The Roll of Battle Abbey is a cornerstone in feudal English genealogy as well as an extremely interesting and controversial record. The Abbey of Battle, erected on the site of the Battle of Hastings, was built by William the Conqueror to commemorate his famous victory. Its first community, a society of Benedictines, was enjoined to pray for those who died in the battle and to preserve a faithful record of all who shared in the victory. Thus arose the Abbey of Battle and thus the Roll of Battle Abbey. Although the original Roll is no longer extant, the Roll as we know it today is based upon the four or five different copies of the original that have survived. The Roll of Battle Abbey contains the names of several hundred of the noble companions of William the Conqueror. It is thus the very first document in Norman-English genealogy and the foundation of both spurious and authentic claims of Norman ancestry. The work in hand, a compilation by John Bernard Burke, which includes transcriptions of the various copies of the Roll, is a heavily annotated list of the companions of the Conqueror, the annotations providing an account of the origins of each companion and his relationship to William, a description of his baronies and estates, an assessment of his position in the feudal hierarchy, and a concise history of his life and times, with special attention given to successive generations of his lineal descendants. Wherever possible, descents are traced down to modern times.