The launch marks the culmination of three years’ work led by the University of Winchester in collaboration with the Department for Digital Humanities at King’s College, London. The project – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council – achieved the digitisation and enhancement of important documents detailing the English aristocracy and rural economy during the years between 1399 and 1447.
The resultant database presents a wealth of in-depth information drawn from original source material written in the Middle Ages, as a formal record of the properties owned by English landowners at the time of their death. It illuminates the lands and economy of almost every place existent in Medieval England, contains details of thousands of families, and reflects the structure of aristocratic and rural society across the country.
“The inquisitions were identified as key documents from the start by the Public Record Office (now National Archives) and the first summary was published in 1828 – but until now the data has not been easily accessible,” explained Michael Hicks, Emeritus Professor at the University of Winchester. “We have been able to create a complete database that is easily searchable and can be interrogated by local historians of every English place and the genealogists of every English family, who can exploit them as a matter of course.
“The changing shape of landed estates can be charted, pedigrees compiled, and such features as mills and fairs mapped throughout England. I view this launch as the culmination of a great historical enterprise now almost 200 years old to publish all the inquisitions post mortem.
“Digitisation makes the content more widely available,” added Professor Hicks. “The database enables much more effective exploitation by scholars and the general public – mounting it all on the web free of charge makes it easily accessible to everyone everywhere.”
Access the free Mapping the Medieval Countryside database at www.inquisitionspostmortem.ac.uk
Professor Michael Hicks is available for telephone interviews – please contact the Press Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01962 827678 to arrange.