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(1086) Original record or summary of William I the Conqueror's survey of England. The most remarkable administrative feat of the Middle Ages, the survey was carried out, against popular resentment, by panels of commissioners who compiled accounts of the estates of the king and his tenants. As summarized in the Domesday Book, it now serves as the starting point for the history of most English towns and villages. Originally called the description of England, the name Domesday Book (a reference to doomsday, when people face a final accounting of their lives) was later popularly attached to it.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Domesday Book, visit Britannica.com.