rich Normans eat the finished meals
all the names for the cuts of meat will
be in French when we return the Normans
make sure England comes to its senses
come to count all your stuff make sure
that you are taxed enough after William
the conquerer became King of England in
1066 he discovered he’d inherited a
valuable new right the right to levy a
land tax on every one of his new
citizens so in 1086 he commissioned the
Domesday book a national survey of what
everyone’s land was worth naturally some
citizens went to great lengths to make
their land appear less valuable well hey
it doesn’t do to show off because
there’s nothing doesn’t come on guys
whole bunch of stuff in here
no by golly what’s that over there
there’s got a mill we’re we’re through
there ah yeah that’s that’s a water mill
Wayne that’s a really old water mill
though well you know it looks like it’s
working okay door there people over
there probably just some peasants
playing around right yeah well you know
the wonderful thing about coming to the
country as that you’ll find all sorts of
things described in the official
documents even in the even in the letter
that you said it’s describing your
property there was there was no mention
of a mill at all
there is it don’t mumble – well that’s
probably because it’s really old wing
and I didn’t want to mention it because
it’s not worth anything
tell you what let’s go have a look
inside shall we I think we should I
think we should all right but the
floorboards are weak so watch yourself
oh my gosh this is fantastic what a
lovely shape yeah I guess so it’s not
peasants they really love to restore
things you got it oh you can what
they’re grinding corn there this is what
that is not just the wind you know you
know what I love I love to see a
beautiful old building like this
restored yeah you know I’m gonna just
right but doable yeah in the book yeah
working mill public health officials are
delighted at the rising popularity of
bathing the traditional five or six
baths a year of our forefathers is
giving away to more frequent bathing
that in turn should lead to better
health for all as friends and neighbors
gather together in hot public baths to
wash off the week’s accumulation of
grime rinse out their open sores and
cleanse any burning blisters in one
large hot tub the Normans were very
environmentally conscious of this new
country they’d conquered after all
invading conquering and then suppressing
various rebellions had cost an arm and a
leg and thousands of heads so the
Normans passed strict new laws to guard
English forests preserve the English
countryside and protect English animals
from hunting by English natives
that way the animals could be hunted by
their norman masters will what unfree
peasant owns land but must also work on
the Earl’s land sounds like there the
answer is a velena lumpy who lives in a
cottage and is the lowest of the unfree
peasants definitely stand a kurta Robert
what name is given to a man who
unlawfully hunts or traps on a Lords
land Stan that’s why they hung him the
answer was a poacher and at the end of
that round other possible five pumps you
netted a pathetic zero time to decide
whose brains should be beaten into
plowshares Stan’s
has no stand yes most Shire of Norway
doing the survey the land of Reynolds
son of mine but a real eye-opener I can
tell you it taxes the imagination to see
all the things that could be taxed they
have to write that right down would you
mind holding that for me perfect
let me show me the way for you oh thank
you very much well that is a charming
woodland back how many swine would just
say it could graze there what
no I I’d say maybe like four at the most
no no no I think about 20 now no it’s
not time to rate it’s freezing for
quickly swine
you’re gonna write that number on my
book yes oh yeah but you know what if
you don’t like it you can always appeal
what’s that I can actually appeal it
wait heroes let’s sheep wow I don’t hear
anything I think it is I don’t let’s go
have a look I think we should it could
be crickets and you can’t tax me on
good evening I’m Rena bond Chester and
this is the point tonight big legal
changes as a new Norman administration
tries to modernize the British legal
system goodbye we’re Guild
hello trial by ordeal how will Britons
who are used to paying for the crimes
with cash adapt to a judiciary based on
excruciating pain there hasn’t been this
much construction going on in Europe
since the end of the Roman Empire
Oh for me thank you really Jim have the
flowers fell off
yeah well this Danny way you know folks
with a lot of the skilled laborers over
there working on churches and castles
you know home building is really now a
do-it-yourself project for sure so the
day we are gonna learn how to fence up
property we’re gonna use pine cuz why
that’s what we have grown on the
property that’s right now you know for
some reason I like my rails on my fence
to be Oh about a foot apart now are you
talking about a Roman foot or a drusus
foot it’s a Roman foot okay now how big
is the property – half a league by a
league oh really I thought it was a
league by almost two leagues okay yeah
but no are you talking the big leagues
or the little ones I don’t know my dad
never let me play in Little League it’s
cuz you swung both ways that’s why oh
boy a little testy today
