Hostile takeovers can be a messy thing. The chief executive officer, operating officers, along with the board of directors, can make a number of changes to the new acquisition. A complete inventory is often necessary to understand the holdings and materials contained within.
It was William I [chief executive officer] who wanted to "inventory" his new "acquisition". It was certainly a "hostile takeover", and things were getting quite complication by 1086. The Anglo-Saxons had organized their holdings into shires and the like [an existing administrative system] and things like resources, raising money, laws, customs, and taxes were getting out of hand. It was Christmas 1086 that William had enough of this and ordered high-ranking and trusted men [operating officers] to scatter about and collect a host of data about this new acquisition of 1066. Within two years this "inventory" was put together and came to be called "The Domesday Book".
A useful text, edited by Thomas Hinde, is an excellent way to begin to understanding this unique book of English history.
For the genealogist, this gives in one source, an alphabetical listing of the English counties involved in the Domesday book. It gives the land holders (a kind of census) and much of the context of the data obtained. This list the names of the shires and who was responsible for the land which surrounded each. There is a list of the major Domesday landholders, and a historical summary of each county.
For me, it was helpful in understanding the context of my own families connections during this hostile takeover. [Even found documentation of my own family in the Shropshire area!] Lots of fun it is.
The book is titled: The Domesday Book, England's Heritage, Then and Now. Editor: Thomas Hinde, Hutchinson, 1985. [ISBN 09 161830 4]