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Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  122 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In 1086 the Domesday Book, perhaps the most remarkable historical document in existence, was compiled. This tremendous survey of England and its people was made at the behest of the Norman, William the Conqueror. Michael Wood's "Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England" is a study of the ancient manuscript and an attempt to analyse the world that the Domesday Book portr ...more
Hardcover, Reprint Edition, 224 pages
Published March 30th 1988 by Facts on File (first published November 13th 1986)
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Pete daPixie
Dec 26, 2008 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-a-s
Michael Wood turned me on to Olde English history almost 20 years ago with his excellent t.v. series 'In search of the Dark Ages'. Since then I've read his book 'In search of the Dark Ages' and 'In the footsteps of Alexander the Great'. I would recommend anything that he writes. 'A search for the roots of England' is another great piece of investigative writing. Here Wood shows that the feudal takeover of England in 1066 was just a takeover of a basic governmental system that went back before th ...more
Jul 21, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Michael Wood's Domesday Quest (as mine is titled) is a very readable but thorough account, not only of the Domesday Book, but of its context -- the processes already existing that allowed William the Conqueror to have such a task completed with the accuracy he apparently managed. Michael Wood traces the development of a national identity, and how it was impacted by those who invaded and settled in Britain.

There's lots of names, facts and figures, of course, most of which I had no head for, but M
U. Cronin
Jan 20, 2014 U. Cronin rated it really liked it
The way this book is written is the ideal of how history should be presented. Michael Wood is an excellent writer and storyteller and his enthusiasm and imagination make medieval England leap off the pages. The book brings to life not only England 20 years after the Norman invasion and the remarkable book compiled by William the Conqueror to aid in the levying of taxes, but the Celtic and Roman societies and structures that pre-dated the Anglo-Saxon colonisation of the country in the late fifth ...more
A history book that takes a different approach to English history than most others. Usually books follow the doings of various kings and queens, charting events and life through their actions, but Wood approaches our heritage from the landscape itself - by exploring the role of farmers and farming throughout the ages. He begins in Celtic times, tracing the beginning of field systems, before looking at the changes brought about by the Roman invasion, then the Anglo-Saxon, and finally the Norman C ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jan 04, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in October 2001.

Produced as part of the nine hundredth anniversary of the production of the Domesday Book, this is the least accessible and least individual book which Wood has written. This is mainly because of the subject matter; to most amateur historians, Domesday is mainly of interest for local history of by the fact of its existence (being the earliest nationwide survey of land ownership and obligations of any European nation). Much of its true signific
Richard Olney
Apr 26, 2013 Richard Olney rated it really liked it
As far as i try to broaden my interests, i never stray far from the history of England, and the bit we used to call The Dark Ages in particular. This is my second attempt at this book, one of many Mr Wood has written on or around this period of history. While i was taught that the Dark Ages ended with the Norman conquest, most of what i've read about the Conquerer and the Conquest suggests it probably brought in an even darker age.

The search for the roots uses Domesday Book and the sources from
This was written in the days before the rise of 'creative non-fiction' and as a result, it is unfortunately quite dry. Although the subject is fascinating - the author is exploring how the social and economic structure of Britain came to be formed in the centuries leading up to the creation of the Domesday Book, it just isn't written in a particularly engaging way. And there is a bit of an overuse of hyperbolic words although that, perhaps, was done in an attempt to liven up the subject matter a ...more
Mar 07, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it
Well-researched, but unfortunately dry as to make long sections hard to get through. The lists of towns and possessions became meaningless after awhile, especially since I'm not from that country (which would help). I liked the parts focusing on the history around that time, but since the book is about what in "Domesday" revealed what life was like then, most of the focus was on property lines, money, and who owned what. Still, a thorough glimpse into life in 1080s, before, and the centuries aft ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Kieran rated it it was amazing
Only Michael Wood could manage to make a pop-history book on English tenurial arrangements...!
Nov 04, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Great. Immediately going to read it again. Too much to digest at one go.
...and now I have skimmed through it again it's going with the reference books on the shelf. It gives a persuasive view of a great sweep of English history, connecting the detail of written records, place names and archaeology with his ideas.
Tom Smith
Nov 15, 2012 Tom Smith rated it it was ok
Didn't make it very far. Found the prose rather stilted and the approach a little to dry for me. Perhaps it is just the wrong time in life to tackle this one. May try again when I can be more focused on it.
Mar 14, 2013 Alex rated it liked it
I love Michael Wood, and I admire what he's doing here, but this was too dry. Lots of interesting material, to be sure, but I needed something more to really get into it.
Aug 07, 2011 Mhd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genealogy, history
History of England, all tied into the Domesday Book. Great examples, many good illustrations.
Jul 22, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Very interesting - amazing what you can learn from a census.
Sep 30, 2013 Jan rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary writer. Love his work.
May 27, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it
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Librarian Note: There's more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael David Wood is an English historian & broadcaster. He's presented numerous tv documentary series. Library of Congress lists him as Michael Wood.

Wood was born in Moston, Manchester, & educated at Manchester Grammar School & Oriel College, Oxford. His specia
More about Michael Wood...

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