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tenants-in-chief were those who, after the Norman Conquest, held their lands directly from the king. Their names are given in Domesday Book (1086) and are mainly those who had fought alongside William at Hastings or their descendants. The Conqueror kept about one-fifth of the land of England, the church had a quarter, and the tenants-in-chief about half. Domesday records some 1,400 of them, but land was concentrated in very few hands and some eleven magnates owned nearly half of the tenants-in-chief's share. They were under obligation to produce a quota of knights on demand, though they could sublet (subinfeudate) provided the obligation was met. The larger tenants-in-chief may be regarded as the forerunners of the later nobility.

J. A. Cannon

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