Each of the printed volumes of calendars contains a wealth of information, but most are difficult to access. They are generally confined to large academic libraries, and are prohibitively expensive for individual researchers to purchase. A primary aim of this project is to make all this content more accessible by digitizing the volumes and making them freely accessible to researchers all over the world. The plain text of every volume is now available at British History Online (BHO), the principal hub for basic digitized primary source materials. At the beginning of the project BHO already hosted the first two volumes, generously funded by the Marc Fitch fund at an earlier stage of this project.
More ambitiously, however, this project has created a more extensive and sophisticated digital edition of volumes 18-26, covering the period 1399 to 1447. These volumes were chosen because they contain the extents and valuations that are of such interest to social and economic historians, and because the volumes for 1422-47 included the names of jurors, a major resource for family and local historians and genealogists. There were two stages to creating this edition. First, the volumes for 1399-1422 needed enhancement to bring their content into line with the volumes for Henry VI’s reign. Second, the volumes needed to be digitized and detailed markup provided to make their contents more accessible.
The inquisitions for 1399-1422 have been enhanced as follows.
- fuller details of writs have been provided: in all instances, the name of the issuing Chancery clerk, and details of endorsements; in many cases, more accurate information about the nature of the writ
- names of officiating escheators have been added
- names of jurors have been added (around 48,000 names)
- details of classmarks for each individual inquisition have been provided
- a substantial number of IPMs omitted for various reasons from the print volumes are published here for the first time
- the print volumes have not been compared exhaustively with the original documents, but a small sample has been checked and a number of mistakes have been corrected.
- (a small number of mistakes in the volumes for 1422-47 have also been corrected)
As a result this digital edition provides the most authoritative text of these inquisitions.
Detailed semantic markup has been added to make the content of the IPMs more readily accessible. The markup deals with:
- document classification
- persons (currently covering CIPM xxii and xxiii only)
- holdings (estates, tenures/services and values: covering CIPM xxii-xxvi incompletely)
Although aspects of the markup are incomplete, it enables a sophisticated search and browse interface, which is explained in the following section.