ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Conquest - 18: Domesday Backcloth - Marriage En Outremer, Outsiders' Mix With English

Updated on June 24, 2019

Integration was the aim - whet nurses, servants and household staff were usually English, Norman offspring learned their tongue from an early age

An Old English spread - many Norman nobles entrusted their children to the care of English nurses and learned their speech before they learned their parents' Norman-French
An Old English spread - many Norman nobles entrusted their children to the care of English nurses and learned their speech before they learned their parents' Norman-French | Source

Marriage between the incomers...

Normans, Franks, Flemings, Bretons and the indigenous population was more common than surviving sources would have us believe.

At the lower levels of society mixed marriages were unlikely to be recorded at all, especially clerical marriages (priests or other church men to English women), frowned on by the Church hierarchy. Priests were meant to be celibate from the time Lanfranc was made Archbishop of Canterbury. English church men were given an ultimatum, to repudiate their families or leave the Church. Many repudiated their families in order not to have to surrender status, even parish priests.

The marriage of Odelerius of Orleans was recorded by his son Orderic, a gifted historian who wrote down the names of his father and brothers, although not of his English mother (!) Henry of Huntingdon was a secular chronicler who referred to the wives of clerics. Most are described as concubines or by euphemisms. Marriages to English women were not only entered into by lower clerics. Rannulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham from AD1099-1128 had many children by Aelfgifu, who came from the same burgess family of Huntingdon which brought forth the hermit nun Christina of Markyate (Christina was a name brought to England in mid-11th Century when Eadward the Confessor's cousin, Eadward 'the Exile' brought his family from Hungary after many years away. His youngest child was named Christina). Rannulf Flambard later arranged Aelfgifu's marriage to a worthy from Huntingdon and often stayed at their house on journeys to and from the north. He took care to provide for his sons and nephews, and his descendants were still to be found holding land in the 13th Century.

Orderic Vitalis, a Norman chronicler who spent his early boyhood in Shrewsbury observed mixed marriages in an urban context, stating that in the 1070's English and Norman lived peaceably as neighbours in boroughs and cities, also intermarrying. His words are borne out by Domesday*, wherein Frankish settlers are recorded as living at Southampton, Wallingford, Hereford and Shrewsbury, and at Cambridge. An update made around AD1100 to Domesday accounts of Gloucester and Winchcombe distinguishes between burgesses living in inherited tenements and those who recently bought their homes - at Gloucester a number of the latter were Frankish. The description in Exon, or Little Domesday of the new quarter of Norwich is headed 'Franci de Norwic' (Frankishmen - or Frenchmen - of Norwich). The new borough was founded by Earl Ralph II and the king and originally housed thirty-six burgesses on the king's land alone, and another eighty-three on the lands of other lords besides an unoccupied 'messuage' (a dwelling-house with outbuildings and land). A church founded by Earl Ralph also stood here, At Nottingham and Northampton there were also new quarters, the former including houses built for Hugh fitzBaldric, sheriff of York. After the rebellion in AD1069 most of the riverside dwellings York close to the sites of the castles were destroyed. The Normans had tried to clear a swathe around their wooden castles, so that the rebels could not use them as cover to attack them from. The fire could not be contained and destroyed much of the cathdral church of St Peter (now known as the 'Minster').

New blood?

It is not out of the question that Normans and their Breton or Flemish allies who came with Duke - later King - William should seek to marry English women. After all, there would have been a shortage of their own womenfolk to choose from, and their lords would have first pick of indigenous women or brought their own wives. On the other hand after the various battles between 1066 and 1071, England had seen many men slain in the shield wall and elsewhere, and many who were dispossessed left these shores for the east - see the Hub-page in the VIKING series on the Varangian Guard - to fight the Normans in the Mediterranean.

Norman blood was not altogether new to England, after all. Their cousins from Denmark and Norway had already settled in the east (Danelaw) and North and mingled with the Anglian women in neighbouring communities. Many English women preferred the Danes because they washed more often, and combed their hair. Now these Normans with strains of Gallo-Norse blood in their veins introduced a new aspect of breeding with their taste for cider and wine, their shorter hair etc., and although their mothers may have frowned on the incomers many lonely abandoned or widowed women would have welcomed the change... 'Any port in a storm'.

See description below
See description below | Source

The original was set out in Latin. This translation lifts the lid on the possessions of William's lords and those of his indigenous nobles - the few that still lived - to show who owned what and where, who owned it before (with the exception of Harold himself). There were two main books, 'Exon Domesday' covered the West Country - formerly Wessex - broken up into smaller shires and Church holdings. Where a Norman lord's territories seemed 'bunched together', he might be relieved of some here and given more there. William had a fear of lords gaining power at his expense, as had happened in Normandy before his majority. His Norman barons had it their own way at home, here things would be different

Domesday - Demesde, the book of the (king's) domain

Greater Domesday - some shires were never covered. Durham was the land of the prince bishops, i.e., sacrosanct, Northumberland was too wild for the collators and Cumbria was then part of Scotland
Greater Domesday - some shires were never covered. Durham was the land of the prince bishops, i.e., sacrosanct, Northumberland was too wild for the collators and Cumbria was then part of Scotland | Source
An extract from Domesday Exxon, Greater Domesday, featuring Sussex (Suthsexe), shows the way entries were made and contents itemised
An extract from Domesday Exxon, Greater Domesday, featuring Sussex (Suthsexe), shows the way entries were made and contents itemised | Source

Domesday Backcloth

A classic misunderstanding: Down through the centuries the term 'Domesday' has been linked with 'Doomsday'. In many respects the link is understandable, as it often led to higher taxation. The term is 'Demesde', to do with all property including that held by church or secular landlords. Even the new Norman/Frankish/Breton lords were not immune to taxation levied as a result of its findings.

Why was 'Domesday' initiated at all? William I was informed of an invasion planned in AD1085 by Svein Estrithsson's second son Knut II, 'the Holy',who wanted to revive the Danish claim to the throne of England. On the levels of taxation he was due on property, the funds fell short of what were needed to raise an army and fleet to turn the Danes back. There were two sets of books, Domesday itself encompassed much of the kingdom, Exon Domesday incorporated the west country. As Durham was traditionally Church land it was omitted. Difficulties met in the wild north led to the lands north of the Tyne being left out, although it was considered the yield from these lands and much of those between the Tees and the Humber would have yielded insufficient funds due to them having been harried in AD1069/71 and were still largely barren in 1086. As it turned out Knut was prevented from joining his invasion fleet due to threat of attack from the south. Led by his brother Olaf a rebellion of Danish leaders was initiated because they felt his invasion to be a lost cause. He was pursued by the rebels and murdered in the cathedral of Odense. The books are on archive at the Public Records Office at Kew in Surrey, near Richmond

Next - 17: Naming Heirs

© 2011 Alan R Lancaster


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)