When King Edward III wanted a detailed report on the Channel Islands in 1331, he sent two commissioners to inquire into the rents and other levies due to the King by his tenants in the island.
Sometimes known as 'Jersey's Domesday Book', the result of the labours of Robert de Norton and Guillaume de la Rue was the 'Extente' of 1331.
The Société Jersiaise has now published a new English translation of the book, which helps us understand what Jersey was like almost 700 years ago.
Originally written in Latin, then translated into French by the Société Jersiaise in 1876, it has been published in a new translation by Neil Molyneux and edited with a commentary by Sir Mark Boleat.
Pictured: Sir Mark Boleat, editor of the Société Jersiaise's new translation of the 1331 Extente.
Sir Mark describes the Extente as "Jersey's first substantive census" although he explains that this must be understood not in the modern sense but rather as "a record of the rents and other levies due to the King of England by tenants of Crown possessions in Jersey".
He explained that the Extente, one of seven produced between 1274 and 1749, provided the raw data to help researchers understand the island in the fourteenth century, more than 100 years after the Channel Islands separated from Normandy.
Paying tribute in his introduction to the expert translation undertaken by Neil Molyneux, a former President of the Société Jersiaise, Sir Mark described their partnership as a "collaborative venture".
"As I have discovered there can be significant differences between historians on 'facts'. The real value of this publication is that the raw data in the Extente is now more accessible. I hope that others will draw on this to increase understanding of what Jersey was like 700 years ago," Sir Mark writes.
The book can be obtained from the Société Jersiaise bookshop in Pier Road for £15.
Pictured top: The Extente de l'Ile de Jersey 1331 – Edouard III was translated by Neil Molyneux, a former President of the Société Jersiaise.
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