Le Recensement Exon Domesday (Exeter, Cathedral Library ms. 3500): rôle de l’épiscopat et ressources scripturaires dans l’Angleterre du Sud-Ouest 1086-1137.

Translated title of the contribution: Exon Domesday (Exeter, Cathedral Library, MS. 3500): episcopal agency and scribal resources in South-West England, c. 1086-1137

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Exon Domesday is a remarkable survival from late eleventh-century England, a draft copy of William I’s Domesday survey pertaining to the five south-western counties of England which has been preserved, apparently in its original context, among a dossier of fiscal and legal records. Exon Domesday has resided in the cathedral library at Exeter, perhaps since the early twelfth century; its contents have not been edited since 1816 and the manuscript, which has never been facsimiled, is little known to scholarship. It was disbound in 2011, and since 2014 has been the subject of a major research project based at King’s College London. Both the history of its contents and the complexity of its palaeography and codicology are being scrutinized for the first time.

In this paper the project leader, together with one of the postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students working on the project, will present early results. Both the production and the subsequent history of the manuscript are complex, enigmatic and apparently quite anomalous. Exeter 3500 contains the hands of at least three scribes from another south-western English cathedral, that of Salisbury, Wiltshire, but, so far as we can see, none at all from the immediate vicinity of Exeter. This is a significant absence because, as recent research has reiterated, numerous scribes worked for the bishop of Exeter in the post-Conquest era. Indeed, although the known provenance of the manuscript is episcopal, its first provenance and perhaps its origins are quite possibly royal. Dr Álvarez López, who is recording the scribal hands, has identified as many as twenty-five at work in the manuscript, most from the first phase of its creation, many of which bear the palaeographical symptoms of training in Norman scribal traditions. Lois Lane, who is researching the scribal and administrative resources of bishoprics in the locality, will report on how the manuscript sits in its south-western context, both palaeographically and administratively.

The process of recording the palaeography and codicology of the volume will determine how the scribes collaborated and how the compilation was created. By spring 2016 we will have a better idea of whether any of the Exon scribes worked locally, or whether they represent administrative systems remote from the region. It is already apparent from our research both that Exeter 3500 contains the largest collection of contemporary dated and datable hands from any manuscript in eleventh-century England and that those scribes collaborated in a particularly complex manner. The compilation raises many further questions about the relationship between local and central authority, about the role of episcopal chanceries in the collection and recording of information pertaining to royal interests in the locality, the means by which bishops might represent crown authority in the periphery, and the relationship between the agents who collected and recorded the Domesday survey and those working for bishops in this part of England.
Translated title of the contributionExon Domesday (Exeter, Cathedral Library, MS. 3500): episcopal agency and scribal resources in South-West England, c. 1086-1137
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationEcrire a l'ombre des cathedrales
Subtitle of host publicationEspace anglo-normand et France de l'Ouest, xie-xiiie siecle
EditorsGregory Combalbert, Chantal Senseby
Place of PublicationRennes
PublisherPresses Universitaires de Rennes
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9782753594357
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2024

Publication series

NameCollection <<Histoire>>
PublisherPresses universitaires de Rennes
ISSN (Print)1255-2364


Dive into the research topics of 'Exon Domesday (Exeter, Cathedral Library, MS. 3500): episcopal agency and scribal resources in South-West England, c. 1086-1137'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this