Medieval Writing  
A Florilegium of Dates (3)
The very formal and elaborate diplomas of the Anglo-Saxon kings were dated. However, the form of English charter which developed from the Anglo-Norman writ was not generally dated until well into the 12th century or later. Long lists of witnesses might be recorded, and by the 12th century the place of issue of the document was entered at the end.

charter of Margaret
Dating clause from a charter of Margaret, widow of Henry, son of Henry II of England and sister of Philip, king of France of 1186 (Nantes, Archives de Maine-et-Loire, fonds de Fontevraud). (From New Palaeographical Society 1907)  
The above example might be described as a French royal charter with English connections. The script is a diplomatic minuscule of a formal type which employs the papal knot abbreviation mark. The date, which begins with the word Anno near the end of the first line, is in relatively simple form and reads:

Anno ab in-

carnatione d(omi)ni M C LXXXV. V Idus Mart(ii)

In the year of the incarnation of the Lord 1185, 5 ides March (11th March 1186)

As with a previous example, the date in modern form is one year later than that given in the document, as the year began on 25th March. Some paleographers follow a convention of writing this 1185(6) or 1185/6. The ides of March fall on the 15th. Note the medieval convention of using a superscript o to indicate an ordinal number (eg. fifth).


proclamation of Henry III  
Date from an entry in the patent rolls of a proclamation of Henry III in English, of 1248 (London. Public Record Office, Patent Rolls 43 Henry III). (From New Palaeographical Society 1905)  
While Latin and later French were the usual languages for offical documents, this entry from the patent rolls records a proclamation in English. The cursive script of the rolls is less formal and somewhat different to the document hands used for charters. The date reads:

æt Lunden, thane Eytetenthe day on the monthe

of Octobr(e) in the Two and fowertiythe yeare of vr cruninge

(Thorns have been rendered as th, yoghs as y)

at London, the 18th day of the month of October in the 42nd year of our crowning (18th October 1258)

There seems to be a broad, but not universal, preference in English documents for giving the day of the month in simple numbering rather than Roman dating and for giving the year as the reign of the monarch. The regnal year starts on the actual day that the monarch was crowned, so it is different for each reign.


charter of King John  
Dating clause from a charter of King John of 1203 (Eton College Library). (From New Palaeographical Society 1907)  

This form of dating rendered in Latin is shown in a charter of King John, written in the distinctive calligraphic charter hand of the period. The date reads:

xxxi die Martii anno Regni nostri Quarto

the 31st day of March in the 4th year of our reign (31st March 1203)


charter of Loi\uis  
Dating clause from a charter of Louis, son of the king of France in 1216 (British Library, Harley Charter 43 B. 37). (From New Palaeographical Society 1908)  

This comes from a charter of Louis, son of Philip II king of France to William de Huntingfeld, in the rather angular and spiky charter hand of the period. It was drawn up, probably by an English scribe, while these two gentlemen with their armies were beseiging Hertford which was being held for the king (Henry III, who was just a little wee lad at the time and not really in charge of the situation). It reads:

Anno d(omi)ni M. CC. XVI. XXI die Nouembr(is)

The year of the Lord 1216, 21st day of November (21st November 1216)

Probably they didn't like to mention that it was the first year of the reign of Henry III because they had other ideas. Isn't it amazing how many coded messages you can ascribe to dating clauses!


inspeximus of Geoffrey St Leger  
Dating clause of an inspeximus by Geoffrey St Leger, bishop of Ossory in Ireland of the will of Richard Fitzrobert of 1267 (British Library, Egerton Charter 528). (From New Palaeographical Society 1909)  
This document, an inspeximus of a will by a bishop, is written in a small, neat cursive charter hand. The dating clause reads:

Dat(e) III id(us) Maii Ann(o) d(omi)ni M.CC.LX septimo

Given on 3 ides May in the year of the Lord 1267 (13th May 1267)

The preference of the church seems to be to use Roman dating in honor of their heritage, and to date by the greater Lord rather than their mere immediate earthly master.



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Dating Manuscripts  
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