hey but anyway okay how much is that a
miles miles yeah what are you talking
about Roman miles a germinal I’ll
convert it to Roman okay boy why don’t
we just measure the area in acres then
you know what let’s use Bibles map is a
way easier mathis I’d rather use you
care or burials you can’t here we start
with a Jew Guerra yeah alright let’s use
due care all right take out your
calculators now you got 400 hogsheads of
wood okay here we go again flattest
Italian hogsheads
or aquitanian God says what up it all
right why don’t we use real hogsheads
bit stop then we can have cheese all
right you know what let’s just build a
fence till we run out of trees oh my
gosh what a beautiful fish spawn Oh
Elena it’s a it’s only a pond
there used to be fishing it but there’s
no fishing no fish in them or what a
shame what pollution I’m guessing yeah
yeah yeah pollution yeah you know it’s
such a shame when you have a beautiful
fish pond like this that poisoned by
chemicals you know you not only lose the
fish and the income but the pleasure you
get from catching those fish you know I
was thinking the same thing it’s a real
shame yeah
Raynald and I stopped through
sponsorship he didn’t manage to catch
anything when I cut myself
several beautiful trout well you look at
that fish you know work okay stop
bragging what’s your wing is we so often
we hear about dead fish ponds and fields
that have gone barren out here in the
country and you know nature really does
heaven wing of recovering yeah you know
you must be just delighted my friend to
find out that the fish palm but you
thought was dead as actually a fine
fishery teeming with valuable fish yeah
imagine that
would you like to hand me my book please
Rain Man why not thank you so much when
we come back blood sweat tears and other
liquid assets
nobody likes to pay taxes but the tax
which William the conquerer imposed upon
England was considered very harsh
especially by the anglo-saxons who had
to pay it it’s been calculated to have
been at a rate of about thirty percent
that’s not chicken feed but it included
chicken feed no radio I’d like to ask
you a question all right I’ve been doing
a few sums here and I’m wondering if you
have any idea what your Randle’s worth
Oh Wayne I’d uh I’d say about six seven
pounds right well that’s that’s exactly
what you put in your submission to the
King wasn’t it that’s right well I’ve
got some great news for you
well oh that’s good oh yes I’ve got some
very good news oh that’s great the lamb
but you thought was worth six or seven
pounds actually he has a taxable value
of 11 shillings and then what happened
well the thief realized I was catching
up to him so he dropped my Pig and
really took off and I figured he’d be
heading for the woods right because the
woods are full of thieves and cutthroats
oh yeah for sure if you go in the woods
today you’re in for a big surprise
over to the church okay
let me guess he threw himself on church
property yeah and he demanded sanitary
so does that mean he’s gonna come clean
about his crime no no he probably said
sanctuary not sanitary maybe here so
good yeah okay see once the thief
invoked the ritual of sanctuary he
couldn’t be arrested yeah basically I
mean all he has to do is walk to the
nearest dock or Wharf take a boat out to
an isolated island live out the rest of
his days there well at least it makes
life a bit safer for those of us who
live near the woods
unfortunately I live in the islands he
was a brave soldier and the
King gave him some land he wanted a plot
of land so the king gave him a hundred
well Gracie that’s what Kings do but
my uncle Harvey only wanted one plot of
land what’s he gonna do with the other
99 no no Gracie the plot of land is the
King’s giving plots to all his top
but he only has 20 top nine what’s he
gonna do with the other 80 it’s giving
the 20 nights each 120 hundreds yes Abba
George that’s two grand well I’m glad to
see you pleased about now we could also
give him a hide a cowhide or a horse
hide hide hide is 120 acres I didn’t
know cows came that big Tracy I fight to
support one family
oh I’m sure why a cow that big what
support has a brick well even though
it’s raining our spirits aren’t dampened
here it’s been a most rewarding visit
and next week we’re going to visit Roger
of plothole one of the King’s Knight’s
was fallen on hard times according to
his letter his pigs have run away his
slaves have died his meals have burned
down and his Fox that have suffered
spontaneous bovine combustion we’ll see
if we can’t explore his lands and find
some valuable property to cheer him up
to join us then goodbye
Oh ease Randall son of a
the Domesday book was the first
large-scale census since Roman times and
the information was collected in person
from all over a kingdom with bad roads
and rebellious landowners landowners who
knew that a write-up would cost them big
bucks the book is like a snapshot of a
kingdom that really didn’t want its
photo taken right now
the original Domesday book still exists
in britain’s public record office in
london and it shows that in 1086 the
united kingdom had three million
citizens most of them farmers many
working for their Lords for nothing and
about 10% of the population were slaves
yeah these are the handwritten pages of
history and they show history bites
while desserts all bring their bad
boy you kids get out of there